First of all, thanks to Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages for this new review of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter! This blog book tour has been really fun to be part of; I have to say I really love hearing what non-poet-types have to say about my book!
Update: Here’s another review of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, just posted up at Patricia’s Wisdom. Thanks again! As you may be able to tell from the rest of the post, today I definitely needed the pick-me-up!
I got sick the night before my parents left, a couple of days after the launch, and since then have been a little down. Also, the beautiful sunny spring weather turned cold, windy, and bitter. One of my friends yesterday reminded me of the very real phenomenon of “letdown” after a book launch, so I thought I’d write a little about that today.
This is my fourth poetry book (and fifth book), yet every time a book comes out, I can’t help but think, “This might be the one that takes off, that changes my life.” And then, well, it doesn’t. You go back to your laptop, and if you’re anything like me, you get out the notebook of your rejection slips from the last five years, look at the nice notes from great publishers and places that haven’t ever taken your work, and rejections from places that did eventually take your work, and it makes you take stock of what you’re doing, where you’re going, which frankly, can sometimes feel like “I am crazy for doing this.” And I think, though I do not know for sure, that this happens to everyone. You think: “Why am I writing?” and “Why in God’s name am I writing poetry?”
And the weird thing is, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter is probably doing pretty well, for a poetry book – maybe better than most of my other books. It’s got a bunch of reviews already, it sold pretty well in its first month, and I got a lot of pre-orders for it. But it still sort of feels like failure. I mean, I’ll think to myself: Look at my Amazon rankings. Look at the fact I only have three Amazon reviews so far. I haven’t gotten a review in The New York Times, or a mention on national radio or television. No one has put me on any lists of “poets you have to read” or “best books of 2015 so far.” So why did I even bother writing this book? (For an essay about why I bothered writing this book, see here.)
So if you get this feeling after your book comes out, remember, it’s normal. I probably just need a lot of sleep, a little chocolate, maybe a few therapeutic episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. By the time my next reading for the book comes up on May 13, I’ll probably be full of optimism and hope again. I’ll be another year older. I hope I will have written a new poem.
Survived the Seattle book launch of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter in good cheer. Jack Straw played a wonderful host, my Dad, Glenn, and Kelli all brought flowers (so many flowers!), Evan and Kelli did a great job as emcee and opening readers, respectively, and lots of wonderful folks in the audience – even an old friend from high school! People seemed to enjoy the reception afterwards, especially the robot cupcakes, which were a big hit! Anyway, no disasters, sold some books, and here are some pics from the event! (and a link to YouTube if you want to watch the reading yourself from home.)
A new review of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter by Melanie Teabird (isn’t that a beautiful name?) went up yesterday too. I’m so thankful for the kind reviews!
I was so excited about having one of my apocalypse poems up on The Rumpus on the 16th, too. Isn’t it funny it went up on the same day as the reading? With poetry, it’s months of hearing nothing, then everything on the same day so you’re all “celebrate five things at a time!” Anyway, all the poems The Rumpus posts in April every year are really fun reading, so check them all out.
Yesterday we drove up to Skagit Valley to take the parents, with my little brother and his wife, to the tulip fields for the last hurrah (as they announced they were cutting down all the tulips after this weekend – for the record, that’s super early, and the Tulip Festival officially lasts through the end of April.) One of the things that struck me this year was not only were the daffodils and tulips early, but when we went this time, the cherry and apple trees were still blooming, dogwoods and the lilacs and azaleas were up as well. Really beautiful but confusing, seasonally! Here’s a weirdly overexposed shot of me and my mom in the tulip fields, a bald eagle we saw, and a tangle of apple branches and cherry blossoms from La Conner.
Today’s the day! Tonight is the kickoff of my book tour and the Seattle book launch event for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter with MC Evan J. Peterson and opening reader Kelli Russell Agodon at the lovely Jack Straw Cultural Center at 7 PM (readings with champagne reception following!) Robot swag! Radiation poetry!
And my official virtual tour, a blog book tour, kicks off today too, with an interview by Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit! You can read about why Ilya Kaminsky and Dorianne Laux were inspirations for writing The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, why it was the most difficult book for me to write, who my favorite under-appreciated poets are, and why I believe social media is a good thing for poets.
