BV 1000, aak

I’m tired of binding and re-binding my poetry manuscript. I need a different text to set and bind.  BV 1000’s Story of Kintu would be perfect, but it still needs at least another hundred lines. At least.

Time to put the BV hat back on, wouldn’t you say. 

Finally put together a halfway decent Codex binding. Hah!


retting flax (1)

it is better to not let the bundles
sit in water long enough
than to let them sit there too long

they always can be submerged again
if found to be wanting later but
the reverse problem
cannot be solved

in this case the fibers are rotted
as well as the stalk and one cannot
un-rot something

retting flax (2)

when wrapped around
a finger the inner wood should
spring away from the fibers


a talking blue smell



OK, we’re getting somewhere. Here’s my latest attempt at a Coptic binding. I’m practising with A Talking Blue Smell, which is my poetry manuscript. Its contents change each time I reset the text for a different kind of binding. I haven’t made a title label for this copy yet.

I’m now working on a regular Codex binding which, as my bookbinding book says, “is the type of book that we generally think of when we imagine a book. The signatures are sewn together at the spine, and they’re protected by a hard cover on the front, spine and back.”

My favorite part is the sewing. There’s something very satisfying about sewing thick paper with waxed linen thread and a curved needle.

Bookbinding tools are beautiful. I want a sewing frame for Christmas, everyone.

I wrote a poem for my little brother and bound it in its own little book and mailed it to him. It said things I should have said to him years ago. I hope it was a good idea.

flaws and perfection

Scavella – who writes the best sevenlings – has been busy.

And is making me think about what I’m doing.

I got more or less serious about studying and writing poetry just about two and a half years ago. My first publication – submitted on a monumental dare to myself – came in November 2006 (thanks, Shit Creek Review!) Subsequent submissions were made cautiously, in great trepidation and greater angst.  Fourteen months later, I have a total of 22 pieces either published or accepted for publication.  (Full list here.) I’ve tried to submit only to places I will always be happy to claim as a publication credit, and I think I’ve succeeded.

Rejections were never any surprise. Acceptances always were. Which remains true today.  But the paradigm has shifted over the last year or so, and so therefore has the quality of the surprise.  At the beginning, the rejection of a piece signaled to me a flaw in the piece, and it was dashing for that reason.   Now — after having a number of pieces rejected several times before going on to find good homes — I find I am dashed by rejection more as evidence of failure to connect, than as evidence of a flawed piece. And, conversely, delighted by acceptance as evidence of successful connection, rather than of a perfect piece.

And, now, confused about just what a “flawed” piece is. Or a “perfect” one.

I don’t think either is what I used to think it is.

Dark Sky Magazine

Dark Sky Magazine has accepted one of my poems.

And it’s my Colombia subjunctive poem! The one I’ve been writing for the last ten years at least. I can’t count how many forms it has taken.

I think I’m going to miss it…

(Assuming that publication freezes it and moves it out of the realm of the possible, which is what publication seems to do, mostly.)

you say tomato..

Someone read a poem I wrote and interpreted it in a way that transcended my intent. It was a beautiful interpretation and hung together very nicely on its own terms and with the text. Did I misread it? Is that what you meant? the person asked.

I didn’t answer in any meaningful way, I didn’t think I should.

It occurs to me that poems and their readers are like the two players on either side of a log xylophone, each playing a different melody. If everything comes together as it should – if the players are mutually aware and mutually sensitive -, they work in counterpoint, “slipping notes in the gaps of each other’s parts” and out of that (it always seems so miraculous to me) the audience begins to hear a third melody, knocking and throbbing and hanging out there in a phantom-like but very moving way.

No-one “wrote” the third melody. It is born of the interaction between the two players.


Latest obsession.  It started a couple of months ago with discovering the mini-book. I just love how you can make a teeny book so easily. Over Christmas I wrote some stories for Whale Child and had him illustrate them. Then I got this book and there’s no stopping me, it appears. I’ve made several pamphlet-style books and finished my first hard-cover sewn book today. Got my basics of bone folder, linen thread, needles and awl, more supplies on the way. Right now I’m improvising with whatever I find around the place in terms of paper and card, looking forward to working with some of the lovely lovely paper you can get these days.

There’s so much to book-binding, ancient and modern, from a range of civilizations.

When I get a bit better at this, I will think of writing a book poem, where the form (shape, type, color, design, feel) of the book is part of the poem. And I get to make them both. 

Where the form of the book is part of the poem.

Have to keep thinking about that one.

I mean, who knew!?

simultaneous submissions again

Editors who accept simultaneous submissions often say submitters should “let us know up front and inform us promptly if work is accepted elsewhere.”

Fair enough. But suppose you submit to them first and only decide after the fact to submit the same piece simultaneously elsewhere?

Do the first editors really want you to let them know that you just did that?