Sunday, April 10, 2011

Return of the Chapbook Decisions, picking the right poem (and more)

This is my third-in-a-row posting on assembling a chapbook.

I had to set myself a faux deadline because though I was extended an offer of probably publication, I procrastinated, a problem. The deadline I set was last Monday. On Friday I met it head-on, was laughed at, and several hours later laughed at it as I pressed send.

Two of my last-minute decisions were contradictory. You see I had began to doubt I should include on particular poem, "Poetics of the Unemployed," which is jaunty/funny. Would it jar a reader or betray the other poems which are less funny but wonderful all the same?

I suspect I was less concerned with jarring readers than I was with assuaging the Critic, Critical Reader, the Evil Critic on my Shoulder. Judging myself as I fear others judge me, I shied away from telltale wit or cleverness. That's so Sarah, and of course Sarah is so helplessly jokey.

Jokey is, in and of itself, an issue. I suspect that was part of the problem in my all female-faculty graduate program. Heck, it's a lifelong problem. At parties in the seventies, someone might be telling me a hugely sincere and tragic story of family break-ups and terminal illness along with bedside confessions of betrayal and tragedy and I'd hear a joke starting up in another room and head for the joke.

The men would laugh at my cleverness, but the women would appear lost, or many of them would. What they lacked in speed-of-light comebacks, they made up for in skinniness and, of hair, straightness and shininess. I was lost to my own ping ponging sexuality, which didn't help.

Back to the chapbook. I cut "Poetics of the ..." and added "Unreasonable" [to be posted tomorrow] and "No End Out of Mind" from The Future Is Happy. I wanted to give more air-time. Then I thought, Why would anyone want to read poems available in previous book? Wasn't the point of getting more new work out there, getting more new work out there? So I control-z-ed my way back to my original choice, tidied up that. 

The Collected Poems of Sarah Sarai, which could include some poems from Happy, is but a twinkle in this poet's eye. Best to keep writing, which I haven't done much of this year. Look Up, Up is full of new work. Yay.

More to reveal as revelation demands.

Artwork from: painting by James Marshall ("Dalek"))

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