I ended my National Poetry Month challenge (write a poem a day) with a dozen new poems. I sent out seven poems to various publications and contests and boy, did I hit the mark!
My poem “English” won the grand prize in the Carolina Woman magazine 2022 Writing Contest! You can read it online, or pick up a print copy in the Triangle area of North Carolina.
I wrote “English” earlier, after we first moved to North Carolina, and it feels great to finally see it published. Members of my writing group in Virginia, Write by the Rails, framed it and hung it on a wall in a community center in Manassas Park, Virginia as part of their “Poetry Around Town” project. I like having my words in different places, like art works. I have a poem framed in a pizza shop in Smithfield, North Carolina, and another in a time capsule in Selma, North Carolina. I once handed out poems instead of business cards at a Chamber of Commerce event!
But that’s not all! This past month I wrote a poem after taking WFDD’s challenge to write to prompts. The prompt I chose was “the scent of fire.” I sent my poem in, and at the end of the month they notified me that my poem, “The Scent of Fire,” is now included in WFDD’s inaugural poetry collection!
I just sent out five of my poems to try for the James Applewhite Poetry Prize through the North Carolina Literary Review. One of my poems was a finalist in a previous year, but it was not published in the NCLR. That deadline was last week. And currently I am gathering and working on five poems to submit and compete for a poetry fellowship in North Carolina. The fellowship honors the memory of Susan Laughter Meyers, whom I was fortunate to meet before she passed away. I look at past residency winners, and I see all the prestigious places they have published their poems, and all their hard-earned degrees. My inner critic says “you don’t have a chance.” I just push that pesky critic aside and continue to write and submit, or at least write and read at local open mics.
I write because I enjoy the process of writing. I write in community — participating in critique groups and then performing my work in public — because that’s what I am, a grassroots community activist and writer, weaving community in a time of disruption. Writing brings me close to the Creator. I process my thoughts, write them down and share them. That encourages others to do the same. I am a listener, a “believing mirror” for others, as Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way. I also create “circles” for community dialogue at the library, at the senior center, at the coffee shop — anywhere people gather.
Thank you, Carolina Woman magazine! Thank you WFDD! And thank you to all the local community spaces that welcome open mics or post framed poetry! Writers: Keep writing!