Shards of Light

An invitation from Danny Friesen

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A Letter from Danny Friesen

Image of Danny FriesenI still remember the day last year when I received the email from JBU’s art and literature journal, Shards of Light, asking me to consider submitting some poetry. At that point, I had never been published and, on top of that, I wasn’t even attending JBU. I was taking a gap semester and working construction in the Siloam area. Publishing poetry was the last thing on my mind. But that day—a Wednesday, I think—it was cold and snowy, and the thought of working was almost too much to bear. So, for the first (and so far last) time in my life, I skipped work without telling anyone and sat on the couch, covered in blankets because my heater was crap, and worked on revising some poems. That day every revision I made was magic, and by noon I felt like I finally had three decent poems to submit. True, I thought of two of them as only fillers, but I was sure that one of them, a poem called “Bluebirds,” would get published; I thought (and still think) it was the best poem I’ve ever written. Then I put my hardhat back on and went to work the next day, completely forgetting about poetry and Shards of Light.

It felt like no time passed before I got the acceptance letter from Shards of Light. I read something like this: “We are pleased to publish your poem ‘Stardust’ in Shards of Light Vol. 004.” I could hardly believe what I was reading. Stardust? Stardust? What did they see in “Stardust,” the worst poem I submitted? And how could anyone read “Bluebirds” and not publish it? Sure, it felt good to publish a poem, but that acceptance letter felt like a rejection of me and my artistic vision. But that’s the world of publishing poetry. We put stuff out there—stuff we know is good—and it gets rejected. It’s less painful to just keep showing our work to our moms to receive the validation that we crave, but how do we grow if we don’t put ourselves out there?

A year after publishing my poem, I’m on the Shards of Light staff. I may have only joined because it’s a requirement to graduate with an English degree, but I wish I would have joined sooner. Being a staff member has helped me to see behind the curtain of the publishing world, if just a crack, and exposed me to more ways to participate in artistic expression. As English majors, it’s honor for us to have this opportunity. We’re excited for you to join us soon!

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Shards of Light Vol. 2