Thursday, June 08, 2017

haiku & kindle 

I like haiku, you write a thousand of them in a year; they must be doing something for you. You write poetry for yourself though. I can't see doing my best on a single poem and then hoping people read it seriously and give me feedback. I've tried that kind of poetry before, and found I didn't have the patience or the social sensibility to carry it all the way through.

But I care passionately about what I write, and I care passionately that it doesn't always appear in Kindle as a single block of three lines, with no caps, and some punctuation but not much. I want it to look a certain way. I want the reader to see the three lines together.

Kindle is relatively new, and when they set it up, they didn't know how to give the authors control. A lot of them, like me, came straight over from CreateSpace, exhausted from setting up our own book, with formatting requirements, on Createspace, and they say, you want it on Kindle? and I say yes and upload my file and they say, oh we don't like pdf, so I go back and give them a word file. But for a long time they didn't show me what the readers saw. So if my page broke at 58 lines and theirs broke at 20, they would just cut, and I was none the wiser. Now they let me preview it before I tuck it back in. And lo and behold, all my kindle books are skewed. They have spaces where there shouldn't be spaces, and they have haiku, ingloriously split with two lines on one page, one on the next.

I'm going back and changing them all, by golly, one at a time. I have 2017, which just came out; it looks good. I just finished 2016; it took about half an hour now that I know what I'm doing. I'm going to make sure Kindle customers get a good haiku experience.

Actually the haiku are like the books: people who actually read them, really like them. As I've said before, only one out of a hundred or two hundred people will even read a poem, once they get out of high school, and even fewer actually do the mental preparation necessary to really appreciate them. I'm speaking to a very limited crowd here.

But I don't care about that either. One of my goals is to become like the Warhol of haiku. Warhol, you remember, was famous for being ubiquitous; for becoming the bellwether of the art world (his work sets the standard for other work that compares to it), and for being bold, in your face, strong, yet still interpretable. What does the Marilyns painting really mean? I doubt more than one in ten people could give you a reasonable explanation, and the three or four good ones you'd get would be all different (assuming, of course, that you asked about a hundred). Yet it's the most recognizable painting of the 20th century; everyone's seen it. Everyone knows it.

I can't imagine haiku could ever be like that - people care way more about art than about haiku - but, there is a 5-7-5 culture out there. There are people who like 5-7-5 - and, in spite of being Japanese, our own 5-7-5 is uniquely ours, since our language is so unique and different from Japanese. I've found a home in 5-7-5, and I'm incredibly free to express myself. Suddenly, quickly, intensely - kind of like pop art. My first problem was getting a thousand, and making them unique, and getting them to tell a single story. Now, I'm not bound to the seventies for the next one - I'm going Warhol a little, freeing myself up, but sticking to the conventions of haiku, at least some of the basic ones, the ones that serve me. I have no problem with the season clues; I'm getting better at it. I have rules and am sticking to them the best I can.

I'm going to be all over kindle with haiku. People will be able to read the good ones, if they want. Starting now (it's the season for e pluribus, since we're running right up on the fourth) - the best of the e pluribus series, namely the last three years, will be in cycle, free on kindle, at one time or another. I'll keep revolving them around - why not? one wants people to read it. if it's free, people will find it.

but it has to look good. That's my first requirement.

e pluribus haiku 2017 

a thousand original haiku

Available at Amazon $6.29 + shipping
Available at the Createspace Store $6.29 + shipping
Available on Kindle $3.59

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

e pluribus haiku 2017 

e pluribus haiku 2017 is finished, ready, in print. It is on Amazon already, and is on its way on Kindle. I am exhausted after writing 1000 original haiku; it took me more than the year I'd planned, almost fourteen months. I was tired of being stuck in 1974, to the requirements I'd set for myself, in order to make it true to the trip. It was not, of course, entirely true to the trip, since I only hit 48 states, and hit some of them only at night, not to mention only in one season. I had to fill in the gaps with more recent experience, and physical knowledge that in some cases, I got from the internet. I use this site to talk honestly about my poetry, so that's what I'll do here. I'll use this somewhat crude, but personal, promo poster, then when the real thing comes out (above), I'll do a better job of actually promoting it.

To tell the truth, promoting it is sort of wearing on me. It doesn't sell like hotcakes. I do it entirely for my own personal expression. Next year, I'm going to weave in Trump (and the modern political condition) and Warhol - I'm kind of obsessed with Warhol, and want to do some research on him anyway. It will be more free of time constraints, and won't be bound to where I was in 1974. But I'll be lucky if I get a thousand in a year; it's already June 7, and it took me fourteen months to get a thousand last time.

I go through times when I'm weary, like now. I just put it down and work on my stories. Yet I think it's one thing that makes me unique, being the warhol of haiku (this is actually my goal - be ubiquitous, have six minutes of fame, and be able to say, "I am what I appear, I'm not hiding anything"....). It's a kind of unique niche in the modern world. But I've been reading about Jack London lately, and I don't really have the impulse to capitalize on the Yukon, train-hopping image that he did. I did that too; that's why I like him, but being trapped in that kind of image (in the public's mind), is not necessarily good for me, or even necessary.

e pluribus haiku 2017 is coming. It is the best I can do, and it has a thousand, best that I know. I have my own unique style, you have to grant me that. I hope you enjoy it. It is my own tribute to my own native country, which I still love, in spite of everything.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Boxcars on Walnut 

Now available on Amazon $5.38 + shipping
Coming on Kindle $.99 (soon) as well

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Dozen Crime Stories 

Now available on audiobook!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Short Stories 

for the ages!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

CMLL Poetry Reading 

Proud to say, I actually performed haiku, notably bilingual haiku, in the CMLL poetry reading of today, May 11, 2016.

I am painfully shy about my poetry. I do ok on the fiddle these days, and I know how to charm an audience, but when I'm reading my poetry I can hardly even look at people. I would do better at a slam event, but in this case, there were a number of very good Spanish poets, and I was actually reading a few that had my own bad Spanish in it, and it made me embarrassed. I'd have done better, perhaps, if I'd stayed on the ground I know better.

I showed the new book. Even the 2015 e pluribus, which has a map of El Paso and a monarch on the cover, is of interest to a truly bilingual crowd; the 2016 version, which has a century plant on the hope road in New Mexico, was also of interest. Unfortunately that 2016 version will be redone, because the picture didn't come out too well (I gambled on posterization and lost) and the poems are in the gutter (it's better, I suppose, to have one's poems in the gutter than one's mind)...

One of the presenters was bilingual and presented a poem that was in both Spanish and English, and was set in Las Cruces. Another wrote and translated poems in German and English. It was a good place to explore the process of including other languages and rhythms into a very brief structure. More about that later.

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