Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Lava is an evocative image.  In the last week, I’ve seen in it three poems. One in a bookstore, one I wrote partly in response, and now this from Robert Okaji, published at Vox Populi: Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter.

It’s used very precisely and sparingly and at the same time almost jarringly Okaji’s beautiful piece. Steeped as I often am in pastoral imagery (that is, of things having to do with land and animals and farming),  I also found myself pleasantly surprised at how effective the image of the goat is here.  A beautiful poem, and very well done.

 

On Uses of Your Time

Before I became a pastor and a food trucker, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and taught writing for a season at a college in the Bronx.  Before I did that, I went to Yale Divinity School and got my MDiv there.

I write a lot.  Every now and then, I submit old or new fiction or poetry to various literary journals.  I’ve been doing this long enough to have watched the submissions process change from mostly postal to various electronic formats to the now-standard service at Submittable.  I’ve watched the rise of submission fees, and I refuse to pay them. I try to spend more time writing than writing about writing.  I’ve had various plan Bs.

There are more journals now than ever.  They all say variations of the same thing.  Send us your best work.  We are picky.  We want to highlight emerging writers.   And we do, and they are, and they do.  At the same time, there seem to be more small presses than ever, which is a good thing.  There are also more writers than ever, and here I mean very talented ones.

It is always tempting to start a new journal, edited and curated by me, reflecting only my tastes.  It is always tempting to do that, until you realize that means your own work gets pushed further and further to the back.

The key, I think, is persistence.

That’s not a revelation.  It may be a reminder.

No matter your vocation, and I really mean this, no matter your vocation, you will be tempted to give up because you’ve tried so hard, so long, because life or people aren’t fair, because the meritocracy has failed, because you hold current tastes in contempt (too much or not enough), because you are too revolutionary or your politics too nuanced.

The key, I think, is perspective. Live your life, take care of your family.  Take care of yourself, and let people help.

The rest will come.  Or won’t.   It’s not up to you or your talent. In the end, it doesn’t matter.  There are millions of talented people, and you are probably one of them, whether I know your name or don’t.  Bless the people around you.  Be talented in that, and build that talent up in you and other people.

 

 

 

Deep Fried Mozzarella Sandwich; Huffington Post Shuts Down Submissions

I’m not going to lie.  This looks really good.  I’m not a doctor or dietician, but I’d also say probably not for anyone struggle with heart disease.

The Huffington Post believes it has done all it can to democratize the the internet via its contributor platform, which has now been shut down.  It’s funny that this email came when it did, given that I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of markets, many of which are niche, the popularity of submission fees (please), and the reality that so few very talented writers get through.

Here’s the email from HuffPost:

Dear HuffPost Contributors,

When HuffPost launched in 2005, it introduced a group blogging platform that revolutionized and democratized online commentary. It allowed teachers, parents and protesters to share space with celebrities, politicians and CEOs while trading ideas on the pressing issues of the day. Over the years, more than 100,000 contributors have posted on the site, with many of you posting from the start.

Today, with the proliferation of social media and self-publishing platforms across the web, people have many more opportunities to share their thoughts and opinions online. At the same time, the quantity and volume of noise means truly being heard is harder than ever. Those who are willing to shout the loudest often drown out new, more-deserving voices. The same has proven to be true on our own platform.

It is with this in mind that we have made the decision to close the contributors platform on our U.S. site. Going forward, when you log in to the portal at contributors.huffingtonpost.com, you’ll see that you are able to access your previous drafts and published posts — and unpublish those posts if you choose to do so — but you won’t be able to post anything new. We won’t be taking down or making any changes to previously published content ourselves.

We’ll still be publishing commentary on the site, we’ll just be doing it at much smaller scale, collaborating with writers to share smart, original ideas and making sure that we’re lifting up the voices that have been left out of the conversation in the past. We hope to keep hearing from many of you in the future, and more information about how to pitch us your ideas will be published on the site.

Thanks for being an integral part of the HuffPost community. Your bold, thoughtful contributions to HuffPost’s contributor platform have helped to make us what we are today, and we are so grateful and proud to have had you with us in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

The HuffPost Team