In this brief interview on favorite poets at the Straight Forward blog, I discuss one of the poems I memorized when I was eleven, a most memorable poetry reading experience, and totally cheat when asked who my favorite poet is!
And, just to prove that the review life of a poetry book can last years instead of months, just as my fourth book makes its Seattle debut, here’s a lovely review of Unexplained Fevers at The Spark, the Alternating Current blog, by Julia Hy.
Well, since I’m posting this at 1:30 AM on the day of the reading (reading jitters anyone?) I should go to sleep so I’ll be awake in time for the book launch! Hope to see some of you there in real life, and those who can’t make it, hope you find the interviews and reviews entertaining!
It’s almost my birthday, as well, which always makes National Poetry Month a little more fun (and likely to have parties involved) – and this year we’ve got a parade of – because of some crazy weather – lilacs, cherry blossoms, tulips, azaleas, rhododendrons, an apple blossoms – all at the same time! Here’s a little puffy pink “sakura” cloud action to cheer your month! Happy April!
So, the big Seattle book launch and party for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter is this Thursday, 7 PM, at The Jack Straw Cultural Center, for those of you in the area – I hope you can come! Evan J. Peterson, our MC, may, I’m told, may have a robot costume planned, and Kelli Agodon is always a delight to hear from – plus, my folks are flying out from Ohio to be there – craziness! Champagne (well, Prosecco, anyway) reception following, plus, robot swag!
Now, while everyone was at AWP, I was feeling a little sad about missing out, but I did get some good news – I’m going to a residency this September! A working marine biology field station on the San Juan Islands that also hosts writers, artists, and scientists called The Whitely Center. This is the first writing residency I’ve tried to go to since years ago at Centrum, so I am so excited and have high hopes about finishing up this next apocalypse-themed book manuscript I’ve been working on for the last couple of years.
So, hope you are all having a good April/National Poetry Month so far, and if you’re not too tired from AWP, go out and check out some poetry at your local library and bookstore. Go to a poetry reading and buy the reader some coffee, if not their book.
A New Review at Savvy Verse and Wit for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and the Top Five Ways to Replicate AWP in Your Own Hometown
Thanks to Serena and Savvy Verse and Wit for this kind new review of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter at Savvy Verse and Wit!
AWP starts Wednesday. I won’t be at this year’s AWP in Minnesota (though I plan to be at next year’s in LA) so I made a list for all of us who aren’t going to AWP to simulate the experiences!
Top Five Ways To Replicate AWP in Your Own Hometown
- Invite all your writer friends into a very small, smoky bar or coffee shop with no parking and stage a poetry reading and, for bonus points, either a spontaneous fistfight or dance party. Then, get them all into a hotel elevator, preferably slow, for awkward conversation.
- Arrange to hang out in a local crowded hotel lobby and see if you spot any writers you know. Ask at least two people who might vaguely resemble authors to sign books for you.
- Find your local university’s bookstore or the closest magazine stand that carries literary magazines, flipping through as many as possible in a very short amount of time. Carry home as many as you can, and then stack them by your computer where they will gather dust. At the bookstore, buy yourself a shot glass, magnet, or postcard with a witty literary saying, and you can call it swag! Even if you spend, say, a hundred dollars on literary magazines, that’s still way cheaper than AWP!
- Wear a name tag around your house, to the mall, or just to your daily errands all day but keep it turned around so no one knows who you really are. Carry a very heavy tote bag with you (bonus points if you carry one from a previous year’s AWP!)
- Go three days without any sleep, eating only handfuls of candy and drinking only the kind of alcohol you like the least, along with plenty of cheap coffee. Go to your local book store or library late at night (if possible) and ask everyone there about their thoughts on the state of publishing (if no local libraries or book stores, try closing time at the grocery store.) Maybe try to slip someone your latest manuscript.
Seriously though, if you’re going to AWP, have a great time, and stop by Mayapple Press’s table to get a copy of my new book! If you’re not, well, let’s cheer each other up by posting pretend gossip from AWP!