The last time I really took myself seriously, it was 2013, and I was in a heated debate over whether I needed new shoes to replace my duct tape-soled ones or if I needed to pre-order a video game six months before it came out. Suffice to say, I was remarkably convincing, articulate, and completely serious the entire time I made my case, and I waited six months for a game I have completely forgotten the name of. Since then, I’ve been a little more silly.
However, I do still have moments that are not characterized by goofery, and one of those moments prolonged itself for an entire semester while I took a poetry workshop during the final stretch of my undergrad. I’ve never really thought of myself as a poet, or as someone who routinely writes poetry, or even someone who is particularly okay at it. That being said, I published a poem I wrote in that class on my school’s lit magazine. And then a few months later, a different publisher emailed me and told me they liked what I wrote. For someone who doesn’t consider themself a poet, I was weirdly elated to find I was alright at it. I’ve now lost the ability to ever claim I am not a totally superficial person whose self worth is contingent upon the worth others assign me.
But anyway, the publisher asked for two more poems, and suddenly I cared about the quality of my poetry, and I even briefly took myself a little seriously again. I edited 2 poems I liked a little bit and submitted them. Editing poetry is very different from editing research articles or blog posts. Each poem is probably less than 200 words, and each word had to count. I felt like a drunk surgeon working on a very fragile patient.
This all happened in October of 2017. Anyone with experience submitting to books or magazine may recognize that 4 months is actually not that long to wait on word back from a publisher. I remember submitting to some big magazine a few years ago, and 6 months later they emailed me to politely inform me both that they would not be accepting my submission and had, in fact no intention of even reading it. Still, 4 months felt like longer than I wanted, particularly because I’m used to writing whatever I want, posting it here, and frowning at myself as I read back through the text I immediately learned to hate. After 4 months, I really hated those two poems. But then I heard back from the publisher.
The email subject line read “Your Submission Decision.” I spent a nervous minute before opening the email whispering to myself “you didn’t get it. Your poems are bad. They didn’t email you until now because they thought you were joking when you sent in that filth. You should buy more gin because you’ll want it after you open this.” I was right, but only because I should always have gin in the house. No kitchen is complete without it.
Anyway, they accepted my stuff. Now I can finally walk into my favorite tea shops, plop my expensive laptop onto a table that could seat 4, sit down alone with no intention of sharing the other 3 seats, and feel better than everyone else. Me and around 49 other poets–it feels weird and wrong and totally disingenuous to call myself that, but it fits the other people–are going to be in a book of other better poetry. It’s being published by a group called Z Publishing which had to pass my many rigorous google checks because that name sounds exactly like the laziest scam a poem thief–I bet that’s a thing–would come up with while on the bus back to their studio apartment. But it seems real, and they have 49 other books coming out named after the state the writers come from which lends a bit of legitimacy to the whole enterprise.
It seems weird and exploitative to advertise on here, but I’m a broke grad student and a broke teacher, so I feel like I have a slight pass. Anyway, the book is available for pre-order today, and I get 26.68% of every dollar used to buy it from this link. To use, just click the link, scroll down to “Arizona’s Best Emerging Poets,” and click it while somewhere else in the world, maybe not Arizona, I will be wiping a happy tear from my exhausted, swampy eyes. I’m also pretty certain they won’t give me anything if it’s bought through the normal website channels or Amazon because Amazon drains authors like the Disney Channel drains mental stability from child actors.
If you feel like reading my 2 poems and also have the absolute, sublime benevolence to offer some support to me and the other fantastic authors in this series, then consider checking the book out. Another important detail: I only use the moniker Non-Euclidean Sofa here because it’s kind of a mouthful in casual conversation, so I guess this is as good a time as any to toss out my sweet, totally-not-just-my-first-initial-and-surname pen name, J. Kanzler. I mention it so nobody gets annoyed when they see there’s no weird Sofa-person in the table of contents.
If you don’t want to buy the book because 15.00 USD is kind of a lot of money–really, that’s like 3 or 4 meals for me–but still want to read those 2 poems of mine, I’ll post them here eventually. Probably.
For anyone totally, fantastically uninterested in my weird poetry, then take this post as an explanation for why I am now 5000% smugger than ever before and also why I will not be seen in public without a beret and heavy eyeliner.