Poetry Books. By Me. All About Them.

Now you know I like to write. And it seems the more I write, the more I write, if you know what I mean.

I also like books. Printed, on paper. And it seems the more books I create, the more books I create, if you know what I mean.

And, I am pretty organized and self-motivated. The kind of person who enjoys cleaning out a closet, let’s say. (Sorry, I do not take orders; the feeling just has to hit.) And it seems…I think you get it by now.

All joking aside, being part of the blog world has really encouraged me with my writing. It is just so great to have an audience for my words. And not so long ago, there would have been no audience – just notebooks of scribbled-down thoughts stuck in a box in one of those aforementioned very-organized closets. So I want to say thank you to everyone for reading, commenting, and encouraging me.

As part of this process, it has seemed very important to me to put my words down in print. I love to read, and if there is anything I can’t imagine life without, it’s books. So being able to have my poetry in printed books, thanks to the technology of self-publishing – well, that is a dream come true.

So, I’ve made it a priority this year to organize my written work into printed form, channeling all my favorite things, as mentioned above, into one stream of activity. I have been compiling older works and creating collections of new work. I’m steaming ahead at a good rate.

Here in this post, I’m doing two things – announcing two new books just published, and giving a recap of all the ones I have produced in the past. I also have a couple of surprises, genre-wise, at the end – I thought I might as well add them in, too.

OK. So, thank you for reading and supporting my work on this blog – I’ll keep right on going. And here are the printed results, so far.

All these books are available on Amazon, or if you want, I can send you copies at a better price (maybe, depends on where you live – postage is a vast subject with many permutations!). I’ll start with newest and go back in time to the first ones.

Compositions in Collage, July, 2016. This book contains all the collage poems from my “collage poem book” – a marble composition book I filled with collage poetry from 2012 to 2015, when the pages were used up. I included a black-and white scan of each page with the typed-out text on the same or opposite page – this way you can see the collage version as well as the text of the poem. I plan to do a companion book including collage poetry on mail art and the like – thinking of working on it in the fall.

Compositions in Collage book cover 2016 small

Enough for a Book, July, 2016. This book contains poetry from the last couple of Marathons as well as poetry written day-to-day, January to June 2016. The title was suggested by my husband, who observed that it seemed like I had poetry ready and enough for a book.

Enough for a Book book cover 2016 small

Get to the Point, June, 2016. This book contains haiku, tanka, snippets, and haiku groups (a string of haiku written on the same subject at the same time). In other words, a lot of short and to the point poetry. I did not include images of the snippet poetry – they just did not translate well into the black and white format I need to use to keep book costs affordable. But it didn’t matter – they held up well, I think, and fit in great with the other short forms.

Get to the Point book cover 6-16 small

Ever Since, March 2016. I have included poetry from the past – dating from maybe 2008 to the end of 2015. Much of it has been published on the blog, if you go back to the beginning here (2013, it was). I enjoyed taking the time to revisit work from the past, including poems written before I thought of having any outlet for them.

Ever Since - book cover 2016 small

Twenty Minutes, January 2016. This book is composed of poems written in twenty-minute sessions (or maybe a little more, up to thirty, let’s say). The idea was to sit down, write, and not look back – just keep writing – until the time limit expired. I could reliably get 8-10 poems from a little bit of time like this, surprising myself. After each session, I let a few days pass, and then I went back and edited them. Some changed form quite a bit and others – well, they were fine just as they were. I loved the freshness and intensity of this experience and it’s what gave me the idea for the Poetry Marathons I have been doing ever since.

Twenty Minutes Book cover small

Now we come to the four books I wrote entirely from Poetry Marathons. Starting with Look Winter in the Face  (March 2015), next came Spring Cleaning  (June 2015), Catch Up With Summer (September 2015), and Autumn Opens the Door  (December, 2015). As you may remember, I experienced some serious health issues starting in 2012 and lasting through summer, 2015. I was in despair for many reasons and struggling to make my way back to health. I came up with the idea of a Poetry Marathon in late 2014 as part of my effort to cope with winter, ill-health, worry, and sadness. The idea was that I’d spend 5 consecutive days at different locations (usually a library) just writing poetry, fast, and with no editing – as I was doing with the poems that ended up in Twenty Minutes. The first one took place in January, 2015.

I loved the activity so much that I scheduled a Marathon for each season – hence, a book for each season. (And, I have kept up the practice of Marathoning since then and intend to do so into the infinite, if I can.) As time passed, I began to recover, mentally and physically, and I feel the Marathons and the subsequent book production made a big difference to me.

The poems in these four books have not been published on the blog, although I am starting to do so now – you may remember a recent few from Catch Up With Summer – I intend to keep up with this idea and set out poems in the seasons in which they occurred, as I have room. It may take some years, as I typically came up with about 100 poems per Marathon.

All right. That’s the end of poetry books. For now. I have other projects in process. Be warned!

Now, I’ll get to the “surprises”.

