Some years are drought years, and some are full of abundance. This year has surely been one of abundance in the writing department. In other ways, Chad and I both have our health, and our kids and family members are overall doing well — the greatest gift of all.
As for the writing, the publication of Accommodations at the end of June was richly rewarding for many reasons. In addition to publishing a book, though, I have had the unprecedented experience of being nominated for a few awards. Now, nominated and winning are two different things…but to have an editor value your work enough to put it forward for a prize…that’s a whole new feeling.
A few months ago, I had two poems nominated for the Orison Anthology by separate journals. This week, I learned that four of my poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Wait, what? This happened. Now within six days, I’ve received two different notifications, which have brought me both disbelief and joy.
The first came last Sunday. Chad and I drove over to St. Augustine Beach, which is where we traditionally spend Thanksgiving week, the previous day. I was up with the dog at sunrise, took a long beach walk, then drove down to Publix for a few groceries. When I returned to our condo, I opened my email and discovered an email from Split Rock Review, with the subject line, “Congratulations!” in my inbox. I opened it to discover that the journal had nominated me for a Pushcart.
Of course, I was thrilled; an editor who reads hundreds of submissions each year and publishes only a few dozen, chose mine as one of the six poems she’s allowed to nominate for the prestigious honor.) Yes, I know that thousands of other writers share this designation each year. But despite knowing I’ve got plenty of company, and that the odds of winning are low, for this writer who has published a few dozen poems over many years and never previously received a Pushcart nomination, it’s a big deal.
Split Rock Review published my poem, “What’s Left of Us is Shaken,” a few months ago, and it was that poem that SRR’s warm and generous editor, Crystal Gibbons, nominated. Here’s the poem, if you’d like to read it.
Then today I heard from my publisher, the wonderful Lana Ayers, that her press, Concrete Wolf, had nominated three poems from my new book, Accommodations, for the Pushcart. The poems nominated are “An Ordinary Life” (first published in Atticus Review); “Personal Effects”, (first published in Potomac Review); and “Heel of a Loaf,” which was not published, but was acknowledged with an Atlanta Review International Merit Award in 2018.
I know there are many, many talented writers out there who never win or are even nominated for a prize. That was me, for many years. I also know that any recognition is a subjective, and a fleeting thing. So I will hold this honor close, and hope to wear it lightly as a coat of grace. And I will try to pay forward this abundance in some way.