A box of books arrived yesterday, and immediately the kitten went to check it out. It was copies of my brand new book from Moon City Press, Field Guide to the End of the World.
You can now order a signed copy from me, order it from Amazon, or buy it from University of Arkansas Press, who distributes for Moon City Press. (My book order form is a little wonky right now, so you’ll have to fill out the amount on Paypal – it’s $14.95 plus $1.50 shipping, which is $16.45 total. I apologize and hope to have that fixed soon with my technical support team, i.e. my husband Glenn!)
And, you can enter to win a copy of an ARC – for free – at this Goodreads Giveaway! I’ve been doing this for my last few books. I can’t tell if it helps anything, but it is fun!
The first review of Field Guide to the End of the World is up at Savvy Verse & Wit, too! Exciting timing! Thanks to Serena Agusto-Cox. Here’s a link:
Field Guide to the End of the World is Almost Here! Plus The Writer’s Chronicle, End of Summer Anxiety, Socializing as Good Medicine
A few days ago I received a small box containing ten official Advance Review Copies (or ARCs) of Field Guide to the End of the World. So exciting! I still have a few left if you want a review copy. Mike, one of the editors at Moon City Press, may have a few more copies left as well; you can contact him at mczyzniejewski at missouristate dot edu. Pretty soon the actual books will be here!
If you get The Writer’s Chronicle magazine, you may notice the brand new September issue has a great interview in it with poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who talks a bit about one of my favorite poetry topics: persona poetry. Check it out, it’s definitely worth reading (and there may be a little quote from me hiding in there someplace 😉
My life has been: working on getting unpacked and the house set up, doing myriad pain-in-the-butt cancer tests, and doing book stuff. These usually have separate days associated with them because I can’t really do anything useful on days I’m spending in doctor’s offices, and setting up the house occupies a different brain space than writing up an author interview or essay. We finally got a handywoman (a writer friend, even) to come help Glenn finish up some projects – tiling the guest bath, drywalling the huge holes in the wall from putting in kitchen venting, and doing the kitchen backsplash. It was great to have the help, and we feel 25 percent more finished. Still cardboard everywhere, but…fewer holes in the walls!
I will say one good thing about the new house – I’ve already done more entertaining in it in the last few weeks, despite it being in construction mode almost every day and still having piles of plastic and cardboard containers in every corner, than I did in the same number of months in the last place. This week it was my amazing British artist friend Jacqui, who brought me a beautiful hand-made-dyed silk scarf (she makes these art works with crushed flowers, fruits, vegetables from the farmer’s markets and grasses – this one is gray and lavender, just gorgeous!) I love hanging out with visual artists – they always have such different energy from writers. The other good thing is we’re just a two minute’s drive from lots of nice walks, a Barnes and Nobles (hey, we don’t have any other bookstores on the East side, so…), a nice-ish grocery store, and of course, all the wineries and an Arabian horse farm. I love looking at the fancy horses. I’m pretty sure their barns are nicer than our new house. Even after the renovations!
End of August always brings on a strange end-of-summer anxiety with it, you feel the need to try to cram everything you want to do outside – because it rains for the next nine months straight. So, we took a (not so quick) jaunt out to Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo to see its three baby clouded leopards, a baby muskox, and my beloved red wolves and arctic fox, among others. I’d run to the San Juans if I could and maybe back to Snoqualmie Falls. It’s been in the nineties which just makes me want to nap, but we got to see the tall ships at Carillon Point last night at sunset (when it was still 84!) And of course the kitten has really been trying to help me write some new poems.
I think the cancer testing stuff and the house transition and the upcoming book launch which I feel I’m totally behind on just have sort of upped the usual August anxiety a bit. I haven’t sent out book cards yet, which I usually try to do a month ahead of time. I’m still finding important things are missing – hidden or lost, possibly, in moving boxes. I’m trying to focus on having perspective, breathing, staying in the moment, appreciating hummingbirds and hot air balloons at sunset. I’m trying to remember that no matter what I do – or not – in terms of my fifth book, I have to hope it finds its readers. As I unpack and fill my bookshelves, I notice how many of the poetry – and fiction! – books I’m shelving aren’t by strangers anymore, but by friends. Tonight I’ll be going to an open house at Open Books, our all-poetry bookstore, to celebrate its transition and to reconnect with my poetry self. I need to keep reminding myself of the good.
Thanks to The Collagist! My poem “Are We There Yet?” (from my upcoming book, Field Guide to the End of the World) is featured in their wonderful new issue 85. (Check out work from other notables and friends such as C. Dale Young.)
And speaking of Field Guide to the End of the World, my publisher has finally gotten in the ARCs (advanced review copies) so if you want to review it and want either an e-galley or a print ARC contact Moon City Press or let me know at jeannine dot gailey at live dot com. You can also leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!
I wanted to write a little bit about poetry and ambition, in the context of finding out you have a terminal illness. You may remember an anecdote I’ve told before on the blog about me waking up in the hospital in San Diego, about seven years ago, with a very severe case of double pneumonia and pleurisy. I could barely breathe and definitely couldn’t sleep due to a loud roommate and the constant waking for blood pressure checks. I thought then that that might be the end of me (in fact, the same weekend, another girl who had swine-flu-related pneumonia, same thing that I had, did die – and she was 15 and healthy, at the same hospital I was staying in.) My mind raced with all the things I still wanted to do. My strongest thought was “I can’t die yet! I still have to publish three books!” This was before my second book had found a publisher. My next three books were published in rapid succession shortly after this revelation – She Returns to the Floating World by Kitsune Books in 2011, Unexplained Fevers in 2013, and The Robot Scientist’s Daughter in 2015.