The first one involves a book of literary criticism – The Journey to Survival: The Search for Moral Self-Awareness in the Works of Joseph Conrad, written in 1980, when I was a senior at Bryn Mawr College, for my honors thesis. I have always wanted to preserve the manuscript – having been written before computers, it existed only in a few Xeroxed copies.

This project was very important to me. I was not invited to do a thesis, not being a good enough student; but I got the idea in my head that I wanted to take on the challenge. I asked for the chance, met the conditions of getting higher grades in my major classes junior year, and so I was allowed to do it. It was a big undertaking for me and an investment for the college; I had an advisor, a professor who spent many hours with me working on it as well as a second reader, also a professor. In the end, I surprised myself, my advisors, and the English department with my work, and I got a 4.0 on the paper. Thirty-six years later, I still think this is one of the achievements of my life.

So, I got the original typescript converted to a PDF (and my goodness, it looked like gobbledygook – the quality of the typewriter I used wasn’t very high!). I edited it in that I restored it to legibility and coherence, but I did not change what I had written, though the temptation was almost irresistible. Now my paper is preserved, and I do think it looks very nice!

Journey to Survival - book cover small

Lastly, way back in the 1990’s when I first got a computer, I realized that I could now achieve something I had always wanted to do – write a book! Funny how I hadn’t had that ambition in the typewriter world, but…anyway, I decided it might be a fun challenge. The result was this book, Distractions Can Be Murder. After finishing it, I had no thought of publishing it until self-publishing came along about ten years later. I originally did so through another company, but when I started doing these poetry books, I did another edition of the novel as well, so as to have them all in one place. Otherwise, it’s pretty much as I wrote it then, a story set in a bank, drawing (heavily) on my own life. I did give it a new cover – the picture is of downtown Philadelphia, where I myself worked in a bank.

Distractions Can Be Murder 2015 edition small

All right. That’s the end of my story – for now. A heartfelt thanks for all your support of my work.


38 thoughts on “Poetry Books. By Me. All About Them.

  1. Oh a collage book!! I can’t wait to see it! So, cost aside, isn’t it good for you somehow if I order from Amazon? I would love them all of course, but a mostly unemployed person must be practical…(K)

  2. What an incredible body of creative work. Thanks for sharing your story, Claudia. I’m pleased to have in my possession several of your books.

  3. You are my rolemodel in diligence, productiveness, adamance (word?), whereas the way we look at the world might be a bit similar. I love reading and watching all that you produce any which way, and I must say that your books really fit in my hands. Here’s to many more.

  4. Thank you. I am persistent, I will admit to that, for sure. And having books in print really means a lot to me. I never stop enjoying the process of making these volumes, separate from how much I enjoy writing the individual poems or whatever. It really is a dream come true for me.

  5. Well, I don’t much care if I make money from these books, I mostly wish for them to exist and for people to read what I write, blog or book! So that’s why I mention that I can send them to you maybe at a better price. Each one would be $4 in this scheme plus shipping – book rate in the US is very reasonable (I say for any international reader who may see this, there is no equivalent for other countries, Amazon works better, in those cases). So tell me ( and any other of you US readers) if you want any of these (write to claudiamcgillart@gmail.com) and we’ll work out something. And thanks for your enthusiasm so much. xo

  6. Thank you and thanks especially for mentioning my thesis – as I said, I am very proud of that effort for marking a stage in my life, and to tell you the truth, re-reading it when I put it in book form, I said to myself, My goodness, did I really think these thoughts? I sound so – educated!!!!! (I feel my younger self might look down the me of today and my reading tastes…)

  7. Thank you so much. This means a lot to me coming from you. It is a really important goal for me to do these books, for many reasons, mostly because I LOVE reading and always have, and being able to create my own books – it is really a dream I have had since childhood and I am so happy it can come true. I do feel very proud of myself for sticking with the projects and for them with sticking with me!

  8. Thank you for the summary of your past endeavors. As having just having my first book self-published, I urge to create the next one (or two) is scratching the brain. Look forward to checking out these collections in the near future.

  9. Thanks. And I say, the more the merrier, keep publishing, as I can attest to the feeling of pride and accomplishment at seeing actual words in print. Now, did you mention your book on your blog and I missed it? Because I would love to read it.

  10. Well done, on an impressive looking collection of books. If I can get to grips with the logistics of creating a book, I hope to follow your example. It’s encouraging to read your experience. I hope that your books become a runaway success.

  11. Thank you! If I can be of any help, let me know. I used CreateSpace at Amazon and the site explained what they needed; and I created all the manuscripts using Word or Publisher, nothing out of the ordinary there, and then followed the site’s directions. Really pretty easy and very rewarding, self-publishing is, and I am happy I did it.

  12. Claudia, I continue to be impressed and awed by your strength of character and creativity. And that’s an accomplishment to keep topping your already fabulous self and body of work!! Renaissance woman, you are.
    I am so pleased that we know each other and that I can enjoy your expressions.
    I am with you all the way!

  13. […] if you want to see the whole array of poetry books I have in print, here is a post I did about the […] If I can be of any help, let me know.

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