My 3rd (and Final) Poem in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series

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Ah, simplicity! When I was a child my mother would occasionally serve rice balls in which a single tart umeboshi rested at the center. These have long been a favorite, but I admit that umeboshi might be an acquired taste. Commonly called “pickled plums,” ume aren’t really plums but are more closely related to apricots. Whatever they are, I cherish them.

http://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/self-portrait-with-umeboshi-poem-by-robert-okaji-self-portrait-poetry-series/

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41 thoughts on “My 3rd (and Final) Poem in the Silver Birch Press Self-Portrait Series

  1. Wow. I really like this one. Resemblance is so neatly bookended by looking through the glass, and you’ve somehow managed to give a perfect voice to two entities at once. And those last four lines (!!!)

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  2. Beautiful poem….and rice balls with umeboshi is also one of my favorites. I began making my own umeboshi last year when my tree finally bore fruit and the birds didn’t get them first! Nothing like an old Southern girl making umeboshi….

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  3. I like your work very much and I appreciate your liking mine. I am seeking to greatly expand my audience and I am seeking advice on how to do so. Not only do I write poems, but I also write short stories and novels. Getting published for an unknown such as myself has only led to great frustration. Any help or knowledge you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Writing is in my blood. It is who I am. It is my identity. It is a reason for living.

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    • George, I’ve no experience with publishing short stories or novels and have yet to publish a chapbook, much less a full-length book of poetry, so any advice I offer should be taken with a huge grain of salt. I’m no expert, and can speak only from my experience.

      How to expand your audience?

      I confess to knowing little about social media and how one might expand an audience through blogs, FB, etc., and have nothing to add to the standard “visit other sites and engage” advice one finds everywhere. My personal approach to increasing readership is to publish as much as possible in literary (in print and/or online) journals. And this requires patience and time.

      How to do this?

      Determine who you are as a writer, and where your work has a realistic chance of being published.
      Think about your favorite living poets, those poets you’d most like to be associated with, whose work has influenced your writing, and with whom you’d like to “converse” through poetry.

      Where does their work appear? Look at their lists of publications, choose the smaller, lesser known literary journals first, and read them cover to cover. When you find in these same journals other writers whose work appeals to you, look at their publication lists. After a while you’ll notice that certain journal titles repeat. Compile a list of these, and consider them your “targets.” Read them. If your sense of aesthetics meshes, send them your best work.

      This is not a quick process, but sending your poetry to publications that publish the poets who write the type of writing you like is much more effective than a scatter shot approach. In other words, be selective.

      Also, look for newer publications calling for submissions. They may be more amenable to your work, and the competition may be a bit lighter.

      You might consider subscribing to Duotrope for a while, if only to determine what certain publications’ acceptance rates are. For example is it worthwhile to submit to a publication that accepts only 1/3 to 1/2 of a percent of submissions? Or would your time be better spent submitting to publications that accept 5% to 20% of what’s sent to them? One can over-think this, of course, but knowing what the odds are may be helpful. And of course ego comes into play, and sometimes you just have to send your work to one of the “unattainables.”

      When your work is rejected, look closely at it. Was it indeed as ready as you originally thought? If so, send it back out. If not, revise it. Keep writing. Keep revising. Keep sending.

      I submit my work cautiously, as if editors are looking for excuses to NOT publish me. This means that I take my time and ensure that every piece I send out is flawless in appearance – no typos, no grammatical errors, etc. My cover letters are brief and say very little but “thanks for the opportunity” and might at most contain a sentence or two regarding biographical details or previous publications. Anything else is superfluous – I don’t want to give them any reason to not publish my work.

      But again, this is how I, unknown writer, have chosen to approach getting published and to build a readership. I’m sure that other, more successful writers have better processes. And of course I ignore my own advice from time to time. 🙂 I hope this has been helpful in some small way.

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