Journal

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UPDATES ON A FREE VERSE LIFE

Tracking My Book Frontiersman-Like

davy crockett

Today I bumped into an excited colleague. “Hey, I got your book yesterday. So exciting! I’m just bummed I forgot to bring it in for you to sign!”

“My book? You held a copy of my book? In your hands?”

Her smile shifted a little. “Ye-e-es,” she said slowly. “You know: The Indifferent World? Some 80 poems or so?”

I had to shake my head to clear it. “Uh, no. Not to worry. It’s just… I haven’t seen my book. Er. Other than pretty online pictures, I mean.”

“What? How?” She reached out and touched my sleeve. My sleeve appreciated it.

“You see, my wife got carried away and ordered a gross of the things. Maybe she thinks our families are bigger than they are. Maybe she thinks we’re Mormon or good Catholics or something. So I’m afraid the size of this delivery is slowing it down. You know how delivery services are allergic to bulk.”

She laughed. “Ah, well, maybe this weekend.” The bell rang. Kids streamed into the hallway. “Gotta go!” she said. “Maybe I’ll read a few this weekend!”

So cool and casual. So happy. So has-my-book-harbored-in-her-house-and-shows-it.

I decided then and there. I’m going Natty Bumppo. Or Dan’l Boone, maybe. I put on my coonskin hat (wait… Davy Crockett, is it?) and decided to track this baby down, frontiersman-like. It’s unfair, after all, that people are holding my book before I get to. It’s like having a baby, seeing it whisked away, then hearing stories of nurses passing it around to coo at. Surely this is against the Geneva Convention or something! The Articles of Confederation? How about the Federalist Papers? I was against them when I was in school.

I got to work: On the computer, I saw that my book delivery had cleared Amish Country. As you’ll recall from yesterday, it was last seen there with a big GODOT stamp on it. Some twisted Amish-type thought it’d be funny to give it the horse and buggy treatment or something.

But now it was in Knickerbocker, NY. That’s one state away from Massachusetts! I had half a mind to drive the Mass Pike myself, Boston to Stockbridge (a reverse James Taylor). But no… deep breaths…stay calm. I already know what’s in this book. Every blessed poem. So what’s the big deal? What’s the rush?

Bottom line: I’m distracting myself. And as UPS hasn’t swung by yet, wondering maybe if Big Brown will put me out of my misery. This is Friday, after all! Genesis of the weekend! Give me reason to celebrate, people! Stop being so… INDIFFERENT!

(Stay tuned.)

 

 

Waiting for Godot

amish

The first days of being a published author have been, as you might expect, strange and wonderful yet mundane. Strangest has been my decision to share news about the book before I even had it in my hands. Many ordered it ipso fasto and, thanks to the Amazonian Gods, got it, too.

This creates the unusual situation where readers have a physical copy of the book before author does. Mine? They’re en route. Wending their way through Amish country, maybe. Stopping to smell the roses (poems do that, damn them). So I’m waiting. Waiting for a box stamped Godot.

The wonderful part? How kind and generous people have been with their congratulations and offers to read the book. Which is more than a little nerve racking. Yes, many poems are autobiographical and thus personal. But many others are designed to be read through the medium of a “speaker”–even a fictional first-person speaker sometimes. So it will be interesting to see what people think.

One friend said she really didn’t “get” poetry. I said welcome to the club. I don’t “get” all the poems I read, either. And one thing I’ve learned from my students over the years is that sometimes readers “get” things that writers never intend, which is great! Once I wrote a poem for a lesson in class and kids dug up symbolism I never even planted. Still, I enjoyed the harvest. It’s what I love best about poetry.

So, yes. Everyday life goes on. The “woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…” thing. But it’s both the same and not the same. Same me, just more trips to the mailbox….

“April Is the Coolest Month.”

Front CoverT.S. Eliot? No. Me, actually.

Just in time for National Poetry Month, the publication date for my first collection of poems, The Indifferent World, has arrived. Expect reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe (who will try to claim me as “their own”) soon. Just don’t get too curious about the definition of “soon.”

Here’s a link to my publisher, Future Cycle Press, for details: The Indifferent World. And in truth, it’s still in the abstract for me. The actual book is still not in my hands. But soon (that word again!).

While writing this book, I came across some interesting thoughts on the word “indifferent.” For most of us, it has a decidedly negative connotation. This is how Pope Francis uses it, for instance, when he laments human indifference to our fellow humans’ suffering.

But Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, saw it differently. To him indifference could be a positive. It could be a type of acceptance to whatever life deals us. A calmness in the face of life’s well-known track record for randomness. That, my friends, is a tougher breed of indifference, almost reminiscent of the Stoics.

In this book, I’m not as deep as these two theological giants. I simply look at it as the world’s shrug. It goes on. Its indifference is not so much malicious or intentional as natural. “Nothing personal,” it seems to be saying. “I’m just spinning along like I did before you and will after you.” And that’s reflected in many ways in these poems–a fun project all around!

If you are interested in a signed copy directly from me, that can be done. Simply click ABOUT and email me for details! In the mean time, I’ll be enjoying the coolness of my 15 seconds (or whatever it is that Andy Warhol allotted me way back when)…