Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rejection, Inspiration, & Confession

I write here not only to celebrate inspiration and acceptance, but to express my writing journey on all fronts, including the inevitable rejections. I was recently denied a scholarship that I applied for, but was happy to find out later that I received grants and loans for my senior year. I also didn't get the editorial internship I wanted, but this may be a blessing in disguise. I need to earn more money than the pittance paid by the internship. Nevertheless these rejections have dampened by spirits a little bit.
Mounting financial problems have made me question the pursuit of my master's degree. There are many programs I want to apply to which have full funding and a stipend, but I wonder how we could even manage to move if I could get into one of these programs. Many of them have upwards of 600 applicants, and they allow for only 6-10 slots! I will be happy enough to finish my bachelor's degree at this point! I am still working as if I am planning to get my master's. I will take the GRE in hopes that I can apply in the fall, but even if I can't then, I will eventually, and the scores are generally good for 5 years.
I have been obsessed with my undergraduate research project. I am simultaneously reading Anne Sexton's biography, letters, and complete works. I also have 10 or so books waiting for me at the library. I have already written 8 pages of poems in a fever of inspiration. These are all very closely mirroring her confessional style in content. I have imitated her techniques such as heavy use of simile, assonance, anaphora, and other types of repetition and rhyme. I have also used her shorter line length and written one very lengthy piece which is 1,000 words. These early poems will hopefully merge into a more personalized
21st century version of confessionalism.
Meanwhile I and others have questioned my total immersion into Sexton's life and works. Given my own demons, is it wise to delve so far into such a tormented soul's psyche? The waters are deep and murky. For now, I close my eyes and take that plunge.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rainy Day Writing Plans

It is another rainy day here in Western North Carolina. The semester is over and summer is here. Time to prepare for my senior year, which among other things, is now going to include a creative undergraduate research project. R, my writing "guru," has agreed to assist me with my project and has shared my enthusiasm for it. I am going to attempt to get into the national conference for undergraduate research, and hope to graduate with the distinction of an undergraduate research scholar.
Okay, that stuff probably sounds incredibly dull to 101%of people reading this, now here's the exciting part: the research project will focus on Anne Sexton and the evolution of confessional poetry. I am studying her collected works, reading her biography, and her correspondence. I also have a slew of books and articles to sift through. My research process generally consists of collecting the material and poring over it for several weeks before selecting my sources. The paper will be roughly 8 single spaced pages and it will explore the roots of confessional poetry, Sexton's poetry, and what constitutes confessional poetry in the 21st century.
The project will also include a collection of original poems, written by me, which are influenced by my study of Sexton's work. I already have one and one half poems written in this vein. The second one is likely going to start off quite long like many of her pieces. It may need to be edited down though. I am hoping to begin working with my writer's group in the next couple of weeks to get feedback on these poems. We'll also be studying for fall exams.
I certainly have enough life challenges going on right now to make for some expressive autobiographical work. However, I am trying to put a 21st century spin on the tradition, not parrot it. This is going to be an interesting exercise I think, and a worthwhile pursuit. The project abstract is due in early November and the symposium is next spring, so I'll have a jump start on my research for sure!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Editorial Internship and Life

Friday I was interviewed for an editorial internship. I think that they wanted to offer me the internship, but it has to count toward my college credit hours. I am not sure if or how I can do this, but I have a few irons in the fire trying to get that aspect squared away. I really want this! It would be such a fantastic opportunity. I would be helping the assistant editor and other members of the team with editing and writing, and I'd be able to sit in on some meetings as well. If I do get the internship they may even want me to write a blog about it for their website!
While there has been some activity pushing me forward with my career path my personal life has been a bit turbulent. My husband has been in the hospital for the past four days. This is the second time he has been hospitalized during final's week, and the fourth time he has been hospitalized in the past three years due to a chronic illness. When he is in there it is hard for me to focus on anything else, but I managed to get through finals and an interview. Then I spent my days entertaining him. I'll admit, I worked on my letter to the publishing house which I have to submit to the parent company of the place where I am trying to get the internship. I also brainstormed a new idea for a poem: strange places we've slept (like the hospital). I obsessively tried to get their intermittent wireless to work so I could see if my professor had e-mailed me back about using the internship for credit hours. I am a workaholic. I am obsessive. Most of all I am determined.
I am happy to say the care he's received this go round was better than the care he's previously received here in town. I think that led to a quicker recovery, and a more "pleasant" stay in the hospital, relatively speaking. We may still be headed down to South Carolina for further tests and treatment though.
I am excited to be done with finals, and at the prospect of bringing my husband home today. I want to focus on home for a few days. It has been a sorely neglected part of my life while the semester was underway. I have to clean, care for my husband, sort through my books, and straighten out my life in preparation for a busy summer.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Manila Envelopes As Opportunities

I have been in a fever of submissions. I have been distracted by my 2008 edition of "Poet's Market" for the past three days. I have been scouring "The American Poetry Review" and the internet. So far I have one set of online submissions in, and two manila envelopes ready to mail out tomorrow.
It is so exciting to find all of these literary publications which are vital, bursting with creativity, and determined, against all odds, to keep print poetry alive! I want to be a part of that. I have sent off all of my strongest pieces for consideration, well, technically I have to put some in the mail yet. So now maybe I can focus on my end of semester responsibilities?
I find the whole process to be so much fun. Selecting the strongest work, putting it in an order which reveals my range, writing the cover letters and bios, and then the envelopes. I have always had a bizarre passion for office supplies. But these envelopes? They seem like opportunities. Even when rejections (inevitably) creep back in my SASE, it means someone out there has read my poetry and considered it. Sometimes an intern, or maybe even the editor of a publication. Perhaps they will even give feedback? The whole process thrills me! I can't wait for finals to be over so I can begin to work on some new poetry!