First of all, my new book A Stirring in the Dark is just out from Old Seventy Creek Press.
Then, thanks to the fantastic writer, poet, and editor Kathleen Kirk for tagging me in "The Next Big Thing," which gives writers and poets an opportunity to promote their own new work, as well as "tag" other writers whose work they admire. We have each been asked to answer a set of questions about something we have recently completed, published, or on which we are currently working.
My answers are below. But first I want be sure that you all know how you can learn about other writers and poets and read their works on blogs as varied as they are.
Kathleen Kirk (who was kind enough to tag me) has created a blog "Wait! I have a blog?!" The link is below her photo to the left or find it here:
The four writers and poets I have chosen to "tag" and who will posting their responses in about a week:
Paul Scot August, whose blog on writing, "Poetry Saved My Life," can be found at: http://paulscotaugust.wordpress.com/ Or click the link below his photo to the left.
Lori-Lynn Hurley, whose very interesting and esoteric blog, "Lighting the Way as Your Path Unfolds" is found at the link below her photo to the left or :
Matt Daly, who I met back in my New England College MFA days, has a blog called "The Country of Ghosts." Click the link below his photo, or find his blog at :
Ann Marie Madden Irwin, whose AMMIBLOG has a tagline, " beauty in unexpected places and all sorts of complications" and is found at: http://ammiblog.wordpress.com/ or click the link below her photo.
I have chosen to answer the ten questions about a recently completed project that is still seeking a home:
QUESTIONS FOR THE NEXT BIG THING:
WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR BOOK (OR STORY)?
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM FOR THIS BOOK?
I had been thinking about how different things are for women now, as compared to when I was a child and teen in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The title comes from the two satellites sent up by the United States in August of 1960 and January of 1964. Space travel was just beginning to be a reality, so I thought it was important to include a nod to that part of the era. Of course, there is also the mythological nymph, Echo, who (like many young girls) talked too much. In one of the title poems (“Echo I” and “Echo II”), there is reference to family secrets and a young girl’s witnessing: “….But the names for midnight//you never spoke—nights appointed shame , silence, secret–/while together you watched Echo arc across dark space, named/for that girl who said too much—who learned it’s better not to talk.”
I did a great deal of research on the time period between the end of WWII and the Viet Nam War, particularly on famous and infamous women.
WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?
It’s poetry, of course, but it is historical poetry. Everything is based on actual events and people or composites. I have learned that I truly love researching, particularly historical events.
WHICH ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE RENDITION?
Although she’s no longer a child, I always identified with the girl who played “Kitten” on Father Knows Best. I was the youngest of a fairly large family, so related well to her. As a teen, maybe Jennifer Lawrence, in her Hunger Games mode would work. Neither necessarily because of physical likeness, but rather a vibe they give that reminds me of myself at their ages.
WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?
Set against the cultural, political, scientific, and personal events that shaped the years between World War II and the turmoil of the Viet Nam Era (years that represent a time of great prosperity for our country, but also a time of dangerous conservatism and other threats to feminism), Echo is a firsthand account of the difficulties of a generation of women caught between Mamie Eisenhower and Gloria Steinem: women who never worked outside the home, and those whose only job opportunities were as teachers, nurses, or secretaries.
WILL YOUR BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?
I hope to have Echo published by a publishing house, but it is rare for a poet to be represented by an agency. I prefer not to self-publish, but rather to seek out small presses that are in the business of publishing poetry.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR BOOK?
I worked on Echo for more than five years. That may seem like a long time, but there was a great deal of research that went into writing these historical poems. The first few poems that were published individually as I worked on the manuscript were published in 2007. The poems I have included in the manuscript were all finished by 2011. I’ve spent the last year polishing the manuscript (editing and a bit of revising) and submitting it for publication.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?
I know there are other books by women poets that address the issues represented by the time period in question. I don’t know the titles, however. Most feminist poets have more than a few poems that relate to women’s issues of the era.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
Wow. I can’t remember exactly why I decided to undertake what now seems like a colossal project. I had written a few poems about growing up. I guess my mother was the main inspiration. She did not work outside the home until my family needed money so that my brother could attend college (pre-student loans). I remember her saying that, once she had a job and some of her own money, it felt really good to be able to go downtown and buy two bras at once. I grew up with brothers, so perhaps the feelings of gender were stronger with me than they might have been with someone who had a sister close to her own age (my only sister is nearly twenty years older). I then began to think of other women of the era, including some who were victims of domestic abuse, pedophilia, and even murder. I wanted to tell their stories.
WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER'S INTEREST?
Probably the most interesting poem in the book is a heroic sonnet crown, “Myth Information.” I wanted to create a portion of the book that related to myths, legends, and misinformation disseminated in the 1950s and 60s. I had written several sonnet crowns (seven interconnecting sonnets in which the last line of the first becomes the first line of the second and so on, with the last line of the series echoing the first line of the series). In a heroic sonnet crown, the first fourteen sonnets use this artifice, but the last of the fifteen uses the first line of each of the other fourteen sonnets. I was intrigued with the process of undertaking such a series and thought that the form would allow me to move back and forth between time and space while addressing the individual myths and misconceptions of such topics as the alleged murder of Marilyn Monroe, Joseph McCarthy and communism, unwed mothers, transsexual surgeries, and the assassinations of some of our leaders of the 60’s, among other topics.
The poem was published in the academic journal Anthropology & Humanism, as winner of the 2009 Ethnographic Poetry Award from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. Unfortunately, it is not available online, except through academic subscription services.
"Echo I" and "Echo II" and other poems from this manuscript are available by clicking "My Work" here at my website.