In an ugly but I think pretty understandable way, the knowledge of having a forthcoming book stood as evidence for me against the small but fairly vocal collection of peers and instructors at Arkansas who didn’t think what I did was poetry, or that I would have any publishing success. A favorite example: Dave Smith visited our program and in our meeting he said, “the only thing I can tell you Tony is stop what you’re doing.” Or the first week of my first workshop, hearing about the older students taking turns reading my first poem at a bar and mocking it, etc. Or people walking out of workshop in the middle of my poem. This all fed into the ambition machine (which keeps humming).
From the interview with Tony Tost on his first book win.