i’ve written a chapbook!

and I’ll be sending my little poetry baby out into the world within the next few weeks, hoping someone believes in my voice enough to publish it!

or, because I am sending it to contests, more specifically, that they like it enough to consider me as a finalist.

we shall see!!

but i’m super excited. i’ve finally completed a writing project. this collection is only 25 pages long, but it’s finished, and i’m proud of it.

i’ve always loved writing poetry, something about the short and sweetness of it, but yet how effective it can be at conveying something…and how fun and creative it allows one to be! i titled it revival, for now, as my header for this post reads, because in some way that’s what the story within this collection is about. it carries multiple themes throughout, but ultimately is the story of my journey over the past 4-6ish years, with threads of specific experiences/emotions interwoven throughout, such as doubt/uncertainty, relationships, hope, illness and the accompanying fear it brings, self transformation, identity and all the processes that come with that (questioning, wanting to be more, doubting, trying to change, confidence, figuring out who I am and what I stand for and what I want..). there’s a lot of facets to the narrative of it, but I tried very hard to make sure it worked as a collection, to make sure it told a story, and most of all, represented me and my voice in the most genuine way possible. i hope i succeeded.

so, although i’ve been especially focused on improving my poetry in the last few years, with the goal of publishing a chapbook eventually, and then hopefully a longer piece of work, this chapbook came to be in a very specific way. originally I had a different idea, but I was looking at chapbook contest submission guidelines as well as poetry I had written for my creative writing class last year, and a suggestion from one of the publishing presses gave me the inspiration I needed to envision this collection. Their advice was this: A good chapbook asks a question. An even better chapbook answers it. 

and somehow, that brought me to one of my favourite poems I’ve written, which I have shared before on social media, so I’ll share it here, and one of my poems that has been well received by those who have read it:

he painted the whole damn house red

the day you were born.

you wore the face of a newborn child

but he saw it

lurking behind your wide eyes.

wild. untouchable. resilient.

the kind of spirit that would crush rib cages

in the palm of one hand,

one that would climb mountains

just to stand at the top and say I did it

and look down at those who doubted you

you weren’t born for baby pink and pastels

you were born screaming,

angry at the world

for all the broken pieces you’d have to fix

you were born to wear armour and

dress in blood red

you were born a warrior

fighting since you took your first breath.

(I really wish that wasn’t double spaced but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it…sigh..)

I didn’t write this poem with myself in mind. I imagined a character, and I wrote about her. But I found myself thinking this might be a good poem to start my collection with. So I made a new document, pasted it on the first page and asked myself what questions I had about it. I asked myself: Who is this girl? What became of her? Is she still screaming?

I thought that maybe, this poem represents a part of me I’ve been trying to find my way to. So I dug back into the past, into some painful memories, some happy ones, I flipped through old journals, old poetry, trying to create a list of moments that were important in shaping me to who I am now. Honestly, writing some of this chapbook was really difficult. It reflects every high, every low, every struggle and every success, every hardship endured, but in the end, I think it reflects the girl in the first poem. But it wasn’t easy to write about all of those parts. It tells her story. It answers who she is. It answers what became of her. It answers if she is still screaming at the world.

I wrote this chapbook in three days.  Which is very fast, but, I had a goal and a vision and I wanted to have it done within the break. I had a very specific idea of the narrative I wanted to tell. I even outlined it. I wrote the last poem first, so I knew what the conclusion would be, and I built it from there. I brought in a few of my best and favourite poems I’ve written, and I found them homes in the chapbook. Once I’d had a few poems written, and in an order that made sense, and I really knew where I was going with it, I made an outline. I wrote down the theme each poem dealt with, and I decided what themes or moments I still needed to tell about to complete the story. I picked out a theme/emotion for each poem still needed, and I wrote each accompanying poem. I ordered them chronologically, but in some ways, strategically so they complemented each other best. I didn’t just throw my favourite poems together. I wanted this to be a story, I wanted it to represent my journey. I wanted it to be me.

And a narrative really did unfold. It tells my story. And honestly, I’m so very proud of this collection. It’s the story I’ve been wanting to write for years, and I finally have. I have let a few people read it and got great feedback. Their kind words mean so much.

So now, all that’s left is to polish it up, and I have a list of about ten different contests/publishing presses I’m going to submit it to, which I will do over the break….

Wish me luck!

Hoping you all will be able to read it soon.

happy holidays friends!

jc.

 

3 thoughts on “i’ve written a chapbook!

  1. Hey, congratulations on finishing your chapbook. I just recently finished my first chapbook, too! Would you be interested in trading critiques?

    Like

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