Yesterday I received notice that my collection Songs about Women and Men was a semi-finalist for the Dorset Prize. This is the second time this season that I've had a collection place well in a contest: early in the year, Chestnut Ridge was a semi-finalist for the Wilder Prize.
I'm gratified that readers seem to be interested in both collections, but of course I'm also frustrated because I can't seem to get beyond that status. Then again, I haven't been applying to contests for all that long. So I guess I should be patient with myself.
Both collections are sitting on the desks of various non-contest publishers, so maybe something will happen there. Reading fashions change, that's for sure. For a while, I'd given up on Chestnut Ridge entirely, and now, since the election, it seems to be garnering at least some attention. I was listening to an interview with the playwright Lynn Nottage, who researched and wrote her play Sweat (about working-class Reading, Pennsylvania) well before Trump came to power. Yet audiences, post-Trump, are responding to it as a topical statement. The same may be true of Chestnut Ridge. But I hate to allow myself to get too optimistic. There are a lot of people out there trying to publish poetry manuscripts. I've heard that roughly a thousand people submitted to the Dorset Prize. I'm lucky to get any kind of notice.