I heard yesterday that a poetry magazine of some repute wants to publish one of my poems. Such news always merits the brief big woman happy dance around the kitchen. The choreography of this dance is intricate and often inspired by Aretha Franklin’s Respect. It requires careful navigation of a confined space whilst still ensuring a full measure of joy and unbroken crockery. I have eschewed the whoop as this seems rather American, the happy dance is sufficient unto itself.
The novel (note how it has taken on the definite article as a sign of significance over and above the indefinite novel) is out with the agents and of course should they express a definite interest the happy dance will acquire several extra moves and maybe the fridge will be given a bear-hug. When you live on your own appliances sometimes have to play a dual role in your life. I did at one point consider a rejection dance, a slow regal pavane but it would have felt like a bad dying swan moment performed by something the size of an ostrich. I seem to recall something similar in Fantasia and want to avoid any homage to the Disney Empire.
The use of origami to turn the rejection letter into a paper boat has, however, proved therapeutic at times and could be seen as an attempt at creative recycling. The role of admiral of a growing Armada of small boats encourages the Dunkirk spirit, a case of surviving despite the odds. I think this image stems from watching far too many old black and white films starring well spoken but forgettable English actors on wet Sunday afternoons as a child.
Of course when you fail to win or even come close to commended in a poetry competition one doesn’t even have the satisfaction of origami. A date slips by on the calendar without a ‘congratulations we are pleased to tell you that’ letter drifting onto the hall carpet. All that is left to you is to read the winning entries and try and find fault with the winners or wonder at the judges’ choice. I have found comfort in the mystical readers that sift entries to the big competitions. I have created strange lives and back histories for such people.
‘The Sifters’ lurk in the shadows; eat microwave Moussaka whilst reading my poems in front of Midsummer Murders. They are of course at times Salieri to my Mozart, intent on destroying my will to create. Most times I allow sanity to prevail and envisage every well crafted, interesting and exciting poem slipping through their sieve. Now and then ‘The Sifters’ are the dark gate-keepers betwixt me and the discerning judges who if only they had seen my poem would have understood its merits. I met ‘A Sifter’ once but I am sworn to secrecy. I have no doubt that their powers are great and terrible and that those who cross them will be shredded.