Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Burlington Book Festival 2010

August 29th, 2010

On September 25, 1513, Vasco Nunez de Balboa became the first European to see the Pacific Ocean.   Now, only 497 years later, I will be appearing at the Burlington Book Festival, together with novelists Marc Estrin and Deborah Noyes, on a panel called “On the Shoulders of the Classics.”   Marc’s Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa carries the hero of Kafka’s Metamorphosis through the New Deal, World War II and the dawn of the atomic era, and includes a detailed description of Charles Ives’ greatest (albeit unwritten) work.   Deborah Noyes’ Angel and Apostle follows Hester Prynne and her daughter, Pearl beyond the imaginings of Nathaniel Hawthorne.   If you don’t know what my To Join the Lost is about, go directly to the “Buy To Join the Lost” button on my home page and, well, buy To Join the Lost.   We’ll be at the Pickering Room in Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, talking with each other and you about what it’s like to give the kiss of life to cultural icons.

So why write poetry, anyhow?

August 8th, 2010

The author in China, drinking tea with ground up turtle shell jelly.

Not for the money, that’s for sure.  Booklist and Library Journal ignored To Join the Lost, which is what I guess they do to titles not offered by the already bankable (I don’t think either of them regularly reviews poetry anyway), and without the imprimatur of those two gatekeepers one’s chance is greatly diminished of entering the literary Valhalla represented by a review in the New York Times or other national publication, and since it is reviews that spur sales one is stuck with whatever business one’s hometown paper can inspire (if one is lucky enough to obtain their notice, which I have been) and of course friends and relatives.  That stack of cartons in the living room, author’s copies, isn’t likely to get much smaller any time soon.

But it’s an itch I cannot help but scratch.  A college professor once told me, “Seth, words come too easily to you.”  True of prose, not of poetry.  Poetry is hard.  I can bash out five hundred, a thousand words of prose without any effort at all.  Ten lines of verse is a good day.  Is it the challenge?

Partly.  There are several kinds of challenge here.  There is the gamesmanship of working in form.  If you’re not thinking about form when you write, as you write, with every word that you write, then you’re not paying attention to the thing

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