Earlier last week, I received an acceptance from the editor of Baltimore Review. What surprised me was that they were willing to accept a piece that I long gave up. Well, I guess like many other poets/writers, I took (and still do) rejections (in multiple plurality) as the benchmark of whether a piece was good enough. And when I wrote it, I thought It's not bad, not that bad. Strangely, I kept going back to the poem and revising it. It has by now at least five or six drafts. I believe it is still not in its best shape. But I'd like to thank Barbara for her encouragement and acknowledgment, or else the poem will still hide in my D drive. D for Dead. I was asked to write a short statement on the poem that explains the writing process. This is what I send accordingly:
I remember the first draft of “Museum of Septum” is called “To Dean Young”, which says a lot why the poem is full of images of the heart and organs. Young’s poetry has a lot to admire. The voice, the tone, the sudden and “reckless” narrative turns, just to mention a few. But then (after a few rejections), I felt the poem might be an act of vanity since he didn’t know me at all. I dismantled the poem and inserted a few savaged lines from another piece I decided to abandon. In that poem, I was trying to create a scene in which a couple was having Japanese teriyaki as their last meal. For some reasons, that poem didn’t work (and thank god), then they are the lines in “Museum” about Chinese eating cooked animal organs. I don’t know why the heart image always comes back to me. In some ways, the heart is like a mini museum that has different exhibitions going on concurrently in different galleries. The heart beats, but we don’t want it to beat too fast or too slowly. We want a rhythm so regular and regulated that we don’t even notice it’s beating. There’s another weird thought that stayed in my head (and still does) when the poem was written: What if the exhibition is about living organs? And worse, the donors have to pay the full admission fee to get in just to see what have been taken out from their bodies? It’s bio-art. It’s organic.
I hope Barbara won't be mad at me for my sharing this before the official launch of the issue. I have struggled for quite some time whether I should start a blog on my website. If so, what is it about? I certainly wouldn't expose too much of my personal life here. Not that I am afraid, but for those who teach, probably you will understand students are the best materials for stalkers.
Meanwhile, I am putting together a new manuscript (have been doing it for quite some time), buying journals, books and spending money on entering competitions. Aren't they what writers do?