Monday, May 12, 2014

e pluribus haiku 2014 

I just compiled e pluribus haiku 2014 and can report the following. I try to publish it on July 4 every year. This year I got impatient with the 2013 version. The fact that some states are never quite complete, some are woefully imbalanced, etc. really got to me; in addition, I didn't like the layout, although I was ok with the cover photo, which was from my daily walk. I worked extensively on getting new poems over the winter and early spring but, in February or so, at about 875 poems, I stalled out and stopped producing. There's not much I can do about it when I get stalled; I don't try to force myself; I just move on to other things. In focusing on marketing, though, I didn't want to market the 2013 version, since I now see it as inadequate. I wanted a new one in my hands to take around, to the Lubbock Public Library, to Hastings, etc. I wanted something to show.

The 2014 version should be available in a few days, and will be on Amazon, as well as in Kindle form. It has 875; it is 96 pages and thus slightly more expensive than previous versions. There are now at least a dozen for every state although some, like South Carolina, are still woefully imbalanced. I'm sure I'll get impatient with this one as well and will continue to expand if I can get those creative juices flowing again. I've run up against a few dilemmas in production which I will expound upon here.

First is a general dilemma about time. The original poems were from the 1970's and contained specific memories that were true to my experience. Because I was in some states only at night, and others only in summer, etc., I could not get every state well represented without doing research or using more recent memories, or knowledge collected in the 40 years between then and now. But things change; sometimes my more recent knowledge is itself dated or washed away by events. In general, I'd like it to be timeless, specific to the state itself, about the people and the land, but not placed in a specific era. I can't say that about all of them, though. Some are more than specific in their time placement.

Second, there is a general inequality among the states. I'm proud that now I have a dozen from each, but I still have some places unrepresented, others overrepresented. I have more from Illinois and Texas, where I've lived more, and fewer from places like Delaware, what can you say about Delaware? Even in Illinois I have dozens from southern Illinois, fewer from Chicago. I find myself getting more deliberate in my placement, but at the same time that restricts me. If I need one from the Florida panhandle, what do I say? I can do research, but I feel that that process takes me away, a little, from the very real sense of the other poems. That's one reason I come into these times of general paralysis.

What I want to do is focus a little more on the natural features that occupy each state, that, if a traveler were to pass through, might help bring a place into focus. It is hard to get something like this, and a place, and a season, all into a single poem, though it can be done. I find myself struggling. I want to get the sense of the traveler, passing through, eyes wide open, and a place that probably its own residents aren't used to seeing clearly. It's an amazing country. That's what I want to show.

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