In reading through chapbook contest submissions, we inevitably find several we wish we could publish. Our judges, always accomplished poets, are left with the final selection, and we reluctantly send out rejections. Contests are the mean streets of poetry, only one manuscript chosen from a rich and disparate offering.
Although Jeanine Stevens manuscript, Needle in the Sea, was not chosen as a contest winner, we held onto it, because we loved the poems. Needle in the Sea is currently at the printer, and will be released in the next few weeks. These are a few words from the poet about her chapbook:
The poems in Needle in the Sea were written over a twelve year period. Initially, I didn’t set out to write poems with an Asian influence and yet the poems seemed to find me. I have been meditating since the 1980’s and I’m drawn to the serenity and silence it brings. I’m energized by the contentment, the sparseness of many Asian poets. I have a beautiful little book, Zen Art for Meditation, (Holmes and Horioka, 1973, reissued 2000). It contains simple scenes, a boat, a mountain, someone fishing, a single blossom, accompanied by many haiku. I can easily lose myself in the images.
I want to comment on a few of the individual poems in the chapbook. “In My Dream, a Little Boat,” was written in my dream journal over twenty years ago. I also sketched the scene which lead to the poem. “Kosode,” It came from illustrations on a short-sleeved or summer kimono. “The Love Suicides,” was inspired by a production by the drama department at CSU Sacramento, which I attended twice as my granddaughter was one of the major puppeteers. The story told in “Basketmaker’s Collective,” was from a text from my college days about early Viet Nam (The Vermillion Bird).
As far as process goes, I find it works best if I write the poem when first inspired, let it rest and then go back to revise. I usually write the first draft by hand.