Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
"Post-MFA / Pre-Book Poets."
Finally we have a category! See, we M.F.A.s who had no books thought that we were merely losers, when in fact we were "pre-book."
I spent 16 years pre-book. It was like spending 16 years pre-root-canal. I'd been warned that self-publishing could destroy my career. What career? Poetry is a career? For what percentage of the population? I decided to risk the said career and get it over with.
And -- surprising me endlessly -- the results have been all to the good: much satisfaction, a small monetary return. A "legitimate" poet turned green when I flaunted my $54 check from a bookstore that sold my books on consignment; she never got a check that big for her book! She actually grabbed the check from me to ascertain that it was what I said it was! Plus, I learned that I could have kept to myself that my book was self-published because it's got an ISBN, looks professional, and has another publisher's name on it. In some quarters my baby could pass as "legitimate"!
Now, poets M.F.A. and pre-M.F.A. are beginning to routinely self-publish, saving themselves 16 years of wasted time. While some of their efforts are a bit tentative, they haven't been consigned to career hell or even been burnt. BTW, the last 12 or so poetry books I've bought have all been chapbooks. Do you think I'm going to chase down and order some $22 hardback from the Press at the University of Squat, written by somebody I don't know? LOL!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Then comes in the mail today the contract for two poems of mine to appear in as-yet unnamed anthology of St. Louis poets, edited by Matt Freeman (author of the admirable poetry collection Desolation on Delmar).
Introduction to Creative Writing, in the Washington University night school, had its first-ever workshop session Thursday. This one treated poetry by all 8 of my students -- some of whom had never before written a poem. Successful workshop on all counts. Next week a guest poet will read for the class and speak about her work: Susan Grigsby, former student in that same class in the Fall of 1997, who went on to a career as a poet for both adults and children.
Learned a lot in my poetry group tonight. It's a group of women called Loosely Identified. I've been going to the monthly meetings for little less than a year. They passed around a photo of the group as it looked 25 years ago. Some of the same people in the photo still attend meetings!
Helped another writer polish up a grant application. Sure hope she gets the $17,000 she's aiming for!
And I hugged a writer today. If you see one, please hug one.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Very slowly, in the attic of my mind, began to think again about the 2 book manuscripts I've left in the pipeline for a couple of months because I don't know what my next move should be.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
However, because the author was so young when imprisoned, he retains few vivid memories about the camp and its inhabitants, and most of his narrative described his life after
The author’s question was: Did I think he could get an agent for the book? It was, after all, a memoir by a Holocaust survivor. Life stories don’t get any more dramatic than that.
My research turned up these surprising (to me) facts: Holocaust memoirs are “a dime a dozen.” Agents, publishers and readers don’t buy such books out of respect for the survivors. They snap them up only if such memoirs are very detailed and shocking and revelatory, and if the book centers on the camp experience. Agents and publishers want THAT so badly that they will seize upon phony Holocaust memoirs cooked up according to that recipe.
Very carefully and politely I told the author my crushing conclusion: If he wanted to see his memoir in print, he should self-publish. He wouldn’t stoop to that. Can’t blame him. But since that time, someone has tried to establish a Holocaust-memoir vanity-publishing business to make themselves some money from these dime-a-dozen manuscripts. I’m not kidding.
And you want an agent for that memoir you wrote about your relative with Alzheimer’s? Your broken hip? Your infertility treatments? Save time and effort: Publish it yourself.