Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds
I have a "complete" chapbook manuscript (at thirty pages of poems), concerned with the work of Martin Johnson Heade in Brazil. Eight of the seventeen poems have been (or soon will be) published, though I have made no real effort publish any of them, including the four that won the Arts & Letters Prize in 2007. I sent those off on a lark, hoping for some sort of reaction. Earlier, short versions of this manuscript have also been finalist in three chapbook contests I entered to see what (if any) progress I was making. Yesterday, I sent this latest, more complete version off to another contest.
Yes, I think it has a real chance.
The question is, what next? I haven't yet exhausted the Heade material. My guess is that I have four or five hummingbird poems to go. I am not sure, however, that I can stretch that into an entire, book-length manuscript, and my original intention was to combine the Heade poems with another series of (overtly) unrelated poems. If I do that, I am ten or-so poems short of where I think I should be--four or five Heade poems, five or six non-Heade. I can begin thinking about a full-length manuscript at about 50 pages--and I am there already--but would prefer to have 80 to 85 pages of poems that I can edit down to about 70.
I would love to have a complete, full-length manuscript safely in the hands of a publisher so that I can spend a year working on my next project--a novel.
I had a slow fall, writing-wise, and am grateful for the past several weeks, in which I had a bit of a breakthrough. I hope to keep the effort going through the Christmas break, and have a better sense of where I am in January.
In the meantime, I am going to send out a few of these poems and get back in the publication mix.
It has begun to snow here and is supposed to continue--with near-blizzard conditions--for the next two days. I made a big pot of soup out of the leftover Thanksgiving ham. My best to all of you who are on the road home this afternoon.