None of these publications changed my life. My work hasn’t been widely distributed, given big prizes, nor have any of them made me a household name. But I felt satisfied, after The Robot Scientist’s Daughter came out, that I had fulfilled my promise to myself to get the books out there.
Now, as I returned yesterday from a bunch more boring yet stressful and unpleasant cancer tests, I was looking through a similar lens as that hospital bed – a limited time frame, and a sense that I need to focus on what’s most important. This time around, I had strong urges to reach out to the people most important to me, to spend time outdoors appreciating the beauty of the world around me, to spend time with friends and family. (Hence the nature picks – lots of exploring our new neighborhood, especially at sunset and dusk when it’s cooler..) But I do have a sense of urgency about this upcoming book and the one I’m in the middle of writing about my journey with cancer. Cancer is ugly and scary to people, I think – and I think one way to diminish the fear is to speak about it as clearly as possible, to share experiences with it. So I’m trying to trick myself into writing poems even though we’re not all the way settled into to the new house yet (usually it takes me a few months after a move to be able to write again) and I’m trying – despite somewhat scattered energies – to focus on doing what I can to promote Field Guide to the End of the World, which is coming out in September. Poetry takes on a weird form of importance – even though so few people read it or respond to it – when you’re thinking, OK, this might be my last shot. What do I want to leave people with?
So I’m planning a book launch party (Sept 18!), a reception in October at local poetry bookstore Open Books (Oct 15!), some other local readings, getting ready to send out book cards and a newsletter and design a flier for the book..all kinds of “busy work” things that are important if you want to get your book into people’s hands. Remember that notes to authors, book reviews, and buying books – all things that support a writer in their lives’ work – might have a lot of impact. We never know what writers are going through when they’re writing, when they’re posting little PR blips about their books. Your support may mean more than you think.
First, some publication news!
Thanks to Alyss for publishing “Dorothy: Since Arriving in the Emerald City” in their issue 4. It’s a fantastic issue, including work by Jessica Goodfellow, whose work I really love. Check it out!
Thanks to The Mighty, a blog community for people with disabilities and illness, for publishing my essay on cancer and luck:
Please click on it and leave a comment if you like. I’ve been writing tech documents, poetry, and book reviews for some years now, but I’m a bit of a novice at the art form of the “personal essay,” so this is really me getting my feet wet in that area. I’d love to know what you think!
Well, the cancer stuff – we’re now in a phase where I have to do some more fancy rare tests where I go off half my medications and eat a weird diet for a while, then do the rare tests, then get info back on how we move forward on treatment. I thought I’d be getting my first chemo dose at the end of the month, but because the endocrinologists suspect even more weirdness concerning my neuroendocrine tumors, they want to be sure it’s the right kind of chemo before we jump in. Which makes sense, but is frustrating because MORE WAITING.
Had a great long coffee visit with an old friend yesterday who also struggles with chronic health issues. Right now all the support and friendship I can manage to squeeze into my schedule seems like an extremely good idea. Finally made some headway with the post-moving box problem and have started to think of this new place as a place I can actually entertain! After years of tiny apartments, this seems like an enormous luxury.
In the meantime, because one of the side effects of the chemo is some hair loss and change of texture, I decided to lop off about three more inches of hair. I grew it out all last year, so it was a little emotional, but it is much easier (as every woman with short hair claims). Here’s a pic of the haircut, with the very dry grass in my backyard, courtesy of my husband. I also want to get you some kitty therapy here, so here’s another pic of little kitten Sylvia, this time sacked out next to Shakespeare. I call this art masterpiece “Sacked Out Ragdolls.”
I have been thinking about things that help me feel better, things that might bring me joy and strengthen my immune system before my octreotide scan at the end of the month, which involves my first dose of chemo, but radioactive, plus three days of scans. Fun! And I have to do to the endocrinologist tomorrow for a workup, as neuroendocrine tumors can apparently mess around with your endocrine system. So, did I spend my days responsibly unpacking and setting up the new house, which is still basically a pile of boxes? Well, some, but…it’s August in Seattle, which means it’s time to go out and enjoy as much sunshine and outdoors stuff as possible before the rainy months settle in.
The narratives of children’s books and movies often rely on a narrative of “healing nature.” Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, with its neglected children being visited by kindly forest spirits while their mother is in a country tuberculosis hospital, fits this narrative. Two of my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden and Heidi, both feature children being healed by eating healthy food, getting into the outdoors, and connecting with other people, animals, and plants. I know it’s a too-facile idea, but I figure exposure to fresh air and flowers can’t hurt and might help.
So it’s no surprise that I’ve been drawn to spending time outside, going on long walks, eating fresh fruits and veggies from the farmer’s markets, visiting the local lavender garden, cuddling with my new kitten, and even dancing (Yes, it’s been a while!!) at the local wineries when they bring in live music. These things do feel restorative and healing.
One of my other joy-bringing practices is taking advantage of the art scene here in Seattle. Went to the final group show at my favorite Seattle art gallery, which is closing – Roq La Rue – which was called, appropriately enough, “Death and the Maiden.” There were some fantastic pieces – most of them already sold before we got there, by both up-and-coming artists and familiar names. We also hit the after-party at The Pharmacy bar down the street afterwards (where I got carded! I was like, young man, I could be your mother!) The show and the party were packed, and Roq La Rue attracts such an interesting mix of characters – vibrant candy-colored hair, glitter masks, and eccentric costume are the norm at a show there – that the people-watching was almost as fun as the art watching. There were several pieces that really caught my eye. Here are a few: