Poems are to be
used in everyday life
is my answer to the aspirng poet
who wants to publish in the New Yorker
and nowhere else, except maybe a
peer-review journal that makes you wait
a year or more before a committee
decides your work
meets its editorial needs.
What this aspiring poet doesn’t knowis that poetry needs to sing in the rain
it needs to come alive in the middle of an afternoon.
It needs to dance
in the dark
It’s not just the poet who needs
Poems have needs too.
They need to be outside
everyday, in the fresh,
or the stale, air.
This aspiring poet does the work of poetry. She writes .She attends poetry gatherings and discusses her work
with other writers.
She reads in open mikes
and once in awhile
gives her own fifteen-minute readings.
She keeps a journal of her days
and a notebook full of poems.
Most of all, she reads poetry, lots of poetry.
She doesn’t need a famous magazine to tell her she’s a poet.
She already is and shouldn’t hide her work
in envelopes waiting to be read.
Send them out, I tell her.
Or post them on a blog.
But if I post them on my blog, she says,the journals won’t accept them.
That’s their loss, I tell her.
Besides, the world is changing
The publishing world is.
Famous is not what it used to be.
The poem is a vehicle for responding
to current events, to the goings-on around you.
Poetry-making need not be a closed network,
unless you participate in making it so.
Speak your poems now, I advise this poet.
People are waiting to hear you.
I'm waiting to hear you.
-Esther Altshul Helfgott