In two days my poetry collection, Written Life, will be released. Like much of my writing ride these past three years I find it hard to believe it is happening. I have been having so much fun writing, submitting, and waiting on the acceptances and rejections, that the big dates like this are almost surreal.
While people may think that poetry is easy and that this collection must have been easy to compile, I beg to differ. It's a little like Yoga or Golf, anyone who thinks they are easy sports has obviously never done them. These poems go back as far as five years, and to assemble over 60 of them takes work. Maybe not as much work as Dirty Shirt, but certainly work. Furthermore, working with poetry takes a different set of skills - those of brevity and word choice - than nonfiction does.
In the back of Written Life is a section called "Special Thanks" where I acknowledge those that have helped me in my appreciation of poetry and who have helped me make my work better. I wanted to call these people out in a bit more detail than is in the book.
Richard Brautigan (deceased). - This guy, one of the original Beats was the single largest contributor to my love of the craft. His quirkiness and genius run too deep to get ones arms around. Poems like Your Catfish Friend and Kafka's Hat, and the Galilee Hitch-Hiker are just a few of the wild poems that pulled me into his work. Crazy, poignant fun.
Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman. - These two edited VerseWisconsin up until a year ago. In 2010 I submitted a short little poem to them and I got an email reply from Sarah that she was "sitting here reading Anyone Seen Sally?" and laughing out loud and would I mind if they published it? It was my first real publishing and one that spurred my interest in getting more of my work out there. I still maintain contact with Sarah today and she was generous enough to give me a testimonial blurb for the back of Written Life. Good people and wicked-good poets.
Jeff Poniewaz (deceased) - When I first moved into Milwaukee his work Dolphin Leaping in the Milky Way was just released. I really related to his environmental advocacy and saw that poetry could be used as a platform. Jeff loved the natural environment and used words to shake things up. Sarah Busse does the same thing up in Madison. Putting poetry to work to change peoples' perceptions or at least cause them to pause and mull.
Mario, Kathrine, Karen and all the other AllWriters students who've crossed my path.
When I first met Mario he was writing poetry just for himself. He didn't realize it was nudging me into thinking I wanted to try my hand at it. When I did, I found support from others like Kathrine Y., Karen B., Kathy B., Johanna S, Alita B. and all the rest. They pushed me, laughed when I hoped they would and kept me honest.
Kathie Giorgio, - My first encounter with her class was in audit-mode, "to see if I liked it". I was intimidated and terrified. Her command of the classroom was impeccable. She kept critiques civil and supportive, yet honest. She told me to stretch myself as a writer through my poetic dabblings. She and her husband Michael are much of the reason I am where I am as an author.
eLectio Publishing - These guys made it happen. I cannot thank them enough for believing in my work, giving me a chance and making Written Life happen. They squeezed it in to an already busy year and were able to place it right before National Poetry Month. They have been nothing but helpful along the way. I am eternally grateful.
So, that's it. Some of the folks that brought me to this place. To these folks and to all of you who have ever told me you love my writing I want to say a whole hearted THANK YOU.
I can't wait to hear what people think about this somewhat unknown side of my life - my Written Life.