I’m extremely thankful for reviews on social media for my new novel THE RENAISSANCE CLUB has helped boost its discoverability, and if you’re someone who’s posted a comment on Amazon or Goodreads, thank you so very much! If you’ve read the novel and liked it, but haven’t reviewed it, I’d love it if you could post a short review on Amazon. Reader reviews help books find a wider audience, boosting authors’ careers. If you’d like to write one, here are some ideas, from comments I’ve received. # 1: A page-turner with a surprise ending! If you love time travel, read this one. #2: The poetic descriptions of Italy made me want to travel there, and the love story touched me. #3: I loved the vivid characters, especially the fiery genius Bernini. Art and history lovers will like this book.
I’m delighted to have a new interview up at Authors18 — a group of this year’s debut authors, of which I’m a proud member. Among the questions asked: “If you could spend a day with anyone in history, who would it be?” See my answer in today’s interview (hint: I’d travel to Renaissance Italy). Here’s a link to the interview.
It was great fun to correspond with Matisse’s great grandson in order to obtain rights to use this image on the cover of my poetry collection Femme au chapeau. Happy to say it will be available as an eBook in September! Pre-order price for you is $2.99, until 9/26/16. You can go here to pre-order: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/657130.
Poet Barbara Crooker did a wonderful review of the book on Smartish Pace, mentioning “exquisite figurative language throughout”. She cited my “unusual and surprising subject choices”, such as “the differences between men and women, as revealed in their choice of razors and bathroom accessories (“The Difference”), the unattainable/remote mother (“Piano Lessons,” “Apple Pie Order,” “Laparoscopy,” “Beauty by a Sideboard”), the self-explanatory “Ode to My Purse,” the olfactory genius of dogs (“Dog Sniffing”), the state fish of Hawai’i (“A Pot of Humuhumunukunukuapua’a”), manual typewriters (the hilarious “Ode to a Smith-Corona” which has to be explained by its equally funny end note).”
Best of all, this quintessential ekphrastic poet — check out Crooker’s books, especially her New and Selected — said of my poems about paintings: “Dacus embodies the best of ekphrastic work, which doesn’t merely describe works of art, but responds to them, allows the paintings to take her someplace else, and brings us along with her.”
I’m happy to report that I have a poem featured today on Your Daily Poem. My “Apple Pie Order” (from my book Femme au chapeau) is a poem very close to me. It’s about my 91-year-old mother and was a gift to receive and then be able to give to her on a birthday. Thank you, Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, for featuring my poem today, and for your great inspiration to bring more poetry into our daily lives!
Now to my latest bloghopping. The generosity of blog writers amazes me. People review books, post poems and sections of their novels, and tell me about their lives, and so I get to enter he gardens of writers I might never otherwise meet.
Kate Campbell’s Word Garden has a lot of the things I love — poetry, fiction, flowers, and birds — and most specially today it features a thoughtful review of a wonderful book by a friend of mine. Grand Slam by Alan Kleiman is one of the most playful, wild, and enjoyable chapbooks I’ve ever read. From its original cover art by artist John Newsom, to its evocations of baseball, kisses, barbecues, and marshland views, this book is a total kick. Grand Slam is reviewed on Kate’s terrific blog today, along with a generous essay on the art of the humble chapbook. Enjoy the read — and order Alan’s book too!
|Asilomar Beach, Photo by Heather Osborne|
Jeannine Hall Gailey responded to Timothy Green‘s Facebook about the responsibilities (and guilt and anxiety) of a poet in promoting a book. Jeannine’s post encourages us to forgive ourselves for not doing everything imaginable at our own cost: organizing cross-country book tours, banner ads, local readings, mailing out dozens of reviews copies, etc. Tim’s post lamented the lack of support from his publisher. He gave numbers: 105 sold by the publisher, 200+ sold by the poet. Around 305 total books sold. There you have it: about 300 sales is what you can expect as a poet with a good audience.
I don’t do readings. Well, I do if invited, but I don’t go out of my way to get invited, and that’s because though I enjoy doing them, it involves some anxiety and preparation and I have a very busy life. I like to give my free time to writing new things. I can’t afford book tours and ads. And I’m very grateful to my publisher, The Aldrich Press (Karen Kelsay Davis, an imprint of Kelsay Books) for supporting my book by making a trailer and sending out review copies.
So how do I promote Gods of Water and Air? I blog. I tweet. I offer discounts. I’m an active presence on social media, posting poems from the books, news, and anecdotes that connect with it. I never stop. And I don’t beat myself up for having sold or given away (yes, I make gifts of books) under 150 in a year. I think it’s a pretty good number and it will grow. It’s a good book.
I do what I can and subscribe to Jeannine’s philosophy. Also, I’m going to take Gods of Water and Air to e-book soon. I just bought Mary Oliver’s new one on Kindle. I don’t bring paper books into the house much. I don’t care about sales, I just care that my work gets read.
Here’s a poem from my book:
with the grasses today, their herringbone
weaves and golds, purples, and greens,
the seed pods floating
like butterflies on tall stems.
at sunset, among its moving flecks
and hues, rocked by the wind
with tangled bird trills,
and tongued my neck.
