Carrying sheaves of inexpertly typed poems, I knocked on the editor’s door. It was my second year at NOVA, a community college in Fairfax Virginia. I was 18. My new, artistic friends encouraged me to submit my poetry to the editor of our literary magazine & newspaper. He was trying to turn it into more of an underground newspaper, relevant to the times. He was an older guy, probably 23!
I entered & saw a disheveled intellectual looking guy with thick framed glasses at a desk piled with papers. He adjusted his specs to get a look at me. I was shaking with fear.
“I don’t bite. Whatta ya’ got there?”
“Um, poems. I-I started writing when I was 13. The first I called ‘orange & blue.”
I handed him the page with that poem on it.
He peered at it. “What else ya’ got?”
Oh, he didn’t like that one.
“Here’s some about the war. And prison. And other stuff.”
He shuffled through the pages.
“I’ll take all of these. Ya’ got copies?”
I hadn’t thought of that! Oh my God, what an idiot.
“Don’t worry, we have a copy machine. Xerox these, then give me the copies. Keep your originals.”
“My-my friend drew pictures to go with the poems. Her name’s Michelle.”
I showed him sketches on fine art paper.
“Wow, these are excellent. I can work with these.”
He flipped the sketches over to see her name on the back.
Two weeks later, I entered the college cafeteria after morning classes. All my new friends stood & applauded. I thought it was because I’d done OK in a scene from a play that day. But as I approached the table, Robert ran up to me.
“Look! They printed All your poems! With Michelle’s drawings.”
Eight of my poems. In print! With amazing artwork. A dream come true.
(4 of the 8 poems with drawing by Michelle A.)