Why My Silence

I could say that I have not shared a poem,
since before winter left us, because
bronchitis, wearing a yellow phlegm coat, snuck in and
stole my voice from my vest pocket.
That would be lie, or the truth.
Really though, when I queried a magazine (editor)
where I wanted to submit poems, he said that he,
and most editors, considered poems that
appeared on our blogs as
“published,” and would not consider them for
‘his’ magazine. So I said, shit, what’s the
poetry world coming today, and shut down.

Now, after weeks of wringing the poetic juice out of my heart
and consideration, big deal Jack,
I’ve decided to say f-u to the magazines and their editors;
I post my work here, and know that at least a few of you
will enjoy my words and maybe be inspired to write your own.

In 40 years of getting my work published in magazines, never once,
NEVER ONCE JACK, has anyone responded or written to me
about my work. So, all of you pompous magazine editors
I’ve got your old mags hanging in the outhouse for. . .”

Whereas my blog poems stir the soup,
you all sip and savor some — and that
inspires me for you.

Today, I go to an elementary school and will give a
workshop to second grade boys and girls. I can’t wait
to see their beautiful faces and open their minds and hearts to
poetry, “its how our feelings talk, and we share those words
with family friends and others.”

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About Ciletti

Jim Ciletti, an award winning poet, filmmaker, and author, is the 2010-2012, Poet Laureate of the Pikes Peak region, and for 41 years, poet-in-residence for the Orme School Fine Arts Festival. Jim gives many workshops on the writing and performance of poetry, and makes poetry house calls to create personal poetry events. Ciletti loves everything Italian, including cooking for family and friends, and loves to plant garlic, make homemade wine, and eating peaches and plums. "Everyday is Christmas, but you don't always get everything you ask for. Sometimes more. Poetry celebrates life."
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2 Responses to Why My Silence

  1. jhwriter says:

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with taking one’s work directly to the audience. The role of gatekeeper—i.e., editor—can be a worthy one, but too many gatekeepers care more about the power involved in controlling the keys than in the value of whoever’s asking to be admitted. Not publishing poems that have appeared on blogs is no different than dogs pissing on trees: a territorial response. It doesn’t serve poets, doesn’t serve readers, and sure doesn’t serve poetry.

    Here’s another example. I have a poet-acquaintance whose work I admire. His first book won a very prestigious prize, was published, well distributed, and well reviewed. Then he made the mistake of taking a teaching position in a foreign country—out of the American PoBiz bubble, that is—and when he got his second book together, no one here would look at it. “Who are you again?” “When was that first book?” “Six years is a long time….” Of course, none of them had ever read the first book, because far too many editors are ignorant of anything but the moment they’re living in. Anyway, he did end up publishing it in Europe. Then came his third book, which kicked around for years before finally finding a small publisher in the U.S. But that publisher insists on referring to it as his “second book”. Why? Because his actual second book was less than 64 pages long, which (no kidding) “doesn’t qualify as a book.” This is the world of poetry publishing these days. One absurdity on top of another.

    That said, I have to say that there are still many excellent publishers, honest and committed, independent and knowledgeable, adventurous and genuinely caring about poetry and poets and poetry readers. So don’t lose hope! I myself have a chapbook just accepted consisting almost entirely of poems first published, usually in very early versions, on my own blog. Why is this particular publisher open to this? Because she values the work and knows quite well that blog entries vanish in the vast stream of passing time much faster than books do. Books don’t compete with blogs, print magazines don’t compete with blogs, and audiences who want poetry deserve to get it when and where they want it—the gatekeepers be damned.

  2. Ciletti says:

    Joe, as always, your contribution, information, and insights, truly valued and appreciated. As for my audience/readers, I urge you to visit Joe Hutchison’s blog, perpetualbird.blogspot.com, great work, great information, up to date. Thanks Joe. Jim

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