I received an ego-boosting compliment today. A fellow poet, one with a collection due to come out in the near future, had asked if I could read some of his poems and come up with a quote he could use, I guess for promotional purposes. He actually said it would mean a lot if a poet of my caliber honoured him in such a way.
Feeling both flattered and unworthy at the same time, I had to ponder over my response. I try to compose poetry the best way that I can, but I suspect deep down in my heart that my best is probably not always good enough to reach true greatness. And I'm woefully lacking any sort of academic background in poetry; my college-level training in the poetic arts consisted of merely one semester-length course taken two decades ago. I almost always rely on instinct more than anything else. And acknowledgment of that fact can make me feel like a sham poet at times.
Still, being asked to give a quote under such circumstances may indicate that I have indeed touched another's heart and soul with my particular brand of verse. Which means I may have achieved one of my objectives, one of the reasons I keep writing poetry. And maybe I'm too hard on myself, thanks in part to my poor self-image and oft-wavering self-esteem.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided it was better for me to grasp the opportunity and come up with a quote, rather than let the opportunity slip right through my fingers. So I told my fellow poet to send the poems my way. He did, and in the message that I received today he stated that I was his favourite poet! Well, one of his two favourites, anyway. He also called me a master of the written word.
Of course, all this flattery may simply be an attempt to butter me up to get a good quote out of me. Then again, maybe not. Maybe there is more to it than that. Perhaps, just perhaps, I may actually be better than I think I am. Then again, maybe not. Whatever the whole truth of the matter may be, now I have to see about coming up with that quote.
Not bad for someone who has only been working on this poetry-for-publication thing seriously since March of 2007! Prior to that, I had written poetry on-and-off (mostly off) since the late Eighties, but hadn't really submitted more than a modest batch or two until I began my submission blitz in 2007. My recent string of publications seem to have gotten me a little bit of attention, a modicum of recognition from at least a few fellow poets. And that is definitely a good thing, although the shameless attention-craving side of my personality wouldn't mind more of the same.