Read ‘Helen in Egypt’ aloud, all the way through – check

In April 2013, I decided to try and read H.D.’s Helen in Egypt aloud, all the way through, and started uploading readings over at Voice Project: ‘Helen In Egypt’. Today, just shy of a year later, I uploaded the last reading and accomplished my objective. I read it in segments, over many months, and while I tried to keep recording conditions and delivery consistent throughout, there are inevitable variations in both at various points, which I hope any listeners the project may attract will forgive. The book may be listened to or downloaded in individual segments – by its three large sections, by individual books in those sections, or by individual parts in those books.

I was inspired to undertake the reading by this post at the Poetry Foundation, in which the author talks about how voicing, recording, and listening to poems he really wanted to get to know took the experience of ‘knowing’ a poem to a whole new level for him. Which sounds exactly right, and there is no question that I have had an entirely different engagement with and experience of Helen in Egypt through reading it aloud in so deliberate a fashion.

My warm thanks to the folks at New Directions Publishing Corporation, agents for the Schaffner Family Foundation, for blessing the project.

multi-format poetry publishing, cont’d

Check out this awesome web-page. This is how poetry should be published!

We blogged about Dave Bonta’s Twelve Simple Songs before, but there’s more now. From a single online location (Dave built a dedicated page for the publication), you can read the poems via Issuu on the web, download a PDF of the poems, download an MP3 file of the author reading the poems, or purchase (at cost-price) a print edition of the poem. You can also watch an awesome videopoem someone made based on the poems, read for the video project by someone else.

Poetry publishers take note. It doesn’t get better than this!

Other relevant multi-format publishing posts from the Very Like A Whale archive:

- multi-format poetry publishing!
- Want poetry readers? publish in multiple formats, some free
- Multi-format poetry publishing – production steps

multi-format poetry publishing!

I am beyond thrilled to see this great initiative from Dave Bonta. He has collected twelve very romantic poems into a chapbook called Twelve Simple Songs, and has made it available as:

- regular PDF download
- an Issuu digital chapbook
- an MP3 download
- and coming up: in print from a new POD service, Peecho

How awesome is that?! We, as potential readers, are asked ‘how do you like your poetry served?’ and we get some choices. I, for one, went for the regular PDF download, because honestly, I find Issuu aggravating to use. The chapbook looks really beautiful on my iPad in my iBooks reader, and is a breeze to read. Others will prefer the Issuu version, others the MP3 audio download, and others still, the upcoming print version. Some may want more than one version. By catering to all these different preferences, and by eschewing the profit motive (digital versions are free and the print version will be sold at cost), Dave has exponentially increased his poems’ chances of getting read.

A quick suggestion: Dave might at some point want to consider putting together a mini-website for Twelve Simple Songs, a place where he can consolidate the links to the different formats for future traffic and search engine huntings. As I mentioned in this 2011 post entitled another advantage of multi-format publishing, the beauty of a website for a chapbook or collection is that you can add things to the work as they happen – if someone writes a review, for example, or expands both the work’s content and its modes of expression by making a videopoem based on one or more of the poems.

Congratulations, Dave, on this tender collection and thanks for sharing it so generously.

Other relevant multi-format publishing posts from the Very Like A Whale archive:

- Want poetry readers? publish in multiple formats, some free
- Multi-format poetry publishing – production steps

‘the impertinence of being frightened for another soul’

This terrific quote from The Land of Spices by Kate O’Brien was just featured by Dawn Potter:

The years … instructed her, as she studied her father’s candid, intelligent face in the sunny parlour of Place des Ormes, that a soul should not take upon itself the impertinence of being frightened for another soul; that God is alone with each creature.

It comes on top of the Toni Morrison quote from A Mercy that Kristin Berkey-Abbott highlighted yesterday:

…to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.

Sentiments that for me complement and complete each other, and come to me at just exactly the right moment – thank-you!

review of ‘Forever Will End On Thursday’

Forever Will End On Thursday is reviewed at Verse Wisconsin by Sherry Chandler.

