One of the many awesome things Ball State's English Department does, The In Print Festival of First Books, was this past Wednesday and Thursday. The basics: the first night three first-time authors (one from poetry, fiction, and CNF) read from their book and the second night they are joined by an editor for a Panel discussion and Q&A.
This year's writers were Tina May Hall, Paul Killebrew, and Debra Gwartney, while the editor was Tadd Adcox from Artifice Magazine. I had met Tadd at the first Vouched Presents... Reading awhile back, and it was a nice opportunity to see him again, pick up the new Artifice, and discuss lit mags/small press stuff with him. Artifice is one of the best-looking and tightest journals around, NO DOUBT. I read Killebrew's book for a class, a book that I enjoyed quite a bit, and he was full of good stories and interesting insights into poetry (THE DUDE IS A LAWYER). Tina May Hall is a really nice lady. I haven't read all of her book, and I'm not sure it's quite my type of fiction. However, I do respect her for her persistence (she admitted she started writing the collection a decade prior to its publication) and academic success (straight through BA/MFA/PHD to a tenured position). I'd never read Gwartney's book either, but I think it's a disconnect from the type of memoir (story of dealing with her teenage daughters running away). All four offered great answers and perspectives to publishing and the business. ANOTHER SOLID IN PRINT.
Oh yeah, my unasked question: How did/do you decide what pieces/stories/poems to include in your book/issue? Each of you talked about "making a tight collection" or "sticking to your vision," but what is that process like? Also curious about ordering.
I did asked Tina and Paul about it during the meet and greet. They were really helpful in encouraging me to be patient and take time to consider each piece carefully.
One discouraging thing: all of them took more than 6 or 7 years to get their books together and published, for various reasons. I know it's not realistic to expect a book soon, but having and making friends with books makes it feel necessary/soooo wanted, even if they are better, more experienced, and older than me. PATIENCE DUDE.
Also, the festival marked the release of the 2011 Broken Plate. I was Lead Poetry Editor of this issue. It was an honor to work with such good people: my classmates, my professor, and the authors. Some of my favorite BSU undergrads appear in the issue, such as Ryan Rader and Cody Sean Davis, along with some really great poets/writers like Ryan Ridge, J.A. Tyler, and Jasmine Dreame Wagner. I'm also honored to have had my review of Matt Hart's Wolf Face included in the issue. Layne Ransom ruled it with the sweet cover/back cover design. If you want a copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pick one up from the Vouched Table.
Good news: I found out that Matt Hart has a new book, Light-Headed, coming out soon from Blaze Vox books. YES YES.
Here is a Paul Killebrew poem I like lotz:
BY PAUL KILLEBREW
I am unable to jump more than ten feet in the air.
I am blind. I am unable to understand the dark
passages. I begin to speak of being deprived.
I believe that I am being kept in want. Who
governs me? Who is to say what I am,
and what I am not? I wish to be conscious
of myself. My frontiers are long and insecure.
I contract them. I cannot command them.
I determine myself not to desire what is
unattainable. I have a wound in my leg.
I am a schoolboy. A rule does not oppress me
if I impose it on myself. I assimilate it
into my substance. I can never be thwarted.
I cannot want it to be other than it is.
For reasons I'll probably unveil in one form or another, this week has been the most emotional wacky week of my life, but stuff like this keeps me together. THANKS.