Tuesday, April 24, 2012

i won't give up seeking joy

So after days and weeks (and in fact years) of looking at Hive: a forgery, last night I pushed the button to approve my proofs. (Naturally I discovered an error soon after, but no matter, every book must have its error).   I have a copy coming to me, and after that, barring hideousness, or author's remorse, I shall make it public etc.  It's a bit surreal.  After waiting for ages and ages on publishers, hearing back, not hearing back, trying to talk the book up in hopes this makes a difference to those sitting on committees reading it, hoping, dreading, worrying - well, within a couple of weeks, it exists (or will). How weird is that?

Do I still have a bit of anxiety about publishing this in the fashion I'm publishing this?  Well, a bit. But then I remember this story a friend of mine, a leading poet from Egypt, told at a panel discussion on poetic influence.  She talked about her move to North America.  How she had to pack up her books, but that she was only allowed to take very few.  So every day, she would go through them and add or remove the books that she would be packing in her suitcases.  When the day came to leave she had it down to a very few books, but the one that she most valued was not even really a book, but a sheaf of photocopied poems of a favourite poet.

Do I really care what the books I love look like, or what publisher they come out with? When I buy a book do I look first to see who the publisher is?  Not really.

When I was in grad school I took a course on the Early Modern manuscript - we looked at the ways in which these handwritten texts were transmitted.  How manuscripts would be passed around and copied by one's coterie.  Sometimes a poem would be copied into a commonplace book. (Interesting variations exist because the copyist would transpose words, misread handwriting, etc).  Later, when the printing press was invented, there was a lot of anxiety about this new mode of publishing.  Readership would change, enlarge, be less controlled.  I can't help but think that these new avenues for publishing are going to change a few things.  I know that a lot of people are watching (judging by the messages and emails and conversations I've had recently) to see what Hive: a forgery, might end up looking like, who it might find as an audience.   Maybe it's not the world's best test case, since experimental, poetic fiction has a pretty small readership to start with.  But we shall see.

But okay.  Enough about me.  Here is the start of a poem by the Swedish poet Edith Sodergran with the rest to follow {here}.

A  L I F E


That the stars are adamant
everyone understands—
but I won’t give up seeking joy on each blue wave
or peace below every gray stone.
If happiness never comes, what is a life?
A lily withers in the sand
and if its nature has failed? The tide
                                    washes the beach at night.


  1. Well congratulations on your bold move. I hope it brings to you all that you desire and are wanting. It is a brave step and I think a very smart one.

  2. No don't give up seeking joy! Thank you for your words each day, your blog has inspired me to read poetry, me... who never really had a favourite poem before! I wish you well with your book.

  3. Wading in new waters. Good for you. No guts no glory. You may well look back at this time and see the shedding of skin and count back the growth rings. I am very excited for you, Shawna. I can't wait to read your new book.


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