Success, Pancetta-Scrambled Eggs and Evergreen Review

Lyra and Baraka

How do we poets measure success? When I first started writing I believed that getting a handful of poems published in journals would provide that measure. Within a couple of years that belief morphed into publishing in better journals, and perhaps someday having editors ask to see my work. Then I thought chapbook publication would indicate achievement, as would having work accepted by a few “unattainables” — those journals that publish “THE GREATS,” not mere mortals like us. And of course winning contests and prizes would prove real success, as would full-length book publication. I’ve checked off all of those standards but one — full-length book publication — and still feel, well, lacking. The goal line keeps shimmering ahead, and likely always will. All this is to say that I have three poems up at Evergreen Review, an unattainable if ever there was. I must admit to feeling a moment of panic when Evergreen Review poetry editor Jee Leong Koh’s announcement email arrived this morning. “Are these poems good enough?” I asked myself. “Who am I, and how the hell did I ever think my work belonged there?” As I said, the goal line keeps moving, and I don’t know if true success in the poetry world, whatever that is, will ever welcome me. But this morning’s breakfast of pancetta-scrambled eggs and toast was delicious, if I say so myself. So I have that!