Welcome, Every Atom!

Dear friends and family,

As many of you know, my new poetry collection, Every Atom, releases today, April 2nd! I want, first of all, to thank you for all the support you’ve already given me in writing these poems, over all the many years it took me to write them. You know the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, the same is true about books. Even if you don’t think you helped me write this book, you did, just by being in my life and being nice to me. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for that. (PS If you purchased me a beer at some point when I was in despair, you get an extra thank you!)

You all know how hard it is to get the world to pay attention to a book, particularly poetry, and particularly if it’s published by an independent press. Some of you have asked how else you might help spread the word. Thank you. Here’s a list of some very concrete ways you can do that:

  1. Order the book now via your favorite bookseller (support indies!). When you do, tell the bookseller about the book. This can help raise awareness and interest. If you don’t live near an independent bookstore, Every Atom is available online at IndieBound and Amazon.
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  2. If you’re on social media, post a link to my website (www.erincoughlinhollowell.com), where people can read all about the book and order it themselves.
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  3.  If you’re in a book club or know people who are, please recommend the book. I love meeting with book clubs, either via Skype or in person. I will soon have discussion questions posted on my website just for book clubs.
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  4.  Review it on Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads. People pay a lot of attention to customer reviews, and the more reviews you get on Amazon, the more likely Amazon is to recommend it to other customers.
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  5.  If you know journalists, radio or TV broadcasters, or bloggers, please tell them about the book. I’m very happy to guest blog or to do interviews, online, in print, or on radio or TV.
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  6. Do you work for a writing conference, campus reading series, literary nonprofit? I love to teach, and I am willing to travel to read for students and communities of all sizes.
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  7.  Are you a college professor or instructor of creative writing or literature? Consider adopting the book for one of your courses. I can send you discussion questions specifically written for your classes.
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  8. Finally, good old-fashioned word of mouth remains the absolute best way to sell books. So if you like the book, please tell five reader-friends. Heck, make it ten.

Once again, thank you so much for your love, friendship, and support. I couldn’t have written this book without you. I’m lucky to have each of you in my life. And I sincerely hope you enjoy Every Atom! Let me know what you think when you do (unless you hate it . . . then maybe keep that to yourself…. PS. You won’t hate it.)

Love and gratitude,
Erin

Connection Fatigue

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It would be an understatement to say that I live “off the beaten path.” I think that the path peters out a few hundred miles from my house. I spend most days with just the company of my dog, the birds, and the path the sun carves out above the mountains. Don’t get me wrong. I like it that way. I’m a quiet person by nature.

But it can get lonely. Humans are social creatures. Social media has helped quite a bit, bringing me into contact with admired poets and friends that I would only see every few years otherwise. Conferences and residencies also help. So, I attend the AWP conference each year, even though I know people bash it as too commercial, or too too too…. I notice that many of the people who have disdain for it live in places where they can hang out with other writers on any given night. Maybe I wouldn’t care so much either if I lived someplace more easily accessible.

Off I went earlier this month to the Tampa AWP. I held my NEW book in my hand. I signed copies for people I admire. I listened to amazing people talk about writing. I wandered around the book fair and bought a LOT of books. It was overwhelming, but I appreciated all of the smart people and interesting things they had to say. I appreciated eating some amazing food in Ybor City with my very funny and smart and kind friend Kate. I appreciated hanging out with my incredible nephew and his lovely wife and adorable child.

Then I flew back across the timezones for a brief stop home and ricocheted down to San Diego to spend time with my brother and sister. Ever since both of our parents passed away within six months of each other, my siblings and I try to get together at least once a year to hang out and be a family. I always learn something about them, about myself. And I eat good food and drink good beer. We laugh a lot, and we make sure to say I love you.

On the way home, I slept in the Anchorage airport for five hours (what Alaskans do when one plane lands at midnight and the next one takes off at 5:30am). I pulled far back inside myself and watched the disconnected people walk back and forth the length of the terminal. Airports are threshold places anyway, but the two and a half weeks of travel made me feel untethered. Of course, florescent lights make me feel that way under the best of circumstances.

