An embarrassment of riches and the search for the perfect cover

Back when I was a book reviewer for the now-defunct Pittsburgh Press, I reviewed a book called The Embarrassment of Riches by Simon Schama. While that book dealt with Dutch culture in the 17th century, I’m suffering from — uh, I mean enjoying — my own embarrassment of riches. As we speak, my second book of poetry, The Black Dog and the Road, has been released on Diminuendo Press and I have actually sold some of them. But that’s not all. I have a chapbook titled Near Daybreak, with a Nod to Frost, coming out on Leah Angstman’s wonderful Propaganda Press, part of her Alternating Current Cooperative venture.

There’s more. Sandy Benitez from Flutter Press is doing a chapbook of my poems called Something Real, and Robin Stratton from Big Table Publishing (an arm of Boston Literary Review) is in the process of putting out another chapbook, Retreating Aggressively into the Darkness. So as you can see, I have been very blessed to have these wonderful people promoting my work. Click on the hyperlinks and check them out — if you’re a talented poet, these people might be able to help you.

But this blog isn’t all about my good fortune and sharing the wealth with other poets. Part of the process of getting your work published in book or chapbook form is trying to find the perfect cover. For my 2008 book, I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf, the publisher and designer did the cover for me, and I was happy with the result. But Crystalwizard, aka Kelly, the wonderful woman who published The Black Dog and the Road, invited me to find my own cover. Once I had the title, the rest was obvious to me: There had to be a photo of my black Labrador Alex on the front cover. So I enlisted the aid of my friend and photographer Daryl Woodman and did some photo shoots. The result was this great shot of Alex peering out from the railing of my back deck:

What’s more, Kelly used Daryl’s shot of a dirt road near my home as a background for the back cover. And finally, Daryl’s photo of Alex and I together appears beside my bio in the book. Why not buy a copy and check it out? 🙂

This morning, I started realizing that all of the cover shots for my publications have special significance for me. For the Propaganda Press chapbook, I chose a cover photo by poet and photographer T. K. Splake, who did the photography for the cover of my first chapbook, Coming to Light, way back in 1985. It was good to catch up with T.K. again and use one of his brilliant black-and-white photos for the cover of this chapbook.

For the Flutter Press Chapbook, Something Real, I turned again to Daryl Woodman. At the end of the photo shoot that produced the cover of The Black Dog, he saw the pink mandevilla blossoming under my mailbox. He casually clicked off a photo that was, as serendipity would have it, perfect for that chapbook’s cover.

For the upcoming chapbook on Big Table, I’m using a painting by Raleigh artist Gayle Stott Lowry called Into the Darkness, Into the Light. I bought the painting from Gayle at her gallery years ago, and she has gracefully offered to take a photo of it for the cover. Which is great, because her photography is top notch.

Next time around: From conception to creation: A poem is born

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~ by harryc13 on March 14, 2010.

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