Greatest triumph? Short answer: Getting my first book published.
Hardly worth a whole post.
I view my growth as a writer in terms of milestones. Each one is substantial, compared to the one before, but it’s hard to say which is the “greatest.” So here’s a quick chronological list:
Deciding I was serious about poetry
Getting my first publication, in an online journal (long since folded(lovely anachronistic phrase!))
Getting my first publication on paper
Having a poem read on Prairie Home Companion
Winning the Iron Poet award at Westercon
Being nominated for a Pushcart Prize
Publication in Windfall. This was my first poem in a non-formal, paper journal, so it was kind of like breaking out of the formal poetry niche market. It’s also a highly regarded regional publication, and I was thrilled to find myself on the next page to Ursula LeGuin.
Being invited to be the featured reader at various local reading series
Getting a chapbook published
Being a part of the Orange Linings project
I’ve been writing poetry since 2005. I think I’ve racked up a pretty impressive record in 7 years; I know people who’ve been writing far longer and have far less to show for it. That doesn’t mean I’m a better poet. It may mean I’ve worked harder at submitting; I’m often surprised by how reluctant poets are to submit their stuff.
For me, it’s more about overall track record than particular triumphs. But here’s a word about one of my particular favorites. First, the background: Peter Norman.
I was four in 1968; I don’t remember the Olympics at all, though I remember my fourth birthday party, which must have been going on at about the same time. But I can remember my father talking about it when I was maybe ten or twelve. (My father happens to be black.)
Salute to Peter Norman
Did you step in where angels feared to tread?
Did you speak up where lesser men had said
it’s not my country, not my business, not
my job to stand up. History forgot
the third man on the stand in ’68
a man who stood for fairness, against hate.
It cost you. Recognition didn’t come
although you’d brought Olympic silver home.
It’s tarnished now, as metal always does
and fame has faded, but that never was
the glory in your crown. The badge you wore
that day beside your medal kept you poor
on earth—but now, on Heaven’s vault behold
your name in letters wrought of deathless gold.
The best part? This poem won an award from the state poetry society of… Alabama.
Personal triumph, not so much. Big win for all of us? Definitely.