The Hermit Poet

April 22, 2009

Ways You Can Help a First Book Poet

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:15 pm

I’ve been thinking it might be helpful to set down some of the ways that we can help out friends with first books.

Obviously the ideal thing would be to purchase a copy of the book for yourself (if possible from the poet directly or through their publisher or your local indie bookstore–as a last resort, get it online). But what then? What else can we do to help out?

Here’s a list of concrete things you can do:

  1. Read the book. While it’s great when people do buy the book, it’s even better when they read it. Poets love knowing that their book is being read.
  2. Request that your local bookstores stock the book. If you can’t find it on the shelf, let the store know that they should be carrying this book and tell them why.
  3. Ask your local library to order a copy of the book. Or, if you’re feeling generous, donate a copy to the library. They rarely turn down donations. You can even claim it as a tax deduction.
  4. Blog about the book. Tell people what you liked about it. What parts struck you. What things you were puzzled by. Sharing the reading experience helps others connect with you (makes for more interesting blog entries) and introduces the book to others.
  5. Write mini-reviews or comments on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, and other online book community sites. Take a few minutes and tell others if you liked or didn’t like the book. Say something specific. Don’t forget to rate it. Small things add up and this can put the book on the radar for someone else.
  6. Write a book review for a literary journal or newspaper. While this certainly takes more time, a good review goes a long way. It also helps the author feel that the book is getting a thorough reading, that people are trying to understand what it was about or how it was working. It’s also a good way for you to get some publication credits and perhaps a foot in the door at a literary journal.
  7. Post a favorite quote from the book to your Facebook or MySpace page. A small thing again, but it helps make others aware of what you’re reading and why it might be important.
  8. Share poems from the book on occasions that seem fitting. I was pleasantly surprised to learn recently that one of my poems had been used in a sermon.
  9. Loan out or give copies of the book to family, friends, and acquaintances. Widen the circle of readers. It’ll give you something to talk about with your friends, perhaps open a new dialogue with someone you don’t know as well.
  10. Attend local book readings and bring your friends. When the poet/author is in your area, try to attend some of the readings. If possible, come with someone else – maybe even a group. You may be introducing people to poetry for the first time or you may be bringing like-minded literary folk, but in either case, not only will your presence be appreciated by the poet, the spillover affect of exposing more people to that poet’s work can be tremendously helpful in spreading the word. And who knows, they may also buy books!
  11. Send a note to the poet. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent, it’s just good to know that people are reading the book. Especially people who aren’t blood-related to us.
  12. Recommend the book for classroom use. If you’re an instructor, use the book as one of the classroom texts. If you’re a student, use it for a paper or recommend it to the instructor.

April 21, 2009

Birthday Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:21 am

I’ve grown a year older, or least that’s what the calendar tells me. Sadly the day will be spent occupied with school work, teaching, and presentations. As I get older I find myself doing less to mark this day. In part, it’s sometimes hard to know what to feel – I share the anniversary of my birth with the anniversary of my father’s death.

So for today, I’ll simply leave you this suite of new music based on four poems from my book which was composed by the extremely talented Juhi Bansal. The pieces are named after the poems and pay homage to my father and gesture toward the larger farewells we all experience.

The Lost Country of Sight

Loss turns to beauty. Longing bends one back toward home. A father to a son. A son to a father. Word to song. The blank page to an open world.

Listen to more of her work here

April 17, 2009

The Art of Negligence

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:22 pm

Negligence (Lat. negligentia, from negligere, to neglect, literally “not to pick up”)

Like so many projects, or perhaps the poetry books I’ve accumulated from countless readings and events.  Almost innumerable the things I’ve not completed, simply by not picking up where I left off, or just not picking it up in the first.

Like this blog too, which I’ve woefully neglected while casting my attention to other shores, newer media.  Instead of here, I’ve spent my time writing notes to friends and strangers via Facebook, which now seems the most ardent and demanding of paramours.

I’m living a life of neglect, even now my students’ papers languish in my laptop bag, skimmed (if at all read), but not graded.  Soon the parade will continue, students arrive single file.  I will say something meant to defuse the tension and confusion of their final essay project, but know that for most, they too have already begun to practice neglect.  Their questions revolve around what might have been gleaned in contemplation or culled from in-class discussion, but instead we will put ourselves together for 20 minutes to return to what remains unsteady ground, that formation we call a thesis, and the terra incognita of the unwritten page.

This morning I woke at 5am, troubled by a dream in which my house is broken into, my papers and books scattered, furniture smashed, things taken.  In it, I am approaching an escalator and brush by stiff-legged thugs, a knife falls to ground, and suddenly I panic and move, run for fear of something (it is not mine after all, and who should be chasing me anyway?)  Another knife flies out of nowhere, lodges briefly in my shoulder, falls to the ground with a clatter (is this second knife or the first imagined again?), and I do not bleed, but perhaps I’m merely not aware.  Meanwhile the house is still in ruins.  I think I am Babbage.  I think that I am wearing a great coat and a fine white collared shirt.  There are many things in confusion.

I woke and I wrote three fragments that will likely become poems.  Went back to bed.  Woke later, showered, dressed, left early to meet up with a friend visiting from out of town.  We meet mid-way between Hollywood and Koreatown.  This too something of waking dream.  We eat breakfast, not having seen each other in 15 years, reminisce of speaking Mandarin, discuss the ways our lives have turned unexpectedly.  Surprised enough, I’m thinking, that we reconnected last year when he submitted work to Boxcar, not knowing that I was his old missionary companion, the name not registering, or perhaps forgetting it, since our English names were boxed and shelved away in favor of Chinese ones.

Some things, verging on being forgotten, display phenomenal tenacity.  Language being one of them.  He asks me to sign his copy of my book.  I happily do so, pick up the pen, close with my own name, English and in Chinese.