Toronto writer Rocco de Giacomo is a widely-published poet whose work has appeared in literary journals in Canada, Australia, England, Hong Kong and the US. His collections include Ten Thousand Miles Between Us (Quattro Books) and Every Night of Our Lives (Guernica Editions). The author of numerous poetry chapbooks and full-length collections, his latest, Brace Yourselves – on the representation of the individual as it relates to the Zeitgeist – was published in January 2018, through Quattro Books. Rocco lives in Toronto with his wife, Lisa Keophila, a fabric artist, and his daughters, Ava and Matilda.
To the readers, let me just say that I am happy to be reading at the Brockton Writers Series and honoured to be reading with Priya Ramsingh, Anthony Easton, Glynis Guevara, and Anne Laurel Carter. It is really looking to be a fantastic night. I can hardly wait.
After reviewing the BWS website, it looks like a lot of people are giving advice about writing and getting published. I’ll do the same in regard to poetry, and I will try to keep it short, as there is something I would like to share with you afterwards.
- Write poetry every day.
- Read poetry every day.
- Remember that, no matter what you write, there’s a good chance a thousand other people have written the same thing.
- Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit.
- If you are submitting to literary journals, keep a record of where you’ve submitted and to whom (I use an Excel worksheet) and never let a poem sit a home for more than one submission cycle.
- Start grant-writing, if you haven’t already (TAC, OAC, CAC). Not only can the funding help create a space for yourself, but the process of grant-writing forces you to hone and sharpen the themes and ideas you’re using in your manuscript.
- Join a writer’s group, attend a writer’s workshop (if you can afford it), enroll in a creative writing program (if you can afford it). All of these will expose you to new ideas, feedback for your own work, and the opportunity to network.
- If you have a manuscript ready and are seeking a publisher, for the love of god, schmooze. The world of Canadian poetry is just like any other industry: it’s not what you know or where you have been published, it’s WHO you know. Please use any of the places mentioned in step 7 to network. In addition, attend book launches, literary journal launches and poetry readings.
I hope my advice is useful.
Now, as for that something I would like to share. In 1999, when I was living in Vancouver, I borrowed a CD anthology of poetry from a friend. I listened to it numerous times, and then gave it back. One poem, however, stayed with me over the years, it’s lines pulsing in the back of my head. I would forget, however, the name of the poet and the anthology. From time to time I would scour the internet, and various search engines, using variations of the poem’s title, to no avail. I reached out to my Vancouver friend, who remembered the name of the anthology (My Tongue is a Red Carpet I Only Roll Out for You), but not the specific poet. Even with the new information, nothing turned up on the internet. Until, that is, my last search, about two weeks ago.
The poet’s name is Kenneth Caroll, and the poem is “So What?“. It is still as riveting and relevant today as it was twenty years ago.
I hope you enjoy it.
Rocco de Giacomo, visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, starting at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Priya Ramsingh, Anthony Easton, Glynis Guevara, and guest speaker Anne Laurel Carter presents us with tips on“Writing for Younger Readers: Three Essential Strategies.”