Shanna Compton


Not one, but two

John Nicholson, Tectonic Works: Divergent
Plastic resin sculpture, 2007
Ryan Renshaw Gallery

Something exciting has happened. I had not been able to get back to the book since I gave it to my readers on the last day of March. Partially I was waiting until I had more feedback.

But also I knew something was wrong.

What was wrong has become clear. And now I can get back to it. I know what to do.

The book that is scheduled for October is now going to be split into two books. Everyone I've heard from on my editorial panel agrees with this. I resisted at first, have been resisting it for months.

But now it feels right.

I resisted because the two parts of the book share themes, and were written at the same time. For me, it has been very difficult to imagine them not being together.

But the two parts of the book are very different--the first part comprises shorter individual poems; the second part is one long poem (in three sections).

Even though there are elements shared between the short poems and the long poem, the experience of reading them (which my readers understand without my entanglements) is distinctly different. They are very different stylistically. The shorter poems seem stylistically related to my previous books--not the same, but along a continuum. The long poem is not like anything I have written before.

The conversation I have been having with my readers, all of them, as been invaluable. I could not have come to this decision alone, I don't think. I resisted the split, because I thought it meant Either/Or, rather than And.

Intuitively I felt the split, despite resisting it, when I arranged the book. Intuitively I knew when I titled the sections, despite resisting it. The book is full of before/afters, divergences, alternatives, doubled/multiple realties. Intimate/public selves. The books explores all kinds of splitting and suturing.

I guess I should say books.

The Brink, then, will come out in the fall (Nov.) as scheduled.
The Seam, then, will come out in April 2013.

They will be separate, individual, distinct. Two books.
But also together. A set of books.
They will be designed with complementary covers, for instance.

I still have some work to do on The Seam, but I now know what to do there too.

I don't know yet if I will keep or adapt the other, overarching title I had chosen when I had them under one cover. But that is something I still have time to think about!

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