How does one explain the kernel of a journey? Do I start three years back, eight, go all the way to when I began to read? Do I tell you about Anne Frank, whose journal I read in second grade and definitively dedicated my life to the literary arts? Or do I tell you how this post, a friend from our undergraduate years and her first book, got me into gear, out of the high school classroom and back into an MFA program?
I think I will simply say these few things and let more slip out as I let it settle inside of me: In 2012, I was a mentee in the Loft Literary Center's Mentor Series. I met Kelly Hansen Maher and her poems caught inside my chest. Sometimes, I could truly feel the breathlessness in the reading. I was used to falling in love with poets whose books did this to me--immediately, I think of Idra Novey's Exit, Civilian, Sharon Olds's The Wellspring, Eduardo Corral's Slow Lightning, Maggie Nelson's Bluets, Rebecca Lindenberg's Love, An Index, Athena Kildegaard's Bodies of Light, Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split--and books from peers, such as Karen Rigby's Chinoiserie and Opal C McCarthy's lyric essay pamphlet Surge: An Oral Poetics, but never the opportunity when the book was in-progress. Not to the point of possession, the point of wanting stakes in that work.
I met another woman whose first book I (editorially) covet as well.
And with that, the idea of becoming someone who had a press, someone who edited manuscripts, took root.
But such a thing is so enormous and so intimidating and important and glorious and exhausting and all else, I never imagined I would be here, taking those first steps. As I whispered to my children, "This is a very pivotal week for your mommy." I'm amazed; they have no idea. Perhaps I don't either.
I love the work of editing. I've read many manuscripts and made big suggestions that my poetry friends have said bring a new lens. I love the work I do at Tinderbox Poetry Journal with my partner Brett Elizabeth Jenkins. I love when I dive into the slush and find those gorgeous, gorgeous gems that become a part of the next issue and the next.
So here I am, an editor of a book, a manuscript by Kelly Hansen Maher, I am a person who has the honor and privilege to help bring this gem of a book into the world. (And the next and the next.) I know it is cliche and terribly irritating to say, but it's also true: I feel called. I'm somewhere in my thirties, have spent a good amount of time in other professions, the best of which have been teaching and getting to work in a bookstore, but there's something about this that has clicked inside of me, just as something clicked when I met the man who became my husband and something clicked when I first walked into the house that became our first home together. A definitive, wholly unsubtle click that said: This is it.