26 March 2021

Spring's crop of "first book" awards.

I finally pulled together a completely new version of my full-length poetry manuscript, Faster Than Hares and Rabbits--I removed about a dozen weaker poems, making the collection more cohesive in the process. I have done a little work at a time, then today and yesterday, I put hours and hours of work into revising some of the poems and organizing the whole thing. Culling poems was easier than I'd expected--I'm hoping a leaner manuscript of higher quality will work in my favor. 

This afternoon, I sent a copy to the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize at Kent State University. Tracy K. Smith is the judge, and while I find that intimidating, I did not let it dissuade me from submitting. I passed on a few fall contests because I was worried that my work didn't have anything in common with the judge's work, but I am trying not to overthink the process. I am proud of my recent work, and I am trying to be more confident about it, too. 

I also submitted to Elixir Press's Antivenom Poetry Award, which is for a first or second book of poetry. Both of these contests read blind--no names, no acknowledgments, to identifying information. I prefer this--I feel like my poetry should stand on its own, without someone also weighing how impressive my publications are. 

I plan to submit to the University of Pittsburgh Press's Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, too, but as I was reading requirements today, I realized that they want a curriculum vita included with the manuscript. So, I have until the end of April to get a CV pulled together. I am discouraged, because it makes me feel that my spotty publication history, and perhaps even my position as a community college instructor, could be used to subtract value from my manuscript. I will absolutely submit, but I'm glad I have a cushion of time in which to tackle the curriculum vita. 

On a positive note, my publications from 2020 and 2021 are multiple, and I have generated a lot of new work. So, the manuscript no longer relies on poems that were published 10+ years ago. I feel that if I must include acknowledgments, at least my manuscript of March 2021 looks more current/relevant that my manuscript of September 2020.

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