Check it out: My poet pal Michael Meyherhofer was cool enough to tag me in the Next Big Thing Blog Tour, which means I get to tell you a little about my new chapbook, out shortly from Crisis Chronicles Press.
If you don't know about Mike, well, I suggest you hightail it over to his tumblr and learn more about him and his work immediately. He's long been one of my favorite poets, a voice and talent to aspire toward. His books are among the select few that live permanently on my nightstand because I come back to them so often.
Lately, Mike's been branching out into fiction as well. Here, in his own words, is a quick introduction to that as well as the acclaimed poetry he's written:
My dark fantasy novel, Wytchfire (the first in a series) was just released by Double Dragon Publishing. The sequel, The Knight of the Crane, is forthcoming.
As far as poetry goes, my third book, Damnatio Memoriae, won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. My previous books are Leaving Iowa (winner of the Liam Rector First Book Award) and Blue Collar Eulogies (Steel Toe Books, finalist for the Grub Street Book Prize).
I've also published five poetry chapbooks: Pure Elysium (winner of the Palettes and Quills Chapbook Contest), The Clay-Shaper's Husband (winner of the Codhill Press Chapbook Award), Real Courage (winner of the Terminus Magazine and Jeanne Duval Editions Poetry Chapbook Prize), The Right Madness of Beggars (winner of the Uccelli Press 3rd Annual Chapbook Competition), and Cardboard Urn (winner of the Copperdome Chapbook Contest).
I've also won the Marjorie J. Wilson Best Poem Contest, the Laureate Prize for Poetry, the James Wright Poetry Award, and the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry. My work has appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Quick Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and other journals.
Again, a big thanks to Mike for tagging me. And now I'll tell you a little about what I've got going in the next month or two.
What is your working title of your book (or story)?
The Everyday Parade / Alone With Turntable, Old Records
Where did the idea come from for the book?
In this particular case, the chapbook created the idea rather than the other way around. I’d been writing and publishing a lot of poems with references to music, both obvious and more subtle, for a year or two, and at some point it became apparent to me that they all wanted to be able to hang out together under a single cover. So I set about trying find an arrangement that would make it work.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, wow, in a poetry chapbook? Okay, this could be fun. Let’s see. I’ve got all kinds of characters popping in and out of the book, but let me pick a handful. I’ve got a drunk guy stumbling up the street and whistling a song at the end of one of the poems, and he’s got a “Victorian mustache.” I’m thinking Daniel Day Lewis would look good in that role. I’ve got an extremely large Elvis impersonator in another – so, hmm, not John Goodman, but maybe the big fellow from Lost? Then there’s the grizzled old hippie that sits outside on his porch spinning Dylan records. I’ve been waiting for Clint Eastwood to take one last shot at expanding his range by doing something totally out of character, so I’m going to dress him up like Willie Nelson and put him in that role. Guaranteed to snag him another Oscar.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Life is a double album.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s going to be published by Crisis Chronicles Press, a small chapbook publisher out of Ohio that performs superhuman feats in order to get good poetry out into the world.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
That’s a tricky question, since there was no point until right at the end when I saw it could even exist that I was intentionally writing “this manuscript.” And yet, unconsciously, I was writing it the whole time. Some of poems predate poems in my first chapbook, Illinois, My Apologies. The earliest were written back in 2009. We’ve had a slight delay in publication with this one, during which time I decided to add and subtract a few poems to add cohesion to the whole, and the newest poems in this incarnation were written in the early fall of 2012. So you could say it took three years to amass the right mix. But of course this was all happening as I was writing poems for other projects entirely unrelated to this one, and it was only later that I saw this was the chapbook I’d been making all along, simply by letting my obsessions do their thing.
What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?
I couldn’t even begin to answer that. Truth be told, I’m kind of worshipful of the poetry that stays with me intensely enough to influence what I write, so to try and compare what I’ve done to that would feel really sacrilegious.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My daughter, my wife, the music I listen to, and the ballads of everyday life. And the Midwest. Always the Midwest.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It’s going to be printed in an interesting way in order to replicate the experience of listening to an LP. You’ll read all the way to the middle, then flip it over like a record and read the other “side” (hence the really long two-part title). It’s thought it as records were in the old days before CDs played straight through, back when each side of a record had to work on its own as well as together with the opposite side. Sides were sort of the mini units in which music was consumed at that time.
Side one, The Everyday Parade, deals with the music of the everyday, while Alone With Turntable, Old Records, side two, is inspired more by musicians and recorded music—but (I hope) there’s also thematic and stylistic crossover so that the two sides complement each other and feel like part of a greater whole.
And there you have it. Next week, be sure to check out Next Big Thing Blog Tour posts by these fine folks: