Thursday, October 02, 2003

So . . . things with the new boook are zipping right along. The title is Year of the Snake, and it's scheduled to come out with
Southern Illinois University Press in March 2004. In fact, it will be officially "launched" at the AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference in Chicago, where I'll be giving a panel reading with other Crab Orchard Poety Series poets. I'm very excited!

The people at SIU Press have been fabulous to work with . . . attentive, responsive, professional, kind, funny, and generally just all-around Good Eggs. So far, I've done proof-reading on a very early round of proofs in July, and apparently I'll be able to do the final round of typeset proof-reading sometime in November. The back-cover blurbs have started to come in, and the marketing manager I've been working with was kind enough to forward some of them along to me . . . both of the ones I read were exceedingly generous . . . probably make the book sound better than it actually is! Also, I had my heart on using artwork from Richard Chesler's series of photographs incorporating irezumi -- traditional Japanese full body tattoo. In this series, Chesler painted irezumi onto women models, and then made photographs from these images. I recently heard from the Design and Production Manager that permission has been secured from Chesler to use one of the images. Hooray! The cover is now in the process of being designed, and should be ready for me to take a look at sometime this month, probably incorporating one of the more "serpentine" of the Chesler images, such as Dragons of the Heart or Silent Dragon. I can't wait to see how the cover turns out!

I suppose in many respects, Year of the Snake is ultimately a book about transformation, and the human desire for transformation, as well as the simultaneously dangerous and liberating state of being somewhere in between transformations . . . not quite one thing or the other. This becomes a metaphor for race, gender, place, culture, and stages in one's life, and I use recurring imagery of snakes and insects molting as part of this metaphor. The poems alternate between more autobiographical poems where I sometimes look back at images of my mother's garden in Wyoming, and ruminate on the implications of "transplanting" and Japanese-American identity and diaspora, and poems that are dramatic monologues written in the voices of characters from traditional Japanese myths and fairy tales (frequently with a contemporary or feminist twist). . . the idea is that the "I", the first-person voices, in the book will start to overlap and blur, in the same way that aspects of identity blur, so that it becomes difficult at times to distinguish one from the other, autobiography from myth/fairy tale, fact from fantasy, antiquity from modern-day. And this is one of the reasons why, in addition to their obviously serpentine, or snake-like qualities, I think the Chesler images will be so perfect for the book. The way in which they blend Eastern and Western, contemporary and traditional, and the way they have a bit of trompe l'oeil quality to them, make them images that, I feel, speak to and for the ways in which I would ideally like for the book to be read.

And while cover art certainly doesn't make or break a book, by any means, writers (particularly poets) aren't often lucky enough to actually have a voice in the cover design of their book. Having spoken to authors who had no say in their cover design, or, worse yet, who actually even outright loathe the cover of their book (a situation that really is simultaneously heartrending and enraging, it seems), I'm feeling so relieved and happy at this point in time!

In further, unrelated albeit late-breaking news, after the generous input of readers concerning the Snip or Not To Snip conundrum, I had definitely concluded that the tags on my Good Luck Writing Hat were, if not the definitive good-luck generating feature, at least a significantly contributing factor thereof. And so I didn't snip. But . . . I looked up from dinner this evening to see that my Siamese cat, Yuki, herself an avid blogger (or at least an avid supervisor of blog-related activities) had snatched hold of my Good Luck Writing Hat by the tags with her teeth, and, having absconded with my Good Luck Writing Hat, was making off with it somewhere, post-haste . . . somewhere that suspiciously looked like the general vicinity of the litter box closet!!!

And finally, in what appears to be an ongoing series of Autumnal Humiliations, my other cat, a Persian by the name of Muku, is currently sporting a Lion Cut. (It's best not to ask.)

Pics of the Day: Orb Weaver Spider - Coalhurst, Alberta; Painted Lady Butterfly - Fort McLeod, Alberta; and Sertoma Butterfly House - Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 8:15 PM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
East Wing
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Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
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