Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Next Big Thing

My son was due on Dec. 14, 2012. I stopped working a few days earlier to get some rest, get some things done, or just in case he came early. I was quite productive that week checking most things off my list. As I entered week 41, however, and then 42 with no sign of baby, I began to get things done that I'd had on the to-do list for a looonnngg time--like start a blog. With my first full-length book coming out in April, it seemed/seems like a good time to launch such a thing. I fiddled with the design, but didn't get around to writing a post. 

Many thanks, then, to my friend and fabulous poet Erin Malone for giving me the impetus I needed to revisit the site 8 weeks after the birth of Archer (on Dec. 27--finally!) by asking me to participate in the "Next Big Thing Series." While the baby is clearly the "Next Big Thing" most on my mind these days (and nights), my impending book is starting to creep in. So, without further ado, here are some thoughts about my first full-length collection, forthcoming from Stephen F. Austin University Press in April. 

What is the working title of the book? 

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
The book is made up of many poems, and therefore of many ideas over many years. The oldest poem in the book I started writing in 1999, the year that I moved to Seattle to enter the MFA program at the University of Washington. The title of the book came from my obsession with self-storage units. I love the mystery and sadness of these warehouses of stuff we want enough to store, but not enough to live with. I've never had a self-storage unit, but I am somewhat of a hoarder--let's say collector!--and I love the way these self-storage places look: run-down repetition.  

What genre does your book fall under? 

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

Clearly these questions are not geared towards poetry. 

That said, the Dim Nymph (see below) would be played by Audrey Tautou. All other characters would be played by dolls featured in The Complete Book of Dolls

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
It's Dim Nymph meets Boy meets World meets Muse meets Self-Deprecating Voice in the Head meets Occasional Humor meets Frequent Sadness.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I compiled the first draft of the manuscript in 2004 while I was lucky enough to be at the MacDowell Colony (take me back, MacD!). The current manuscript is probably 75% of that manuscript, ordered and re-ordered, of course. I've been working on the book since then in an annual rinse/repeat cycle of intense effort and intense despair. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Richard Kenney, my writing groups without whom much of this poetry would not exist, Rome, Friday Harbor, walking, my grandmother, internet compilations of movie plot cliches, etymology, overheard language, under-heard language, the undersaid, the game Clue, bus ride mythology, what I'm afraid of, the science section, the comics section, a billboard for McDonalds, growing up as an ugly girl who played the clarinet, books about magic, love, counting poems, photography, museum notes, repetition, my own stupid, stupid self. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
It's very difficult for this self-deprecating, Protestant-raised, ugly-girl-with-clarinet poet to presume what you, dear reader, might be interested in, if anything. I will say, however, that I hope this book and many of the poems are funnier than most poetry is usually presumed to be. I like to make people laugh, and I like to upend the idea that poetry has to be a serious affair all of the time. That said, now I'm sure that you won't think anything I've written is funny.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Stephen F. Austin State University Press will publish the book in April 2013. 

Look forward to answers from Kevin Craft and Sierra Nelson next week!