How has your first book changed your life?
95. Nicholas Lea
How did your manuscript happen to be published by Chaudière Books? How often had you sent it out previously?
I hadn't actually sent it out at all. I asked rob mclennan, who had published a chapbook of mine, what publishers he thought might be sympathetic to my work. He told me that he and Jennifer Mulligan were starting a new press called Chaudière Books and to pass my manuscript along to him. I did and he liked it enough to publish it.
What do you remember about the day when you saw your finished book for the first time?
Elation. Fear. Then elation.
Before that day, did you imagine your life would change with its arrival?
I knew it would. When you finally have a book book, you finally feel legit; it's silly but true.
The book is pretty new, I know, but has your life been different since? (Or has it felt different since?)
Well, like I said, I definitely feel like a writer now, now that I have the hard material evidence, you know? But the excitement eventually wears off and you begin to realize that, basically, you published a book of poetry in Canada and that no one will care, probably.
Were you involved in designing the cover?
I wasn't, but I'm extremely pleased with it. It really visualizes the random, frenzied nature of my work. In fact, all of the icons represented on the cover are taken from images in the book. I dig it. [more about Tanya Sprowl's work at phivedesign.com.]
Were there things you thought would happen that didn't? Surprises?
Well, the reviews thus far have been favourable. I got a review in our local arts and culture rag, which was really neat; also, some blogs and Matrix magazine out of Montréal, Quebec. Also been getting a lot of positive feedback from not just peers, but yer-average-reader people, which, to me, is the most rewarding.
What have you been doing to promote the book and what are those experiences like for you?
Well, stuff like this. Interviews (another forthcoming in Ottawater). I did some radio interviews before the launch... I must admit I'm not much of a self-promoter, but I'm realizing in the business of poetry you have to be pretty militant. Shameless self-promotion is darn near a necessity.
I went into it kinda blind and came out of it kinda blinder.
What advice would you give to someone about to have a first book published?
Enjoy the moment.
What influence has the book's publication had on your subsequent writing?
It's certainly given me more cred for future publications. That's always a bonus: cultural merit, I like to call it. As for my writing, I like to let it evolve organically let my reading and writing and thinking experience shape its growth.
How do you feel about the response so far and has it had any effect on your writing?
Positive reinforcement is always nice. But so is good criticism.
It's inevitable, isn't it?
Do you believe that poetry can create change in the world?
I think a major function of (good) poetry is to use language in ways that change perception, that makes people see in different and strange ways, ways that generate meaning beyond the common discourse. Kind of akin to epiphany, but not simply in religious terms; the moment when a good line hits you like bricks... that feeling. I don't know if poetry can or will change the world, but I'm not interested in doing that.
Two poems from Everything is Movies by Nicholas Lea:
I'm afraid to start.
The world is mostly Good&Evil.
I'm afraid to start.
Be your opposite
So there's Sheild between us, so what.
There's a whole heart there.
Tell me who squired the inner-child
is it mauve enough?
The winter air bites with mice teeth,
gives a paltry gesture, only
I don't know how the light bulb works.
I'd like to learn.
. . .