I was very happy to receive an email this week, informing me that a poem I had submitted for a local poetry anthology collection had been accepted. A contract/agreement was attached to the email and I dutifully signed it, and sent it back. I happened to glance at the date of publication for the poetry book: October 2012. That’s an entire year away.
The poem itself is a loving tribute to the old railroad bed in our neighborhood that has been given new life as a rail trail. I called it “Ghost Train” because I often imagine the trains running in the background of the woods as we ride our bikes or walk the trails during the warm seasons. The book is a collection of poems that capture the city where I live, a place I am proud of and love raising my family in. There’s no compensation for the poem, just a copy of the book.
What’s interesting is that when I tweeted that my poem would be published, a number of folks began asking me where they could find the link. They assumed it was online, and immediately accessible. It’s not. We’re still a year away from the book form of the anthology. And it got me thinking through the day how odd it is for me to think about having to wait another year to see the poem in print, and even then, it may not be online anywhere. In fact, I submitted the poem many months ago and forgot all about it. I had to dig the poem back up and look through the lines again to remember what it is that I wrote, and remind myself why I liked it in the first place enough to submit it to the anthology.
I guess I have settled into the world of immediate publishing, like so many of us writers who use technology for publishing. I write it, I edit it, I publish it. I get feedback. I revise, if necessary, and re-publish. I move on. This particularly anthology is forcing my poem to slow down. These conflicted feelings about the poem — about my inner push to publish against the need to accept the natural progress of book publishing — strikes me as a metaphor for the transition that the world of publishing is in these days (and why there are questions about how it will survive).
What will it be like to rediscover my poem in another year, when the writing of it will be almost two years in the past? Will I even like it anymore? I hope so.
Here are the first lines:
Ghosts of freight trains
ride these rails,
sound asleep beneath the bed
of fallen leaves.
The rest you will have to wait a year to read …
Peace (in the poems),