Having decided that the moon poems, since they reference movies & media, etc, a lot might fit in the larger major characters in minor films, manuscript, I have been very busy today playing around with the entirely of it, which encompasses the bulk of the havoc stuff, the brief history poems, the JF letters, and a series I've been calling the hunger palace. I've inserted and pulled a lot of pieces in an out over the past 4 years, but I'm thinking of perhaps starting to submit it, so I earmarked an entire day to shuffle things around and read through everything . Fortified with a pot of blueberry tea and some cinnamon/sugar tortillas, I managed to fend off the cats and actually get to some serious uninterrupted poetry work, which I feel like I've been missing amidst my home projects and bookmaking adventures the last few months..
I've realized that while pulling together a larger book manusript would have seem to get easier everytime around, it really sort of hasn't. I like chaps better..twenty or so poems feels really clean, but larger and I feel like I am all over the place. I've wound up splitting the havoc poems into two sections for symmetry's sake (I currently have 6 sections of anywhere form 10-15 peices.) I changed a couple titles in the moon poems to make them make sense in the manuscript. I think the James Frano pieces are good as they are, but the hunger palace poems need tweaking.
I found myself thinking about my adventures in manuscript arranging, starting way back in 1999 when I tried to put the long and blissfully unpublished Taurus project together. I was only 24, sort of clueless about contemporary poetry outside the Plath/Sexton arena , maybe a little Louise Gluck, a little Sharon Olds. I was big on Eliot then, but it was only starting to manifest in my work. I was writing alot in my second year at DePaul in the MA in Lit program, and reading P&W religiously at that point, so somehow, I though I'd be able to put a book together. Oddly, it seemed pretty easy since I had no clue what I was doing.
In those days, I was typing everything on a Brother word processor and saving it on floppy discs, so I pretty much only have printed drafts in my records, but there were alot of poems about mythology, literature, history (thus the title). That spring I wold get my first real acceptance for a poem. I would start writing a few pieces that later wound up in The Archaeologists Daughter (which is some ways could be seen as the much more accomplished sequel of that book.). And I think I sent only sent the book to the Yale contest, and of course, didn't stand a chance. But I did enjoy the process, staying up late with that wordprocessor balanced on my lap, my back against the futon, X-Files reruns on tv. I was just at that point talking myself out of a Ph.D in Lit and towards a career in writing, and probably figured if I at least had finished a book before age 25, I would be well on my way, no matter what job I had to take to meet ends meet along the way.
That book was scrapped, of course, the decent parts harvested and a couple survived in that first chap. I would then put together a couple of other shorter books before pulling together the first version of what would become the fever almanac in 2003-ish. This time, it was different. I was older/wiser, had been reading and publishing signifigantly in the intervening years. I was just starting an MFA program. The first version left alot to be desired, but by mid 2005, I had polished it to the point where it was making finals in contests and was picked up that fall. If that process evokes anything, it's numerous hours I spent hiding out in a downtown B&N starbucks and going over the poems with a fine tooth comb to determine where they went.
Luckily, in the bird museum was much easier since the shorter series already existed in their own order. girl show had alot of imput from my thesis seminar folks as to ordering and such, and once I had the sections determined and their titles, things sort of sorted themselves out. the shared properties of water and stars sort of had it's own narrative order as I wrote it. These last two were also on the shorter end of full-length, compared to this which may hit 70 pages. This feels harder an more scrambled a process.
A few hours of it, and I'm tired. I think I will call it a day and reward myself with some stuffed pizza and bad television for awhile. If I'm lucky some solutions will occur to me when I'm least thinking about it.