Monday, February 25, 2013

Next Big Thing

“The Next Big Thing” is a blog hop in which authors around the world share what they’re working on by responding to ten questions. I've been invited by my friend and former professor Thorpe Moeckel, whose Next Big Thing post can be found here. Aside from being an excellent writer, Thorpe lives and works a beautiful homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia: Arcadia Farm. I dare you to watch that slideshow and not want to be best friends with the Moeckels.

What is your working title of your book?

My manuscript-in-progress is called Sanctuary, Sanctuary, which comes from the book's epigraph, the final stanza of A.R. Ammons' poem "Triphammer Bridge":

sanctuary, sanctuary, I say it over and over and the
word’s sound is the one place to dwell: that’s it, just
the sound, and the imagination of the sound—a place.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

For the past two years, I've been living poem-to-poem: writing mostly about the places in which individuals look for peace. I grew up in churches, and imagine that most folks tasked with describing "sanctuary" would immediately call forth the cathedral. The natural equivalent of the church seems to me the forest. You trade stained-glass for the canopy: it's  all about light and darkness and the way our lives move through each. Both environments lend themselves to grand metaphors and deep histories. It is my hope that these poems explore the distance between the reverent spaces, between the wild and the holy.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I think those MotionPoems are incredible. I would choose MotionPoems to play all of the characters in a movie rendition of the collection. Except for Mark Strand. Clint Eastwood would play Mark Strand.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It starts with the line "God isn't what I'm looking for" and ends with the line "these wings could be alive." (Hat-tip to Keith Montesano for this method of manuscript-measuring)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

This might be putting the cart before the horse. I'm very proud of the places these individual poems have been published, but have only just started sending out the manuscript as a whole. Currently, it's been exclusively published by the fine folks at the FedEx Office in Ballard. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

More or less, these are the poems I've written since moving to Seattle in June of 2010. The manuscript came together as a larger entity/Word document in December 2012. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The last book that really destroyed me was David Ferry's Bewilderment. If my book is a tenth as good as that book, I'd want it mentioned in my Wikipedia. There's a whole mess of young poets writing things that inspire me to work harder, that have me eager to see more of their poems. Some folks I've never met who are writing beautiful things: Tarfia Faizullah, Marcus Wicker, Richie Hofmann, Keetje Kuipers, Joshua Robbins, Chloe Honum, and on and on and on. To live in the Internet Age is to be overwhelmed by the extant talent.

I'm eager for my friends' books, and looking forward to those soon forthcoming, like Will Schutt's Westerly and Ed Skoog's Rough Day, and those manuscripts that will surely soon be books, like Lisa Fay Coutley's Errata and Matthew Nienow's The Making Bone

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I'd say it's the bastard love-child of the King James Bible and the movie Cool Hand Luke.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

There are at least three poems involving baseball. In one of them, I fabricate a Yogi Berra quote. Also present: a Puerto Rican wrecking ball, gunshots, bears, St. Paul's Cathedral, an elk skeleton,  the New River Gorge, a grope at the Safeway, break-ups-to-make-ups, row boats, and cold, delicious sweet tea.