Not long ago, I was working with a local writing teacher and publisher on a few poems and he told me one of them wasn’t a poem “and don’t pretend that it is.”
Harsh, I thought. And confusing. When I asked for clarity, he said it was “too linear.”
Still confused, I sought the opinions of a few other local poets, and ultimately that of another longtime poet (and friend of my dad’s). They made good arguments in the poem’s favor and I felt better.
Usually, though, the only way to achieve full satisfaction in a once-dissed poem is to get it published. This time I found it collaborating with one of my favorite local musicians—one Doc Hutchings, half of a group called FreeRadikal.
Doc thought the poem worth his time composing a guitar line to go with it, worth our time working on phrasing and timing, and ultimately worth performing at our favorite open mic in downtown Raleigh. Went well enough that we may record it, if only for our own sakes, and we plan to do another.
So it’s not just publication that can validate one’s work. How about that?