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Scott Edward Anderson reading at Cornelia Street Cafe, October 2018. Photo by Den Petrizzo.

This is the time of year when I look back on my writing life over the past twelve months. I’m grateful for all my readers, editors, and listeners in 2018.

As the Walter Lowenfels’s quote at the top of my blog says, “One reader is a miracle; two, a mass movement.” I don’t take any of one of you miracles for granted. Thank you!

January — My craft essay, “Poetry as Practice,” published in Cleaver Magazine. Shanti Arts accepts DWELLING: an ecopoem for release later in year!

February/March — Finish the only poem I complete this year, “Phase Change,” with the help of Alfred Corn, currently on submission. (If you don’t know Alfred’s work, you really should check out his books by following the link above.)

April — My essay on Lowell’s “Skunk Hour” accepted by Schuylkill Valley Journal, published in Spring 2018 issue and online later in the year.

May/June — Write my essay/memoir FALLING UP and submit it to Homebound Publications for their Little Bound Books series. They want it! Will be published in Fall 2019.

July/August — Disquiet Azores residency. Continue research and writing for BELONGING, my “enhanced memoir” of identity, roots, and rediscovering my Azorean-Portuguese heritage.

September — Release of DWELLING: an ecopoem from Shanti Arts.

October — Several readings in support of DWELLING. Present my craft talk, “Making Poems Better: The Process of Revision,” at Boston Book Festival. Appear on “In the Balance” podcast with Susan Lambert.

November — Page proof edits for FALLING UP. Schedule appearances/readings for 2019 in New York, California, and at ASLE 2019. Continue work on BELONGING.

December — Excerpt from “Some Questions of Dwelling,” the prose section of DWELLING: an ecopoem, appears in Still Point Arts Quarterly.

It’s been a good year — thanks everyone for being my miracles!

 

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orr4_lgHere is my Day 4 poem:

 

“Happiness is a choice,”

Says my friend Jack.

Whether you choose

To focus on the love

Expressed or the flaws

Hinted at; that’s your choice.

(Okay, you snore. 

Is that enough?)

I choose to focus

On thriving, after so long

Languishing. Now

That I have found

The jewel in the crescent

Moon that makes disappear

The flaws in the bezel of my being.

–Scott Edward Anderson

Writing for posterity may be as old as writing itself. Poets, novelists, essayists, and philosophers all write with the hope that their work will survive them — even if they deny it — living on to touch new readers in distant ages.

Some writers never lived to see their work gain an audience or even a small, devoted readership. Some, like Robert Browning, obsessed about it.

Alas, the quote from Walter Lowenfels that adorns this blog is a daily reminder to me of the fate of almost all of us.

How much of our writing will survive, will last, will live to find readers throughout our lifetime and beyond?

I was struck by this question twice this week.

The first was Tuesday night, having dinner with twin brother poets Dan and David Simpson. We were talking about the fact that none of the three of us had published collections of our work, despite “success” placing individual poems in journals and magazines, and the awards and accolades we’ve received over the years.

David told of an encounter with a writing mentor who reviewed his draft manuscript. The mentor suggested they each go through the script and rate the poems numerically: 1, 2, 3; then they would compare the results and see what came of it.

My friend was dumbfounded that the mentor found so few 1s among the collection — really only a few — and only a few 2s as well.  The 3s weren’t even worth mentioning and probably should be discarded, suggested the mentor.

Bruised as David’s ego was by the experience, I found some solace in it.

“How many #1 singles did The Beatles have?” I asked David.  (27 is the answer.)

“So, okay, we can agree that none of us are The Beatles,” I offered. “But we could be, say, The Guess Who.” (That group had only had one number 1 single, “American Woman,” for three weeks May 9 -29, 1970, yet we all know the song and you probably have it streaming in your head right now at its mere mention.)

We agreed that we would be lucky to have one “hit” poem continue to be read by people after our deaths. We’d be delighted if a handful survive us, yet it’s helpful to have some perspective.

A few days later I received a request for permission to reprint a piece of writing I did in 1993. This is the most widely reprinted thing I’ve written and, I’m afraid, will likely survive any and all of my creative work.

The piece is a review of N. Scott Momaday‘s In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961-1991 that I wrote for The Bloomsbury Review.  I have had more requests to reprint that one 1500-word review than any other piece of writing I have done — ever.

It’s even been made available for students on such services as eNotes: Scott Edward Anderson (review date 1993).

I re-read the piece this morning — it’s not a bad piece of writing, as reviews go, and certainly lives up to eNotes’ description: “Anderson provides a thematic and stylistic review of In the Presence of the Sun.”

Yet, when I wrote the review, I never imagined it would be my most cited, most reprinted, perhaps even my most read piece of writing.

If only the strong survive may this piece rock on.

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