Friday, December 16, 2016

Finding my first book -- Night Ribbons

After my son marked his third birthday, I felt ready not only to take a small breath after raising a son from a baby to toddlerhood, but also mark a few beats to focus on my next creative leap. I was 35 years old. I had some general hopes and ideas, but little did I know that this would became the year my first book of poems, Night Ribbons, was published.

I thought it was so late in my life in "getting started," although I had been writing poetry for 15 years. It was true that I had given readings all over Chicago, had numerous poems published in small press magazines, but had for many years longed to get my first book published. I sometimes thought it would never happen.

My previous readings and publications came in handy when I drummed up the nerve to apply for artist's grant from the City of Chicago. My step-by-step background served as documentation of my poetry career up until that point. It's what helped me land the grant to fund the publication of my book. I was surprised, thrilled and relieved.

But now to put the actual book together. Riffling through 15 years of poems was an interesting venture to find just the right ones that would help pull the collection together. I focused on four different subcategories to group the poems in the book, almost like chapters: Women of Day and Night, Chicago Days and Nights, Donde Hablan Espanol (Where They Speak Spanish), and Ancient Days, Faraway Nights. These four themes seemed to distill what I had been working on those first 15 years of my writing life.

Gathering poems into themes for Night Ribbons became a lifelong practice for my other books. Although Night Ribbons carried four themes, my subsequent books narrowed down to carry single themes: Earth Elegance (poems  about animals), Swimmer's Prayer (poems about Chicago), and Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices. My nonfiction reference/memoir/creativity guide Frugal Poets' Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren't a Poet also carries its own theme. 
At my Night Ribbons book release reading at Guild Books on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago,
I served black and red licorice, and bottles of cheap champagne


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post.