Friday, August 10, 2012

Poet Left at the Altar - Chapter 3

My experience with Kitsune Books has left me thinking a lot about the state of poetry publishing and the poetry community -- its coherences and divisions, its fragility, and its lack of a viable economic structure.

A spider is building a web on the other side of the table outside where I write this. I don't like spiders, but I have no heart for destroying his morning's diligent work, the kind of work I do when I sit down to face my own heart and mind and turn those flowing currents into words. He struggles, he goes back and forth, knotting the invisible into something that can catch things so he'll have a dinner. Could be a she, I don't know with spiders. But I see the invisible and seemingly fragile web of poetry publishing in his/her labor. So easily swept aside by chance, someone walking through the web they can't see. Some life event like illness or death or university budget cutbacks that closes a press and leaves authors and their books stranded.

We have always had poetry, but poetry publishing in books has only been available to a general audience for a few hundred years, a short time in its total history. Maybe we need to look past the vehicle to the substance and find a way to create a more vibrant poetry culture that is independent of individuals, university budgets, indie bookstores, distributors, etc., etc. Maybe we should leave the printing press behind entirely. It has served a great purpose, but does it serve poetry now?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Poet Left at the Altar - Chapter 2

It seems Gods of Water and Air won't published this November after all. Kitsune Books is closing its doors shortly thereafter and the situation would orphan my book, taking it out of print after only a month and a half. So I have to accept this loss and move on. Here's another poem from the book that almost was -- maybe the once-and-future book? Thanks to Georgetown Review, which first published the poem.


We squabble over a word’s meaning
and history’s precedents while outside,
contained in tidy pots, golden roses
open their blouses. Daisies spin around
bright wheels, each petal unique
as a last exclamation.

Squabble with life
when we could descend like Monet
into its round dot, open a door
and find a tiny gray feather
whose shaft is the perfect arc.

Squabble, when we could arch
like that? Be a tiny, shining spine’s
catenary curve.
I used to gather weeds
from the fields, their disorder
a squabble of vowels, but now see
wisdom in roundness, a floating truth
like a lily on a pond.

The fragility of the small press poetry community is on my mind in a new way after this experience. How many poets are publishing with operations that leave them buying their own books to sell, with chain bookstores emperiling the indepedents, many of whom won't carry poetry anymore because it doesn't sell. We live in a fragile poetry world, sustained, though by the sense of community that increases as the economic uncertainties close presses and booksellers down. What will save poetry? because it has survived throughout history and surely will never die. I think this medium in which you're reading, is poetry's new frontier. I hate to say it, but print is really dying. Perhaps to arise in a new form -- downloadable, printable eBooks of poetry? I have one on my phone already.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Curiosity Gets Us Farther Than Ever

Big morning for a Rocket Kid! The successful landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity made me proud to be the daughter of a rocket scientist. Proud to have grown up with a guy who blew up missiles for a living. Proud to feel that American innovation is breaking boundaries and pushing back the margins of the known world once again. I sit here typing on something more powerful than what they used to send men to the moon about half a century ago. And it's because we did that that I am typing on this little power machine. Mars Rover Lands After Seven Seconds of Terror.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

My Cheshire Cat Poetry Book

I've had a poetry publishing mishap. A rather major one. The publisher with whom I signed a contract a year ago to publish Gods of Water and Air, my new collection, will fold as of December 31. There is still the promise that my book will appear on November 5, but less than two months later, no publisher will be there to keep it in print, distribution, and provide publicity of any kind. I have a Cheshire Cat of a book, it seems. A now-you-see-it-now-you-don't publication. I am in mourning, even though some copies will be printed. Here is one of the poems, with a recording, from a book you may or may not ever see. If you like it, please leave me a comment! I may keep all comments and re-publish the book myself after January 1.

"Every Morning I Try" first appeared in The Cortland Review: