When I realized I was called to be a poet, the low hanging despair I felt since I was a girl who was raised as a fundamentalist, with every last mystery answered, began to dissipate because poetry led me right back to mystery. It lead me to I-don’t-know-mind as one word lead to the next and the next after that. There would always be another poem to make. My brother could tickle songs from his guitar, but I could not make music with an instrument, though I was fascinated with making language sing, the beats of sentences. I tried painting but had no gift for it, but I could draw images with words.
I wrote poetry because typing and retyping prose was too much work. As a first year college student, my whole class schedule shouted that I might have a call to be a poet. I began to shape my life around this work. My creative writing teacher said I had a gift, but it was humble like the boy bringing two loaves and five fishes to Jesus, who broke the bread and fed five thousand. And Madeleine L’Engle said she thought I might have a gift. She seemed like she’d walked in from a foreign world more glorious than ours. I went on to poetry school, earned my MFA and wrote poems.
When computers replaced typewriters, I began writing sentences, essays and novels. When I noticed there were fewer novels entered in the literary contests than poetry manuscripts I started to edge my way into early drafts of The River Caught Sunlight as well as other drafts of memoirs and sequels. But since I had a completed poetry manuscript, The Grieving Dreams, that I shelved years ago, I began marketing it because I thought it deserved to breathe.
That’s how I made my acquaintance with Tupelo Press. I sent the collection and received the kindest rejection suggesting that I resubmit the book because different readers will evaluate it. I figured that I’d be donating to a worthy cause and buying a little hope by sending the collection out again. (I have never been good about sending out work.) A friend told me once to delight in the drawing the bowstring back and shooting the arrow, that the sending out can be its own reward.
In their newsletter Tupelo invited me to submit work for their 30/30 program, which means I need to write thirty poems in thirty days. I sent them three statuses I’d written in 2013 about a terrible snowstorm that open my unpublished memoir Winter to Winter and was startled that they accepted my work into this program.
This is a fundraiser much like biking so many miles to raise money for cancer research or MS. My poems will be published on their blog under the 30/30 tab in Tupelopress.org along with six other poets. Right now I’m thinking of using this as an exercise to write my horse memoir, which has been brimming, wanting me to write the story. I’m a slow writer who believes in revision, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot of very rough drafts. And I might fly off into other subjects like I do here on this blog.
As an independent press publishing excellent work, Tupelo Press is worthy of your support. Publisher, Jeffrey Levine writes, “At the midpoint of our eighteenth year — and nearly 200 volumes into our life — Tupelo has not only been a champion of emerging writers, but we have given a special place of prominence to women and to writers of color. For example, nearly 2/3 of our books have been authored by women. This is an astonishment in the world of publishing.
“Tupelo has published truly significant work, including brilliant translations, from writers around the globe, including Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and South America.”
My first poems for them are posted here: https://www.tupelopress.org/the-3030-project-2/
I hope you’ll consider supporting Tupelo Press at: https://tupelopress.networkforgood.com/projects/32537-katie-andraski-s-fundraiser