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DIY Poetry Publishing Cooperative

May 14, 2006

Brian Teare answers Kate Greenstreet's first-book questions


Before the day you ripped open that box and saw your book for the first time, did you imagine that your life would change because of it?

I grew up queer in a small town in the Deep South--for 22 years my entire life narrative was structured around the idée fixe, "When I leave, my life will begin and/or be lots better." Once grad school finally supplied me adequate money to leave, and after my life had not been magically changed by the act of crossing several state lines, I had to rethink the truth-value of my basic narrative arc.

The basic narrative formula they fed us in the MFA program about post-MFA life was this:

1) publish your poems in lots of journals and
2) you'll publish a book and then
3) you'll get a nice tenure-track teaching job.

I didn't grow up with anything resembling familial or mental stability, or much of an idea how to succeed at anything (let alone at walking the seemingly trackless path of being a writer), and so this recipe sounded really good to me.

And so I thought, "When I leave grad school…," and "When I publish lots of poems in Big Journals," and then, later, as I shlepped my adjunct ass around the Bay Area, "When I get my first book…" You get the picture.

So in a word: yes. On some level, I'd imagined my life would change dramatically. However, did these imaginings ever have much basis in what even then I knew to be reality? No.

Read the rest here.

(NB: Though the books featured in Kate's series are not DIY projects, some are put out by smaller presses. The point of highlighting them here is the variety in the authors' responses to "did the first book change your life," which I always find interesting. Each has eroded/revised the myth of The Book in some way, don't you think?)

1 Comments:

  • BT also has a great point about the academic impact of his book on his search for teaching jobs.

    I don't envy anybody who's chosen this path. As much as I like to teach I just cannot make myself submit to that system of proof-badging.

    By Blogger shanna, at 9:50 AM  

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