April is often the cruelest month for me. Poems and mss get rejected. Lovers leave. Money gets tight even when the budget is followed. And those lovely budding plants means serious allergy reactions. So that song “Spring will hang you up the most” makes sense esp. when sun by Sarah Vaughn or Betty Carter, women whose knowledge of the world was vast and whose emotional reserves were deep. I am old enough to have seen them perform live although for some odd reasons I’ve never seen Aretha Franklin and it was only a year or so ago that I finally saw Chaka Khan. But those magic voiced women from jazz vocals glorious era–the daughters of Billie and Ella, they were sublime. Spring hangs on the sublime. And this April there was affirmation and prizes and forthcoming money and an outpouring of love and respect. This culminates on May 23rd with an awards event in mid-town Manhattan, where I will read some poems and thank everyone I can think of and feel a bit like Sally Fields’–You like me you really like me!
Every artist goes through those times when the world is dis-pleased with the work being done. You write free verse, everyone angles for form. You speak of the current trials and tribulations, others say poetry must transcend the times. You transcend the times, others write their current trials and tribulations. All any poet, no matter the style, can do is seek some version of truth in language, in line, in rhythm and rhyme, in a jumble of sounds that mimic sidewalk chatter or words as spare and austere as a French garden.
A part of me is learning to accept affirmation, to see that years of work has found favor and that more people will read my work. Another part of me hopes that I have the energy and good health to continue make work worthy of a wide audiences of serious readers, thinkers, et al. And now I really cannot hide behind the wall of indifference that often greeted me or my poetry for so many years. It’s a challenge, but a good challenge. I am happy to have good challenges and problems. As Dickinson pointed out “Success is counted sweetest. . .”