Last night, I was honored to participate in a release party/poetry reading for the “Life in Your Time” edition of The Emerald Coast Review.
The poem I’d entered, I’d written for a rhymezone.com poetry contest on the theme of “Community.” The original title of my narrative was “The Emerald Coast Community,” but I changed it to “Pensacola, 2016,” for this publication. Ironically, the one piece I didn’t specifically write for “Emerald” was the one piece that was accepted.
I’ve learned that just because a piece is rejected, that doesn’t mean it won’t find a home. (Just make sure to re-edit it after every rejection.)
I’ve become comfortable reading my poetry in front of people–we all seem to be accepting of one another and are probably more nervous than we let on. I was blessed to have my support system–my husband, daughter (okay, she’s four and had to come), parents, and grandmother. One of the women who is in our WriteOn! Pensacola group was there with her husband, so it was great to see someone I knew.
One thing I learned: If there’s a microphone, use it! The book should not have to serve as closed captions unless you are deaf.
We arrived early (catching a glimpse of an albino squirrel) and found out that security had been ordered, as there’s some burly guy in town who shows up at events and crashes them with his “preaching” (as the policeman put it). I was already thinking that the subject of my next short story was going to show up, but I got a blog post instead.
As a writer, no experience is ever wasted. I draw from the well that is my life in this time, in this locale, every day; I like to say that I’m an alchemist who mixes fact with fiction, so that each person who reads my words sifts out their own truths.
I have to say, Pensacola gave me the material I needed to bag this one.
I’ve lived in this town for thirty years, and written about it from many perspectives. I believe that’s a gift writers have–we can see the same thing in many ways. I see the beauty of Pensacola, as well as the ugliness, for it’s as extreme as its weather (which range from freezing cold to boiling hot), along with its rednecks and “country club Republicans,” its plethora of churches and homeless.
So I’ve immortalized Pensacola–this city “not quite confidential” several times. Here are a few:
Do as the Pensacolians do: https://sarahleastories.com/2016/11/23/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-23-theme-when-blank/
My “hit piece” (for which one local writer “questioned my mental health”): https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/19/daily-prompt-west-end-girls-2/