In light of some other folks talking about unpublished manuscripts and publication order, in response to Ron Silliman's post on Jennifer Moxley I was thinking about my own history of misses and forgotten chapbook manuscripts that were concieved, maybe even finished, and then carved into something else or distributed into other books. Some of them will never see the light of day by my own choice, some of them may never despite my wanting them to.
Taurus completed 1999. Some of its poems, three or so still survive in The Archaeologist’s Daughter, though most have gone hence to the mediocre hell they came from. A couple linger in journals, and maybe a couple of websites. The title poem was something about contrasting the male attitude toward creation --a comparison of Hemingway’s bullfighting obsession with the female myth of Europa. Conquering vs. communing. (Yes, heavy handed, but I was 25 and prone to heavy handedness…) The only place I submitted it to rather naively was Yale Younger Poets. I don’t remember who won that year, but I didn’t stand a chance.
The Archaeologist’s Daughter (chapbook) completed 2002. This was the next thing I attempted to put together after three years of waffling, trying to find a job after grad school, writing some fiction. I spent the whole of 2001 writing like mad and these poems were what was left after I had culled away the chaffe. I was publishing in a lot of online journals at this point, so nearly all of these appeared online at some point. When we were going through final edits early last year, a few newer pieces snuck in place of older ones I couldn’t stand looking at anymore, so there are a couple later pieces in there among poems mostly written from 1999-2002. Moon Journal Press amazingly took it immediately (if only it were always that easy), a number of poems having appeared in their journal, the only print venue I’d really been published in at that point.
Bloody Mary (chapbook) completed 2003. I pulled this together and submitted it to the Edda Competition in March 03'where it garnered Honorable Mention and then slipped through two other chapbook contests still unpublished. Knowing that AD wouldn’t be out for a good while, I decided to make it the first dgp title and self-published it in March 2004. Again, most of these appeared in online journals and a couple of small local print publications.
Almanac (full-length book) completed late 2003. Was a sort of pulling together the better poems from the two chapbooks and any newer work. Was originally arranged via seasons and was a finalist in the Gival Press Contest, despite how weak I feel it was looking at it now.
destination (chapbook) mostly poems from mid to late 2003 and early 2004. I’ve pulled most of these out and trashed them, and decided it didn’t warrant publication. The skeleton of better stuff wound up being worked into Almanac or the next full-length project Fever Poems.
belladonna completed late 2004. This manuscript was largely brand new work from the fall of 2004 when I for some reason was extraordinarily productive and the pieces resonated off each other well. Plus I was running out of Bloody Mary’s, still not sure when the first chap would be out, and decided to self-issue a collection of new poems.
defining(chapbook) completed around the same time as belladonna, an odd mix of poems that found a home nowhere else. I think I'm scrapping this one too soon.
Fever Poems , (full-length) completed November 2004, contained pretty much everything I’d written in 2004, which was somehow markedly different from the stuff in Almanac, or so I thought at the time.
errata, (chapbook) the Victorian inspired poems, completed February 2005 and still in submission.
the fever almanac (full-length) in February 2005, I decided to strip away the weaker pieces in both previous full-length manuscripts and recombine to create the uber book, which oddly worked somehow. Two books each 50 pages combined down to like 65 pages of power-packing force. Hit a slew of first book contests in April and May. Lets hope something pans out. If not, I’m scrapping it entirely.
feign (full-length) completed May 2005. this contains some of the errata poems that can stand on their own, a number of similiarly themed poems from 2004, and the bulk of what I’ve written the first half of this year. Was the first full-length book that had a clear conception of as a project as I worked on it, rather than just compiling it after the work was completed like the others. (Probably why I finished it so fast) I’m going to sit on this awhile though, maybe add to it should anything want to be added. I did query and send it to Gival, since I thought I might get a foot in the door having been a finalist, and that it might be up their alley. The requested the manuscript but even if it doesn’t pan out, nothing lost. I’m holding off on any more book contests until I see what happens with the other one.
instabilities I just pulled this together from a number of pieces that seemed to fit together in feign, not sure what to do with it yet, though. Probably a contingency plan should the entire manuscript linger unpublished as a whole too long.
Ideally, The Archaeologist's Daughter would have came out first a couple years ago, then the other two chaps. Hopefully, the fever almanac will be released before feign. I DO think, especially in my case, where my work seems to be changing subtly from manuscript to manuscript, hopefully getting better, or at least differing from what came before it. The idea of a body of work being more important than any individual part of it. Hopefully, these things will go on shifting and grwoing, and getting stronger as I go. Reading through The Archaeologist's Daughter, I kept thinking about how things you find threads of in there recurr in new work. And how, one thing is just a manifestation of another. I have a lot of recurring themes that begin in that first chap and are still popping up in feign. Sometimes characters or speakers that reapear. The girls that appear in "Divination" are surely the same in 'After the Flood" and come back somewhat in "sarah leaves the midwest". "Drought" leads to "The Fires" leads to "Paper House." The Victoran tones of "Hush" and "Photographing the Dead" resurface in errata. Maybe they're not literally the same people in the poems, but they sort of are in my head sometimes, or variations on people. Maybe I'm just beating the same horses over an over again..
Especially now when I'm working on longer project with individual pieces merely fragments of the greater whole. Things are going to reoccur, things that are somehow woven into me, and though many of them may have never happened, not to ME, I somehow experienced them, some interior landscape I've created, or things I am weirdly drawn to. These drownings, these floods, fires, the absent mothers. Babies in jars and bodies uncovered in woods. Unsettling cross-country roadtrips in "Distance" and "Room 118, Arizona" in "Hazards."