In the time since I was sixteen, I have disseminated poetry in newspapers and little literary magazines and anthologies, on broadsides and in slender chapbooks. I have declaimed poetry in the back rooms of liquor resorts, from pulpits, in bookstores and coffeehouses, standing on park benches, and sitting in radio studios. I have written poems on dollar bills and slipped them into circulation, and I have scribed them onto pottery and sunk them in the river. I’ve blogged them and tweeted them and shared them via Facebook.
But the one thing I have never done is had them published in a full-length volume, much less by someone who isn’t my cousin or heavily in debt to me. In my life plan–as constructed in the early ’70s–my first book would have been a Yale Younger Poets selection, but I passed their age cutoff decades ago.
This has been in the works quite a while. Here’s an excerpt from the New Year’s resolution poem I wrote for the December 2007 broadcast of Open Studio:
And if my book-in-progress remains
unprinted, still, it grinds on toward
publication at a steady glacial pace.
One can see how, given inexorable pressure
from new work behind, it must calve off
eventually from the vast shelf
of unsolicited manuscripts to join
the other bergs of words that obstruct
the sea lanes of contemporary literature.
I mention all this because–aside from shameless self-promotion–the Listening Post and its readers have had a lot to do with the publication. Absent the discipline imposed by this weekly writing task over nine years, and without the kind tolerance and kinder support of my weekly readers, I have little doubt my intermittent literary efforts would have sputtered out far short of goal. Thank you all.
And now I’m just waiting for the mail. The first copies of A Drop of Ink will be shipped from Foothills Publishing in Kenona on Monday. I considered driving down Sunday night to pick them up, but I didn’t want to seem too crassly eager.