Today’s question comes from a conversation I had on Saturday at a writerly event. A woman seated at my table said that she has a book of inspirational poems that she has considered publishing. None of these poems have been published anywhere, and that set my check-engine light blinking. If no one but family and friends has read the poems, how can she tell if it’s time to publish? And is my caution a bias on my part? Those of us who have devoted time, attention and money to studying the art and craft of poetry have a little problem with someone who rarely reads poetry and may not define it as we do.
But, this woman is entitled to her view and the world will not end, contemporary American poetry will not be tainted by a rush to publish without benefit of an objective editor/reader. So, I ask you, is the problem that the poetry engine is about to throw a rod or is that blinking icon on the dash a faulty indicator? I ask you, how do you decide a poem or a manuscript is ready to go public?