The bookcases are nearly full. It turns out I had planned way ahead for the move by boxing roughly a third of my poetry collection, so now that I'm unpacking all my books, they seem to have multiplied. And there's not enough room to keep them all out. Then I remember that not only did I have poetry books in my previous bedroom, but also in the dining room. I'm trying to cram ten pounds of shit into a five-pound bag, as my father would have said.
Cull, cull. How many poetry books does anyone need? Not really a fair question. I don't go to movies. I don't drink or go to bars. I don't, in general, shop. So even though I may not need so many books, I still want them, although my attachment cycles in intensity: I can get by with my Collected O'Hara without also hanging onto Lunch Poems and Meditations in an Emergency, for example. Paperbackswap.com has helped me to cycle many books out of my collection (though some are still hopelessly "lost" in boxes since the move), even though it doesn't reduce the number: every book one sends to another member earns a credit to be exchanged for another book. So it's a good way to gradually "buy" titles on my wish list while also emptying limited space of duplicate copies.
I like living with books. I would rather read a book than engage with television, the internet, or (most of the time) people in general. (Work retail for a few years and see if you don't feel the same about the latter.) But I suspect I'm a fairly shallow reader, dipping into ten or twelve books at a time, rarely reading straight through any one but instead sipping like a hummingbird from this flower and that, then coming back a day or two later to sip a little more.
The exception this summer has been Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series, which I'm re-reading straight through in anticipation of The Days of Anna Madrigal, set for release in January. Currently I'm on book four, Babycakes.
We live at 27, in a half-double (more like a one-third/ two-thirds) built in the 1820s. We rent from friends. We share a nice back yard and garden. Our dog lives half her days, it seems, at 29. Most evenings, we take a little time to socialize on the back deck, recount our respective days. Laughter, camaraderie, maybe a little wine. They're straight; we're gay. They have kids; we don't. P is a writer and in fact was one of my students in an intro creative writing class I taught in the Pleistocene at Bucknell; she's one of my favorite people in the world. We don't feel like renters; we feel like family. One evening on the deck we simultaneously remarked on how much it--this--the whole vibe of sharing overlapping space and enjoying one another's similarities and differences--felt like 28 Barbary Lane. We're at 27; they're at 29: it was easy and inevitable to dub the deck space 28. R & I bought brass house numbers the next day.
* * * * *
From Sparrow by Carol Muske-Dukes, a slender book of poems I'm sipping from this summer:
Nothing in our lives was ever usual.
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Under my Seven Kitchens hat, I'm working on the following:
- typesetting a new edition of Lisa Sewell's Long Corridor (Keystone Series #3). I've never been happy with the design, and the font still strikes me as uninviting, so I'm doing a total reset and hope to have the new edition out this fall, slipping it in somewhere among all the other titles.
- printing the first proof of Dave Bonta's Breakdown: Banjo Poems (Keystone Series #9), which I want to release in September--later than planned, but that pretty much applies to every project I'm juggling at 7KP.
- typesetting the first proof of William Woolfitt's The Salvager's Arts (Keystone Series #10). I typeset the chapbook from the initial manuscript and now it's just a matter of going back through line by line to input the edits and changes from the revised ms. Some of these are minor (one word in a whole poem), but some are substantial (major reworking of lines, stanzas). I want this proof to be as accurate as possible because this chapbook is also due out in September.
- working on assembling a special, limited-edition set of Ed Madden's My Father's House. Ed will be offering these to special backers of his Kickstarter campaign to fund a musical performance of the chapbook (!)--more information at the Seven Kitchens site soon.
- figuring out the lineup of five or six more titles to take us through the rest of the year. More on this soon.
- filling back orders (!) and getting more copies out to my authors. This takes time. It's all done by hand. I wish--almost every day--that 7KP could be my day job. Or that I had elves to assist me. Or both.