October 16, 2014

Horizon Lines (Posole & Patience)

Hard to believe that two weeks ago, we were watching the sun rise over Amelia Island. Now all is wet leaves & heavy clouds in DC. I'm heating up a pot of posole, so rich and thick that I'll eat it with a fork. Later, I'm taking part in a reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" down in Dupont Circle, thanks to Kramerbooks. In other words: autumn.  

Good things are happening in DC. Graywolf is bringing a quartet of poets to the Folger (or to be precise, across the street from the Folger) on Monday, October 20. Poets & Writers is hosting a daylong event on independent publishing, with panels and roundtable discussions, at the Library of Congress on Saturday, October 25. Ambitious folks might then dash over to Dance Place that same evening for The Ghost of DC Past: An All-star Spoken Word Reunion. On Sunday, October 26, there is a release party for Mathias Svalina's Wastoid, published by the good folks of Big Lucks, at The Big Hunt. Amidst it all, a shameless plug--I'm hosting a reading at the Arts Club of Washington on Wednesday, October 29 for The Book of Scented Things. This anthology puts together 100 contemporary poems about perfume, solicited from writers across the country, and it's the first volume designed and printed by The Literary House Press (based out of the Rose O'Neill Literary House at Washington College). We'll hear from contributors with their poems, editors Jehanne Dubrow & Lindsay Lusby will answer questions, and they'll raffle off a designer perfume. A veritable scent-topia. 

Oh, and on Wednesday, November 5, there is a doubleheader at American University: journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates (7 PM), and poet Patricia Smith (8 PM). Seriously now.

At 4 AM, I got up to scribble down ideas for an essay. Counting through this morning, I've reached critical mass for some kind of prose book. But what kind? I'm picking up threads from nonfiction projects I thought I might write over the last few years, but being a little more honest about where my life is now, and what I have to say. When Stephen King titled On Writing, he added the subhead, "A Memoir of the Craft." I love that notion of writing in a way that is analytical, attentive to form, and yet also interweaves the personal. I have different obsessions to attend to than King, and no great anecdotes of coke-binge drafting sessions; no Firestarter or Carrie on my shelf. Yet there's something here.

The manuscript will be a long time in the making, I suspect. It used to be that the prospect of starting a project that I didn't think could be completed within months had no appeal. The MFA / thesis experience coaches us to force a book into being, and that's a perfect match for a deadline-driven writer such as me. Even when I sold Don't Kill the Birthday Girl, I vouched that I could finish it in a year, with only 20 pages in hand. But now a longer-term project feels welcome, like a promise to myself. When you're making a good soup, you have to be patient. That's what complicates the flavor. 

Perhaps that's a lesson learned with Count the Waves, which has a poem in it dating back to 2005, a poem greatly improved in 2014 by the edits that I figured out (finally!) needed to be made. I am so thrilled to finally have CtW's cover in hand, as well as a firm pub date--June 1, 2015--and the knowledge that it will be hardback, 96 pages or so. Peekaboo:

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