My first attempt to assemble a piece of writing into something resembling a manuscript was not my own book. There was a collection of poems, and there was an author, and there was my mom's kitchen table. After the dishes were cleared, I took a stab at ordering these pieces, some written in graduate school, some not, into a coherent narrative. It was fun. It also took me a frighteningly short period of time.
Needless to say, thankfully, that book has undergone some serious revision, reordering, adding, subtracting, and renaming. The author was/is a lady whose first book was/is a long time coming. Tara Betts is part of a slightly later generation of Chicago poets (2001ish?) who came roaring out of the slam scene and into teaching, into scholarly writing and study, and into the waiting arms of the canon. She's been published in a whole bunch of places and is the epitome of the working poet, always on her grind and always in conversation with the world in verse, very much unafraid to say the unsayable, or the uncomfortable, which is one the primary reasons poets do what they do, no?
Yes, I'm biased. Tara is also my fiancee. I asked her to marry me in April of this year, and we plan on doing the do, as the kids say, in June of 2010. But before we get married, there has to be a birth (snicker): ARC AND HUE, Betts' first collection of poetry, went on sale September 1st, and tomorrow evening at 5pm there will be a massive and star-poet-studded book party at the Bowery Poetry Club. I can't wait, and I know she's nervous, but I'm confident this will be a fantastic coming-out party for a collection she worked very hard on...not to mention a well-deserved spotlight on the fiercest poet in at least ten states. Maybe more. Anyway.
The details are below. I'm genuinely lucky and honored to be able to share in this moment with her. One of many to come, if I keep being lucky.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Book Release Party for ARC AND HUE, by Tara Betts
Featured guest poets and performers include Aracelis Girmay, Rachel McKibbens, Latasha Natasha Diggs, Samantha Thornhill, Nemiss, Giselle Buchanan & Cynthia Ceez Keteku from the Urban Word NYC ‘09 slam team. Hosted by Mahogany Browne.
The book will be for sale, and admission to the party is free.
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery (between Houston and Bleecker)
F train to 2nd Avenue, 6 train to Bleecker
More details: http://www.tarabetts.net