(Started writing this blog post a handful of days ago; then my time/brain space got invaded by a wedding, a baby shower and other what not – including other oodles of reading/writing/poetry goodness. Finally getting around to finishing it, in one way or another – about how so-called vintage children’s books got me thinking, when does contemporary poetry suddenly turn into vintage!?! AAH.).
The hour is late, I should get to bed, but instead I am feeling compelled to express a few thoughts/feelings about how tonight my poetry made me feel old! Not because of its content or style (thank goodness), but because of the fast passage of time.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, I am 40 years old and I started writing a lot of poetry back when I was a teenager – and I started submitting it/having it accepted for publication when I was in college (getting my BFA in creative writing) – and I started writing/submitting/being published considerably more AND feeling more strongly and favorably about my writing style in my late 20s to mid 30s – so…this shouldn’t surprise me or make me feel weirdly old, but…
Last night, I was adding a few vintage children’s books to my Blood Pudding Press shop – more specifically, children’s fairy tale books published in 1978. That process got me thinking about fairy tales fused with poems. I was adding additions of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Cinderella" to my shop, thinking about how personally I’m more of a fan of gruesome and macabre fairy tale language (a la Grimm's), rather than how more traditional kid's books really tone down the words.
(Despite the toned down words, I’m still keeping a copy of Hansel and Gretel - because no matter how a children's book tries to tone that content down, it's still going to be delightfully creepy, on a variety of levels - PLUS the fact that when I was a little girl, my mom used to style my hair based on a Gretel illustration).
I got to thinking about how in recent years, I don't write poems inspired by fairy tales. I’ve written a few fairy tale themed poems in the far off past – but many years ago, I thought fairy tale inspired poem themes were becoming overdone – and for the most part, I’d rather work with my own themes, rather than creating variations on others’ themes.
I understand how parts of fairy tales can be creatively inspiring, though (for me, especially the violent bursts). In the far off past, pieces of my poems where semi-inspired by rumplestiltskin, rapunzel, and black birds in a pie. Thinking more about it, I realized that I HAVE used some fairy tale snippets recently – not any overall fairy tale theme, but fusion mix snips of georgy porgy pudding pie inserting himself plus my ongoing spurts of ashes to ashes (to ashes to ashes to ashes) in various amalgams.
Then I got to thinking about how an older poem of mine, possibly the first poem of mine that I continued to feel really strongly about many years later, SCRATCH, was inspired by various childhood issues, including burning my hand on an electric grill while walking around in circles reading 'Sleeping Beauty'.
I recently read SCRATCH (for the first time in years) at a poetry reading event this past March 2013 – and while thinking about it again, I decided to locate its print version, to take a peek at more details. Yes, I have my poems on my computer, but for many years now, whenever I finish a poem, I also print out a copy – and I have all these printed out copies of poems (hundreds upon hundreds open hundreds) stored in big envelope sections, where I handwrite notes as to where they’re submitted, rejected, accepted etc…
When I finally managed to locate the printed out copy of SCRATCH and then look at its handwritten notes, I found out that it was written in 1999!
I don’t remember all the details about how and when I revised the piece (how many times and how significantly etc…), but according to some of my handwritten notes jotted down on the printed out copy… An earlier version of the piece was read at Clintonville Community Co-Up and was read twice at Victorian’s Midnight Café (those notes made me remember my Open Mic reading phase in my mid 20s). It was submitted to and rejected by Spinning Jenny, Brownstone Review, Sonora Review, and Crab Creek Review (I’m not even sure if all those sources still exist anymore).Then it was revised. Then it was rejected by Indiana Review, Green Hills Lit, and Arsenic Lobster (a source I’ve now been published by several times). It was entered into a few contests/poetry prizes in 2000 (I had forgotten that I used to submit my poems to contests too).
Furthermore, I have quite a few submission sources written down and crossed off – and I’m not sure if that means I never heard back from those sources one way or the other or what (because if I had heard back with a rejection, then I think I would have written that in the rejection section). I have all this stuff crossed off – Sylvia (Dec.), Bathtub Gin (Jan. 2000), Great Midwestern Quarterly (June 2000), West Branch (May), Interbang (July)… There are a few other notes too that I don’t quite understand and I don’t want to spend too much time trying to analyze the details of notes I jotted years ago.
The overall detail that made me feel weirdly old was that it appears I initially finished writing and stared submitting the poem in December 1999 (and had it accepted by SKIDROW PENTHOUSE in which it was published in 2003, 10 years ago) - and so when I read it for the first time in years at a poetry reading event this past March, I knew it was an older poem, but I didn’t realize it was thirteen years old!
I’m sure I could go on (and on & on), but that’s enough of this semi-random rambling for now.
In other news, the vintage Cinderella book already sold from the Blood Pudding Press shop – but as of right now, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is still available there (https://www.etsy.com/listing/155869933/vintage-childrens-fairy-tale-book-beauty?) – and I’m hoping to find time to add more vintage kid’s books and other stuff soon.