Monday, May 21, 2012
on havoc and other things
This weekend I had a little time to think about the larger manuscript that may turn out to be book #4 and what goes into it. I'm still at work on the final section which will probably be a chap as well long before the full length is pulled together and published, but it was the havoc poems that caught my attention and which I kept coming back to.
I try, at least somewhat, to make each series of poems different in subject matter or style from the ones that precede it, as much as I can, which is difficult when my obsessions and issues are working themselves out poem by poem and piece by piece. I feel like the first three longer books were working those issues out more indirectly and through the lens of narrative or I guess, conventions, but havoc is probably the first book I could say really captures a certain period of my life from say 2006-2010, a time when I was finishing my MFA, had some non-serious, but rather draining & persistant health problems (mono, followed by a string of various viruses that basically made me sick for a whole year), and as the book covers, some unfortunately bad relationships (well one main one in particular but it gets mixed up with some other minor flings).
Everytime I read the havoc poems straight through, I'm like "geesh..that's fucked up.." but then I remember all of the really good things that happened in those years--actually finishing my MFA (despite basically sleeping through my Chaucer lit class beause of the mono that last semester). Also, my first and then my second book coming out, all sorts of smaller projects. dgp finally getting on it's feet, flourishing, and moving into the studio space. It was a whirlwind of a period of time and it felt good to put these poems into world over the winter, even though I was probably writing a bit less during that period than the years before.
I was also more guarded about this work than I had ever been before, more reluctant to send them out or read them aloud. At the time I boiled it down to post-MFA exhaustion and feeling like there'd been too many people in my head and mucking about in my poems the previous four years. Except in a couple of cases, I pretty much only submitted them when solicited, but they still wound up in a lot of great publications. As a whole, they were this unrully mess of prose and verse and so very, I guess, raw that I was a little embarassed by them. It took a while before that awkwardness eased and I could figure out what I wanted to do with them.
I was also trying to decide how I wanted to bridge the gap between creation and readership and how I wanted that to look for my work, whether traditional publishing structures satisfied my needs anymore in getting work in the hands of readers. (especally after Ghost Road, who published my first book pretty much folded and canceled my contract for girl show.) Luckily the latter found a good home with BLP, but I still very much want to issue my own work, at least when it comes to chaps and smaller book objects. Maybe not everything, but some things. There is this great excitement in seeing something through from conception to writing to designing to creating that I love very much, and that is what happened with havoc and no doubt will be the same with the shipwrecks project, which I am also very exited about (and which are a whole other set of obsessions and boy drama though not so fucked up this time.)