Friday, July 15, 2011

Bitter Acoustic Has Arrived!

Oh my friends! I am so happy to announce that my collection of poetry, Bitter Acoustic, has just been published by Jacar Press, (North Carolina.)  Because I am terribly sleepy as I write this, I will keep this blog entry brief. I am thrilled about the publication of this book! Bill DeBernardi, a dear friend and gifted painter from Pittsburgh, provided the beautiful artwork for the cover, a still life of a cello's headstock entitled "Nocture." I am so grateful to my publisher, Richard Krawiec, to the talented designer, Daniel Krawiec and to the wonderful poet Betty Adcock, who chose Bitter Acoustic as the contest winner. Adcock's notes about my book touched me and honored me deeply, especially her remark "McDermott remembers the old magic: poetry as memorable language" and her gracious and humbling final sentence: "Bitter Acoustic is a making so genuine, so original, so true, it takes my breath away." I can't ask for more than that.

Yesterday, at the invitation of my friend Ellen Smith (a marvelous poet and teacher of poetry!) I had the honor of delivering my first reading and discussion of the book for a group of poets called the MadWomen at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. What a wonderful group of women; I had such a good time reading for them and answering questions. And I brought up the issue of a poem's accessibility to the group, telling them that there was a period of time in graduate school where I truly tried to write the more stereotypically "accessible" poem--narratives of my childhood, for instance, of taking a helicopter ride with my Grandfather above the Statue of Liberty--and that I simply was not good at this kind of writing. I told them that ultimately, you have to stay true to the writer you are meant to be. In my case, that meant I valued musicality, vocabulary, and creating moods or atmospheres in a poem above simply recounting a memory or story.  This is a topic (does a poem HAVE to be accessible to be enjoyed or liked in today's world?) that I've given a lot of thought to, and I will blog more about this soon. Right now, I just need to get a good night's sleep.  Thanks for listening...  And if you're interested in buying a copy of Bitter Acoustic, simply email Jacar Press at, supply the publisher's with your name, full address and how many copies you'd like, and they will be mailed to you with an invoice to purchase the book.  Happy weekend everyone!

1 comment:

  1. When I hear someone use the term "accessible" with poetry I get the feeling that they are looking for some thing that is 'easy' to understand. Some thing that does not force them to use their grey matter to read between and into the lines of the poem to see what the writer is saying. I fear that they would find Robert Lowell's "Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket" or Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" rather inaccessible to them. [Lord, let us not venture to speak of Shakespeare's Sonnets or anything else Elizabethan.] Sadly, I think the students of today have not been taught (at both elementary and secondary levels) how to read poetry, let alone appreciate and understand it properly. (If that truly were the case then perhaps more would know and understand Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride." Alas, we may have dumbed down our teaching to something undesirable! Thus, if a poem is easily understood and does not tax one's mind, it is accessible, and therefore good. If otherwise, it is 'unaccessible' or difficult to understand (e.g. Cumming's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock") and thus, 'not good.' Enough, already, Gene!