August is here and it’s a real crunch time for me. I’m working on a couple of different projects right now and managing my 9-5. The good news, right now I feel like I have a pretty good handle on everything. The bad news is that my day job gets real hectic come September and doesn’t let up for a couple of months. Meaning I’ve got to make some hard choices soon because the bottom line is that I can’t make it through life on just poetry.
No need to throw a pity party just yet, just time to take advantage of some of this down summer time and make some moves while I can. Number one priority for this month: rehaul the manuscript. The last time I looked over the ms it was just coming in at 44 pages or so. A bunch of poems that were saying the same thing had to get the axe and order was a serious priority. A couple of people had looked at it and the feedback was encouraging.
So the challenge now is to fold into the ms the new poems from To the Break of Dawn. Poems that a few months back I thought wouldn’t make it into my ms. Not because I didn’t think the poems were any good but because I had this ideal theme for my manuscript that revolved around writing about growing up in the South Bronx just as hip-hop was forming with the manuscript ending just as the first commercial hip-hop records were coming out. Sounds good, heh? And then come the new poems which I like and actually serve the manuscript very well, if I extend out my original idea.
The question becomes: Do I stick to my guns and just write into the idea of the ms or do I open myself into this new pathway?
Answer: Let’s not fall in love with an idea, let’s go forward with the concrete.
Going with the concrete also opens me up to adding even more mix to the ms by trying to also incorporate some poems from last year’s NaPoWriMo. These poems were part of a series called Anything to Declare, all variations on a theme of folklore, orature vs literature, and migration. Very dark and circuitous poems I thought would one day be my second manuscript. They might still be but I think some of them might serve as a good prelude to what will be going down on Anywhere Avenue.
The plan now is to break up my manuscript into five sections:
- Relaciónes (immigration, fractured language, voices of my parents)
- Anywhere Avenue (poems of people and place)
- Palimpsest (deconstruction, arson, forced movement)
- Heaven Below (praise, negotiation, resolve)
- To the Break of Dawn (art for cultural survival’s sake)
Each section would have its own internal arc (beginning, middle, end) but would connect to the next section. Now I have to actually layout the poems, read the aloud, and see if it makes sense to both my eye and ear. Then, time to write query letters. And do it all in 30 days.
Wish me luck, y’all.