To My Ex Who Asked If Every Poem Was About Him
by Courtney LeBlanc
I wish you happiness, but the kind that makes you think of me
after your wife has fallen asleep. I wish you 2% raises and average
performance evals. I wish you casseroles and Bud Light. I wish you
vacations to Disney World in July. I wish you khakis and plaid
button-ups. I wish you sex but only missionary position and only
with the lights out. I wish you calendar reminders and capped
teeth. I wish you individually wrapped low-fat cheese
slices and turkey bacon which insults two animals. I wish you
mayonnaise and store-bought white bread. I wish you decaf
coffee. I wish you “sleeping in” till 7am on Sundays. I wish you
instant oatmeal microwaved each morning for your heart
health. I wish you a tie each Father’s Day and a birthday card
received a week late. I wish you a daughter who writes poetry filled
with metaphors about a complicated family relationship. I wish
you a football team that never makes the play-offs and a son
who’s an average soccer player. I wish you this poem popping
up first the next time you Google me.
First appeared in The Cabinet of Heed Literary Journal 2018.
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press), and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos.
Courtney says of her style, “I mostly write free verse poetry; only occasionally do I try to any sort of form poetry – I’m honestly a little scared of form poetry!”
Courtney and Bekah connected via The Poetry Blogging Network. We wanted to know more about Courtney and her writing, so here is our interview with her.
Q~Tell us a little about the poem we’ve included. How is it representative of your work?
A~I think of this as a feminist poem – it features a strong female voice who speaks her mind, even if that’s wishing her ex a mediocre life. =)
Q~Did it come easily to you or was it hard to write?
A~It came pretty easily once I started it; for me the first draft of each poem usually comes pretty quickly/easily.
Q~Do you find yourself returning to certain themes or subjects in your work? What are they and why do they resonate with you?
A~I tend to go through phases in my writing where I will write extensively about one topic until I’ve beaten it to death…and then I usually write a few more poems about it. 😉 Eventually, another topic takes root, and I move on.
Q~What’s one piece of advice you want to share?
A~Everyone gets rejected; it’s part of the process. But, keep writing, keep submitting, and keep getting your words out there. Also, remember that editing is a necessary part of the process. Few of us write the perfect poem on the first try, so remember to come back to a poem with fresh eyes and be willing to play with it – sometimes it’s only a word or two that need tweaking, sometimes it’s whole lines. But, that’s okay, everyone has shitty first drafts.
Q~You mentioned that you are finishing up your MFA. What are the best/worst parts of this for you?
A~I completed my MFA in January 2019, and it was an amazing experience. I wrote so much over the past two years and finished with a full manuscript. Being in an MFA program forces you to write and to read – both fellow student’s work but also your instructors and everything that gets assigned. I felt fully immersed in poetry for two years. It’s very bittersweet to be over – I already miss the program, but I found my community there, and it has been a wonderful experience.
Q~Who are you reading now? According to your blog, you read A LOT of books. How does this inform your own writing?
A~I do read a lot; in 2018 I read 221 books which was a personal best for me! I read a little of everything – a ton of poetry, literary fiction, genre fiction (fantasy is great for audio books!), CNF, memoir, etc. (Friend me on Goodreads to follow what I read: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6611777.Courtney_LeBlanc) I get recommendations from friends and Twitter (shoutout to DC Public Library for running great book chats – https://twitter.com/dcpl). I just finished Seducing the Asparagus Queen by Amorak Huey, which is a gorgeous collection of poetry and a great way to kick off 2019. Next, I plan on reading some of Mary Oliver’s work since she just passed away, and I’m already missing her words. I recently read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and really enjoyed it (fiction). My favorite fantasy is Strange the Dreamer (book #1) and Muse of Nightmares (book #2) by Laini Taylor, which I recommend to everyone, haha.
When reading books of poetry I’m often inspired to write my own poems – either by something I read or just the general feeling I get from a book or a poem. I think the better read you are, the better writer you’ll be. As poet Jane Kenyon said, “Read good books, have good sentences in your ears.”
Q~There are lots of publications out there. What is a literary gem you feel deserves more attention? Why will we love them?
A~I really love Hypertrophic Press.They publish gorgeous poetry and pair it with gorgeous artwork. I also love Whurk magazine, which is a local Virginia magazine and of course, Glass: A Journal of Poetry – Anthony Frame who operates the journal is a true gem in the poetry community.
Q~Is there any online resource you would like to recommend?
A~Honestly, I love Twitter for poetry – I’ve learned of so many new poets this way and been able to read their poems and share them with my followers. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several “Twitter friends” in person, and we’ve become real life friends who support one another and share each other’s work. Twitter can be toxic, but it can also be a great place to share poems.
Q~Where can readers go if they are interested in reading more of your work?