Sunday, December 17, 2006

Almost Random Notes, Part 3

When I'm tired I write in numbered paragraphs because it's easier than writing transitions:

1. I worked Friday night and yesterday to pull together the manuscript in final form and send it off to the hoped-for blurbers. After the packets were in the mail, I began to tinker with a couple of things and I like the revised poems better--in one case, much better. What should I do? I made the changes and am also going to send them to the blurbers. I know that this is over-the-top compulsive, but as you may have noticed....

2. On Monday the manuscript goes onto a disk and gets sent to the University of Arkansas. After that, I'm going to light a really good cigar and think about the last six years.

3. I went to the bookstore this morning to buy the Sunday papers and also bought The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles by Martin Gayford (Little, Brown and Company, 2006) and The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe (Harper Collins, 2006). I love to read about artists and writers; I'm fascinated by how others construct working lives as painters or poets. I'm taking some time off over the holidays and hope to get to these in the next several weeks.

4. I wonder if there is a 12-step group for those who are hopelessly addicted to books. Seriously, I shouldn't be permitted within 100 feet of a bookstore.

5. Seth Abramson, who is back from a short hiatus at The Suburban Ecstasies, has an interesting post about the attitude toward MFA programs of blogosphere-based poets who are "purists" versus those who are "egotists." As I understand his categories, I am a purist. Certainly, I am an advocate for MFA programs. My best evidence is my first book, which was written and published before I went to Warren Wilson. I couldn't have written my way from the poems in Holding Down the Earth to the poems in my second book without the time I did in Swannanoa. And the third book? Not likely.

6. In Friday's mail I received a contributor's copy of Joyful Noise: An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry (Autumn House Press, 2007) edited by Robert Strong. The anthology is comprehensive in its historical scope, incorporating Native American songs, African American spirituals, and 400 years of poetry from the predecessors of Anne Bradstreet to Joshua Corey, Illya Kaminsky and Nicole Collen. Highlights include poems by Alicia Ostriker, Brigit Pegeen Kelly and B.H. Fairchild. My own contribution, "In the Great Field at Mount Holyoke, Under a Dome of Stars" is the opening poem in the Figured Dark manuscript. This is a fascinating look at American spiritual expression, compiled without regard to creed or denomination. It's $24.95, 368 pages, softbound with a beautiful cover and artful design.

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