Book launch days bring a weird energy. That combined with the planetary riffs in Poetry’s Possible Worlds has Bowie’s “Space Oddity” looping in my head, which is a pretty good soundtrack, really. Not that I’ve become untethered like Major Tom, but yesterday was full of “Big Bang Day” social media tweets, pre-party anxiety, and a post-party otherworldly feeling. This book really was 10 years in the making and I can’t believe it’s finally out there.
My launch event, surrounded by art and backed by a table of fancy snacks, felt good. I centered it on poetry’s power rather than on myself. Four fellow poetry professors at my university read favorite poems and talked about why they loved them: their choices were Lorca, Amichai, Limón, and Clifton. I spoke last, reading “Faith” by Tim Seibles, a poem that hit me like a lightning bolt before I had any real acquaintance with his work. Each short chapter in my book is keyed to a single poem and prefaced by the poem reprinted in full, in a bid to make Poetry’s Possible Worlds accessible to non-poetry-insiders. Through “Faith” I write about fiction vs truth in a poem’s world-building; the chapter’s memoir element involves my mother-in-law’s dementia, how it processed through story-telling to silence. As I told the audience, I love how Seibles’ angry, loving poem reaches through skepticism for belief in something. I had planned to read “Faith” before the shootings in Buffalo, but it is appropriate to the fear and desperation people feel in many places around the world, near and far. I would like to have a book launch one day that didn’t occur in a time of crisis–last time, for me, it was pandemic, wildfires, George Floyd’s murder–but this is the world we live in, that poetry helps us live in.
It was a rewarding event. I sold books. Kind people are sharing my announcements, so hopefully word is getting out–thanks to Cimarron Review for posting a website announcement, too. Poets & Writers even featured a short essay based on the book on Monday. I continue to query about events and send out review copies. After the launch, I appreciated changing into flipflops and sitting on the back porch for our two-person afterparty.
Next up is the Gaithersburg Book Festival: this Saturday the 21st in Maryland (a party I’m not personally organizing, hallelujah!). I will read from Poetry’s Possible Worlds at 3:15 in the Edgar Allan Poe Pavilion with Indran Amirthanayagam. I’m also moderating a 2:15 reading by Courtney LeBlanc and Kristin Ferragut. It’ll be hot as blazes in more ways than one. Come if you’re nearby!