Sending Out Ships

It’s National Poetry Month, and one of my goals is to submit my poems to at least two literary magazines every week throughout the month.

Poetry has been a passion for me, especially over the past five years when I turned to it to deal with very difficult events that were happening in my life. But I have always been a nonfiction writer – a journalist first, and now a nonfiction freelancer and book author. I also write short stories and novels, but since nonfiction is what supports me, all the other forms have necessarily taken a back seat.

So I was excited when an anthology containing one of my poems arrived in the mail a few days ago, just in time for the national celebration of poems. My poem is entitled “When the Snow Geese Fly,” and it was published in a beautiful anthology called Knocking at the Door, Poems about Approaching the Other, edited by Lisa Sisler and Lea C. Deschenes and published by Birch Bench Press.

Then I spent the weekend submitting my work to a number of magazines I had been collecting from the Creative Writers Opportunities (CRWROPPs) list. It’s a free listing sent daily by email with submission calls from magazines and contests. (Sign up at Google groups:

If you’ve been following my blog you know I went back to school last December to get my master’s in creative writing through Antioch University, Los Angeles’ low-residency program. I am a creative nonfiction student, since I’m writing a memoir, but one of the cool features of this program is one can “genre jump” for one of the six-month project periods to another genre. So, in June, I will hop to poetry, where I intend to focus on revising the poems I’ve written over the past five years with an eye toward getting a chapbook published.

I will continue to work on my memoir throughout that time, but I welcome a chance to revel in a form that has often felt like a bit of a luxury.

A woman named Chellie Campbell spoke at our local Association for Women in Communications meeting a month or so ago. She offers workshops on building wealth, and something that stuck with me was her story about sending out ships. She explained that in the 1400s, when Columbus was preparing to sail off to the East Indies (by way of the New World), merchants often sent ships out to gather goods. They would go down to the docks and wait for the ships to come back, hence the saying, “waiting for your ship to come in.” Now I view sending out my poems to magazines (and pitching story ideas and sending out short stories and accepting speaking engagements) as sending out my ships.

Believe it or not, they do come in.

What are you doing to send out your ships?