Monthly Archives: June 2010

What I Think About When I Think About Mimeo

(Quoting-from-articles-I-wrote-and-also-from-interviews-with-two-writers-whose-work-I-admire catch-up post, five of five.)

The present-day poetry chapbook has a complex ancestry; its relations include, but are certainly not limited to, photocopied zines of the ’80s and ’90s, mimeographed literary journals of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, small-edition books made with cheap letterpress machines abandoned by the printing industry in the midcentury switch to offset lithography, the Russian Samizdat movement, the Beats, the Dadaists, Walt Whitman, Ben Franklin, and the chapmen of earlier eras who hawked cheap paper entertainments on the street. No matter how rich the history, however, it is still possible for an aspiring poet to be not only ignorant of that history, but to be completely unaware that chapbooks exist nowadays. Murphy says that when he first encountered the work of, say, T.S. Eliot in the imposing Norton Anthology of English Literature, the writing had an aura of impenetrability about it. But when he first came across an old chapbook, Thomas Merton’s Tears of the Blind Lions, published by New Directions in 1949, it was “a revelation.” The object itself “humanized” the work contained therein, Murphy says. “It was very easy to get a sense that someone made this.”

—”Ryan Murphy’s One-Shots: Discovering the Real Work of Poetry,” Poets & Writers, September/October 2006

What I Think About When I Think About Napping

(Quoting-from-articles-I-wrote-and-also-from-interviews-with-two-writers-whose-work-I-admire catch-up post, four of five.)

From a brief, undated (as far as I can tell) interview:

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

J. Robert Lennon: About a year, all told. […]

The Short Review: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

J. Robert Lennon: Not at first—I was just killing time while my son was taking naps. But after 20 or so I decided that I was actually writing a book, and began to take the project more seriously.

Re Lennon: see also; re naps: see also, see also.

What I Think About When I Think About Persistence

(Quoting-from-articles-I-wrote-and-also-from-interviews-with-two-writers-whose-work-I-admire catch-up post, three of five.)

“The interesting thing about taking a lot of young people,” [Edward] Albee says, “is that so many people start out brilliantly, and then their careers just sort of fade away. So we’ve ended up with a lot of people who were wonderful at the very beginning, and then didn’t go on and prove themselves. That happens. But it’s worth taking the young people, hoping that they will progress properly.”

—”The Albee Foundation: The Barn at the End of the World,” Poets & Writers, March/April 2006

What I Think About When I Think About Odds

(Quoting-from-articles-I-wrote-and-also-from-interviews-with-two-writers-whose-work-I-admire catch-up post, two of five.)

From the Glimmer Train Web site*:

Aaron Gilbreath: You still get rejected, as you mentioned earlier. What’s your ratio right now, your miss-to-hit?

Steve Almond: Probably five-to-one, something like that.

Aaron Gilbreath: That’s pretty damn good.

Steve Almond: It’s pretty damn good. It used to be like thirty-to-one. It used to be forty-to-one. […] You just have to develop calluses. You just have to go, ‘Okay, fine, I’m going to ignore that rejection,’ because those are the odds.

* The URL—the “wa43bits” part—makes me think this must be an excerpt from an interview with Almond that ran in, say, issue #43 of Glimmer Train‘s quarterly newsletter, Writers Ask, maybe?—but there aren’t any other pages on the site that link to this “wa43bits” page, and when I wrote the editors at the magazine to ask them this question last year, no one ever wrote back.

What I Think About When I Think About Niches

(Quoting-from-articles-I-wrote-and-also-from-interviews-with-two-writers-whose-work-I-admire catch-up post, one of five.)

The production of the full print run of each chapbook tends to cost hundreds of dollars, all of which comes out of [Ryan Murphy’s] own pocket. But spending the money doesn’t bother him, nor is he bothered by the idea that the work isn’t reaching a wide audience. ‘For me, a hundred readers is a lot of readers,’ he says. ‘I think that’s impressive as hell!’ Murphy is aware that perhaps not all the recipients on his mailing list read the chapbooks. ‘Maybe only sixty people read them, and maybe fifty people like them.’ But even just fifty readers, he says, ‘kind of blows my mind.’

—”Ryan Murphy’s One-Shots: Discovering the Real Work of Poetry,” Poets & Writers, September/October 2006