Yesterday and this morning I’m ploughing through the drift of poetry submissions sent in to Grist, the lit journal I’m working with this year.  I wonder why it surprises me so much, the poems we’re getting.  When I edited my undergrad creative arts journal, we got lots of poetry, and even with such a large pool of submissions, we still published some real wincers (a few of which were mine, admittedly).  The poems that I’m reading this morning, however, are living, for the most part, and breathing.  Some of them dazzle me.

This is the Big Time.

I’m reading poems sent with humble cover letters from thrice-published poets, and others whose lists of journal publications are three lines long.  It’s so strange to be on this side of publishing, to be the one that’s assigning a “yes” “no” or “maybe,” and moving them up the line.  Strange to realize that it’s really true, what they say: it doesn’t matter how many publications these poets have on their letter — the poems must speak.  And of course, this is both exhilarating and frightening; the poems speak for themselves, or no-one can speak for them.   (Smacks forehead.)  I guess I knew that, but — forgot.

A few submissions have remained in my memory.  Some prose poems prickling with inventiveness, and courage.  Two different series of persona poems, all illuminated by real lights.  What an honor to read.

Today I’m sending out some of my own.   Crossing fingers, knocking on wood.