Sometimes, I am Lucky

I just read this poem that blew my mind, about the Devil. I would love almost any poem about the Devil wandering around Tennessee, for obvious reasons, but this one I didn’t just love in that way you love a puppy you just met. I loved it in the way that makes you worried you’re going to be standing outside that poem’s window at four in the morning, hoping that poem will look outside and realize you are IT, when really, that poem is going to call the police. This poem makes me a fool for it.

I can remember being very young and writing my first and only fan letter to an author. I can’t remember who the author was, but I remember finding the publisher’s address in the front of the book, because it was, I think 666 Broadway (or 666 Something) in New York and I was young enough to be worried that even writing “666” might be problematic. I might get cursed or something. Clearly, my parents should have bought me a typewriter to protect me from just such occasions.

Anyway, obviously, I never heard back from the author. And this has been pretty standard for how the relationship between authors and me went for much of my younger life. They were off doing this strange wonderful thing I wanted to do, too, and they were so far above me that I was never even going to be a blip on their radar. Then I got the job at Wake and, when publishing poets, there’s a lot of… how shall we say… care that has to be taken. Poets, especially in a country as small as Ireland, all know each other and have their friendships and rivalries and it makes your life easier to take them into account. But the lovely thing about them was that they were incredibly friendly and gracious and whenever they were over here, you could just know them, as people.

In my current job, I’ve been very fortunate to just know some folks. And even count them as my friends.

And I have the great pleasure of having a couple writer friends I can talk writing with, send emails bemoaning my lack of talent, pshawing their emails bemoaning their lack of talent.

But, I don’t know, today, reading that poem, I had the same feeling I had when Nina Cardona said “Nashville author, Betsy Phillips,” like–yeah, this is how I want to spend my days.

I just started reading My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me and it is, so far, tremendous. I’ve got Cat Valente’s new book, Deathless, on the way, which I have a feeling is going to be a great follow-up. I will be up to my eyes in Baba Yaga, by then, for sure. Then I’m planning on following that up with So Much Pretty (warning, the review ends with an interview that takes a turn for the “That’s really your question?”), though I plan on finding that incredibly depressing.

So, ha, yes, obviously I’m to the point with my book where I’m staring at it thinking “well, it seems fine, but I suspect it sucks,” so I’m jumping out of it and into what other folks are doing.

10 thoughts on “Sometimes, I am Lucky

  1. No, but she keeps coming up in conversations, to the point where, when someone emailed me about this book earlier in the week, I was like “Yes, Universe, I get it! I will read this damn book.”

  2. Really, at this point, if she showed up at my house, I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know if this book is just getting a shit-ton of buzz or if the circles of people who read her and who read me completely overlap.

    But, if that is the case, I must recommend to all y’all that you check her out. since apparently people who read me like her writing.

  3. Well, I highly recommend Palimpsest. It’s less tied to a specific folk tradition than Deathless sounds like it’s going to be, and saturated in sort of Calvino-esque fantasy.

  4. I honestly am drawing a blank on Valente-nagging. The last six months have been dominated by a heretofore unpublickly acknowledged issue, however. So I probably missed it.

    I have been reading and loving Patricia mckillip, though, who was one of your many recommendations.

  5. Aha. I have Palimpsest in my On Deck file. ::back from double-checking Valente on amazon:: I had to table it for when I was more in the mood for that type of writing. She’s cross recommended with China Mieville (on of my faves) a lot, so I’m pretty sure that I’ll like her.

    BTW…what’s the original poem about the devil?

  6. It’s not published yet. But when it gets so, I will link to it. It’s lovely, about the Devil walking around Memphis trying to find someone to teach the blues to.

  7. I thought you’d like McKillip, Coble. I probably nagged about her more than I did about Valente (because she writes about magic in a pretty awesome way) — I probably just recommended Valente a couple of times.

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