So now, I’m back at home. Back watching the pine siskins skein through the bare alder trees. Back talking mostly to the dog. And I’m tired. I’ve been pulling back on social media like many people have. I’m a little tired of the continual upheaval and drama on Facebook and Twitter, the soft-focus photos on Instagram. Connection fatigue.

I’m still beating the sun up every morning, though that will only be for a few more weeks. I’ve been sitting at my desk reconnecting with what’s inside me. Letting all those words filter down. Reading the poetry books that I picked up at the conference. The poems are bubbling up again. They need both connection and disconnection – planting, growing, harvesting, lying fallow.

I don’t want to withdraw from all social media. I would miss seeing the new books, reading the essays, admiring the puppies and kittens. But if you reach out to me and I don’t respond right away, I might be disconnected. Just for a little while – I’ll be back, I’m just watching the alders consider budding or listening to the owls stake their claims to a corner of the woods.

Besides, next week Every Atom officially goes on sale. You want to hear more about that, don’t you? (The anxiety, the terror, the anticipation!)

(You can always sign up for my newsletter…. on the bottom of this page.)

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Keeping the oars in the water- AWP edition

2016 AWP Book Fair

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I’ve been attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference for the last ten years. Established in the seventies, this is one of the conferences that brings together writers, publishers, lit magazines, professors, and students in writing programs. It’s huge. Recently, attendance has topped 12,000 people.

I want you to close your eyes for a minute and imagine that. 12,000 writers in one place. And there, if you zoom in, likely lurking in the back of the book fair, is me. If you could zoom in even further, through my eyes and deep into my skull, you’d see a brain in overdrive. Or you might have to pull out far enough to see me hiding in my hotel room with a new book clenched in my hand, staring vacantly out the window, while my brain whirs.

Like most writers, I have a love/hate relationship with the event. Even though I find the whole thing incredibly overwhelming, exhausting, and expensive, I go every year that I can scrape together the cash. Why? Well, I live in Alaska. I’m a poet that lives in Alaska.

I’m lucky enough to live in a small town in Alaska with a lot of other writers. Some professional folks who make their living writing books and teaching writing. Many folks with MFAs in writing. Lots more who take it seriously and toil in the trenches. But, I live in Alaska. It’s not easy to get here. We have some incredible writers come through for the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference each year. A few more tour the state through the university system and 49 Writers. But, it’s not like living in Portland or Seattle or Austin or New York.

So, every year I go wherever AWP takes me. I completely max out my check-on bag coming home with new books. I go to panels and watch brilliant people talk about poetry. I go to readings and see my heroes bring their poetry to life. I get books signed, and I drink too much, and I exhaust myself. It’s like eating a fifty-layer chocolate cake with a side of chocolate.

Is it perfect? No. There are so many things we could all be doing better to make the experience more equitable, easier. But it does seem to me that every year it is a little better than the last. And every year, I return to my little desk in Alaska feeling buoyed by a tribe that contains writers I admire, friends from grad school, acquaintances that have passed through Homer, people I would only know through Facebook and Twitter.

This year I’m flying over 3,800 miles to Tampa, Florida, for AWP. It’ll take me two days to get there. Two days (if all the flights go as scheduled). One very full flying day and a four hour time change on the day of Daylight Savings Time switching back to get home. But in Tampa, at the Red Hen Press booth, will be my newest book. I haven’t seen it yet. I haven’t held it. I have a panel, an offsite reading, and three signing slots, all in the space of three days. I’m flying for two days to meet my newest baby. To show her to folks. To see their new babies and listen to their words.

It’s a miracle, really. Every time. An exhausting miracle, but let’s keep our eyes on the smudge of stardust. People go into their heads, pull out words, craft them, send them into the big world, and then we read those words and they live in our hearts. If that isn’t a miracle, I can’t imagine what one looks like.

Hope to see some of you in Tampa! I’ll be the one trying to keep my oars in the water.

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