at the new year

woman gazing outward, swb, 2018

This year started off dragging a long bag of the last with it. I have been slow to drop it behind me. Especially when the bag included a veritable stream of rejections received the first week of this year for pieces sent with high hopes in the second half of 2017.

I needed to regroup. Hence, for instance, the uploading of a new sub-page under ‘Creative Endeavors’ (collage).

But the new year brings with it lovely surprises, as well. Such as hearing from a favorite poet that you have been accepted into her 2018 Poetry Intensive Workshop. Yep, you read that right! Marge Piercy  — who only wants ’12 serious poets’ to work with in her coveted workshop —  chose me as one of them.

The new year is looking brighter already. Perhaps it’s time to start that collection from my recent trip to Portugal; to polish up some of my earlier attempts at more public (political) pieces; to sort through accumulated poem drafts and consolidate, trash or face-lift the old … and generally, to remember that rejection is not a statement of whether or not one ‘should’ write. It’s just a goad to keep on doing so.

As Marge writes in the final stanza of her powerful ‘At the New Moon’ from “The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme,” Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1999:

Let the half day festival of the new moon
remind us how to retreat and grow strong, how to
reflect and learn, how to push our bellies forward,
how to roll and turn and pull the tides up, up
when we need them, how to come back each time
we look dead, making a new season shine.

8 thoughts on “at the new year

  1. Many congratulations Sarah! On being selected by MP. For every twenty rejections a single supporter weights the scale I find. Being in deep doldrums myself and for many months I received this from a single reader. ‘Involution is a gift to humanity. The mighty tree is alive with its roots deep in you. See from that eye which came to you in a vision, the eye which shines like the sun. Even when it is obscured by clouds, it is still in you. Let what it sees guide you. Let it give you encouragement and strength. It will tell you what and how to write. It did so before!’

    IT was like light breaking through clouds !

    All the very best for 2018 .I look forward to the poetic emissions.

    • Ah, Philippa – light in the darkness! I LOVE this – you likely do not know about me and trees. Suffice it to say, thank you for sharing that wonderful wisdom, and true. Deep roots, far sight. Sometimes we need to be reminded. You can imagine how this past year has felt unnaturally heavy on this side of the pond … galvanizing and paralytic in painful measures. Enough said. Instead, let me re-turn to your words of encouragement and strength and shine them back to you. Blessings on you and your work.

      • Yes, Sarah I CAN imagine the disbelief that has paralysed all my American friends, and made creativity seem almost maladjusted! So any small impulse is a stab against despair. It looks not far off here, and corrosion has already taken hold. I spend too much time railing at the daily news but that very intuitive gentle ‘kick’ did wonders in restoration.

      • ‘Creativity seem maladjusted’ … so sad, so true!!! And thank you for this: ‘any small impulse is a stab against despair.’ And so we shall jab onward!!! Not railing but persisting, trying to move the needle toward sanity, compassion, and yes creativity … Thank you, friend.

  2. Sarah, I so admire the courage you have in sending out your poems. That’s a leap I have not nor do I think I ever will make. I can’t get over my desire to watch someone read my works or, better yet, to read it to them. I want to say here, do you get what I meant, did you like the choice of words, what do you think about the ending, did you like the shape of the poem. See, you are brave to not let those questions inhibit you. And many congratulations on being selected by Ms Piercy. She’s definitely one of the greats. Let us know all about it.

    • For sure I will post all about it, Ginger. Maybe even more than you’d like … 🙂 As for courage – I don’t know about that. Certainly WWf(a)C modeled the very best way to be heard – being able to ask those questions (where is the pulse; where are you taken out; what resonates with you; what do you want more/less of …) and I do miss that on a regular basis. Perhaps the balance in that kind of feedback and putting my words ‘out there’ comes from having an ongoing group (though we meet not quite monthly, sadly) so I do get some of that immediate response. As for the more ‘frozen’ responses – well, yes, they are different. People sometimes tell me they like a phrase or the twist or the topic or how I’ve viewed it. More often, though, it is kind of sending it out into the ether. So why do it? Now THAT’s another question entirely. Honestly, my reasons and my focus are shifting. Which is why I’m so excited about MP’s workshop. I want to be more forceful/brave in writing things that ‘count’ in the world – that make people think, maybe even act – about issues like sexual harassment, inappropriate incarceration … things I encounter in my work and which feel like they need a voice ‘out there.’ Well – bet you didn’t mean to uncover all this but here it is!!! I appreciate your feedback and, across so many years, your encouragement. And honesty. And more…

  3. Congratulations Sarah on your selection working with Marge Piercy. How wonderful for you. Keep on writing, it’s your calling.

    • Oh, Bonnie, thank you! You are too kind. Can it be a true calling if it is so frequently called into question?!? I guess I’ve just given myself a new prompt… I do hope you are well and wish you a fulfilling 2018.

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