Monday, September 16, 2013


Earlier this year I self-published as a vanity volume a "Selected Poems," which is now deleted due to my not being able to edit it into any final composure . . . last year I tried to hire an editor to do the Selected, but that project fizzled . . . I can't seem to do it myself, or rather I can do it but then as soon as it's done I'm overwhelmed with doubts and second thoughts—it's difficult or impossible to gain or at least to retain the objectivity necessary.  

A large part of the problem, and this is probably the chief impediment to my achieving a satisfactory compromise solution, is what to do with the short poems and the sonnets: how to situate them into a Selected Poems . . . should they be split off in separate sections, or integrated in with the rest of the poems?

Also I don't want the poems printed in a chronological or thematic order, though I know that most poets opt for the former.  

And many—for example Heaney and Pinsky—have their Selecteds laid out in separate sections each of which contains poems from one book only, book by book the volume excerpts, all dated and circumscribed.  

They're both major poets, so ergo they should be emulated, not to mention all the other published poets who adopt a similar format.

But I'm no major poet, nor a published poet either.  My books are self-published, vanity volumes.  If I could find a legitimate publisher presumably they (the publisher) would make these choices and impose their standards on any putative "Selected Poems" of mine—

but I have no such publisher.  My poems are so bad (and I am so disdained by or unknown to editors and publishers) that I can find no real publisher and must publish them myself—

And I think that the Contents pages in most poetry books are a waste of paper and ink— I never use the contents pages when I read poetry books.

And so . . . even if I could get the damn "Selected" edited, beyond that stalemate I still couldn't format it into any normal acceptable book-looking entity . . . if I can't make it resemble the books that others publish, and it seems I am incapable of creating such a clone of all the other "Selected Poems" on the shelf, then what's the use of trying . . . if I can't get my books to look like books are supposed to look, then why do them.



  1. Bill, since when is there any single way that "books are supposed to look"? I thought the Selected/Collected you did in the 70s was an innovative format that was true to you and your poetry, and yet it looked like no other book.

  2. Leonard, there's nothing lost in trying to follow the standard formatting; it's just a failure on my part to be unable to do it because I see nothing wrong about that standard, i'm not rebelling against it because i think it's wrong, just the opposite, I think it's an effective positive format and i wish I could do it