Sunday, November 30, 2008

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.


Blogger Leslie said...

yay for chapbooks, pots of soup, hummingbirds, new poems

7:15 AM  
Blogger Collin Kelley said...

Fingers crossed for your chapbook!

2:55 PM  
Blogger brian a j s said...

Hope all goes with this project as you prefer.

The calendar I am using has photos of hummingbirds.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Justin Evans said...

There is a way to stretch it out. If you have several more hummingbird poems coming, then write them. After that, concentrate on creating an introductory suite of poems and a afterwards suite of poems. Perhaps one longer and three shorter poems for each.

I have seen a lot of collections lately feature an introductory poem, so why not four or five? The after poems would be your balance or counterweight.

I dunno. Just spitballing here.

4:43 PM  

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