Big news today! I have taken care of all the details and can now let everyone know that my book has been published and is available for purchase! Called Every Story Has a Beginning, Middle and End, the book is a collection of nineteen poems I wrote as a reflection of the nineteen years I taught at the school in my town. You can preview it and order a copy online by clicking on the title link above.
The writing was mostly done over the span of many years, and the topics include poems about students – “War, Personally,” for example, was written about a student who was killed in Afghanistan. There are poems about the things I taught – “Current Events” and “Teaching About Vietnam #1,” poems about the things I learned – “Remembering 9/11”, and poems about the things I hoped for – “I Know What’s Best For You.” Putting the book together was fun although getting the formatting right and getting every page exactly the way I wanted it to look was “a challenge the size of Wisconsin” (quote from a former student’s graduation speech). It was a great learning experience, I’m happy with the finished product, and I’m already thinking of what I’ll write for my next book.
I do have a young adult novel in my brain that I’m starting to work on; I think it will require a pretty long gestational time, though, since writing narrative is not something I’ve done much. It will be partly historical fiction so I have a lot of research to do. For me, the poetry comes naturally, and I’ve considered writing my novel in verse, but because of the framework/structure I’ve planned I don’t think it would work. I may use verse in the flashbacks, though. Once I get going we’ll see what happens – I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, my New Year’s Resolution to write a poem every day remains successful! I have even managed consistently to quiet the inner critic’s voice; I don’t expect that every poem will be good, and I know that some are just plain bad. But that’s OK – all of them could become fodder for new poems later on, and I think I’ve written a few that are pretty good already.
One thing that I believe poets need to do is read other people’s poetry, and so this week I’ve read I Shall Not Be Moved by Maya Angelou, and Let Evening Come: Poems by Jane Kenyon, both borrowed from the town library. I particularly like the title poem in this collection, which you can read here. I also checked out Kenyon’s The Boat of Quiet Hours; her poems truly resonate for me. She lived in a New Hampshire village not far from my own town, and her topics embrace the everydayness of life in New Hampshire. Some titles: “Taking Down the Tree,” “The Blue Bowl,” “Staying At Grandma’s,” and “Finding A Long Gray Hair.” For me, her work is thought-provoking but not esoteric, inspirational but not preachy.
I have a dear friend, a sheep farmer among other things, who always says that given enough time, every conversation will eventually come back to sheep. I guess I feel that way about poetry. Given enough time . . .
Life is good.