Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to the Pop-Up Book of Death

Welcome to the new blog for my first book of poetry, Pop-Up Book of Death, which just came out from Queer Mojo Press (imprint of Rebel Satori).  I am happy to announce that the book is now available at the publisher's website (preferred) and at amazon.  The book is 16 years in the making, so it is really awesome to announce that it is finally in print, although I haven't actually seen it yet--my copies are in the mail.  The oldest poems in the book were written in 1994, and the newest poem was written in June this year (and everything was revised this year).  Over that time span there have been periods with lots of poetry writing and periods with no poetry writing.  For that reason, there are "movements" in the book, and one of those "movements" is the "Pop-Up Book of Death" series of seven poems, which I positioned at the front of the book.  

So I got my first review on amazon, and I was alarmed to discover that it was a negative review--not because the person didn't like my poetry, but because the customer thought it was really a pop-up book.  Yikes--I hope that doesn't happen very often.  So I thought I would explain where the title came from and where these seven weird poems--that open the book--came from. 

It was 1997--I was honestly very depressed.  I recently got fired from my bartending job at a gay club, and I was working at a bookstore called the Stone Lion.  Since I lost the bartending job, I was trying to get a promotion at the bookstore--I wanted to be the buyer for children's books.  Of all the different kinds of children's books out there, I have always had a great passion for pop-up books (probably my favorite after fairy tales).  Then I had the most amazing nightmare--I have always had terrifying and vivid nightmares when my life is in transition.

In the nightmare, I am sitting at the kitchen table in my childhood home, and I am paging through the pop-up book.  I have a few vivid memories of the pages.  One of the pages had little pop-up graves with dead neanderthals (I always loved human evolution in college).  Another page was a pop-up version of Goya's "Saturn Devouring his Son," a painting I have always loved.  The nightmare got really weird at the end.  The final page was the Ganges--I had seen something on television about the religious significance of this river, and I climbed into the book and into the river at the end of the nightmare.

I remember my roommate at the time had moved out, so I set up my writing table in his empty bedroom.  There I set up my typewriter (yes--that's right a typewriter), and I wrote many different versions of the "Pop-Up Book of Death" while chain-smoking Marlboro Lights.  At first it was a prose piece about the mythical and legendary evil pop-up book, which had been created by a mad, Satanic pop-up genius who also engineered the "Pop-Up Book of Revelations."  However, the more I revised it, the piece soon became a big poem, which is now seven poems representing seven pages in the pop-up book.

So that's the story behind the title--it was such a memorable title that I had to name the entire book after it.  Even though the "Pop-Up Book of Death" is specifically the first seven poems, it definitely reoccurs thematically throughout the book with death motifs, and the concept is that the poems have vivid and striking metaphors that "pop-up" in the reader's mind, much like poisonous trap-door spiders!

Here it is again: the link to my baby, Pop-Up Book of Death--16 years in the making!