“Next Big Thing”

Friend and fellow poet Amelia Bentley tagged me for this “Next Big Thing” chain/virus/interview that is sweeping clear across the writerly globe (afflicting even the blogs of the most reticent poets) – read her own responses and those of the other poets she tagged (and so on and on). Look here next week for links to responses from the poets I have tagged:

Nicolas Destino-Hiler
Christophe Casamassima
Nick DeBoer

What is the working title of the book?
Wysihicken [sic]

Where did the idea come from for the book?
From solo bike rides up to and into Wissahickon Creek Park in northwest Philadelphia, and from research about the geological and human history of the creek and its banks. The title comes from William Cobbett’s Rural Rides (1821), a post-Enclosure survey of British farmland in which he remembers, in a witchy weird way, a visit to the American creek. Halfway through Wysihicken [sic], there is an edited erasure poem drawn from Cobbett’s text, but most of the composition happened in my head as I cruised the gravel path alongside (above) the yellow-brown stream, as I splashed in the water to cool off, or sat on a big flat rock in the sun to dry and warm up. After getting home again, I’d stretch, rinse off, and then type up what I had been repeating over and over to myself.

What genre does your book fall under?
Landscape demagogy.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ummm…New Zealand. Vermont if we’re on shoestrings. And a young Rutger Hauer as Johannes Kelpius. (Spoiler: his scenes get cut.)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
We don’t need no stinking sentence: “at the schist there / is unpried // a big old book / left in the rain / to sog / a big / old book left / out in sun / to cement // what nationstory / if the pages / would lift”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Except for three of the poem-parts, primary composition lasted from May through August 2012, with occasional periods of tinkering in months following.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The shapes schist and water make in their slow revision. (I could mention the beauty of the place, but I don’t want to give the impression that this is a work of idyll or bucolic pastoral.) And I owe a lot to the placards along Forbidden Drive – they provided just enough information about the ravine to whet an edge for what I wanted to carve out. Later, I began to owe a lot to Cobbett and Poe, and Sidney M. Earle, and especially David Contosta and Carol Franklin and Gunlög Fur, authors who’ve previously written about issues related to the Wissahickon.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Embedded into the poem is (or is not) a set of very careful directions leading to TREASURE.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Wysihicken [sic] is due out later this year (2013) from Furniture Press Books.


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