“THE NEXT BIG THING” asks writers to self-interview about their books with 7-8 designated questions, post somewhere in the blog-o-sphere and then “tag” five writers for the next week to do the same. Eve Hanninen, editor of The Centrifugal Eye, and Mary Jo Balistreri both tagged me, and in turn I’m tagging writers Laury A. Egan, Sudasi J. Clements, John Roche, Colleen Powderly and Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick. Now all they have to do is complete the interview questions below and get their self-interviews out into Cyberspace on their blogs, websites or in social media.
Here are my answers to NBTBH interview questions:
What is the working title of the book?
My new book went through several working titles over the years, including Magpie Muse and Dancing with Green Bees. The final title of the newly published book is: Lithic Scatter and Other Poems.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Lithic Scatter was seventeen years and many thousands of miles in the making. I began writing it on my first road trip west in 1996 with my then fiancé. I’d flown over the United States to San Francisco and Los Angeles but had never driven the breadth of our magnificent country. So, when I first set foot in the Badlands west of the Mississippi, I began to write. “Feet of Clay” officially became my first Western poem. And the clay of that poem firmly grounded me in the geology of the American West. I just kept on writing through many more such road trips, listening to the land.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m not sure how you take a collection of poetry and turn it into a movie, but perhaps such a film could recreate in celluloid the world of the Ancient Puebloans and their lives in the desert, homes among the cliffs. The cover art, one of my photographs and titled “Self-Portrait, c. 1140 CE,” would be the main character and narrator. She’d have to be played by a grand dame of cinema. I’d cast Judy Dench in the role!
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
At once sweeping, visceral, earthy, gritty, ethereal, and primordial, Karla Linn Merrifield’s Lithic Scatter and Other Poems presents the frontier seen — and felt — through the eyes of a visionary poet who explores the region’s vast terrains as anthropologist and archeologist, historian and ethnographer, shaman and seeker-after-self.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
As I mentioned above, Lithic Scatter took seventeen years to write, but the initial draft congealed in late 1999 after my husband’s and my second trip west, what we refer to as “Wild West II,” which happened to be our honeymoon trip, and then followed by our 14-day dory adventure down the Colorado River, an expedition that changed my life because I almost lost my life at one point in the journey. Many of the poems compiled in that first iteration have gone by the wayside – for now. I’ve kept all those “deleted” poems and will no doubt return to them in the future. For a sequel? Perhaps. And with new ones I’ll no doubt write this summer when we make yet another road trip to the Southwest.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Landscapes. Petroglyphs and pictographs. Wildness of rivers and wildness of mountains and wildness of the creatures who dwell in them. Ponderosa pines and bristlecone pines. Rice grass and cacti. Scree, talus and lithic scatter. The ghosts of the Ancient Puebloans often referred to as Anasazi. Western writers such as Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey. Georgia O’Keeffe and her vision of the West. Most of all: my husband who was with me every step of the way.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I can think of any number of things! For example, there’s definitely a feminist slant to many of the poems, so I can imagine many women embracing the book with nods of approval for the roles women play in the poems, from the title poem to “Amazons of the Anasazi Follow the Chimney Rock Tour Guide.” Art lovers can certainly appreciate the suite of five poems about Georgia O’Keeffe, “A Vocabulary of Circular Forms.” Nature lovers will have a great time meeting up with the flora and fauna of the American West. And a long odyssey across country through a dozen states should satisfy fellow vagabonds as well as arm-chair travelers.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book was published in February by Mercury Heartlink in Albuqueque, New Mexico. That it’s a such a beautiful book to hold in your hands is due to publisher and designer (and fellow poet) Stewart S. Warren. His loving attention to detail reminds me of the artistic craft expressed by the Anasazi in their petroglyphs— timeless.
Ready to order your copy of Lithic Scatter and Other Poems?! To order a signed copy (with no postage!), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll tell you where to mail your check. Or order from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0988227991/ref=cm_cr_dpvoterdr?ie=UTF8&keywords=Karla%20Linn%20Merrifield&qid=1360946137&sr=8-1#R39EAPGXE1C8FU.2115.Helpful.Reviews.
And here's another link to The Centrifugal Eye's Next Big Thing posting -- celebrating the journal's 5th Anniversary Anthology: http://nephologia.blogspot.com/. Now there's another book you should have on your shelf...better yet, in your hands.
And meet my poet-friend Jo Balistreri at http://www.facebook.com/jo.balistreri?ref=ts&fref=ts.
Happy trails to the Spring Equinox!