So, last week I let it slip that I was technically a published poet. It’s not that big a deal, really.
See, back when I was around 18, I was dating this guy who was in a band. Yeah, yeah, most of the guys I dated were in a band, I know. This guy wrote most of the songs – I even wrote the lyrics for a couple of songs during the time we dated. So he was familiar with my poems. I had a lot of poems, a couple hundred maybe.
One day I got this thing in the mail, thanking me for entering some poetry contest or something. Details are fuzzy now. It was weird to me, since I hadn’t entered any contests or anything like that. I showed it to my boyfriend and he was all pleased with himself and then he told me that he’d entered one of my poems in this contest. Wasn’t that great?
Behind my back. Without asking me.
I was really torn. I knew he wanted me to be happy about it, but I felt this weird sense of being violated somehow, and, being only 18 at the time, I didn’t really know how to address it. I can’t recall if we fought about it or not, but I do remember just not being comfortable with what he’d done, even though I knew he only meant it in the best of ways. And now that I think about it – he was really big into copyrighting stuff, everything he wrote he copyrighted – so how did he enter me in a contest without my consent? And did he not think of my ownership of my own work? Hmm.
Anyway, I got a letter in the mail from the contest, with information on the book my poem was in, a copy of what the page with my poem on it looked like, and the amazing offer that I could own the book with my published poem in it for the low low price of $60. That detail isn’t fuzzy.
I was so offended. They wanted ME to pay THEM for publishing MY poetry? They’re freakin’ kidding me, right? Real publishers pay the authors to publish their work, not the other way around! Cash, check, money! Not a “gift” of a free copy, not an offer to buy something, CASH. Even I knew that much back then. I passed on their “generous” offer.
But somewhere out there is a published copy of a book, on someone’s dusty shelf no doubt, with one of my poems in it.
If you caught my husband’s post yesterday, you’ll know what the picture below means. It was so perfect I couldn’t resist.