Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Upsetting My Inner Julia Child

        In 2012 I submitted a poem called "Julia Child Skis in Big Sky, Montana" to the Philip Booth Poetry Prize contest sponsored by Salt Hill Journal and was named a finalist by the poet/judge Bruce Smith. Alas, only the winning poem was published in the journal. After this disappointment, I submitted the poem to LUMINA, the literary journal published by Sarah Lawrence College, where it was at first rejected and then accepted two days later for publication in the current issue. I was thrilled. I'd found a home for Julia.
        Last night after traveling home from a family wedding in Austin, Texas, there they were with the rest of my mail -- copies of the "prestigious" journal. I ripped open the manila envelope, marveled at the fabulous cover artwork and turned to the Table of Contents.When I found and read my poem, I was in shock. I had incorporated two italicized Julia Child quotes into my one stanza poem. The italics were gone. I had inserted a colon at the end of each line leading into a quote, but at the end of the line leading to the first quote, instead of the colon was a box with an x in it. OMG!! There's an X Box in my poem. If the colon had been replaced by a carat, at least I could have made a homonym food joke in honor of Julia.
        To add insult to injury, my one stanza poem became a two stanza poem. I started to cry and threw the journal across the room into the wall. Once I calmed down, I went back to the journal to read some stories and poems. Unfortunately, I made the decision to look at the Contributors' Notes first. My name and short biography were nowhere to be seen. I didn't throw the book this time, but I did scream profane words. That's because I don't have a blow torch. See below.

 Julia Child Skis in Big Sky, Montana

She glides off Dakota Lift, brushes the crust
from her boots with a pole, skims
across a granita patch and carves her edges in granulated
snow. Surrounded by whipped drifts, she wipes
her defrosted goggles at the top of the black diamond run,
considers the danger, but then she remembers:
If you’re afraid of butter, use cream. She knees
into the crystal layers like a stand mixer’s hook,
a single long series of S’s, stems the trail’s steepness,
but pauses to rest on a mountain plateau. Her fingers
numb, she rubs them for warmth:
Every woman needs a blowtorch.
Shifting gears, she whisks through deep powder,
slaloms the bowl off the rim of the slope.