Strictly process, strictly progress.
I recently submitted my next poetry book for an initial nod of approval from my publisher. This is the part of the publishing dance I like to call the Maybe Phase, since it’s a rough and mostly suspect draft of the book – just enough to determine where it’s going and how it’s going to get there – that he can opt to have sent back to the drawing board. I like this phase for a couple of reasons, but one most notably: submitting a full (albeit rough) manuscript takes it off of my plate and allows me to focus on the next project. As my plate is always teeming with ideas, outlines, notes and work, even a rough submission is a cause for celebration in my house. Grass was cut the week that was sent in, my friends. I think I even weed-whacked.
The new collection doesn’t have a title yet. The first attempt to publish my first full-length collection – the book that would become We Over Here Now (three publishers ago!) – gave me title fits. There is a lot of pressure on poets to get the titles of their books “right,” and even though I’d released a few genuinely engaging chapbooks amidst all the reasonably forgivable dreck, a full length had different expectations. So there was a lot of trepidation, or rather, outright terror as concerned the title. No one wants to go on record as the guy who wrote Conquering Rude Pimpologies With Earnest Birdcages, even if you grow from there (and with a title like that, you got nowhere to go but up). To assuage those fears (and, if necessary, to shift the blame) I even went so far as to put out a call to people to name the book in exchange for a copy upon its release. My good friend Bill MacMillan of Worcester, MA won that contest with the just-clever-enough title of Out of the Woods. Alas, the book was not to be, at least not at that time, in that iteration. Out of the Woods died on the vine, which was for the best. So much yet to learn back then. And still.
But we must call it something here. I will most assuredly reference it off and on as things progress, or as the whimsy of journaling dictates. How about we call it Anatomy Lesson, in honor of the classic twenty-first issue of comic The Saga of the Swamp Thing, penned by the god of comic writing Alan Moore, which I spent no small amount of time digging around online yesterday for, linking an image of every page to send to someone in need of hallelujah. Yes, Anatomy Lesson seems okay. I don’t know why it does, but like most things I’m sure meaning can be drawn out of the feeling. Or projected onto it. But not by me. I’m already neck-deep in my next book.