The Genesis of My First Poetry Collection

The Scars coverIn late 2001, when I took over The Dream People for Eraserhead Press, I had a great love of literature and had been writing full time for year and a half. I had not until becoming an editor realized that contemporary poetry was not only being written and read but it was prolific and thriving.

Like a number of people I picked up an interest in haiku from reading Fight Club. It was only through editing TDP that I develop a true love of all poetry by sorting through poetry submissions, and seeing firsthand what diversity there could be in both content and form. I was a student of those I published, and in the pages of The Dream People we had horror poets, fantasy poets, postmodern experimental poetry, absurdists, and more.

All of those styles reflected my own personal tastes as a fiction author and so, seeing it happen in poetry form, I picked up the ball and ran with it. I tried my hand at all the poetry. I found I could not stop. I began seeking out poetry markets. Once I began getting published I found I could not stop pursuing that either. In short order I became as well-known as a poet as I was a fiction author, which isn’t saying much, but still there was incredible momentum.

This all culminated a year later in 2002 was the publication of my first poetry collection, The Scars are Complementary. While not a full poetry collection it was a decent sized chapbook with a number of distinctive illustrations provided by my wife Jennifer Barnes. The concept was that scars are provided free of charge in life, and that they accentuate one’s appearance. I just thought I should have a chapbook to break ground in terms of having product available at events, or readings, or just to trade with other authors for their chapbooks. Instead I found people actually ordering the book. Reviews came in, and they were incredibly positive. I was surprised by this. Most of the material was unpublished, and it was a real mishmash of genres and styles. The reviews in the horror press were just as supportive as the reviews in the literary press.

While it did not make me rich, The Scars are Complimentary gave me the credibility to pursue publishing deals elsewhere for my second and third poetry collections. This first venture was merely a self published experiment. While it is no longer in print, you can still find The Scars are Complementary as a bonus feature in the hardcover edition of my fourth poetry collection The Troublesome Amputee, or in the e-book edition of the same. Looking back on it  now I have mixed feelings about the collection overall, but I feel that way about everything I write as soon as it is finished. Either way I owe The Scars a great debt.