Last year was the first year I didn’t submit to the Yale Younger Poets Prize, and it wasn’t because I’m 40 (although it’s getting closer every day). Some of my favorite poetry books are published in this series. They aren’t the most polished books, but they have something raw, something new, something good.
Beth Ann Fennelly writes about how she worked so hard and long on her first poetry book that it became her second book. It was smoother, the experimental poems fell out. She learned more about her craft, she got better, and her book won a Kenyon prize.
I have a poetry manuscript that I’ve had for years. I’m very tired of it. I was explaining that to one of my friends at AWP, who told me something someone had told her. Start your second book, but keep sending out your first book. She had two poetry books published in a two-year period, and that’s how she did it.
So I’ve started my second book. (I’ve had three or four second books, one of which became my memoir because the poems sucked.) I’m thinking of killing my first book. Or possibly savaging it for parts.
When do you stop sending it out?