Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's in a name? and other perfunctory facts about Sailing This Nameless Ship.

My first thought was to name this new book of mine, The Telemachy.  I wanted a more direct reference to the son who goes in search of his father, but I wanted my telemachy to be an American story, a son who was an unwilling searcher looking for a father.  So the title floated to American Telemachy.  This of course mimics my own history, but it did not quite fit my needs for the manuscript.  Then, while re-reading Rober Fagles' (pronounced 'Fails') translation of The Odyssey, I stumbled upon one of the other, minor things Telemachus longs for.  he wanted to be Jason, sailing the Argo, living out adventures.  Then it struck me that the Greeks were fond of naming their ships, but I could not find a name for the ship Telemachus sailed on while searching for his father.  With a little more thought, I had my thread of continuity, a title for my manuscript, and a hold over for this blog. 

Now, I mentioned that I based this manuscript on a lot of my own personal history, but here are a few things for you to chew on and hopefully fuel your anticipation to read the entire book:

1.  The catalyst for the book is W.S. Merwin's book, The Shadow of Sirius.  

In his book, he has a poem called "Just This" which blew my socks off.  I imagined an entire book of poems called "Just This" which would assume a question was asked and the responder initially had one thing to say, but ended up having a coda type of refrain titles "and this."  The idea was to tell a history with no objective clues to help discern the order of the poems.  All of the core poems , and most of the other poems in the book began with "Just This" as the title and the "and this" coda.  They evolved, but that's where they had their start.

2.  Most of the core poems were written between the end of November, 2008 and the end of February, 2009. 

Many of the poems were initially drafted while walking to school.  This can explain why so many of the poems are short.  I wrote poems for the manuscript almost every single day in those three months.  I was writing at such a rate I was afraid  I was going to skip over something, so I did something I hardly ever do.  I turned off my filter and just recorded everything.

3.  This manuscript is a departure from my usual writing in more ways than subject matter and voice.

Where most of my poetry about Springville is a landscape of place, I have tried to make this book about emotional landscape.  I still use a narrator based upon me, as I have used my personal experiences as subject matter, but I have restructured the narrative and my perception of audience.  Another major departure is the very structure of the poems I have written.  I also have purposely put into place an audience. In this manuscript I speak one of several specific people.  My father, my wife, my life-long friends, are all people I address these poems to at various points.

4.  The book itself (meaning the writing of the book) has taken on an entirely new level of irony in my life.

While I have had a difficult relationship with my father, and one could easily say it is still strained, it wasn't until after I had finished drafting the poems for this book and was working on the order of the specific poems I found out the man who I have known as my father all my life is in most likelihood not my biological father.  I only learned of this after my mother died.  So this book, where a reluctant son searches for a father who seemingly doesn't want to be found is actually about just that.