Thursday, October 6, 2016

Letters from a Poet

Do you know Rainier Maria Rilke?  A very lyrical German, Rilke was renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart—a man after my own heart.  This is one of my goals—this delicate depiction—especially in poetry, but as part of my life and ministry in spiritual formation for artists. Perhaps it’s why I resonate so much with Rilke, and use his poems in my work. 

Recently I received a “letter"--an email:

“Patricia. If you send me one poem from Transplants, and I drool over it in awe and don’t puzzle over it due to its complexity, I will contemplate purchasing the whole book.”—F

Challenge accepted. 

We began an email thread that was positively delicious.  He appreciated my guided tour through 2 poems, as much as I appreciated his way with words, and final enthusiasm for the poems.  He decided to order Transplants (happy dance). 

Our correspondence reminded me of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet—“written to a young man about to enter the German military. His name was Franz Kappus, he was 19 years old, and he wrote Rilke looking for guidance and a critique of some of his poems. Rilke was himself only 27 when the first letter was written. The resulting five year correspondence is a virtual owner's manual on what it is (and what is required) to be an artist and a person.”—Billy Carrothers***

The idea was born, in the midst of our email flurry, to create my own “Letters," following Rilke’s lead.  My friend is not alone. Poetry is so foreign to most Americans, and FOAS (fear of appearing stupid) inhibits many rich, fruitful and enlivening conversations. 

Can I dare you not to dwell in FOAS, but ask a question.  Ask me what a poem means! 

Better yet, I’ll be posting some of the poems soon and how they came to be.  I hope it whets your appetite for more poetry in your life, hopefully including mine. 

***If you don’t want to order the book, you can read it online at Carrothers’ site.  

“Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world.”--Amazon blurb 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Press Release: Live from Costa Rica!

Well, almost.  I wrote this post in Costa Rica, but, derailed by a volcano, am only now posting it.  Apparently my publisher was derailed too, as I only last night got the word that my next poetry chapbook, Transplants is now 'live' in advance sales.  So off we go!  I'll keep the post, and and the poetry is yours for the ordering!

It's a rainy day in the tropical rain forest in mountainous Santa Ana, where I am here with a collection of international artists, writers, dancers and musicians, figuring out how to combine art, faith and mission.  The colors, sights and sounds have us all overstimulated, not to mention the Costa Rican coffee! The rain forest itself is visually stunning, with the birds, bugs, and hosts of unseen critters adding their own aural walls of sound. 

Upon arrival, I received the happy news that my 3rd poetry chapbook, Transplants, would go 'live' in advance sales today!  Well, why not?  Life is never neat and as I land in Costa Rica to begin this conference, I wonder how to integrate my poetry with the Latin culture that loves it ("For us, it's a sport!" as I've been told.)  

The theme of Transplants is transition.  Who hasn't been in one?  Transplants records poems written in the aftermath of my transition from France to Georgia, 10 years ago.  What one are you currently in? 

One of the happiest parts of that transition was seeing my first set of poems make it to publication, through Finishing Line Press.  FLP has published my previous two chapbooks, through their creative business model: a 6-week advance sales period determines the marketing potential of each chapbook; FLP then determines the press run, and 'pays' me in free copies, in a number proportionate to the sales.  I make income from sales of these free copies, usually through word of mouth, or the readings, book clubs and workshops I organize.  In this way, as many small literary presses go under, FLP remains in the business of helping emerging poets. Gracias FLP!

We've done well together over the past several years, and I'm looking forward to another sprint through the publishing challenge!  Sales are live now until Nov. 18.

Be the first to click here and order!   

Copies will ship as we transition into the New Year.  Maybe poetry will help us all.