01 August 2005

My next poetry book, and also teaching

I was talking to Kevin the other day about my next book of poetry — when and what and where that might be — and he asked me a question that sent me for a loop. In fact, I'd asked myself the same question, but immediately dismissed it as absurd. See, my next book of poetry, perhaps to be titled New Hope for the Disenfranchised, or, as per a more recent thought, Men of Our Girth, is one that I want to be modest: maybe 50 or 60 pages. I have about 40 manuscript pages of new poetry now, so I'm getting there, I'm getting there.

But Kevin asked, "Will you include poems from the 'New' section of your New & Selected?"

I'd thought of that, because the 'New' section of such a book never really has a life of its own. It appears in a book that contains three-quarters old stuff. In some ways, it disappears. It doesn't get to be part of a "new phase of writing," or "a blob of recent writing," or whatever a new collection is. The new poems from Hey, Crumbling Balcony! were mainly from 2002 and 2003, when the book was published. Are they part of the poems that came before them or the poems that I've written since. I'd like to include about half of them in my new book, because I think they'd fit well.

Is that done?

Also, that would mean the new book is finished. Incorporate those poems and the manuscript is ready to send out.

Any thoughts are appreciated. (Although I never respond on-blog to comments, I do read them, and sometimes respond personally to whoever commented.)

But this is all a distraction from what I'm currently immersing myself in (aside from the quicksand paper heaps of my chaos-strewn apartment): teaching poetry. Next week I head off to Centauri for a couple of weeks' teaching poetry to teens. I was thinking about the first time I taught poetry-writing to children: they were in grades 3 to 6, I think, and I was in high school. I think I did it as part of a sociology course (the teacher, who hated me, failed me; but the "department head" gave me a credit anyway). Anyway, what I remember is that I made kids write poems, then I collected them, and I took them home and corrected the spelling and grammar, and then returned them.

Isn't that fucking horrible? I corrected the spelling and grammar. I was confused, I guess, about whether I was an editor or a writing teacher. I mean, spelling and grammar are important, but they have their time and place.

Anyway, I've come a long way. But I wish I hadn't remembered my horrible beginnings in the teaching racket.

Over and out.


At August 02, 2005 1:13 am , Anonymous rox. said...

good question: how new is new? is something still fresh after a year or more on the shelf? depends on the goods, i suppose. depends on how prolific the poet. depends on the audience. depends on shrinking attention spans, our byte sized view of time and our increasingly foreshortened historical perspective. most of all, i'd say, it depends what the poet thinks. as for me, the older i get the more i view linear thinking with distrust and distain.

At August 02, 2005 9:51 am , Blogger dfb said...

one-way to think about it is that the new poems in Balcony were there as “a pay off” to the collectors, the one who bought the book even though they had all the biggie books before. think about it as a greatest hits – with some cool (and interesting) unreleased songs on it.

now if you were to included those poems in the new manuscript – that could be seen as making Balcony have no exclusive content also to have poems sitting in a hard cover book – is a fairly final resting place



At August 02, 2005 1:07 pm , Blogger rob mclennan said...

ya, i see bradleys point abt the pay-off. i do see it done, but i think it depends too on the availability of the selected. if the selected still available & out in the world, might be best to leave the stuff where it is? i know some folk might take from "new poems" a few years later if theres not enough to put a book together otherwise, but i doubt youd have that problem. anywayz.

At August 02, 2005 3:11 pm , Blogger Kate S. said...

I think I'd base the decision on what the new manuscript demands rather than on a concern for the fate of the new material in the selected. Do the poems belong together in the sense that the poems in the new manuscript need the ones from the selected, or ought to have them or, at least, will be enhanced by appearing together with them? If yes, I'd put them in. If no, I'd be inclined to leave them in their present home.

At August 04, 2005 10:34 pm , Anonymous lynn said...


if the reasons given by the 4 responders before me influence you to let the poems in the hc book rest, and you don't think you have enough for another book yet, perhaps you could keep writing more poems?

maybe centauri time off will be a good place for writing.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home