Today I spent seven hours preparing a new poetry manuscript for a publisher I was to meet at a talk tonight. To cherry-pick your work for a California theme (he's a regional publisher), re-format each poem, revise a little as you go (I can never resist), format a manuscript, research acknowledgments, put in a full bio, and be happy with it--
Normally this takes me weeks, even months.
They say luck is where preparation meets opportunity. I worked hard to prepare for the opportunity, and got to pitch both my "49 from California" book of poems and my book-length collection of stories about growing up in the 60s in suburban LA to a real publisher who would read them.
Malcom seemed surprised and pleased.
I do not expect him to publish me, and I'm not saying this to defend myself against disappointment--I really don't expect him to be the one, but I reorganized my art around his publishing interests, which I think is smart and fair to art. Besides, the poems are good! I'll paste one in below.
I've been given a new nickname by a Mendo brother, "Ravensbear" because I'm of the Raven Clan, as in the Tlingit Indians, and I'm also a large and slightly immovable omniverous object like a bear. In my travel I've also been initiated into the Crow Nation. Black birds and yo, I don't know why. Wherever I go I see Ravens. They are my spirit guides. Sometimes it seems as if I can talk to them; I'm a fair mimic.
I just appeared on the cover and back cover of The Sigurd Journal, a print journal you have to order, as well as in another print journal, Hawk and Whipporwill, whose website mentions my poem but doesn't provide a copy online, you have to order.
I've been accepted as featured poet for Quill and Parchment in September, will be in an anthology with some famous dead poets in "Crazed by the Sun," due out in July, and I've had poems accepted by A Capella Zoo, Shakespeare's Monkeys, Blue Fifth Review, and Autumn Sky. I'll post what links I have later when everything is up.
It is nice to be published. It makes me feel good, like I'm wanted. Everybody wants to be wanted, but many writers are social retards who have to have their work wanted to feel wanted themselves. I know I have people in my life that love me for myself and that's enough, more than enough, a luxury on earth. To get some recognition for your work as well is frosting on the cake, truly.
My life's work is to be a good man.
I saw my first river otter today in a small pond outside the restaurant where Malcom Margolin spoke to us about his Heyday press--great guy and raconteur, writer, publisher, editor, having survived Berkeley in the 70s and sustained a publishing business through it. I thought that impressive. He was also, obviously, a happy man. "You can create your own universe around you as a life; for me it happend in publishing"
His press has some fascinating books, as in the history of the black utopia village, Allenstown, founded in central California in 1908, or a Japanese artist's drawing of the mountains from an internment camp. Classy stuff.
He talked about beauty a lot, and how the superfluity of beauty made him happy, how he, as a publisher, got to dip his cup in the beauty of literature laid at his doorstep. Thin and bald with glasses and a great beard, very Ginsbergian in appearance, he still seemed a New York transplant.
I did wonder about his mustache; I'm always suspicious that men with mustaches hanging way over their teeth must have bad teeth else good-tasting hair..
Here I am, talking bad teeth. Kathleen recently went through an abscess formation in her gum after a root canal. No, I don't want to go there.
All in a day's work.
(This poem is set in LA in "49 Poems for California"):
My head is beaten like a sunflower,
bowed and haggard, brown petals hanging
like loose, carnivorous teeth, my face
a pale mosaic of shell-ends.
It wasn't the sun that did this, I tell myself,
whose radiation feeds each mouth, root, and field,
whose random electromagnetic signals
form a proper background noise
as in a waterfall.
It must be satellites and cell phones
leaving these trails in my cloud chamber.
Does anything stop neutrinos?
At some basal level like the sodium-
potassium pump, isn't my brain affected?
Schizophrenics believe monolithic transmitters
speak to receivers in their heads,
but I never gave their stories credence before.
I feel bombarded, beaten down
by the sun like a sagging sunflower
awaiting the arrival of birds
to pick my cortex clean.
The brain floats in water like the great turtle
on which the world was built,
but bone is not casing enough
to shield me from the swarm of signals.
Who can prove to me that I am not
controlled by secret hieroglyphics carved
on the tiniest neuron like a microchip?