The answer to my Oh-what-to-blog-what-to-blog anxiety arrived today.
Our usual UPS man backed into our gravel drive as he always does, coming to the little stone house in the trees in Virginia, setting my dogs off into an excited leap-and-bark-fest, which he ignored, as he always does, and smiled as he handed over a large box to me on our stoop, hurrying away to finish his route. I didn’t even wait to get the shipping box inside. I had grabbed a pair of scissors when I heard the rumble of the big truck outside, and as he left, I knelt right on my stoop and cut the box open, too excited to wait! My new book of prose poems, The Night I Heard Everything, from the tremendously talented editor Diane Kistner and amazing other good folks at FutureCycle Press, had arrived. The sun hit the photo of the galaxy being born on the cover, and I literally cried with joy at seeing it.
The road back to poetry ran long for me, the forever scribbling middle school girl in Catholic school plaid learning iambic pentameter during sixth grade recess from one magically dedicated teacher disappeared into the should-be’s and not-that’s of life in my non-writing twenties, dropping out of college to get married and divorced, and married again, and having babies, and working on factory floors and in offices, because–poetry couldn’t really be your job.
I couldn’t actually be a poet…right? But here, fresh from the big brown truck, a collection of poetry, mine.
Now—what to do with them? The world’s not banging down the doors for poets these days, and on so many levels (ohhh the academic gods are gonna strike me down!) the way poetry has become so insulated (held hostage?) by academe over the years really bothers me.
I learned to love poetry from my parents, neither of whom held a four year degree. My mama recited everyone from Wordsworth to Kipling to Poe while she mopped our trailer floors, and my daddy recited Yeats, that fearless Aengus and the hazel wood as easily as he called us to supper. The poet who first brought me to my knees, Walt Whitman, self-published Leaves of Grass and spent his time in the world, teaching in a one-room school house, working as a journalist, as a paymaster, volunteering in war hospitals, and working for the Indian Bureau. Reading Whitman even as a sixth grader I understood how in the world, how in love with the world out there he was. I always imagined him in those hospitals, or at the docks, or strolling through a street fair, memorizing all those beautiful faces he creates such a miraculous litany of in “Song of Myself.”
So, as this new book made its way into being, I thought What would Walt Whitman do?
We don’t have a ton of street fairs these days, and I live in the trees in small-town Virginia, far from the old heralded bastions of literary society. In fact, my town doesn’t even have a bookstore other than the one connected to the university. Not a lot of traditional literati in these parts.
But you know what we do have?
I adore them. I go any chance I get, even driving the couple of hours back home to North Carolina, for the chance to ante up my $15 to sit in someone’s temporarily transformed living room or backyard, in support of a concert by some fabulous indie musician I might never have had the chance to hear otherwise. I love it! I get to feed my live music addiction AND support another artist in the process.
What’s not to love?
And…um, why aren’t writers doing the same thing?
So…Modeling on the genius and proactivity of all those indie musicians I love so much, and THANKS (no words for the gratitude) to some amazingly generous hosts, I’ve built a book tour for this new book on the model of the house concert, with readings scheduled so far in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia.
Welcome to THE HEARD EVERYTHING INTERSTELLAR BOOK RELEASE TOUR!
Interstellar because my hosts, the generous loving folks, (many of them artists themselves–writers, musicians, visual artists–but not all), who are opening their hearts and homes not only to me, but to a new path for poetry, are the REAL STARS.
Gonna put that box of poetry and my little red car on the road this summer, out there, and blog the adventure.
And I hope you’ll come along for the ride!
Love from here 🙂 ❤
Next up: So how does this whole house concert thing work anyway?