On letters from the editors

It's been a year since I finished writing my first full-length poetry manuscript Catechesis: a postpastoral. It's been a little less than that since I started sending it out to open reading periods and book contests. And it's been a fairly vulnerable process, more so than submitting individual poems to lit mags, to which I've mostly numbed myself after ten years. Every time I submit my manuscript to another press, I'm sending out four whole years of my writing life at once. It feels like I'm sending Everything That Means Anything To Me; this project that has been the center of my creative life for so long that I didn't know what to even try writing about when it was finally completed. And, of course, it's the first time I've ever done this. 

I've now submitted my manuscript to 24 book contests and open reading periods. I've spent $529 on submission fees. From these, I've received thirteen form rejections and there are nine places that I'm still waiting to hear from. But there have been two particularly bright spots for my little book-in-the-making in the past few months. 

In November, I received the news that Catechesis was named a semi-finalist for the 2018 Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes from the University of Wisconsin Press by way of this lovely letter, which also included a short personal note from series editor Ron Wallace.

And then just this week, I received another one of these letters, this one telling me that Catechesis was named a finalist for the 2018 Dorset Prize from Tupelo Press, judged by Dana Levin! 

Of course, neither of these yields anything as tangible as a publishing contract. But the encouragement and validation is a much-needed boost. It is permission to continue believing in the value of this book I've written, that it's only a matter of time until it makes it to the right press and the right editor at the right time. 

All this and my new chapbook Blackbird Whitetail Redhand will be released in only a matter of days from the amazing Porkbelly Press, where they are having a 20%-off-orders-of-$20-or-more sale. Happy National Poetry Month!


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