January slid in on the light of a cold full moon. Like a winter wolf, I am denning, exploring the dark that is so much part of this time of year where I live. I curl up on one end of the sofa in the evening and plunge into the pages of book after book. I am twitchy and witchy and my reading choices reflect it. I began the year with Patti Smith’s Devotion, followed swiftly by Kiki Petrosino’s Witch Wife and the Em Strang’s Bird-Woman.
My dreams are full of skaters, spells, and wings. These are just the types of books I love, ones that bring you along head-tilted and stumbling, not sure if the path beneath your feet is solid or black ice. Books full of spells and enchantments. Images that carry the tang of fallen leaves and the hiss of snow.
Even so, the light is coming back. It will not be long before the headlong rush of the Alaskan summer is upon me, light enough to read outside at 2am, garden needing constant care, conferences and residencies to teach at, books to promote. In fact, I have already fallen seriously behind in the book promotion department. I promise myself to be better. I make lists. I listen to my mother’s strident voice that lives deep inside my cells that says not enough!
In April, my newest full-length collection Every Atom will release, and I really want to give it the best shot at finding readers to whom it will matter, readers who might need those words as they navigate their own icy rivers of mother-child relationships, of memory and forgetting. A book of poems is such a precarious vessel, at once ephemeral and iron-clad. I can think through the years of books to which I clung gasping and water-logged, Behind My Eyes by Li-Young Lee, Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved by Gregory Orr, Words Under the Words by Naomi Shihab Nye, The Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda.
In the dark of the early morning, I write to connect with myself. But in the day, I revise those poems to go out into the world and connect with others. A book is the culmination of that wish to give something that you’ve (hopefully) wrought beautifully out of the very stuff of your heart. Perhaps like most poets, I am more comfortable with the fecund dark, the creation and revision, and not the promotion. Yet, it would be a shame to work so hard for so long and let it drop into silence, to not honor the opportunity that publication offers to connect.
Back to those promotion to-do lists. But first, look, the moon is rising and there is a book to be read.