Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First book advice: The Future Is Happy

Now that my first book, the poetry collection The Future Is Happy has its own page on the SPD (Small Press Distribution) website, I am ready to talk.

Now independent bookstores can order it, and independent book readers frequenting independent bookstores can buy it. This is big. At least for me. The Future continues to be available from Amazon, my publisher (BlazeVOX) and from me.

I'm a lucky duck to get published over-the-transom. I did try four or five contests run by literary presses or university presses, didn't win, knew I could not afford the fees and slightly mistrusted the process (not fair of me, really), so I started searching elsewhere.

When my manuscript was accepted I was given a piece of advice, as if advice were a cherry pie I could gobble down. A friend with three books out told me not to try for a perfect book.

"It'll lock you in. You'll always have to live up to it. Who wants precious?"

I appreciated permission to be imperfect. Those gem poems of mine were in the book, but so were poems a little more ragged - though loved by me. Who's to say in the long run which is a more meaningful experience of a poem? Well, the reader is to say. Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler. But really I write for greater closeness and salvation, corporate and always mystical.
The way is sure but it's got to be varied. So many are on the path.
Because my book was accepted during the ongoing economic meltdown, there were delays and more delays. By the time I received the first proof I saw a few things I wanted to change.

With Geoffrey's (my pub.) blessing I swapped out a few poems. As with any project, time away offers perspective. My reasoning in choosing new work, some of it written after the book was accepted, was to make the whole more whole, the more whole stronger, but not to make it perfect.

I am not a perfect person and less so a perfect poet. I am not a perfect poet and less so a perfect person. A stream of hot radiant light is focusing my next book. I have nothing to live up to, in following The Future Is Happy, but nothing to live down. I am proud of it, amazed it ever happened - I am sixty - and ready to be ready.

Note: Cover photograph by Susan Tamany.

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