On being a good member of a literary community

Kelcey Parker, who teaches the fiction workshop I’m taking this fall, talked to us about being a good being good literary citzens during our last class.  Chief among her recommendations was to avoid being that person who just sits back, writes, submits and keeps it at that.  In other words, me!

Yes, I irregularly publish my own zine, Retirement Plan, but I don’t often attend events that other people put on, I don’t engage with other writers online, I don’t write about writing.  I could be doing so much more, in short.

So I can take some steps in that direction by being more active here.  Using this space to help hype the zine, to review and hype work by poets I know, to interact with the online poetry community.  To share my thoughts on writing, publishing, creating.  To stop just sitting in the dark with my blog on private and throwing my work out on Submittable.

Which, that’s been successful from a raw-numbers publishing point of view. These are all of my pubs/acceptances in the past year.

“I-55 by Pontiac, Illinois” in The Cobalt Review, 2019

Inula Helenium” in Up North Lit, 2019

”The Rover” in Stone Boat, 2019

“Gaps” and “Paradise by Postmodern Light” in Levee Magazine, 2019

“White Tail” and ”Right at the Sun” in West Trade Review, 2019

”County High Point” in Panoplyzine, 2019

”Milk Flowers,” in Obra/Artefact, Summer 2019

“Talequah” in mutiny! magazine, June 2019

“Tom Joad of Osceola” in Seven Circlepress, Summer 2019

“Orbiter” in Coast/noCoast, Fall 2019

The Message” in Levee Magazine, Spring 2020

“Exercises in Cross-Disciplinary Biological Care,” in Little Patuxent Review, Winter 2020

“The Seed” in After Happy Hour Review, 2020

But I don’t feel the least bit fucking connected to any literary community. On the contrary, it feels as lonely as cold as ever. I’ve been putting work into the world but not interacting with the world in any meaningful way.  I realize it’s silly to expect any sort of feeling of community from just publishing and nothing else.  But the periodic dopamine bumps from the publications make it feel better.

So, this place is a good place to start.  Start attending South Bend poetry events again and blogging about them.  Read poems my friends publish and write about those, too.  Reach out and touch some shit.

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