A PEEK INTO HOW MOI GETS HER BOOKS PUBLISHED
Love my publisher Marsh Hawk Press! I send them pretty thick manuscripts--see BRICK and SON OF A BRICK. Their fearlessness in the face of BIG POETRY (what commercial consideration?) inspired me, too, as a publisher -- see the two-volume bricks I've put out by Allen Bramhall and John Bloomberg-Rissman, as examples. (I could go on longer here as to how the poetry contest system and academic-assignment markets have artifically determined limits on poetry book length, but why bore us all...?)
Anyway, as ever, I recently sent Marsh Hawk a relatively thick manuscript for my next book. What does my savvy in-house editor say? GO BIGGER! I'm offering a reductive summary of what was a larger, more complicated discussion -- but the effect is (partly) I'm going longer again! Technically, one could say I just switched from a verse collection to a multi-genre collection. Heart Moi the multi-genre!
And one of the side-effects is reprinting some prose I've written on the visual arts ... which leads me to a morning email from an artist who expressed thanks for having first written on her. She's 31 now. Apparently, she was only 23 when I first wrote on her work and so it was quite meaningful for her. I learn that, just 8 years later ... but who's counting the years? Not Moi. I only count my white hairs.
Speaking of white hairs, I've had this idea for a long time -- that I keep all the white hairs I pluck out of moi purty head (yes, I know I'm not supposed to do it but sometimes it's like an addictive itch, like popping pimples). Then I use the white hairs to "draw" -- to make marks against, lessee, a white page so it can join the "white on white" genre, or against colored or black paper for a more dramatic impact. I could title it "Aging" or "Mortality" et al. But that titling would be too obvious, not complicated enough ...
... which is what my beloved in-house editor (whose name is no secret but I don't want to mention here because my blog jokes don't do justice to his intellect) said about my manuscript. Great poems but I might want to deepen its context/concept, include some "dialogic relations" (he's in academia; he talks this way sincerely).
I riposted, "Y'all just want more bricks by Moi. I know it!"
Unlike my shallow, jokey responses, he continued to go at length at how I need to stop futzing around and get back to widening the margins that currently propose the limits of poetry. I don't share my initial reply of BUT I JUST WANNA SIT ON MOI BUTT AND LAZILY FEEL IT GET LARGER! I mean, isn't it enough that the poems are good? (Thank you to the poet-editors who are currently gobbling them up for their journals -- I have 22 more new poems not yet published so shoot me an email if you want some.)
I'm also trying to save the world on another continent.
But, okay, you want more blather from Moi? On that, I can deliver asleep (and have to many an unlucky recipient). So, the manuscript that I thought I'd finished and finished titling? You know, REPRODUCTIONS OF THE LOST FLAG: STIGMATA SCULPTURES ...? That is now just Part I (a thick Part I) of my next book. Which means I have to go through another rumination of a new title for the updated, THICKER version. My first cuts at the title -- which I'm not totally satisfied it but share for the blog file are:
PRAYING PAST STIGMATA
I know. Gotta keep ruminating.
And it's the least I can do to be part of Marsh Hawk Press -- a group of savvy, experienced poets who've been around enough to know that poetry's scope is not just radiant but can irradiate. And that'd be some ineffective radiation if you don't, ambition-wise, GO BIG.
Thank you, Marsh Hawk Press.