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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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If you can huh, you can hear me

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:00 AM
If you can huh, you can hear me

You have to have somebody to write for. You can't just open the window and make love to the world ~Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday I felt like a real poet. While my son took his afternoon nap, I read through my copy of "Poets & Writers Magazine" with Wole Soyinka on the cover. I never really buy writing magazines (this is strange I know), but I know that if I am to take myself seriously as a writer and get back into the business of writing, I must be up to speed on the goings on in the writing community. So there I was, flipping through the magazine when I ran across an article dealing with the disproportionate ratio of writers to readers.

I am a poet.

Even before I changed my undergraduate major from business to English, with an emphasis in poetry, I knew I was sentencing myself to a life of hustle. Poets don't make money just writing poetry. Unless you are some sort of poetry rock star or the second coming of Walt Whitman, you are going to hold at least 2 other jobs in addition to writing poetry. And even IF you manage to carve out a living writing, you are forced to teach, or freelance, or act or are always on the road trolling open mics and coffeehouses for gigs. That ain't me. Being a poet mommy means that I can't jump up and fly to DC or Atlanta or College Town USA to do a reading for a few bucks. Not without proper planning at least. So, my writing life means that while I am a poet to the core, I also have a day job. But this article made me think. When the planets do align and I release my debut collection will anyone care to read it?

In the piece, "The Law of Diminishing Readership," Joseph Bednarik discusses the troubling decline in the readership of poetry and prose, while MFA programs are blowing up and turning out writers by the pound. As he points out in his article, many people LOVE to write poetry, but don't like reading it. I confess, I'm guilty. When I was sitting in my MFA workshops, I was often asked who my influences were. I would quickly answer James Baldwin, Nas, Mos Def, Richard Wright--notice how they are not poets? But ask me if I want my book read and I will most-certainly say yes.

Reading this article made me rethink my approach. I know that in order to become a better writer, I must read more. Lately I have been enjoying the collections of Saul Williams, Suheir Hammad, and Wanda Coleman. Each of these leaving me inspired and eager to put pen to paper. But the question remains, if no one reads...why continue writing?

This article not only made me more conscious of the poetry market, but of the whole blogging game as well. Just as any other writers, we bloggers get here, craft our entries, and hope someone reads and better yet comments, but do we do the same for others? I have tried to go out and read and respond to as many blogs (that I find funny/interesting) that I can. Many of you have returned the favor (thank you), but there are many still that are silent and lurking. While I am thankful for EVERYONE'S readership, I am vain and in need of a little ego-stroking. I want your comments. Please share and discuss and argue or disagree. Let me know you are out there and have something to say. I promise you, I will do the same.


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9 Response to 'If you can huh, you can hear me'

  1. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146512160000#c114651221256482123'> Monday, May 01, 2006 12:36:00 PM

    don't you hate it when people don't respond...say something like good post, you lame...go to hell...sumth'n...good post


  2. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146513900000#c114651390588987921'> Monday, May 01, 2006 1:05:00 PM

    As he points out in his article, many people LOVE to write poetry, but don't like reading it.
    My sister writes poetry and my father published a book of poems when he was younger...I've never really been into poetry but I'm open to getting into it if it relates to issues that interest me. eg race lol

    Just as any other writers, we bloggers get here, craft our entries, and hope someone reads and better yet comments, but do we do the same for others? I have tried to go out and read and respond to as many blogs (that I find funny/interesting) that I can. Many of you have returned the favor (thank you), but there are many still that are silent and lurking.

    I get several people (I can tell from my site meter) who regularly visit my blog, often for long periods of time, yet never comment - I find this fascinating - I'm glad that they visit/ find my site interesting, but it would be nice if they would comment.

    By the way many thanks for your contributions to my blog. I got a compliment yesterday from Professor Zero (on blackblog rolls) - she was saying that she liked my blog because of the direct/honest comments of my commenters - so that was nice!


