Thursday, May 19, 2011


It's strangely exhausting. I'm just stripping the poems that are going into my book out of my blog, putting them in a single text file, and doing a few minor edits. Mostly these consist of de-capitalizing the first letter of every line, which I stubbornly kept doing the first couple of years I wrote poetry, not realizing then how pervasively the lower-case convention has taken hold in modern poetry, and how outlandish I was making my verse look. I have, as you might say, capitulated.

I did rewrite one poem extensively. But for the most part it's a simple clerical job, and not a difficult one: find the poem in the archives, copy it to the file, de-capitalize the first lines, save the file, delete the blog post. But it's taken me all morning to do that with ten poems, and I feel as shaken and worn as I did after the first time I lectured to a crowd in a big hall. Clearly, the fact that this is a book that's really going to be published has brought the big guns of appearing-in-public anxiety to bear on me. I've been shelled all morning.

The book as I picture it now is in five numbered sections of about ten poems each. This is the second section I've extracted. My persistent worry is that the book is just too big -- but I remind myself that I'm a wimp in the matter of reading poetry. I couldn't even read the four poetry books I set out to read for Poetry Month: I got through two of them, by pushing hard, and that was it. So I'm not a good judge of how much poetry is too much poetry.

One good poem throws a hood over my head, shoves me into a jeep, and carries me away to an unfamiliar place for days. People talk with funny accents and none of the street signs make sense. I eventually find my way home, but the Stockholm syndrome is strong in me, and ever after I wonder if this home is really the right home after all, if these people are really my people. There's a limit to how many times I can stand to be carried off in a month. Other people though seem to take it quite in stride.

But. Shaken as I am, it's joyful, gratifying task, making on this scale, even though I have seldom been so keenly aware of having no idea what I'm doing. I'm very grateful to have the chance to do it.

PS Go read Luisa Igloria's latest Morning Porch poem.


Murr Brewster said...

Capital, my friend! I'm so glad you're doing it. I've got cash set aside.

I am frequently aware of not having any idea what I'm doing. Since I've mainly coped with this by casting about for someone else to do it for me, it hasn't gotten any better.

am said...

Yes. That's it exactly. It's exhausting and joyful. Still working on mine. Looking forward to seeing your book.

Anonymous said...

your book is much anticipated. at least from where i sit. keep at it. :)

Peter said...

One good poem throws a hood over my head, shoves me into a jeep, and carries me away to an unfamiliar place for days. People talk with funny accents and none of the street signs make sense.


I'm so excited that your poems are finally getting booked. (A few of them have kidnapped me for days.)

Dale said...

Thanks all!

Lucy said...

I too did a little dance when I heard you were going to be a book. I like your your publisher too, I think.

I have some sense of what you mean about being a wimp about poetry, but I really do find having a book rather than reading on-line makes a tremendous difference.

Funny about the capitals thing isn't it?

Jayne said...

How exciting! I would gladly run away with a bound copy of your poems. No kidnapping necessary. ;)

I Am Heinrich, Hello! said...

When is this type of book that you publish? May it have poems so lovely as those others? I am happy to learn it and to soon consume it!!

Dale said...

Thanks Heinrich, welcome! The book's due out this summer sometime: "Opening the World," from Pindrop Press --

(described as a chapbook there, which was the plan for a while, but it's back to being a full-length book now.)

Thanks for your kind words, everyone! I finished a first draft of the MS today. Whew!

ntexas99 said...

I haven't been around in a bit, and then I stumbled across this post. My first thought was "whoooppeee, Dale ... way to go!!!". That was quickly followed by a giggle with the realization that getting to where we want to go becomes a series of mundane tasks. No sharpening of quill? No ink-stained fingers? Ahhh, the pedantries of cut and paste, and decapitalization are what is required to make a dream become a reality? Good to know. Very happy for you, Dale.

Anonymous said...

Oooh book! Yay! I too think that paper makes a difference & I think yours will make the transformation (I almost said transubstantiation and I'm not sure that's not the right word) quite well.

Jean said...

I was about to comment, saying hang on I only knew about a forthcoming chapbook; this is clearly a full-length collection! Then I saw your comment above. Great news - I can't wait!!