14 July 2014

Two — 2! — new chapbooks!

I have never had so much poetry accumulated without publishing it. So I've made a concerted push this year to place some chapbook manuscripts. I put out the word on the Evil Facebook that I had many chapbooks' worth of poems available. So far, that has resulted in two very different, and very beautiful poetry chapbooks.

First out was Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead, published by Michael e. Casteels' Puddles of Sky Press this past May. I met Michael in 2010 when I was writer in residence at Queen's University. Michael wasn't a Queen's student, but he came by my office nonetheless and we had several excellent sessions in which I tore his poetry to shreds. Thankfully, he put up with my crap. Like several of the writers I met in 529 Watson Hall that autumn, Michael became a friend and we see each other a few times a year. He's from just near Cobourg, where I live now.

Anyway, Michael was the first to respond to my call on Evil Facebook and I sent him a couple of little sequences. He took almost a whole hour to reject them. I thought that was pretty nervy. I had sent him a bunch of minimalist poems because he'd been publishing a lot of minimalist poems, but he told me, "I've been publishing a lot of minimalist poems, so I don't want more minimalist poems, you moron." Or something like that. I made him wait for a while, just out of spite, and then I sent him a miscellaneous batch of poems: list poems, prose poems, centos, all sorts of stuff. He accepted that manuscript. Michael does beautiful work, and takes a lot of care in designing the perfect format for each of the books he publishes. I'm really pleased with this hand-stitched chapbook. And I like that Michael was willing to do a miscellany. I can't recall when I last had a chapbook published by someone other than my own Proper Tales Press. Giddiness ensues.

You can order a copy of Nice Haircut, Fiddlehead right over here.

The next chapbook to come out, just a couple weeks ago, was A Pretty Good Year, a sequence of mostly haiku published by Linda Crosfield's Nose in Book Publishing. Linda lives in Ootischenia, B.C., just outside of Castlegar. I believe Linda and I met about seven years ago. I was doing a reading in nearby Nelson, and Linda was one of the local writers I read with. We became friends, and we are always sure to visit when I make my almost-annual trips to New Denver. Last year Linda and I read together, for the second time — and this time on the patio of the beautiful home she shares with her husband, Ted. It was an amazing event: about 20 people crowded into chairs, the sun just beginning to set, a cool breeze drifting across the property, the mountains a beautiful backdrop.

I had just the manuscript to send to Linda: a sequence of about 15 haikus (and one haiku + 1) that I wrote during the second half of 2013, while my partner, Laurie, was being treated for a life-threatening cancer. (Laurie's doing really well now, about six months after her last chemo.) It was a very tough period: I used to leave the hospital in Cobourg late at night and come down to the waterfront, which was always empty around midnight, and I'd compose a haiku in my head. Once Laurie was back home, I continued with the cathartic haiku-composing. On New Year's Day 2014, Laurie turned to me and said, "You know, all in all, 2013 was a pretty good year."

I'm thrilled with Linda's design for the book. Like Michael, she took a lot of care. It's a tiny book, appropriate for the tiny poems, and it just might be — for me — the most meaningful book I've published. You can order a copy of A Pretty Good Year from Linda right over here.

Over and out.