Way back in the early days of this blog I posted about measurable publishing progress. Even so it’s sometimes hard to feel as though anything’s happening. A story is accepted by a reasonably prestigious journal. Then publication is delayed; the editors combine a couple of issues. When it finally arrives, there are so many stories and poems crammed into one magazine, you wonder if anyone ever reads the story you polished for five years, or if the whole thing is about the credit in the cover letter for the next piece you send out.
Roll it on. Believe in it anyway. I stood up and read the first half of my most recently published story out loud in front of a thousand skeptical people last year and it went down pretty well, I thought.
So, regardless of what happens next, I am excited that my first poetry chapbook is coming into print right now.
Over two dozen of my poems have appeared in a variety of journals. This is more than enough to anchor a couple of chapbooks, perhaps even a book-length manuscript. But until I had a fellowship last year, I didn’t have the headspace to pull such a project together.
Finishing Line Press is bringing out Wild Thing in Our Known World in June. It’s available for preorder right now. I wrote about how this works over on my Poetry page, but in a nutshell, Finishing Line, like a lot of small presses these days, uses advance orders to set the press-runs. If we get 100 preorders, they’ll print 500 copies. If we get fewer than that, the press-run will be significantly smaller, and I’ll be depressed.
I think most authors feel a little Amway-ish about the preorder thing, honestly, but that’s how it is now. We have to schlepp our books whether we like it or not. We all have do some of our own marketing and PR-ing—half the time even our cover art and our editing—no matter how much we’d like to hole up and just write.
But I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t believe in what I was writing about, because the amount of energy it takes to write stuff is ridiculous.
If I can get up and read something in front of a thousand people, I can ask you to please buy my poetry book. It costs $12 and the discounted shipping is $2.49. It must not suck too much if the people at Finishing Line pulled it out of a huge pile of manuscripts sent by hopeful poets and decided to publish it.
(How many hopeful poets are there? Well, I went to a panel discussion at AWP in Denver a few years ago. AWP is a conference for people who are getting or have already got a master’s degree in creative writing, including in poetry. Thousands upon thousands of people attend. This talk was on how to assemble a poetry book manuscript. It was given in one of those hotel banquet rooms where they can take out an intervening wall and turn it into a ballroom. They’d removed the wall, and it was still standing room only. There are kabillions of hopeful poets out there, that’s how many.)
A couple of people have said some nice things about this chapbook. Not to drop names or anything, but the award-winning poet Kelli Russell Agodon, who’s been featured on A Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor, not to mention in many other prestigious places, and IMO is headed for superstardom, wrote a blurb.
A second blurb comes from historian Paul Thomas Murphy. He’s the author of the New York Times Notable Book, Shooting Victoria, which is about how seven attempts on Queen Victoria’s life probably saved the very concept of the British Monarchy. I want my work to be taken seriously in the literary community, but I want it to be accessible to thoughtful non-poets as well. I asked Paul for his opinion.
Then there’s Coyote. I had one last day to come up with cover art for my book. I had no money for this. I took my son’s camera and headed out for a day of backcountry skiing. Around here that means around 2300 feet of vertical climbing, not even considering the distance traveled or the difficulty of the terrain.
But the shot was easy. There was a deer in the ditch, roadkill, a sad metaphor that haunts the book, and Coyote was waiting in the field. Sitting there in broad daylight. Wild thing in our known world. I’d titled the manuscript long before, after a line in one of the poems.
I’m not a good photographer, but I think that’s all to the best in this case.
I got back in the car and went skiing. On the mountain, I met Neil Bennett, a professional photographer. If my shot didn’t work out, he said I could use some of his wildlife shots for free. I may well do that with the next book. But for Wild Thing in Our Known World, it seemed that Coyote had given me another blurb.
Isn’t that enough for you?
Here’s how to order.
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