Eyeballs on books & minds between covers

It’s the ONE MONTH ANNIVERSARY of Poetry’s Possible Worlds, woo-hoo! Well, actually, tomorrow is, but I have a minor surgery in the morning, outpatient stuff but it involves an eyeball (horrors), and I have no idea if I’ll be in shape, afterward, for looking at screens. This is my summer life beyond writing: I catch up on appointments and notice that last summer’s clothes are full of holes and need replacing. Human things.

More humanity: thank you to two writers for celebrating Poetry’s Possible Worlds this week in especially meaningful ways. Shawna Lemay gives a wonderful review in her blog Transactions with Beauty: “I love it because it offers a way into poetry for a new reader of poetry, and validates the experience for anyone who’s been reading poetry for years. It also reminded me to just slow down and delight in a poem.” Cameron Steele also frames the book in related terms as an alternate means to meditation in her substack newsletter Interruptions. I appreciate that perspective a lot, as writing and reading give me my purchase on peace and flow. In short, both authors got and liked what the book is up to, and I always find that moving. Not everyone thinks of poetry as a mode of communication–and of course it’s a slow, twisty way of talking to people–but for me, connecting through writing is a high priority.

In between booster shots, orthopedists, and ordinary life tasks, I’m seeking a daily and weekly balance between literary chores and literary delights. I continue to query bookstores, podcasts, and the like, hoping to get more “eyeballs on books”–what a smart former student, now in marketing, says is the most important task for authors. That emailing and calling isn’t much fun, though, except in the rare moments when you make a real connection. I’m making sure I spend part of each weekday, too, focusing on poems themselves. I’m deep in revisions of the next poetry ms, trying to transform each poem, as well as the whole, as into powerful things.

I discovered in the process that I’ve only drafted 4 poems in 2022 so far. Normally there would be at least a dozen. On the bright side: I typically toss out at least half of my drafts, but these 4 all seem to be keepers. It’s an interesting shift; I wonder if it will be a trend in my writing life.

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