A month has passed since my last post. Boards came and went and so did the slice of chocolate cake I celebrated with in my post-Board haze. Recently, my garden grows in large part to climate change (when have we been able to grow perfect tomatoes here in the NW?) As of yesterday, I achieved my first sunburn since I left California three years ago. This leads me to not-so-silently bemoan that my melanin, from my father's side, has taken a long nap during my adult life in the Pacific Northwest, allowing my mother's Dutch skin to kick in just enough to permit some redness.
What is really on my mind? At the forefront is the launch of my first full-length poetry collection. While in some ways The Cardiologist's Daughter prepared itself, I have been actively writing this book for over ten years. During this time, I have been on the editorial end of publishing (Crab Creek Review), I interned at Small Press Distribution Books in Berkeley which gave me an inside peek into distribution/marketing, and I transcribed audio for Mark Watts at the Alan Watts Center. I've sat on panels, including Artist Trust's Literary Panel to determine who would receive GAP grants in 2012, I reviewed books, mostly for Rattle, and now I sit on the somewhat passive side of things.
In about a month, this decade's worth of work will be set in print and there will be no more revisions. This is where I put my faith in the small press that is publishing me. Right now, Two Sylvias Press is giving my book one last read, making sure each comma was intended, that any line break revisions needed due to length constraints make sense. As a small press, this is the level of examination and detail that they are exhibiting. When the first suggestions came in months ago about flipping the order of two of the book sections, I instantly knew they were right. How perfect to start with a poem that, while chronologically out of order, sets the stage for the intense tone of the collection.
Beyond this, I think of the age-old argument against what may appear to be confessional poetry. While I maintain that my work isn't straight narrative, including elements of fiction where necessary to maintain the lyric, I can feel some eyes rolling already. In particular, I'm recalling a personalized rejection I received from a literary journal where they told me my poetry was "interesting but murky and seeming too private/personal in places". Setting the argument of murky or not murky aside for a minute, this comment struck me as compelling because most of the submission was fiction. Apparently, intimacy in poetry, even when explored through the lens of fiction, can be too much for some editors. And maybe this is what gets to the core of what I am feeling, the book is written and it will not please everyone, but it is set.
Natasha Kochicheril Moni is a writer and a licensed naturopath in WA State. Enjoying this blog? Feel free to put a little coffee in Natasha's cup, right here.