Frabjous! Very appreciative of the care and thought Sherry put into the review and particularly love that she focused on the multi-format nature of the collection – specifically, collection-as-paper vs collection-as-sound, and the fact that the poem-as-page is a different animal from the poem-as-voice.

Sherry writes: “The overlapping experiences of the two modes [reading & listening] served to illustrate how very different it is to see a poem and to hear a poem. My eye saw the strangeness in the verse; her voice enhanced the musicality of the lines. It’s not the same poem on the page that it is in the ear.”

Go read the whole thing and check out the rest of the riches (a great selection of poems, book reviews and essays) in this terrific issue of Verse Wisconsin.

Bonta video poem – “the wanderers’ blessing”

Look what Dave Bonta has made, from one of the poems in Forever Will End On Thursday. I love this!

As I wrote to Dave: I would never have thought of pairing the footage and the poem, but the footage speaks to the themes in the poem — solidarity yet separateness; deep wariness and alertness to the environment; the need for camouflage and the longing for connection — all things that characterize the ‘order of strangers and interlopers.’ The music resonates as well – made me think of yearning and unfinishedness. It’s an unexpected connection you made, but I think it works.

(The poem originally appeared at Escape Into Life.)


that would be Nic Sebastian falling off the NaPo bandwagon


Just had a couple days of a giant day-job crisis which took all my extra emotional energy and just destroyed the NaPo mood. I don’t have a prayer or a charm left in me. So sad…

In unrelated good news that I really don’t deserve, I have three poems up at Canopic Jar , and two of them are Gabriel-in-love poems, yay!

One thing I did realize while thinking about writing prayers during NaPo is how similar to a (dysfunctional, co-dependent..?) romantic relationship one’s relationship with the the divine (however you define that) can be. (is?)

In other undeserved but still excellent news, Scot Siegel has also published my review of Rose Hunter‘s To The River at the Untitled Country Review. Thanks, Scot & Rose!

e-poetry: hanging indents – success!

Yes! Went way out of my comfort zone on this, but it worked!

I downloaded eCub (thanks again, Mr. Bonta…), which calls itself “a simple .epub creation tool” and it actually is, although I have to say it probably did help that I have a least a smattering of a background with html and CSS. All you need with eCUB is an html file of your poems, a CSS page to govern it, and a cover image. The software actually generates a CSS page for you, but I fiddled with it to add Dave Bonta’s hanging indent magic. And it worked!

I worked with Chrissie’s Cloud Studies first, because I felt like a completely evil publisher for having touted hanging indents which didn’t work on a Kindle. Well these do, Chrissie! That is, the MOBI file definitely works on the latest generation Kindle. And since it was converted using Calibre from the EPUB version, I’m pretty certain the EPUB version is good too. But would some kind person reading this test the EPUB file for me on their iPAD or Sony Reader or Nook…? Both versions work beautifully on the Calibre built-in readers, of course, but I no longer trust them for details like this.

Unfortunately, WordPress does not allow me to upload either type of file for easy linking here, so I’ve had to put them in a bit of a weird place (it’s free and rather manically ad-filled, I’m afraid) for the moment while I figure how best to store them online.

Cloud Studies in EPUB
Cloud Studies in MOBI

- The hanging indents work!
- It’s much quicker than Smashwords, which can take many hours to crunch your Microsoft Word doc upload on a busy day.
- I was able to create the EPUB first, then convert that to MOBI using Calibre – very easy.
- You can test fixes and work-arounds in a few seconds, publishing and unpublishing while working between eCUB and Calibre. With Smashwords you upload and wait for several hours before you see if your fix works.
- With Smashwords, uploading = publishing, so although you can upload as many revised versions as you want, you always risk having an imperfect version out there being downloaded for several hours before you can upload a fix.

