More Found Poems and an Essay

A few years ago, I took a few classes at Northampton Community College to prepare for the mostly online Ph.D. program at Eastern University. In my creative writing class, I wrote a few poems. I also wrote an essay about the joys and frustrations of publishing Ashley and Tiana.

Children of Haiti

Children of Haiti

how can it be?

I don’t understand why my

dreaming about you does not change the

reality of your daily life.

Nothing changes,

only my heart grows stronger

for I know that one day I will visit

Haiti and we will be together.

A family at last.

I can hardly wait to meet you.

Time is the only boundary and

I promise to be there as soon as I can.

For My Children

Every time I eat blueberries

I am reminded of your hunger.

When I turn on the faucet to wash my hands

I think of your lack of clean water.

When I turn up the heat in my wintery home

I think of the heat you can not escape.

When I walk my baby nephew down the street

I think of your safety.

When I drive in my car to work

I think of your desperation.

When I lay in bed at night

I think of your discomfort.

When I take a yoga class

I think of your fragile health.

When I take a shower and dab on perfume

I think of your ability to stay clean.

When I walk inside the school where I work

I think of how much you will learn here.

When I snuggle up with the cats

I think of how much you will love each other.

When I clean your empty room

I think of how much it will mean to you.

When I bake cookies and go to the beach

I think of how much fun we will have.

When I think of my desire to have a family

I know it is me who is desperate to love you.

Learning to Enjoy My Self-Pubishing Voyage

“Buy One Copy…Get One Free for a Friend!”  She told me I was selling myself short.  Maybe she was right, but…

I told the organizer of the Queens Health and Book Fair that I had over 300 copies of my book at home and that I would rather have them in the hands of children.  Sweet children, laughing with delight as they paged through Ashley and Tiana and absorbed its many important lessons.  Among many who are pimping out literature of all kinds, my book softly requests, “please read me, please?”

So today I am at the Brooklyn Book Festival.  My favorite author, Edwidge Danticat, is here and she was honored with an award last night.  I feel honored to be here, even if I only sell four books like I did in Queens yesterday.

This is my third book fair this year so I know what to expect.  People will walk by as if I am invisible.  They might slow down a bit, to try to figure out what my table is all about, but as soon as I notice them they freak out at being realized and move away as quickly as possible.  At least I’m not alone.  It seems like the other 50 vendors are facing the same challenge: people who like to read, but don’t want to have books sold to them.

Oops…maybe today will be different.  I just made a sale.  She’s a 7th grade student who is also a poet.  The first ten minutes of the Brooklyn Book Festival are going well!

As I was saying, it seems that most people who attend book fairs just want to breeze through without taking the time to talk with the authors and learn about new books and the writing process.

But this isn’t my only challenge as a new self-published author.

I did everything the experts advised: the published writers, public relations specialists, marketing maniacs, and others who share the tricks of the trade for free.  I got an ISBN.  I had teachers proofread my copy.  I registered on over 50 social networking sites.  I worked, worked, worked, worked, worked on marketing the book.

Sure that it would be a success, I ordered 350 copies for the Harlem Book Fair.  I sold three.  I was sure when I held my book signing in New York that lots of people wold show up: family, friends, the media, people who love books.  No one came.  No one.  Not one person.  Two days later I held a book signing in Easton.  Surely, the place would be packed.  “I’ll be there,” “congratulations,” “good luck,” they all told me.  And some of them did come…about 15.

So I still have over 300 books to sell or give away.  In retrospect, I feel grateful for every single time I have sold a book.  My heart fills with joy when I think of people reading the book.

Except for voyagerfan.  Voyagerfan won a free copy of Ashley and Tiana on Goodreads, a social networking site for people who love books can list their personal libraries and books they plan to read in the future in addition to reviews of books that have been read.

His review was scathing.  Not only did he give me just one out of five stars, he went on and on and on in his review about the incorrect grammar (most of which was intentional), typos (I couldn’t find any), and the fact that I didn’t use, “real dashes” (oh well).

My self-esteem plummeted.  I enlisted my family and close friends, my army of supporters.  How could this man do me so wrong?

Man?  “That’s the problem,” my sister said. “How old is he, anyway?”

I hadn’t thought of that.  Clearly voyagerfan is not a member of my target market of 8- to 17-year-old girls.  My self-esteem rebounded.

Up and down and up and down.  Self-publishing this book has been like a roller coaster  one of those that goes upside down a few times.  From now on, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

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