Thursday, May 14, 2009

Getting Close to Publication Day

Yesterday the nice man in the big brown truck brought me the one and only copy of my new poetry book, The Great Hunger, the proof copy, proof for me that it's going to be here soon, proof that no matter how many times you read a manuscript, things slip by your eyes. I found three spelling errors and decided we need a different spine on the book. Poetry books are often thin and shelving a book with no visible title or author is a bad idea. We have enough trouble getting noticed without being invisible on our own shelf. But the good news is that I still like the work. After months of waiting, I had at least fleeting thoughts that when I saw the finished product, I'd be tired of it all or disconnected from those poems, some of them written many years ago and collected for this book. It's reassuring to me that they seem fresh. Since they are mostly about food, fresh is good.

Now I can plan a party, look forward to the AWP convention next spring, read these poems without shuffling papers. A book is a wonderful thing. I think. But publication also means it's time to offer the work to the world, to--gulp--reviewers, critics, axe murderers, and Ponzi scheme creeps. So much danger in the world for a thin book of poems. Okay, I'm squaring my shoulders, taking a few deep breaths, and putting my trust in the work. It's the best I had to offer when I submitted it, and it leaped that huge editorial hurdle. Pretty soon those little glitches will be fixed and the nice brown truck will drop a box of books at my front door. In the meantime, I have more writing to do. One book is never enough. 

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