Writers & Survivors
I just finished reading Jay Baron Nicorvo’s essay “Why We Write: The Unwilling Suspension of Disbelief” (January/February 2018), and I am so happy you chose to publish it. When I published my first book of poetry, The Silence of Men, released by CavanKerry Press in 2006, which examines my experience as a survivor of childhood sexual violence, very few people were acknowledging that people like Nicorvo and me existed, let alone acknowledging the significance of writing about our traumas. I know this is not the first time Poets & Writers Magazine has welcomed the voice of a male survivor of sexual violence into its pages, but especially now, in this moment of #MeToo and the awareness that movement has brought to the issue, it is both gratifying and affirming to hear from a fellow survivor who chooses to make his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder part of his creative work. Many thanks for publishing this essay.
Richard Jeffrey Newman
Jackson Heights, New York

A Gathering of Poets
The article “You Are Not Alone: Finding a Group of One’s Own” by Hannah Gersen (January/February 2018) echoes my experience with a local group of poets. We call ourselves “A Gathering of Poets” and meet on the first and third Thursdays of each month. There are twelve of us who are doggedly loyal to the group. You can die (three of us have) but you can’t resign. Everyone in the group invites critique and leaves with better poems than they started with. We have never been tempted to turn the group into some kind of social club, but we still feel close to one another from sharing our writing. In honor of our tenth anniversary we held an open poetry reading day at the library where we meet. Someday we hope to publish a collective chapbook.
Sharon Scholl
Atlantic Beach, Florida

I actually just put up some flyers to start a mindfulness group in my building yesterday, and I read “You Are Not Alone: Finding a Group of One’s Own” today. I’ve been a bit nervous that no one will sign up, or when people do sign up, only two people will show up, so when I read that there are a lot of advantages to a three-person group, it lifted my spirits. Just putting up the flyers took some revising of the narrative that had deterred me from attempting to start a group. The narrative that said, “Don’t waste your time; no one will come, and if they do, the group will eventually fall apart.” I was able to overcome that narrative with a revision: I can’t wait for someone to create something with me; if I want something in my community, I need to make it happen—let’s focus on the process, and not so much on the outcome. So far, two people have signed up; I look forward to seeing what happens.
Joshua Lindenbaum
Johnson City, New York

I was pleased to read “5 Over 50” in the November/December 2017 issue. I noticed that only one author had agent representation. Hmm. I attend a writers conference almost every year and take classes and workshops. When I look around the conference I see so many women, and some men, about my age. Are all of us in dreamland that we can get published? Are we forced to self-publish because agents don’t want a “body of work” from bodies that are as old as their mothers in some cases? I have been instructed by publicists not to reveal my age. I understand the way of the publishing world, but I also know that agents are missing out on many fine writers and books. How about 6 over 60? Or, gasp, 7 over 70?
Barbara Clarke
Bellingham, Washington