  3. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146518460000#c114651848340201998'> Monday, May 01, 2006 2:21:00 PM

    Sarcastik: lol. i feel you.

    RR: thanks! yeah, i often wondered why people linger so long, then don't speak up. i guess we can file that away under "things that make you go hmmmm" (and thank you for commenting!)


  4. dpm Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146522300000#c114652232969628169'> Monday, May 01, 2006 3:25:00 PM

    I think I've always fantasized about being the invisible writer. Consequently, I have numerous pen names and I can't count the number of times I've been published. After awhile I think the weight of my ego evaporated from my writing. Sure, ego stroking feels good, but I've become to obsessively ask myself, "Why am I writing?" For comments? I know not.

    I think that if you submerge yourself into your passion, something will flower. Something.

    In a totally different light, I graduated from the English Dept. with an emphasis is creative writing by default. I was undeclared for 4 years at my university and the English dept decided to make an English major because I excelled in all their classes.

    Great. Now I gotta live my life with people asking if I teach high school.

    Lastly, I'm guilty of lingering.


  5. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146529440000#c114652947019677389'> Monday, May 01, 2006 5:24:00 PM


    lol. i feel you on the "are you a HS teacher thing." i used to hate that. but i realize 1) i REALLY want the schedule of a teacher (summers of, spring break, off at 3) and 2) i really do love working with & teaching kids. so after much dodging, 2nd English...here i come! (just a stepping stone to being a professor tho).

    ps--it's ok to linger, so long as you say hi sometimes *smile*


  6. dpm Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146550260000#c114655028589905667'> Monday, May 01, 2006 11:11:00 PM

    Ah'ight. "Hi" (LOL),

    I'm actually feeling you on the professor thing. I stumble on that thought sometimes and I often think about that lifestyle. It's appealing:
    1) Summers off
    2) Tenur
    3) Assign whatever reading you want
    4) And only do like 3 exams through out the semester (don't want to do too much work)
    6) Intellectual atmosphere

    I think I can get with the above and all the other perks I didn't mention.

    Do it!


  7. bygpowis Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146580920000#c114658097076932470'> Tuesday, May 02, 2006 7:42:00 AM

    are there more writers b/c our world makes us insignificant. writing screams, "HEAR ME! I AM!" there will be more writers as a technocracy makes our lives mean even less. the question is, will there be good writers or just folks screaming or reacting? i implore you to keep writing.


  8. Actor Smurf Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146584040000#c114658405071668693'> Tuesday, May 02, 2006 8:34:00 AM

    U know your entry today reminded me of highschool...I would enter the Pro's and Poetry contest, more so for the benefit of pursuing my acting, but still, I found out through this that I can write fascinating things that people want to hear...even if its the ramifications going on in my madness and trying to keep the sanity...I think just because your a mommy doesn't mean you can't still follow your heart, WRITE for us all to see, enter the websites of poetry online, there are so many things you can do to be heard if you have something to say...and oh yeah, don't forget to sing lullabyes' to your baby...THEY LOVE THAT!!!!!!! Of course you already knew that....:)


  9. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2006/05/if-you-can-huh-you-can-hear-me.html?showComment=1146595920000#c114659592672612245'> Tuesday, May 02, 2006 11:52:00 AM

    bygpowis: i don't know. i think we are all a bit vain. i'm sure a lot of writers want to be heard, i mean, why else write. but i'm not quite sure it's in response to feeling overwhelmed or insignificant. with the inscrease in technology, i feel like the world has gotten SOOOO much smaller. but maybe that's just me.

    actor smurf: being a mom isn't stopping me from writing. but it is stopping me from jetting off to play the starving artist. that isn't my thing, i have huggies & enfamil to pay for, feel me? i have to be smart about it. but by no means am i stopping. if anything, having my son has inspired me even more (and given me more things to write about *smile*).

    thank you all for commenting. :)