Thursday, October 29, 2009

w/r/t AR&OP: a longer post than I had intended -- what I intended was a short thing (to make you buy the book) but look at this post, all sprawly

Matt Bell made me blush by saying nice things about me:

Adam's a spectacular writer, the editor of Publishing Genius, and an all-around great member of the literary community. I can't recommend buying this book enough, but if you need further convincing, check out the rest of the poem I've excerpted above. It's one of my favorite things Keyhole has published.


Here's an interview with me at Dogzplot.

On the sidebar at my blog I posted some poems that are in the book. To be honest, I guess there aren't that many. I'm not much of a submitter. I don't know why not, except that I'm disorganized and also I can't bear rejection.

How did this book come about?
This is how I remember it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I had done several readings around Baltimore with some cool people at some cool places. I had put out a chapbook by Lauren Bender called Whale Box (now out of print), about Heraclitus being swallowed by a whale inside Dionysus. Lauren is on the board at Narrow House (my publishers). That put me in a good milieu, you know? I had seen Lauren read Whale Box at the IE Reading series, which is a great poetry series in town, and after I saw it I asked if I could publish it.

So one night after a poetry reading where I killed it (I am often very good at poetry readings), I went to the Owl Bar, where HL Mencken used to hang out, with Lauren, Justin Sirois and Jamie Gaughran-Perez. They are the Narrow House dudes.

(Jamie's the one in the middle. The rest are Justin and Lauren.)

I knew Justin a little bit, we'd hung out a couple times. The other day we were trying to figure out how we started hanging out and couldn't put a finger on it. That is a very fun conversation to have with your friend. When you're on a car ride, I recommend it. At what point did your friend go from being someone you hung out with in a group to someone you met up with for a movie on Sunday morning? I don't know how it came to pass that Justin and I became butt buddies hanging out every Friday night until the point where I can't stand to go out on Friday nights because he is the Pope of Baltimore, but that's what happened. I still go out on Friday nights though.

I didn't really know Jamie at all. I had thought he was kind of a mean person, or too smart. I don't normally feel intimidated by smart people because I am very good at seeming like I know things when I need to, and if I can't do that I just repeat everything they say but really slowly. But! There exists this other sort of person who drives me crazy -- they're the people who are smart and also cool and also seem like they'd be good at basketball/soccer. I remember at Lauren's release party for Whale Box Jamie sat in the backyard talking to Michael Kimball and Tita Chico and Justin and I went back there -- this is the backyard to the playhouse I lived in back when life was awesomest -- and I felt nervous because Jamie was there laughing comfortably so I went back inside.

At the Owl Bar Jamie ordered a cheese plate or something like that. I mean, c'mon.

Justin wears, get this, spurs.

Lauren knows the clothes that I wear. On Saturday I asked her what pants I should wear to the show and she said, "I like your tuxedo pants." She's a good hugger.

At the Owl Bar, Lauren had a pen and with it on the paper tablecloth she drew a little guy. The little guy said, "We want to publish your book." She's a good drawer. And she wrote upside down because she sat across from me.

Now that I think about it, maybe this wasn't after a poetry reading where I killed it. That point is disputable.

Anyway, so I didn't really believe them because I didn't know if Narrow House wanted to publish my book or if the little guy did. I wasn't sure what publishing concern he represented. I was so happy but also a little incredulous.

They were like, "We want to do it the real way, 500 copies, etc."

The sky opened and a host of angles appeared. I mean angels.

It's cool when you get involved. I feel bad for Emily Dickinson. I feel like indoctrinating yourself into a like-minded society is a very good way to get your work published. I am really happy with how it happened organically, and that I didn't have to get really jaded in the process. Which I would have. If I wrote a manuscript and it got rejected a few times, I wouldn't know what to do. I would stop. But doing it this way, surprise way, was really fun. I didn't expect to do a book, I was just going to readings that I liked going to and getting asked to do them.

Doing readings is a good way to get a book because when you're reading, if you're good at them, you find out what works and what doesn't work.

My work of course is very audience-centric. I want you to like it. Which, you know, isn't necessarily the best place to write from. But dang if it ain't fun.

It turns out Jamie isn't mean or anything. He is very often hungry. One time, still before I knew him very well, like we had never hung out mano-a-mano, never did anything cuh-razy together, I asked him if he wanted to play bass in my band. He said, "I've never turned down an offer to join a band." I didn't even know if he could play bass, but what the heck. That was a year ago or so. He's still in the band because he isn't mean. He's AWESOME!

So that's how I got my book, and my friends. Next time I go out to get some friends I think I'm going to use a sub tracker.

In this interview with Pat King, Baltimore dude, awesome, I suggest a position from which to read Adam Robison & Other Poems:

. . . what I distrust is the notion that our perception of reality is all that is the case. As an artist, that’s kind of a deal stopper for me. As a member of society, however, I can recognize and accept the value in going forward from this “reality is all we have to work with” presupposition — and it is in the tension between these two thoughts that I hang my poetry.

1 comment:

Michael Kimball said...

This is part of why I love Baltimore.

This is part of why I love this book.

The blog of Adam Robinson and Publishing Genius Press