So when publishing people look at the lineup of testimonials on the back of a new hardcover, they don't see hints as to what the book they're holding might be like. Instead, they see evidence of who the author knows, the influence of his or her agent, and which MFA program in creative writing he or she attended. In other words, blurbs are a product of all the stuff people claim to hate about publishing: its cliquishness and insularity.
Having just sent out an early galley to some folks for my own blurbs, this seemed pertinent to me. For whatever it's worth, I didn't send to anyone who was a teacher of mine for an extended period of time. I sent to two folks who I've never studied under (one was on the faculty at my grad school, though I never took a class with him), one writer who I worked with for 2 weeks at a summer conference, and one who I took a semester-long course with at Hollins (she was a writer-in-residence). Surely, I feel as though I have some connection to these people, otherwise I don't know why I'd expect them to do me the favor of reading the manuscript. I did make a conscious effort to send to writers who had not seen the book as a whole, who had not seen more than a handful of poems of mine (two of them had never seen any, unless they sought them out on their own...), and lastly and perhaps most obviously: writers whose work I admire. I wanted them to discover the book in the same way that any other reader would. Thoughts on this, blurbists and blurbees of the blogosphere?
"I came here to work in a nationally recognized creative writing program, with a national magazine, a visiting writer's series and Rick Barthelme," she told the Mississippi paper. "I didn't come here to work in an English department with a little sideshow for its creative writing students."
-Julia Johnson on the recent shake-up at the University of Southern Mississippi, a school I was considering applying to for a Creative Writing PhD (still not certain I'm applying at all...), but now will definitely not be...
We should rage, rage against the dying of the light. The United States desperately needs August Reform. Purists will insist that we shouldn't tinker with the months, that August should be left alone because it has done workmanlike service for 2,000 years. That's nonsense. Calendars are always fluxing.