National Poetry Month commenced in the United States in 1996 when the Academy of American Poets brought to the foreground this appreciation and celebration of poetry; Canada joined in the fun in 1998. Why April? That has to do with the opening line to T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem “The Waste Land”: “April is the cruellest month.”
I get where Eliot is coming from, it being muddy, sluggish spring and all, but instead of getting into whether or not April is cruellest month of all and why. Or, vying for December’s rank. I will offer that no month is any crueller than another and get on with sharing with you my recognition and acknowledgement of my writing practice, especially where it pertains to the making of my second collection of poems and to celebrate and appreciate poet and editor Claudia Keelan and one of her special editorial projects: Interim: A Journal of Poetry Poetics.
On my way there, allow me to share with you a poet’s dream scenario and a bit more about my second collection of poems, The Long Now Conditions Permit. I wrote the majority of the manuscript’s poems in ninety-five days, which consisted of a five-day writing spell in January 2020 and three thirty-day writing spells in July 2020, October 2020, and January 2021. Realizing my intentions to write five poems in five days and thirty poems in thirty days (three times) proved to me again just what I am able to accomplish when I am determined, passionate, serious, and persistent.
I say “again” because starting in July 2013 and for the next three-and-a-half years ish, I wrote just about a poem a day. The math: something like 1,300 poems. Talk about a writing practice that puts into perspective the valuation of “good” and “bad” and balances that duality with simply intending to write and accomplishing the writing of a poem each day. Day by day the poems mount, and as they do the poet becomes less precious and fetishistic about what poems are and more playful with what they can be and can do via diction and form, image and association. Plus, that daily word-play over an extended period taught me about the meaning of aiming for the target, gaining experience, and getting to know the poems I make and myself as a poet.
Back to the coming-into-being of my second manuscript. Each day in December 2021 by method of butt-in-chair, I revised all of the poems written between January 2020 and 2021, which included some deep recasts/revisions, drawing also on a kernel of some poems written during that three-and-a-half-year spell. Once the poems were revised, there was the decision process of which to include, then onward to ordering those poems into a book. There were a few rounds of those two steps as the book honed. Et voilà! On December 30, 2021, I sent the manuscript to Interim Test Site Poetry Series for consideration.
Even so, the book was not quite at its resting place. Here and there, a few points of precision within lines, images, and words still gave me hesitation and were not yet satisfying. So, after three days away from the manuscript, I continued tuning, honing, and shaping on my own, considering comments I received from a trusted editor. After another two weeks, I arrived at a resting place for the manuscript and got on with sending poems from it out for consideration and reading from my stacks. O, the stacks!
Then on February 21, Claudia Keelan, Editor of Interim Test Site Poetry Series notified me that my manuscript was a semi-finalist and still under consideration. A thrill for the poems and the poet! On March 6, Claudia wrote again to notify me that my manuscript was one of fifteen (1/15) finalists. More excitement! Kissing and dancing upon Earth. Tra la! Tra la!
Claudia and Interim’s associate editors’ belief in and embrace of my manuscript is gratifying and thrilling feedback, especially for a poet whose first book took ten years to find a publisher. For me, this near to immediate, positive feedback bodes well for the life of this book. O, Poetry Gods! Though The Long Now That Conditions Permit was not crowned winner, in recognition of being a finalist, Interim: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics, selected and published five poems from my manuscript.
This second manuscript continues and furthers the ecofeminist focus and positioning of my first book, The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020) The selection of poems in Interim will orient you to how the poems engage the various conditions and systems that prevent the freedom of women who desire the liberty to walk Earth as they are, wounded but free. You are cordially invited to read the poems! Here’s an excerpt from “Bardo Friend and I Belly Up to Smattering Stars.”
Interim: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics and Editor Claudia Keelan have been enormously and gorgeously supportive to my life and the lives of my poems. She published two poems from my first poetry collection The Minuses and offered the book these wonder words:
The poems in Jami Macarty’s devotional collection swing upon a hinge that is the recurring site of the poet’s perception in time, where what is seen shows the inherent connection of each thing to its other: ‘honey given / honey taken.’ The Minuses’ brilliance lives in what the poet is able to give up for the possibility of finding a wholeness that is ongoing: ‘I come and go / from myself as I am / I will not return.’ A seer is, after all, one who sees. Jami Macarty is one who sees.”
And, Claudia has been equally, vitally supportive to the poems in my second collection, The Long Now Conditions Permit. She selected six poems from the batch of poems I wrote during July 2020 (some of which are in the second manuscript) for publication in the all-women print issue of Interim 2020. Plus, in that issue she offered a review (under her penname Lacy Aul) of The Minuses that made birds fly in my heart.
And, she selected a poem from The Long Now Conditions Permit for the 2021 all-women print issue.
You see what I mean? Claudia: Enormously, generously supportive. A dream-come-true of support for, belief in, and embrace of me and the poems I write. Claudia’s is a consciousness on Earth I would not want to be without in mind or spirit.
And, on that note, allow me to take a bow and my leave. But, before I do, thank you dear readers, for the gifts of your time and attention as I share with you what I have been appreciating and celebrating in my writer’s life.
+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!
+ Thank you bows to Claudia Keelan, beautiful poet, special friend, and generous editor.
+ Thank you bows to Interim: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics, Andrew S. Nicholson, Assistant Editor, and Kathryn McKenzie, Managing Editor.
+ Thank you bows to Interim Test Site Poetry Series and the editorial team for your unique attention to my poems.
+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to my publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses (2020) with me.
+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at University Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.
+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.
+ Thank you bows to Nomados Literary Publishers, Meredith and Peter Quartermain for making the chapbook Instinctive Acts with me.
+ Thank you bows to Vallum Chapbook Series and editors Leigh Kotsilidis and Eleni Zisimatos for making the chapbook Mind of Spring with me.
+ Thank you bows to Finishing Line Press and editors Leah Maines and Christin Kinkaid for making the chapbook Landscape of The Wait with me.
+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.
+ This bears repeating: Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me! I would love to hear from you!