Saturday, July 23, 2005

Perhaps not so much relationships in the unhappiness of objects, but perhaps desire in itself. Maybe the collage cover, maybe w/ a cut-out window, a little more snazzy and artsy objet than the others. I swear cover design makes me very happy, whether it's my book or someone else's. Fonts make me happy. (wait until you see dgp's next chap, The Violin Teacher, it's gorgeous)
Someday, maybe I'll have that very cool coffeehouse/poetry venue/bookstore/press I want. Could publish letterpress stuff, or maybe actual books. Maybe THAT'S what I want to be when I grow up....

I always go through several arguments with myself over whether to self-publish, or as I prefer, self-issue, since the majority of poems in every chap have been at least published elsewhere. Sometimes a manuscript has been a bridesmaid several times (like Bloody Mary) or is too quirky to likely be accepted anywhere (errata) or like belladonna, I just want it out there without all the waiting, and the entry fees, and the hassle of getting someone else to take it. Part of it's my control freakiness--that I get control over the print run, the design, the process. That I know how many I'm selling, where they're going, what's happening. And I also just really like the design & creation aspects. You don't know how many times a week I routinely kick myself in the ass for opting for the Poetry MFA here at Columbia when I could have just as easily done an MFA in Book & Paper Arts. And been much happier most likely.

But then I start to think perhaps I'm cheating somehow, that I AM being self-indulgent somehow, which I think is just that po-biz voice I hear echoed all the time about waiting to win just the right prizes. To get just the right pedigree of poems in the right journals, the right MFA, the right fellowships and residencies, the right presses publishing your chapbook, and finally the right press publishing your book. And to be completely honest, I don't think those things are gonna happen for me. I'm a fairly good poet, but I can think of enough poets to fill several rooms on equal footing or far better than me. I don't have that nifty Ivy league/U. of Iowa pedigree, nor would I want it. I went to good schools, got a great education, first at one of the best little liberal arts schools in the midwest, and then at DePaul, though not known for it's MA in English, it was a damn good program. Columbia, who knows? I've won some prizes, gotten into a couple of super posh journals. A very tiny press published my first chapbook, and if I'm extraordinarily fortunate, another tiny press may one day publish my books (though I'm increasingly thinking not). That's probably all I can expect and truly I would be completely happy as such, were it not for that nasty little bitch at the back of my head that wants everything. Here I am, perfectly happy, publishing individual poems, making my little chapbooks, giving readings, and then I start to doubt myself. (Incidently, SHE was the one who tried to convince me law school was a good idea once upon a time.) When I get snarky over poetry stuff, it's totally her.

Back to self-publishing, it's that voice that says I'm not really "publishing", that I should play the game like everyone else and not try to buck the system. It's her I'm trying to convince right now writing this. And yet I can think of phenomenal poets who publish their own work and I don't necessarily think any less of THEM for doing so (though oddly when I'm dissapointed by a self-published book, I'm the first to say it shouldn't have even been published..) I feel like I have to justify it somehow by saying the poems aren't unpublishable. Maybe I'm just insecure and DO need that editors sense of approval, that someone with a cold, calculated eye likes the work and wants to get it out there. Regardless, why should I feel bad about pulling together a manuscript of mostly published peices and issuing another chap.
Maybe after a year or so I could find someone else willing to take it, publish it. But what then? How is that any better truly than just doing it myself now when I want to? It also makes me uneasy in terms of dgp and how I don't want the credibility of the press to suffer while I issue too many books with my name on them. But why not? Since that's one of the reasons I started the venture, even though the other chaps always take precedence over my own.

With the full-length books, I've often looked at all those self-publishing ventures, places like LULU and CafePress, wondered if that were a way to go. While fundamentally I don't think much would be different with POD, and I would still sell books online and at readings and not really bookstores anyway, I haven't yet seen POD quality in terms of cover and paper that I can live with for a full-length book. But there's also that voice, that that is REALLY cheating. Have you seen some of the poetry books available on those sites? (blech) They're awful! And what would your fellow poets say about you? Would anyone ever take you seriously again?
Doesn't that make you somehow less legitimate?

And what is legitimacy anyway? Since I don't really plan to do things compete for residencies or teaching jobs, etc.. Who cares if it IS cheating if the work is sound and hopefully not embaraassingly bad or anything and I get what I want... a published book--a glossy cover and perfect binding--with some sort of audience hopefully. Is that a bad thing to want? Is that a bad thing to settle for?

So today, yes, maybe I'll be issuing the unhappiness of objects come September. An hour ago I wasn't. Tomorrow, who knows? They ARE good poems, mostly stuff written post belladonna that made into the big book, but haven't yet found their place in a chap. They appeared in places like ACM, Cranky, After Hours, Small Spiral Notebook, forthcoming in Milk Magazine, and some others.. It helps go think if that manuscript doesn't make it, they appear somehwere book-like together. Maybe someone will buy them, perhaps I'll just give them away.

1 comment:

brandijay said...

Hi Kristy,

I met you and your sister the other night briefly at the ACM reading, although I didn't get to talk to you... I just saw my name was added to your blog, so I thought I'd take a shot. :)

I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts on Columbia's MFA, because I'm starting there in the fall (eeks, in like a month!)... are you still attending or all you all wrapped up? Any random tidbits would be helpful... if you want, you can e-mail me if you don't want to post anything:

Anyhoo, keep up the great work... I don't even try to keep up with you! :)