Marbles on the Floor: How to Assemble a Book of Poems

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$29.95  $27.85
University of Akron Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 8.6 X 0.9 inches | 0.75 pounds
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About the Author
Virginia Konchan is the author of the poetry collections Bel Canto (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2022), Hallelujah Time (Véhicule Press, 2021), Any God Will Do, and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon, 2020 and 2018), and a short story collection, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Yale Review, Boston Review, and The Believer.

Sarah Giragosian is the author of the poetry collection Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017) and The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, 2020). Sarah's writing has appeared in such journals as Orion, Ecotone, The Missouri Review, Tin House, and Prairie Schooner, among others. She teaches at the University at Albany-SUNY.
What happens when a stack of poems becomes a book? In Marbles on the Floor, twelve acclaimed poets respond, offering insight on their personal and critical approaches to arranging a book of poems. The writers generously make themselves the subjects of study as they describe their movement from generating poems to the fine detail work of cultivating a collection. The essays here test metaphorical lenses from bonsai care to bookshelf assembly as they describe the process of building a book. However, they also give plenty of practical advice about the oddities of what exactly to do with your poems, from spreading them across the floor to asking them, "How are you today?" (Chang). These poets approach the art of order as one of productive multiplicity, guided by experimentation and play as relationships within each manuscript become visible. No one here will tell you what a poetry book must be, only what it can. You'll find here the esprit de corps of poetry book arrangers, a call to joy and rebellion in this part of our vocation. No matter one's thoughts about generation, order, or even what a poetry "book" intends to make happen, these essays are full of empathy and good advice.--Kate Partridge, author of Thine and Ends of the Earth
If I teach graduate or undergraduate creative writing again, I will assign this book. The introduction and discussion questions provide a helpful study guide, and the wonderfully various essays offer something for every intellectual bent and poetic style: those who want theory or practice; to make their own rules; intuitive and logical thinkers; poets seeking fellowship and comfort in the assembly challenge; poets seeking masterful nuts and bolts advice to make their manuscript publication-ready--this collection includes approaches for all.--April Ossmann (independent editor and author of Event Boundaries)
If you want to know how the sausage gets made, this book is for you. These vibrant essays about the making of poetry books don't reveal secret spices or gross ingredients, but they do offer candid observations, illuminating anecdotes, and the capacious wisdom of long and varied experience. These writers' eclectic pragmatism and intellectual rigor will have you taking notes, making lists of things to try, and laughing out loud. Whether you are inclined to use narrative or allergic to narrative, aspiring to create a book that achieves an arc or sparks a detonation, these essays inquire into craft principles beyond raw versus cooked, Dionysian versus Apollonian, standalone lyric versus orchestrated collection. Throughout, rich analogies make craft principles gorgeously tangible: Victoria Chang on the care of bonsais, Diane Seuss on adolescent Emily Dickinson's herbarium, Harvey Hix on assembling bookcases, Kazim Ali on public architecture, Karyna McGlynn on collage, among many others. Along the way, there are tips, touchstones, master classes, close readings, and crowd-sourced surveys from some of the best minds writing and thinking about poetry today.--B. K. Fischer