Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank You--to Title Voters, to Reviewers, to Readers

A big THANK YOU to those of you who voted on titles. I'm leaning towards I Stand Here Shredding Documents. I like the reference back to Tillie Olsen (and I'm thrilled that people caught the reference), and I like that the original short story had a tie to women's lives across generations, which is what I'm hoping my collection does.

I worry that Sleepless Beauties might turn off people who hate poems which are based on fairy tales. Who are these people who hate allusions and think that we should never refer to literature that came before? Why would you throw such a powerful tool out of your toolbox? Interestingly, I never met those people in my classes where we were working on our M.A.'s, M.A.T.'s, and Ph.D.'s. No, it was the MFA students who seemed to think they could go it alone.

Of course, the University of South Carolina had a very different M.F.A. program when I was there than the one they have now. When I was there, people came to worship at the feet of James Dickey, and nary a woman taught in the program. Come to think of it, not many women stayed in the program long. The men who were there were young and braggy types. Now, when I think about them, I see them as young and scared, but at the time, I was young and scared myself, and all that swagger and braggadocio turned me off.

But I digress. I've almost decided to reject Penelope Plans a Play Date and Scout at Midlife for the same reasons. Why risk turning off readers?

You might say, "So, you're not willing to risk turning off readers by alluding to fairy tales and mythology, but you'll allude to Tillie Olsen?" Yes.

And Meeting Hell, while I like the word play, just isn't attractive enough, I think.

So, thank you again for helping me decide!

And while I'm saying thank you, let me say a big thank you to Sandy Longhorn, who agreed to swap books with me--and then wrote a wonderful review of my work! Yesterday was a day of technology hell in my office, so during the brief window when the computer/network let me onto the Internet, it was even more of a delight to read kind words from a reader who got what I was trying to do! Go here to read the review.

There have been many advantages to having a chapbook, but one of the main ones is having something to trade. What a treat to send my poems out into the world and to get poems back. There are benefits to a barter economy. Rachel Dacus has a great post that praises chapbooks. Apparently there's a Facebook page set up to trade chapbooks. I can't find it, but maybe you'll have better luck.

If all this talk of chapbooks inspires you to the ancient art of book creating and/or book binding, go here and here for a great photo essay on Elizabeth Adam's blog. Sometimes, when I dream of returning to school, I think that I might get a degree in Book Arts. Let's see, I dream of degrees in Fiber Arts, in Theology, in painting . . . . Happily, today is our General Education Festival, where I get to have fun with tie dye and beading. Tomorrow I'll be typing with teal-tinted hands!

But maybe you're saying, "Forget it. I'm snowed in my house indefinitely." Leslie Pietrzyk has a great list here of reads for a snowy day. She warmed my heart by talking about the Laura Ingalls Wilder book The Long Winter. When I was a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my favorite writers. I dreamed of a little house on the prairie. My father gently reminded me of how the plumbing of that long ago day would not have lived up to my standards.

Her post reminded me of Doug Fine's recent post about his struggle with a wheelbarrow and his family's reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder: "At night, in front of the fire whose fuel a functional wheelbarrow is supposed to be carting to the Ranch house, we’ve been reading Little House On the Prairie out loud as a family here, and let me tell you, the fact that book patriarch Charles Ingalls could build a cabin in three days causes me some head-scratching. It takes me (and my toddler assistant) longer than that to inflate a Tru Value wheelbarrow tire. (Never mind that Ingalls settled his family and built said cabin in the middle of the existing culture’s Superhighway.)" His writing is always very funny--even though it's very honest about the difficulties of being a modern Ingalls family, it still makes me yearn for a homestead on hundreds of acres to call my own.

I know that many of you are despairing about your ability to ever shovel your driveway, much less doing any other type of homesteading activities. Many of you are probably drooling over seed catalogs (if your creative proclivities run that way) and doubting that Spring will ever come.

Enjoy these days of darkness--we get a chance to get caught up with our reading. And if you're down here in sunny South Florida, come on by the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale: dye a T-shirt, buy a taco, find some inspiration to go green: enjoy the fact that we can be outdoors.

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