Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Little Things

Over the summer, I read this really excellent article about how awesome chapbooks are. It's called "Small Is Beautiful: The Importance of Chapbooks," by Michael Young, and it was published over at The The Poetry back in May.

It's been a long time since I read an article that I connected with so well. Chapbooks ARE beautiful, and they are something that not everyone understands. 

In poetry, the goal is often to see a full-length collection published. Officially speaking, "full-length" is anything over 48 pages, and you'll usually see them in the 80-100 page range. Some, but not all, publishers require--or at least hope--that a chunk of the individual pieces have already been published elsewhere, as in literary journals, in a sort of vetting process. Assuming one poem per page, that's a huge, time-consuming undertaking. 

But the full-length collection is not always the best route to take, as Young rightly points out. He name-drops William Blake, whose most famous works, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, were both well within the chapbook range. This is a form that essentially allowed Blake to curate a streamlined poetic experience, with no concern about extraneous poems that might weaken his narrative arc (and make no mistake: narrative arcs are entirely possible to create in poetry collections). 

That is what draws me to the chapbook form. My first book, Miles, was a chapbook, and I remember spending endless hours paring down the pages, rearranging the works, and agonizing over any little thing that felt out of place. Having been 22 at the time, I was, of course, not particularly awesome as a writer, but even so, I feel good about what I was able to produce, and I am glad that I was limited to so few pages. And even now, I recognize that my poetry is stronger when the opportunity to ramble is removed from the equation.

So I would encourage you all to check out chapbooks, either as a reader or as a writer. You may find that they leave you with a stronger sense of who someone is as a poet, or that they give you the freedom to be precise with your own work. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In My Room

In a previous life, I had an office that I loved. It was big and had incredible textured wallpaper. There was a conference table where I could spread my work out, and a desk in the corner when I was feeling anxious. It was quiet there.

Now, I still have an office, but it's much different: smaller, and meant for other uses than the one before.

From time to time, I have dreams about the office I lost. Every time, someone is trying take over that space, and watching that happen breaks my heart. Then I wake up, and I sigh. This should be out of my system after more than two years. Yet it remains.

The new one is good, though. It's easier to maintain, less likely to attract attention, and personalized in a way the other wasn't. Instead of wallpaper, I have putty-painted drywall. Instead of carpet, I have a rug from Target over cold tile. I also have Star Wars posters and board games, and a Halloween bucket that is only occasionally filled with candy. Crayons and markers abound. I have a drawer of nothing but different types of tape, and another filled with letters a group of us wrote to our future selves, waiting for the day when I'll redistribute them. 

This is an okay place. Truly. But it would be nice if I still had a portrait of Ezra Pound giving me disapproving looks whenever I slacked off. On the other hand, because I'm now on the second floor, no one tries to sneak up to the window to scare me.

You win some. You lose some. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

And Just Like That, I've Done It Again


Remember how I just got done talking about how I was going to be much, much better about not taking unintentional hiatuses? Obviously that plan is working out for me, and I in no way failed to blog for the past four weeks.

It wasn't the normal stuff this time--the depression, the anxiety. It was actual work that kept me from blogging, or doing anything much in the way of writing. Things got a little wackadoo in that part of my life, and in the interest of, you know, earning my paycheck or whatever, I decided it would be wise to focus on my job for awhile.

But I'm back, however temporarily. And it's good to see this text box again.