The Next Big Thing: A Meme about New Books

What is the working title of the book?

I'm calling it Ravenna, just in order to keep track of it.  But it doesn't really have a title yet.  So that's its non-working title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, it came from many directions.  But let's say I was at loose ends, having finished a very large book-length poem called Lanthanum - latest in a series of long poems I've been writing since the late 1980s.  I'm trying very hard not to do that again.  I want to write single, stand-alone poems now, and to actually get them published (rather than publishing them myself).

Yet old habits are hard to shake.  There were some paths I'd been taking in Lanthanum, and before, which were my own sound, original - and I wanted to keep building, somehow, on that.  Take it another step.

And there were some subjects attracting me - big, comprehensive ideas - I wanted to pursue in an extended way, with variations.  These ideas, themes, emotions seemed to be constellating, strangely, around Dante and the city of Ravenna (where he spent his last years, and is buried).  Dante, that is, in connection with some of the architecture and mosaics there, which filter into the Divine Comedy.  However, the immediate catalyst, which precipitated this project, was (as often the case with me) a kind of pun.  Last fall I also happened to be diving back into some favorite old poets of my school days, especially Apollinaire.  When I discovered that Dante's Paradiso had been infused with images from the mosaics in the Byzantine church of St. Apollinaris, I felt a kind of "subject rhyme" - a hunch that I might be striking a vein.  This is in part anyway how the idea began to percolate.  There are some other hugely essential puns involved, as well.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hermetic, riddling, unnoticed, ignored poetry.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Monica Vitti and Richard Harris.  Or Geraldine Fitzgerald and Woody Allen (as Dante).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ravenna is an archipelago of geographical, historical, psychological, spiritual, and phonological landscapes, evoked or epitomized by the word Ravenna.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I started this project in December, 2012.  It's ongoing.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The Holy Ghost, and her avatars Osip Mandelstam, Dante Alighieri, and Monica Vitti.  Oh, and Geraldine Fitgerald, too.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Ravenna produces a "wall of sound" effect, which blocks out and wards off anyone who doesn't belong there.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully neither.  But I'd like to find a publisher, if I ever finish this language experiment.


Warm thanks to Don Share for tagging me in this game.  The only response I've had to a tag of my own came from my dear friend (and translator into Italian) Anny Ballardini.  Your turn, Anny!

1 comment:

Anny Ballardini said...

Wonderful! Thank you so much, Henry!
Will see what I can write, now!