Emergent Verse | An Introduction
- Published: March 21, 2022
By Ed Davis
As I walked in Glen Helen pondering the first installment of this reincarnated poetry column, the phrase “emergent verse” came to me and I realized I’d found its title. Emergent: “In the process of coming out; emerging; becoming noticed … newly formed or independent.” Yes!
I’d like to carry on the work Audrey Hackett began in her former “First Lines” column by extending an invitation to both published and unpublished poets to share their work. The eighth annual Tecumseh Land Trust and Glen Helen sponsored Solstice Poetry Reading — the last before going virtual — included an exciting open mic session. It wasn’t unusual to hear folks stand up to read their first poem or share publicly for the first time. Audiences were incredibly supportive and appreciative of these poets’ brave words and imagery. I’d like to create that same kind of intimate space in print.
Even if you never get the urge to send me a poem, maybe you’ll try writing one or will read someone else’s. As Richard Gilbert, editor of the online Heliosparrow Poetry Journal says, “Earth must meet heaven and the poem is one manner of making visible and negotiating this terrain.” I’d add that poetry is as essential as the air we breathe, and is just as available.
As for inspiration, it’s good to go where the poems are: everywhere, of course. Yet some settings can be more nurturing than others to poems’ tender spirits. For me, Glen Helen is that place. Attending public readings is good, too, such as the Solstice Poetry Reading referenced above; you can access the recording of this year’s event at tecumsehlandtrust.org. Enjoying somebody else’s work may help you find your own voice.
As Audrey did, I’m inviting you to share your poems with me so that I may select some of them to share with readers of this newspaper, showcasing what you’ve achieved, artistically as well as craft-wise. I may occasionally point to a stone left unturned, an instance where, to my mind, further development or a slight change might better serve the poem.
I’ll demonstrate using my own poem “Uncle Frank and the Boy,” from my collection, “Time of the Light,” about a friend who grew up in Detroit but spent summers working as his uncle’s farmhand. After detailing some of their bonding experiences, I concluded with:
Too young to know
he’d brought home more
than muscles, tough and tan,
he’d embodied the man
he’d be for the rest of his life.
But something niggled at me, and when my wife suggested changing “embodied the man“ to “cultivated the man,” my heart leapt. The word’s agricultural connotation perfectly linked the inner work my friend had done on himself to the outer farm work. Her excellent suggestion once again proved Twain’s insistence that the difference between a word and the right word is the difference between “lightning” and “lightning bug.”
So, if I can ever offer to you what was so kindly, gently offered to me, I’ll do so. You can take or leave such suggestions, for writers must never lose proprietorship of the poems entrusted to their care. A writer’s stewardship is as important as technical proficiency. A suggested alteration is only my opinion, and I reserve the right to be wrong.
As for submission instructions, I’m adapting those Audrey used in her trailblazing “First Lines” column:
Individual writers may submit up to four poems in a given month. Poems should be no more than 25 lines. Whole poems are preferred, but I’ll consider excerpts of this length, too, with the poet’s permission. Due to copyright considerations, please do not submit work that has been previously published; self-published poems are welcome.
Submit poems as Word attachments by email to email@example.com. Include your name, address, phone number(s) and a short bio. While all submissions will be briefly acknowledged, only those writers whose work is being considered for publication will be contacted for further conversation. All News readers, including those who live outside of Yellow Springs, are welcome to submit poems.
Audrey’s excellent criteria will also guide my selections. Does the poem engage the imagination? Does the poem stimulate and transmit feeling? Does the poem use fresh or intensified language? And, fourth, do the poems published reflect the village’s diverse inhabitants and perspectives?
I look forward to reading your poems!