I had a small epiphany yesterday. Yes, the world changed and everything stayed the same.

I had chosen to read some old poems, 1990s poems of mine, at a reading. And they actually weren't bad, they didn't make me cringe, they worked according to some audience comments. These were poems I didn't include in 2002's Selected and now I have a twinge of regret. OK, I know that regret is a useless emotion but I've never been a subscriber to economical theories.

It made me look again at what I've been doing all these years and how much all that is still a part of what I am doing though I've been recently in love with doing 'new things'.

It also made me think about how one's work is received (or not, as the case may be). Everyone's a critic, of course, including oneself, but I wonder how useful reviews are, for the poet being reviewed, that is. A review isn't critique, a review is a once-off, a toss-off in many cases - I know, as I've done a few myself. A review is about the reviewer mostly, not the poetry.

What am I trying to say? Keep faith in my own vision sounds awfully pop-psych and hokey, but it's something like that. Don't try and please the reviewers, maybe? Take what's useful from critiques, those that may come your way, and stay open to what you might be learning as you're writing. Well, 'you' is me. Some poets are better at pleasing.

Hmm, funny kind of epiphany, makes me feel OK and not so OK in the same breath.

Time to move on but also not to forget.


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