First Book Interview

What, for you, is most significant about the publication of Hour of Unfolding?

Most significant for me is that Hour of Unfolding is my first book. Something I’ve dreamed about for a long time, as many do. Less significant for the world, perhaps, but I’m happy to join the great sea of poetry.

What was your process in finding a publisher? How long did it take? Did you primarily send your manuscript to first-book contests?

Once I decided the ms. was ready to submit, I studied various book contests. My breakdown was about 85% first-book contests, 15% free-for-all. I was quite methodical. Each week I set aside time to check out publishers’ catalogs and philosophies on their websites. I made sure several contest entries were out at a time so each rejection didn’t sting as much. In all, the process of sending out the ms. took one year before Briery Creek Press at Longwood University selected it as the winner of the 2010 Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry.

How did your manuscript change during this process (if it did, in fact, change)? Did you rework the focus, change the title, reorder poems?

The ms. went through much evolution before I started submitting it, at least three restructurings. Also some pruning and revision. The title changed during this pre-submission period, when I discovered my first title was shared by a literary journal. Once I started sending it out, I took the advice David St. John gives to all–to allow that one ms. to be tested over time.

Partway through the year, I added a couple of poems because I was near the minimum page count desired in most contests. Basically, the ms. I began sending out was the one chosen.

For some of your poems, you work in a narrative mode. In these heavily lyric times, what draws you to the narrative?

I enjoy the lyric narrative; there’s a sense of story, albeit a fractured one. It’s not A happens then B then C. The poems are meditations with moments of deepening, going into the lyric, supported by a loose narrative framework. With exceptions, of course. Always exceptions.

Are your poems based on real-world events?

Some are, but only as a point of departure. All reality is up for grabs. I’m more interested in emotional truth than factual.