My second poem book is coming soon!
The fine folks at Mockingbird are publishing it. I couldn’t be more pleased.
Awhile ago on twitter, someone asked a group of #writers what magazines or journals had been the most supportive of their writing efforts, and I didn’t have to think about it: Mockingbird has been right there from the beginning, publishing individual poems and essays of mine, putting on amazing conferences, mentioning my previous book in their fun weekly roundup series.
They’re not really a traditional poetry publisher, so this is new territory for us both, but our audiences overlap pretty significantly. My readers, as theirs, are mainly, though not entirely, persons as interested in eternal matters as in artistic ones.
Mockingbird has done a number of attractive volumes. I attended a launch party for Unmapped, co-written by Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz, and those women were hilarious and talented. David Zahl’s Seculosity addresses urgent questions facing culture and the church and is a pretty book, with nice paper and binding besides.
Call me an artist, but these things matter–inordinately?–to me. In fact, the first question I asked on the phone call I had with the acquisitions editor was whether we could do a hardback. They agreed immediately!
Poetry books are funny objects in that they age differently than other books, or so it has always seemed to me.
Books on hot topics age quickest, scholarly books last longer but still start showing wear after 7-10 years, but poetry books are perennial. Gertrude Schnakenberg’s The Lamplit Answer is as fresh as the day it came off the press. Richard Kenney’s poem books are still revelations 20-30 years on, as are George Herbert’s albeit in a different way. That’s one reason I like hardbacks: they suggest a kind of permanence, that you might return to them again after over a span of years.
Anyway, that’s not something poets get to expect. Even very good and successful poets on very established presses (like Michael Dickman on Copper Canyon) get paperbacks for their 2nd and 3rd books. Pressures of the market, I suppose.
But for you! You’ll get to have a pretty hardback to give people! Excuse me while I enthuse. Obviously, that’s not the only reason I’m excited about this project, but its being an attractive object is for sure one of the goals. Ebooks and paperbacks will also be available for people who prefer those forms.
Let me mention just one other improbable gift, one other reason I’m delighted with this partnership and outcome.
I wasn’t at all sure these poems would see the light of day.
IMHO, the elegies are the best poems I’ve ever written or will write. I feel afraid of them, humbled that they came to me. But they are admittedly a bit odd: translations sort of (#Rilke) and yet not quite, are they one long poem or several short ones in a sequence? Should they be read in order, or dipped into at will? Are they really about hierarchies of angels? Do they need to be more explicit on that score? And anyway, only half the book is made up of the elegies and the other half is shorter lyrics, of the type found in Phases.
You see what I mean. It’s a hard sell to explain to a publisher exactly what sort of book this is. And yet, it’s happening. You’re going to get to read them! I’m going to get to hold them in my hands. The incarnation!
If you’re seeing this very occasional newsletter, you’ll be in the loop re: readings, launches, pub dates. Meanwhile, rejoice with me: we’re making a thing!
It’s a busy next bit for me. I’m speaking at
All for now.