What is the title of your book?
Grains of the Voice. Visit its Amazon page here.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The title alludes to Roland Barthes’s essay called “The Grain of the Voice.” In it, Barthes discusses what excites him in certain opera performances: “… the grain, the grain of the voice when the latter is in a dual posture, a dual production—of language and of music.”
I’ve tried to locate that liminal “grain” by writing short poems that are influenced by the sonnet tradition--and that host spectral lines from pop songs and from poets like Milton and Shakespeare .
What genre does your book fall under?
Lyric poetry. In particular: poems that are influenced by, or “ghosts” of, the sonnet tradition.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
They’d be musicians rather than actors: Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Mark Kozelek, Duran Duran, Mono (the Japanese post-rock band). Not that there are really any characters as such.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
From the book’s back cover: “The human voice, musical instruments, the sounds produced by the natural and man-made worlds—all serve at one time or another as both the framework of poems and the occasion for their lightning-quick changes of direction, of tone, of point of reference.”
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book has just been published by Northwestern University Press (TriQuarterly Books).
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I don’t number drafts, and I don’t tend to time things in quite that way. But the entire process took several years from start to finish.
What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?
David Biespiel’s Wild Civility; Eamon Grennan’s The Quick of It; Josh Corey’s Severance Songs.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The eternally prismatic sonnet tradition in English poetry, especially Milton’s “On His Blindness.” The enduring inspiration of singers like Young and Harris. And just the rapture of musicality in the everyday--something I’m always trying to preserve.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
There’s a cross-dressing lotus flower, mascara spilled on the beach, and cameo appearances by Thomas Jefferson and Jacques Derrida.
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