Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Poetry Obscura

Confessions of a bibliophile: sometimes when I shelve or re-shelve my books of poetry, I imagine the authors talking to each other, like they're all shoulder-to-shoulder at a cocktail party. What would Rita Dove say to Carol Ann Duffy? Would Martin Espada and T.S. Eliot have anything to say to each other? It's an event when someone new comes along. All of a sudden, Sylvia Plath is no longer talking to Adrienne Rich, and they're both talking to Claudia Rankine instead.

I also introduce poets to each other by selecting one or two to take to my annual trip to Anne Sexton's grave in Forest Hills Cemetery. I think that doing something three times assures that it is becoming a tradition, and this was the third year that I and fellow poet KL Pereira (you can read her account of this year's trip here) picnicked in Forest Hills and read poems aloud there. This year we actually became part of the main attraction when a walking tour of people visiting "wondrous, curious, and esoteric places" happened to pass by (apparently March 20, 2010, was Obscura Day - who knew?).

My method for choosing this year's "read to Anne" poet was simple - the most recently purchased, unread book of poetry on my shelf: Elena Georgiou's Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants (Harbor Mountain Press, Sept. 2009), which I had not purchased from Amazon (see Elena's blog to find out why) but had instead ordered through my local independent bookseller, who got it from the publisher. So, I read aloud two poems: "Immigrant #18: Prayer for an Alien with Extraordinary Ability in the Arts" (and nearly wept) and "In Case of Emergency" (what a love poem that is).

KL read two poems from Dearest Creature by Amy Gerstler. Her method of choosing this year's "read to Anne" poet was also simple - the most recently purchased, never-heard-of-before-but-immediately-loved book of poetry in her bag. In his review of this book, David Kirby writes that "a poem either sends you a bill or writes you a check." On Sunday in the cemetery, we were rich, and the dead people joyfully rattled their coins as well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with Fiona Robyn

Fiona Robyn is a writer and blogger living in Hampshire, UK. Her three novels, The Letters, The Blue Handbag, and Thaw, have been published by Snowbooks. She recently decided to also blog the entirety of Thaw. Dragon's Meow was one of over 260 blogs around the world that joined Fiona in posting the first few paragraphs of Thaw on March 1. Here is a brief interview with the author about the process of writing & publishing online as well as in print.

What is a blogsplash?

As I’m publishing my novel Thaw online over the next few months, I wanted to let as many people as possible know about it as we begun – it’ll take longer to catch up as time goes on. I turned to the blogging community, who have always been supportive and lovely in the past, and asked them to publish the first page of the novel on the same day as me.

What inspired you to blog this book?

I’m still at the beginning of my career as a writer, and I want as many people as possible to get a chance to read my work. I’m hoping that some of those readers might buy the book version of Thaw, or one of my previous novels, but we’ll see if that happens or not!

Is the book already written and you're just posting it, or are you composing as you go?

Yes – the book also has a physical form and was published by Snowbooks in February. Making up as I went along wouldn’t make for a very good book – my novels go through at least 6 drafts!

How is this experience different than with previous books you've written?

It has been interesting to see Thaw on a blog, and to have people commenting on it as pages are posted. It makes me feel quite vulnerable – usually people read my books "behind closed doors!" It’s also been lovely to get lots of positive feedback.

What makes you excited about writing in the era of blogs and online social media?

There are huge opportunities available to writers these days through blogs and social media – we can find ourselves an audience without waiting for a publisher, and market our own books. For me, it’s all about building authentic relationships, and enjoying it. Any book sales are a bonus!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tribute to Lucille Clifton

After a long battle with cancer, Lucille Clifton died on February 13, 2010, at the age of 73.

Rita Dove, quoted on Poets.Org, wrote: "Her revelations ... resemble the epiphanies of childhood and early adolescence, when one's lack of preconceptions about the self allowed for brilliant slippage into the metaphysical, a glimpse into an egoless, utterly thingful and serene world."

Yesterday, Delirious Hem began posting writers' reflections and tributes to Clifton. In Naomi Nye's poem, she calls Clifton one of the people "...who remind us / more of ourselves than our own selves do."

Thank you, Lucille Clifton, for your words, your poems, and your life.