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Alpine Flower a Day: Swamp Musk

Alpine Flower a Day: Day 29, Swamp Musk (Mazus radicans)

– about the size of a large clover flower, 1-2cm across

– on the side of the Copland Track, West Coast

The tears of Mazus radicans, or stopping to chat to the flower at the side of the track

i stop to chat to the flower at the side of the track . she says notice the shadows not the light . i say why . my feet are sore . she says but the dead are crying . can you not feel them through your roots .

Sorry but I'm keeping the rest of the poem for my collection – you're going to have to wait! Perhaps a long time – and not because I will take long to finish my collection. I'm most of the way through, in fact. No. I'm holding off on the sharing because I'm hoping for a wider audience through publication. But really, is there such a thing? Let's examine that thought.

So, if I get this finished poem into a journal, how many more people will read it? I don't know. Do you read poetry journals? The subscription rates on literary journals are going down, though not on the massive journals like Rattle or Poetry Foundation, which are notoriously difficult to get into; you have to be seriously good, and also lucky to be selected from thousands of submissions. If I was that lucky that would indeed increase the readership of my poem. But it's more likely I'll send it to a less mainstream journal, probably online. But how many readers will click on poetry that is shared online – usually by the poets themselves, albeit through the journal? Probably not many, unless you're an influencer or spend all your time on social media. However, there is a real possibility I might find a new reader this way, and that's good! I love that someone you don't know has read your poem and got it. It's like someone has really seen you, and not only that, they've given you a nod.

But the real aim is for my poem to be part of a collection – a published collection. Will that get me more readers? In the first place, there's a very real chance it won't get published. There are only three places that publish poetry books in New Zealand where the poet doesn't have to contribute significant amounts of money in order to do so. These are the university presses, and they are inundated with submissions, because we are a scribbling nation. So there is actually very little chance of having your 'book' out there unless you pay for it yourself – either through a small publisher or self-publishing. You can go to international presses, which may open up more publishing opportunities, but then, if they select your book, you need to do the promotions in Aotearoa yourself, or choose to have no presence here, as it is unlikely be in the New Zealand bookshops.

But let's say my collection does get picked up by a New Zealand publisher (either by the university presses or I pay towards publication with a well-known publisher), will this poem be read more widely? Yes, I think so – more than likely. As I said, Aotearoa seems to be a writing nation. At least, writing festivals and events are filled to capacity (mainly with women by my observations, but that's another conversation) – and the festival goers, especially the poetry writers, are buyers of poetry. If one of the presses would take up my book, they would publicise it in bookshops and online all over the country to reach these poetry buyers.

And what is the chance of me being one of the chosen ones? I have no idea. I can do things to increase my chances by raising my profile – writing a blog (haha! I generally get a max of 10 likes from my friends – thank you, dear friends, you truly help my well-being, which is just as important!); sending poems to magazines to get published; doing volunteer work as an editor. I've also worked full-time (almost) for over ten years on my craft. That's all I can do. It's in the lap of the presses.

So here I am, withdrawing my poem so I can have a larger audience. Silly? Probably. But one day, I'm going to be a poetry star ... right?

And here's a photograph to reward your time if you got this far ... on the Copland track, Westland, where I found the Swamp musk flowers.

If you're interested in the inspiration behind this month-long series of 'An Alpine Flower A Day' about NZ alpine flowers and poems, you can find more in my first post: An Alpine Flower A Day Enjoy!


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