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Tell me, is it ignorance?

Lately I’ve been putting together some booklets of poems, I have been writing and sending them to some of my friends and relatives. I’ve done this before, but on a smaller scale. Mostly, these have been just a few poems about a specific topic and I gave them only to people who had shown a particular interest in them. But these more recent ones add up to an even three dozen and represent my favorites from the many new poems I’ve written since joining The Poetry Gang over four years ago.
Becoming a member of The Gang put me in touch with several other people who write poetry and enjoy sharing it and discussing it with others who share that interest. Or passion. Or compulsion. Whatever you choose to call it. I find I write more poetry, and more different kinds of poetry, since I joined the group, and I have learned a lot from our discussions, seeing what others write and how they go about it. And, I’ve now written enough poems to be able to look at them and see some of them are better than others, some express my feelings more succinctly, they comprise a pleasing cadence and interesting words– enough reasonably good poems I’m able to have enough “favorites” among them to produce a little booklet containing three dozen favorite poems.
The book isn’t being published commercially, but by what I call my own press– specifically, my computer and my dining room table, where I print and assemble the books by hand. I started sharing them with former classmates and relatives and have a fairly long list of more recipients to come (and when and if all of them finally get a copy probably depends on how long we live).
Robert Graves wrote, “There is no money in poetry, but then there is no poetry in money, either.”
I assume most of the people who write poetry do so out of irresistible compulsion, a search for a means to express feelings, the pleasure of entertaining or impressing friends and relatives, the rare satisfaction of seeing something they wrote in print, winning at least an honorable mention in a poetry contest, or some combination thereof. Becoming a poet is a dicey way of earning a living, yet requires the most subtle refinements in the use of language. The challenges are daunting and perfection is very likely an impossible goal, but a true poet takes delight in, and is encouraged by, the tiniest spark of truth, beauty and innovation resulting from those efforts. A poet has enriched another life if he clarified just one small truth, uncovered one glimmer of beauty, and/or reassured one doubting heart. If just one reader sees the same old world in a new way, as a result of his poem, he has achieved an important outcome.
Yet, I sometimes have serious doubts if my efforts to share my poems aren’t based on ego, on a self-serving need to show off a little, to hog the spotlight and occupy center stage. I hope not, but it’s so easy to fool yourself, and besides, what is the alternative? If I don’t reach out to share my poems, they will die in a drawer or disappear on a hard drive without ever having the opportunity to enlighten or entertain somebody. They may not be great poems, but they deserve a chance. So goes my reasoning. Around in circles.
When I think back to my very earliest writing attempts, and I mean very, very early, I remember the little stories and poems I made up as a child. Most of them were illustrated, no doubt because the children’s books I had contained pictures and I supposed that was standard for all books. In my mind to be valid, my stories had to be in book form. Thus my extravagant habit of sneaking Dad’s desk stapler or Mother’s roll of Scotch tape in my attempts to assemble my writings in the form of books. I later tried sewing the pages together with string or yarn, lacing them together with narrow ribbons, and simply gluing them. I gave in, for a time, to blank books and even artists’ sketch books, but these had to be hand-lettered and limited to one copy. Multiple copies containing typed text and assembled in loose-leaf notebooks still had to be individually illustrated. Then came the computer with its attendant scanner, and color printer, at last!
I still don’t know if the people I sent the booklets to think I’m showing off, but I’ve received thanks from all of them and remarks about specific poems from most of them. I guess this means they are reading and responding to the poems. That’s a hundred percent more than would have happened if I hadn’t taken the chance and sent them out in the first place. Come to think of it– in light of the responses I’ve had, I’m beginning to think I don’t care if some of them think it’s arrogance or not.