Having The Truth About Death published was an accomplishment that meant a lot to me, not just because it felt great to have my first full length book of poetry published, but also because I believe in the story it tells, the chronicle of grief it provides, and its truth about death. Or the truth as I experienced it. Still, this summer I purposely let myself focus on other things — travel, family, gardening, ramping up on a couple of consulting jobs — rather than feel like I had to maintain a constant focus on promoting my book.
So I’ve been delighted twice recently when, without any prompting or focus on my part, good things have come back to me about the book. I brought copies with me to the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writers’ Conference this summer, figuring I’d sell a few copies there, which I did. And a week after the conference I got this wonderful email from a participant who’d bought a copy: “I have just finished reading your book, The Truth About Death. I simply could not put it down; I read it in one day. It is so beautiful and moving and agonizing that I hardly know what to say, except that it has changed me: I feel ripped open and sewn back together. This is what I hope to find in writing, in any genre; I ask to be fundamentally altered in ways I can’t adequately describe. I am afraid to explore the topic of losing a partner. Your poems made me look at the visceral truths of such a loss, and I am grateful for that. I know this is a book I’ll read many times, finding something new in each reading. Thank you.”
“Wow!” I thought. So it’s working. People are experiencing the book in the way I’d hoped. Then a couple of weeks later I got this email from a good friend: “I thought you might like to know how your work moves around. I gave a copy of your book to my friend Jim who is now teaching for NYU in Abu Dhabi. One of his courses is called Ghastly Beauty, and deals with art as ‘a repository and record of human emotion’. He is using some of your poems in the class. Since the students come from all over the world, they will take some of your work with them when they go.”
And tomorrow night I’ll be reading once again from The Truth About Death. David and I are the featured readers at tomorrow night’s Portsmouth Poetry Hoot. So, the book keeps going out into the world and coming back to me in unexpected ways. May the magic of that continue.