Saturday, November 20, 2010
As this invitation arrived right around the same time my new book was coming out, I asked to delay it for several months so I could give my full attention to the new book. Delay granted. I was instructed to select my 12 greatest hit poems, that is, the ones most often requested, most talked about, most well-travelled. That ought to be easy, but wasn't. It was easy enough to select the first 6 or so. The others, not so easy. I'd make a selection and then realize, no, that's one of my favorites, but it hasn't really circulated as much as others. I was instructed not to choose my favorites but my greatest. Then, of course, it's hard to even think of greatness. It seems so arrogant. But eventually I got the poems selected. Don't think I stuck with the original list, however. There was some more hemming and some more hawing. Several changes were made.
Next, I took notes on each poem. Where did it first appear? Where did it go from there? I did this note-taking as I also had to write an introduction to the collection. This essay was supposed to trace the lives of the poems in chronological order. I delayed and delayed. And so many other things intervened, other writing projects that had deadlines. But finally a few weeks ago, I took charge of myself and sat down to do it. I decided I'd do one poem a night. But once I got underway I ended up doing 3 or 4 each night, so it was done rather quickly once I got started. The challenge was to make the essay comprehensive and interesting and, at the same time, manage not to sound like a obnoxious braggart. Then, of course, several rounds of revision.
Next came the Acknowledgments page and the Contents and assembling the entire chapbook into one file. I sent it off last week to the publisher, and she's let me know that she's already working on it and plans to have it for AWP.
I will have no involvement in the cover design as all covers are the same—gold card stock with a black border. Likewise, all titles are the same: Greatest Hits, followed by dates and the poet's name.
More details as the chapbook moves along.