Shortly before I got the job at Books Inc I started sending my poems to Seventeen magazine. I read in a publishers-of-poetry listing that they published poems by poets under the age of 25 or 23 or 22 or something. I’d never read the magazine but I knew they’d published early Plath. After two or three submissions an editor started scrawling notes on the rejections, “Don’t be discouraged!” I remember I wrote back saying I couldn’t be discouraged!
Eventually they bought 4 poems from me ($15 apiece) and published two. Have I been paid for a poem since? I showed off the magazine to all my Books Inc coworkers. I really am a writer, see? The first poem was published just after my 20th birthday.
I had to sign a contract giving away all rights. This means if I ever want to republish one of those poems I’m supposed to ask Seventeen for permission. I didn’t like that, which was one of the reasons I stopped sending them poems. But I’d conquered Seventeen! Following in the footsteps of Sylvia Plath. My poems appeared on newsstands across the country. I even got a couple letters from readers.