Compared to 2011’s publications, this writing year has felt less news-worthy. From January to April I was feverishly intent on revising my MA thesis, a poetry manuscript, with my mentor, A.F. Moritz. My poems felt gelatinous; I was hurriedly finishing drafts and pushing through revisions, working on several poems at once until I heard the sound of the returning birds in cool green spring dawns. And then, quite suddenly, it was time to hand it in and defend (such an apt word) the thesis, and my mind felt like a piece of flayed rubber.
Reading them over, the poems had the flavour of duress, despite my mentor’s, the program director’s, and my classmates’ repeated assurances that they felt it was a nearly finished manuscript, ready to submit to one of the local poetry presses. I felt differently– wanting to give each poem a final polish, one more pass. Most of the summer was spent in an equally frantic job hunt, as the last installment of my scholarship ebbed out. Volunteer work, too, swamped most of my summer with committee meetings, planning the Hospice Toronto fundraising gala, finalizing layout for echolocation‘s Issue 12, and participating in The Encampment at Luminato. This enjoyable work took me away from the creative exhaustion of the MA thesis, but did little to make me self-sufficient.
Writers early in their career are told so often (or at least I was) of the difficulties of earning a living as a writer, especially in Canada, that perhaps I dismissed this possibility. It’s true, I can’t make a living as a writer all of the time, but I can some of the time. This fall, I received a small TAC Writers Grant, and was longlisted for the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize. As one of 35 entries chosen from over 2,300, I’m thrilled my work is holding its own alongside Governor General’s awards winners and poets with established careers. I’ve begun reviewing for the Toronto Review of Books‘ online blog, Chirograph, and the first poetry submission I’ve sent off for several months, to CV2, was recently accepted: two of my most nature-y nature poems will appear in the Poetry Only issue in Spring 2013.
So as we head into the darkest, most saturated months, I’ll likely continue my patchwork existence of temporary, contract work, of freelance writing and reviewing, of locating grants like dwarves’ treasure, of submitting work, and ultimately, seeking a publisher for Admittances, sending out queries and samples like flashes of morse code into the overcast future days.