My speech came in medleys
of mood. I swayed
saying the Beloved’s name
with endless vowels.
to the bone-clean rock
owned by a tiny lizard blinking
with its pebbled lid,
and when it slunk down,
hugging its planet, I went
home hugging my heart.
As a writer and occasional book reviewer, I’m so impressed by the close reading given my book Gods of Water and Air by poet Ann Wehrman. Her review in The Pedestal Magazine got deeply inside my subjects and even gave me perspective on the way I write. Wehrman took the trouble to put me into a context. Using info from my website’s bio — a reviewer who does research!– she contextualized me as a California-raised poet, using my own statement about my characteristic decade:
“’she majored in English, French Literature, and counterculture at the University of California at Berkeley during the interesting 1960s.’ Counterculture might or might not have been a formal degree program at Berkeley in the 1960s, but one understands a bit of Dacus’s free-spirited nature from that statement.”
And she went on to summarize my work this way — and here’s the part where I saw my writing from a larger perspective:
“In Gods of Water and Air, the humor and irreverence of a 1960’s rebel mix with feminist, expressionist, and lyrical motifs as the author openly explores her feelings, relationships, and spiritual musings. Inheriting her late painter father’s artistic eye, Dacus paints with words. Her writing can be indirect and slant, but is always transparent, clear, and immediate, eschewing the often impenetrable poetic structures one frequently finds elsewhere.
It’s a flattering review, and what most flatters me is how well she read the book and wrote about the experience. I’m impressed by Wehrman’s insight and discernment. To have my writing read so closely, with understanding and appreciation, makes me feel — well, like writing something new today. Thanks very much, Ann Wehrman and publisher John Amen at The Pedestal Magazine!
|Purchase Gods of Water and Air|
In book reviews and personal responses to my poetry, readers have revealed to me more about how and why I write than I could have learned through introspection. They’ve also inspired me to write new work. That’s a poem prompt I’ve seen nowhere: “Write a poem based on one reader’s positive comment about your poetry; then revise it based on another reader’s critique.”
Here are some things I learned about my poetic method and content:
* WORK IN LAYERS: “Many of her poems … unfold in delicate layers as one reads on, and with each successive theme she offers the gift of insight, “I toss away/ What I can for a journey into the fault. / But the ground coughs me up. / A shiver and I straighten, /and then again bow/ to all the gods of upheaval.” – Ami Kaye, Pirene’s Fountain, a review of Gods of Water and Air.
* BE PAINTERLY: “In Gods of Water and Air, Rachel Dacus turns a painterly eye onto both the nooks and crannies of our world — ‘hints of rose madder in the cerulean,’ a palm tree’s ‘rigid, rattling arguments’ — and ‘the blue immensity’ that holds us all. — Molly Fisk, author of The More Difficult Beauty and Blow-Drying a Chicken.
* LET SPIRITUAL CONCERNS SHINE THROUGH: “One of the most full-breathed, transfiguring books I have partaken of for a long time.” — personal note from Naomi Shihab Nye after reading my book Earth Lessons.
I always thought I had successfully hidden my urge to transfigure, but it seems, no I didn’t. So I might as well give myself the freedom to write as a spiritual being — that is, someone interested in the life’s layers and epiphanies and doubts informed by a core faith. I really can’t help but write from it.
The biggest thing all reader responses have shown me is that there’s nowhere to hide — a freeing revelation! So thanks for the feedback, comments, and praise, and especially the reviews and critiques. And thanks very much for reading!
|Gods of Water and Air|
Lynn Domina, a poet with three published collections (so she should understand the value of a book review), undertakes a blogging goal that leaves me breathless: reviewing a poetry book every week. Since I can barely make it through reading a book a week, I’m in awe. Not only her productivity, but her eloquence and insight are impressive. These aren’t fluff reviews; they’re the real deal. Lynn’s reviews offer analysis and comment, and are delivered through such finely close reading as to delight any poet intrigued by craft. (What poet isn’t?) She pays close attention form, whether received or nonce, authoritatively analyzing its structure and bringing her own tastes subtly into her analysis. I will be following her weekly reviews.
Because of Lynn Domina’s attention to craft and form, it’s a natural that she should review Diane Lockward’s recent meaty and thought-provoking craft/prompt book, The Crafty Poet. I’ve given this book to poet friends because I believe it to be uniquely suited to stimulate and support the writing of poetry. The prompts in it go deeper than free association, with ideas not just for inspiring but also for shaping the poem. Each craft tip invites the poet to use several devices, with a range of choices in each device. Diane includes sample poems that were written in response to the prompt. I’ve never seen a craft book structured as an anthology.
Disclaimer: I have a poem in the book, so you have to take my rave review with that grain of salt. It was written in response to Diane’s “Craft Tip #26: When the Poem Won’t Show Up.” The tip/prompt makes use of an initial phrase, chosen by you or a group leader, after which you free write for twenty minutes without stopping. Here’s my poem: