Looking back at a miserable, no good, very bad year and ahead at what comes next


It's Christmas Eve, which is usually when I sit down and do my annual "blog cleanup" where I check links, make updates to my bibliography, and generally prepare for a new year. While I was doing that, I realized and I hadn't posted in more than a month, so here we go.

I think you'll all agree that 2020 was an unrelenting bitch of a bad year, and despite the fact that a vaccine is on the way, it's going to be many more months of staying home and wearing a mask until everyone gets inoculated. Which is to say, the first half of 2021 isn't looking too rosy either, but I'm hopeful. At least Trump will be gone as of Jan. 20.

I had COVID-19 back in March, although I wasn't sure if it was actually the virus. It was confirmed in May by an antibodies test. The illness itself never advanced into my lungs, but lingered for several weeks with fever, congestion, no taste or smell, and weird back and hip pain. I also had an accompanying eye infection, which I've now learned is a symptom. Although I recovered, I've had odd lingering ailments, some of which my doctor said might be side-effects: Bell's Palsy, continuing pain in my hips and legs,  recurring eye infection, and cellulitis. I'm feeling better now, and hoping to get back on my diet/exercise routine after putting on 25 pounds. Sigh.

There was some fear that the magazine I've edited for the past 18 years might not survive the pandemic, but it did, and now we have a new owner going into the new year. Covering the pandemic and the summer of demonstrations after the murder of George Floyd was exhausting, consuming work. Which meant I did almost zero writing of my own. I managed to write one pandemic-related poem (one was enough), submitted older work to a few journals, and I'm currently working on a themed-poem I'm hoping will have a home in the new year. 

The most significant literary work I did in 2020 was getting the Mother Mary Comes To Me anthology into the world with my BFF and co-editor Karen Head. We virtually edited and ushered the antholgy into being with Madville Publishing and, to quote Karen, "it's a shit-hot book." Editing the anthology was one of the most rewarding things I've done in my nearly 30 years as a poet. Then we tested the limits of Zoom by holding two giant readings featuring 40 poets from the book. More are planned in the new year. 

The other highlight of 2020 was getting to perform virtually at the Dodge Poetry Festival, which was a dream come true. I hope to be invited back in the future and actually go to New Jersey and see all those fantastic folks live. 

As the new year dawns, I've starting thinking about what comes next. I can reveal a few tidbits here: the next poetry collection is slated for 2023. It will be a new and selected featuring things never seen, work published in literary magazines and journals but uncollected, and a selection of my oeuvre from the previously published collections and chapbooks. It's a big undertaking, but I also see it as the end of a cycle. 2023 will not only mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of my first poem in a literary magazine, but the 20th anniversary of my first collection, Better To Travel. It feels like the perfect time to take a poetry pause and turn back to fiction. I'm determined to finish the long-simmering short story collection and, yes, another novel (or two... or three). 

I've mentioned this plan to a few close friends and fellow writers, and they have invariably asked me if I'm giving up poetry. No, I'm not, but I am rethinking how my poetry will be presented and shared with readers. I'm ready to shake things up a bit. More on that soon. 

On top of all this, I've also decided to take the plunge and buy a home. I never really wanted the burden of property, but I've had a rethink on that, too. 2020 has been a year to take stock, look at coming milestones, and figure out what the rest of my life is going to be. 

Stay tuned. 

Happy Holidays to all and may the new year be a damn sight better than the old one. 

Comments

Carolee said…
The anthology reading I attended was incredible. Congrats on putting it together & getting it out in the world & best of luck with all these new projects. The fact that many are still hopeful is a gift!

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