- The coding is time-consuming – but I’m not yet sure whether it’s less or more work than Smashwords formatting.
-Smashwords is also an amazing packaging and distribution platform, which jazzes up your product with its own personal web page, blasts it out into the ether, allows people to post reviews on it, and keeps track of downloads, etc. It doesn’t do all the marketing and promotion for its authors, but it sure gives them a good initial leg-up.
- You can’t use your own home-made e-files on Smashwords – it only works with e-books produced using Smashwords technology.

So that’s that for the moment… Still much to think about and always many more publishing challenges ahead.

new & frabjous since last time

three poems at MiPOesias

invitation to blog at Best American Poetry blog for a week starting Feb 27. It’s totally going to be ‘poetry out loud’ at the BAP blog that week, so watch out

interview with Linebreak editor Johnathon Williams at Voice Alpha

two great posts on reading vs reciting poetry by Dave Bonta and Dick Jones at Voice Alpha

Homer on You Tube. I love this!

bad blogger!

Poor Very Like A Whale is getting short shrift these days, with all my online poetry communications energy going into Whale Sound, Voice Alpha, Facebook and Twitter.

Some bits of frabjous from the last week or two that haven’t made it here yet:

Five poems up at Escape Into Life. I was thrilled with this publication — EIL is doing great things and not just with poetry. Recommend you get in and browse around. The artwork accompanying my poems by Ruud Van Empel was just stunning. I was particularly pleased to have the poem ‘Thirst & Decay’ selected. It was written many years ago in response to a KJV Bible verse prompt (Leviticus 25:35):

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.

Really what I wanted to use was the phrase ‘a stranger and a sojourner’ but the second half ended up falling out, as often happens with spark quotations. And the whole, rather surprisingly (or maybe not), ended up being about dysfunction and co-dependence, a perennial Nic Sebastian theme. (More recently, my poem Yew, in this group at Eclectica, tells more or less the same story).

In other excellent news, Whale Sound was featured at the Best American Poetry Blog by Emma Trelles, a Whale Sound poet herself. One of the terrific side effects of being interviewed about what you do is that it forces you to actively think about what you do (as opposed to just doing it) and articulate those thoughts. I find it is the articulation of those thoughts that helps me discern the ‘next step’ for a project. So, with Whale Sound, the idea of audio chapbooks, the idea of group readings, the idea of Voice Alpha – all grew out of being questioned about the project and having to respond to those questions. In that vein, in addition to Emma, I must thank Dave Bonta and J.P. Dancing Bear for also taking the time to interview me about Whale Sound.

Lastly on the frabjous front: I have begun writing poetry again, after a long hiatus (intensified by starting up the Whale Sound and Voice Alpha projects). I think of them as post-Whale Sound poems, because they are different in genesis and (at least, I think) in style from pre-Whale Sound poems. Getting into the skin of someone else’s poem close enough to read it aloud for Whale Sound five days a week is inevitably going to change (has changed) my ‘poet-ness’ – how I hear, feel, apprehend and write poetry. So far, one new poem has been accepted by Anti- and three by Canopic Jar. Onward!

tongues of the ocean

My savannah man is one of the first two poems in the inaugural issue of Scavella’s new journal, Tongues of the Ocean. I am very much honored to appear inaugurally with Ian Gregory Strachan. Check out his poems. Yikes – fiery stuff! Brief fiery stuff. In your face incisive burning-bones-and-no-flesh stuff. And taking — I had to go back and read each several times. Killer phrase among killer phrases: lunatic hosannas.

Go, Scavella!

The Dirty Napkin

My poem a poem for mother’s day is up at The Dirty Napkin.

This is a great publication, edited by J. Argyl Plath, and this fourth issue completes its first full volume. Check it out! And while you are there, check out its great submission system. Honestly, it’s the coolest thing — lets you painlessly submit, and then just as painlessly check on your submission. It even tells you whether your submission is Unread or Read. Has my vote for Most Painless Submission of the year.