I have found my ideal means for self-expression: Lulu. I am publishing my manuscripts through Lulu.com, a print-on-demand publishing service.
I have been frustrated for years with the look and feel and effect and overall bloodless task of publishing through magazines. I tolerated one bout of sending a manuscript out to contests. The very process of assembling a traditional book-length manuscript was one of the most exasperating, maddening tasks I ever set myself.
The background here is this: I work in a concrete formalist form; I compose in manuscripts of anywhere between several poems (15 pages or so) up to 40 pages. Composing in manuscript fashion allows me to work through a theme - I guess that's the best single word - then to move on.
I had reached a point in my life where I had 13 manuscripts, largely unpublished, except for a poem here, a poem there. Not that publishing made me feel any better about myself. I had no connection to the magazines or to the people who edited them. Then, last year, I simply stopped writing. I had no outlet for the work. I had betrayed my composing process by assembling an 80-page book-length manuscript for contest purposes. My frustration expressed itself through bouts of anger that threatened my marriage.
And, so, I resorted to the internet. I bought a decent computer and clued into MySpace and FaceBook, and I discovered Lulu.com. Even with my back firmly set against the wall, it took some time to work up the nerve to self-publish. Ultimately, once I was able to envision the look and feel of the books, which would include my drawing on the cover, and once I began to feel something like a trickle of genuine excitement, I let myself go.
I expect to publish 13 to 14 titles over the next few months. Most titles will be perfect bound, available through Amazon.com, etc., I believe, besides through my Lulu Storefront. The bottom line is, my work will be available to whomever wants it. That really is all I have ever wanted out of poetry, to be obtainable. I don't need to teach. I don't need to make a living through this stuff. I just want the poems out there. That's it.
Oh - my current mood? I am more relaxed than I have been perhaps forever. I am writing again, in a manuscript titled Deserts & Streams. There is a lot of work to do, but I can do it, and for me, that is a joy and a freedom.