23 February 2017

Blackbird Whitetail Redhand


I am so thrilled to announce here that my second chapbook Blackbird Whitetail Redhand will be published later this year by Porkbelly Press. Congratulations to my new pressmates, whose chapbooks will also be appearing this year: Maggie Woodward, Eloisa Amezcua, Kristi Carter, and M. Brett Gaffney! Funny-but-awesome-side-note: We just published Eloisa Amezcua's poem "Mission Bay" in issue 3 of Cherry Tree! So I am especially excited to be in the same lineup and, eventually, to read her new chapbook.

There are fifteen poems in this chap, all of the poems about my three fairytale-girls from my nearly completed full-length manuscript: the Girl with no Hands, the Girl with Cloven Feet, and the Girl who Gave Birth to an Apple. Although they are a significant chunk of the larger manuscript (and there are certain publishing downsides to this), I decided after much internal deliberation that these poems deserved to have their own separate platform, showcasing them as a tightly-woven group. After talking with a close poet-friend, I found that I could make them distinct in both manuscripts by changing up how they were ordered. That's when I realized I could have my chap and eat it too. 

Blackbird Whitetail Redhand is what had been the entire first section of my full-length manuscript. Letting them cozy up together in a chapbook allowed me to try out new ideas for ordering the larger manuscript, ideas that I had so far resisted. I broke my fairytale-girls up and wove them throughout. Now they appear as a sort of refrain in the manuscript, one that changes a little each time. The themes, images, language can talk more easily with the other sections, illuminating different ideas as they are bridged from one section to another. I love what this chapbook has allowed my larger manuscript to become. 



I was straining to find a title for this chapbook manuscript last fall because all of the obvious choices felt very bland and played out. I knew the mouthfeel I wanted for it and the aesthetic: a list of three simple nouns that evoke fairytale. As with Kate Bernheimer's story collection Horse, Flower, Bird: flat, minimalist, and very fairy. I also wanted to do all I could to avoid using the word "girl," since I use it quite enough in the poems themselves and it seems to have become a bit of a trend in recent book titles. My love of compound words then swooped in and unriddled my title problems. I chose a noun to represent each of the three fairytale-girls (ones that appears in the poems themselves), each noun with a color in it. The colors themselves are actually quite significant: black(bird), white(tail), red(hand). This is the unofficial color trinity of fairytale (especially regarding women) that shows up in story after story. Snow White is, of course, the easiest of these stories to recall, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. 

I am incredibly happy with the way all of these little poem decisions turned into this new chapbook. And I am especially excited that it is now with Porkbelly Press and editor Nicci Mechler. They create such beautiful handbound books (with a general design sense that I am in love with) and I truly cannot wait to see what this manuscript becomes in their capable hands.