On Hiring Committees, Mentors, Revision, & Submissions

88º feels like 99º ~ likely heat index will top 110º today, opening the door to the deck is like opening an oven in which there is a water bath steaming around a quiche or cheesecake, the cicadas blend with a neighbor running a saw or power vac, how they stand the wet heat is beyond me

Dear Reader, I cannot believe it has been two full weeks since my last confession, ahem, posting. Lest you think me lazy, let me say that the week of 7/10 – 7/14 was consumed by my service on a hiring committee for a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at UCA. We conducted our on-campus interviews that week, and with most of our faculty out of town for the summer, the bulk of the work came down to myself and one of my colleagues. It was interesting work, and I felt completely invested in every minute, but it was a tad exhausting.

We wrapped up the last candidate dinner on Friday evening around 5:30 p.m. and I arrived home with just enough time to pack a suitcase and set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. the next morning. I had a 7 a.m. flight out of Little Rock bound for the airport at Cedar Rapids, IA. My weekend was a flash visit with family, and a trip to my alma mater, the College of St. Benedict, where my writing mentor, S. Mara Faulkner, celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a sister of the Order of St. Benedict. I loved being a part of honoring Mara’s life’s work. At the mass and reception, I was able to spend time with one of my college roommates, as well as touch base with three more of my undergraduate professors who were crucial in nurturing my poetic roots.

Mara Faulkner, OSB
Dr. Ozzie Mayers
Dr. Mike Opitz
Dr. Karen Erickson

I name them here because they matter. They matter, along with Dr. Madhu Mitra, Jon Hassler, and Eva Hooker, CSC. Each of these professors had some part  in setting me on the path to being the poet I am today, and I am in their debt, forever. I hope, each time I sit down with my BIC (a lesson learned from Jon), that I do them justice.

After another brief visit with Mom, I flew home late Monday evening, and spent most of Tuesday in recovery. As I woke on Wednesday, I was struck by that familiar panic that the summer was GONE, that I hadn’t accomplished all I wanted/needed to, and that school was going to start ANY MINUTE. OK, we don’t report back until the 21st, but there’s still so much to do to meet my goals.

Summer goals
*Write, revise, submit
*Read, write reviews for blog
*Preparations for the C. D. Wright Women Writers Conference
*Prep classes for fall in Illustrated Narrative and Political Poetry
*Collage (I have not met this goal at all, aside from one piece made when I had friends over)
*Organize and prepare to take on directing UCA’s undergraduate creative writing programs

Yesterday, the panic spurred me to turn to the po-biz side of things. Early in the summer, I’d made a push of sending out submissions. I was trying to be brave and sent to top tier magazines. I did this not because my tenure depends on it; no, UCA is not the type of place where a publication in the New Yorker is necessary. I did this for sheer vanity and pride. Now, most of these places take ages and ages to send out the rejections I will most likely receive. Given the sheer number of submissions the editors receive, the odds are not in my favor. However, just to bring me back down to earth, one of the submissions came back within three weeks with a rejection. Ouch. I let it linger in my inbox for almost a month before recording it yesterday.

With that unpleasantness over with, I turned to my stack of unpublished poems, some written recently, some several years old. I read, re-read, always aloud, and made a few tweaks here and there. I already had the poems sectioned into mini manuscripts, meeting the 4 – 6 poem limits for most magazines. Then, I turned to my spreadsheet on all the magazines I know about and I scanned the column for submission periods. And “whomp” I was struck again by the fact that the vast majority of lit mags do not read submissions in the summer. I certainly understand why this is, but it really inconveniences those of us who don’t have much time during the rest of the year for this po-biz work. Le sigh. I did send out a few packets, and made a list of which mags will be opening in August. I’ll enter the queue in a sweeping onrush of submissions along with all the other poets in the universe.

My poetry goal now is to get a few more new drafts in over the next two weeks. Stay tuned for lessons of success or failure. In the meantime, I wish you happy reading, happy writing.

Posted by Sandy Longhorn