Thursday, January 28, 2016

Face-Lift 1300!

Guess the Plot

A War Bride

1. A collection of poems written in half-awake prose with themes of nature and images as diverse as wolves and jerky. Also, includes the poem "A War Bride."

2. Six years ago, Nora married handsome American soldier Jerry and moved to New York. After enduring Jerry's crude manners, filthy socks, and creepy friends, she's starting to think that maybe she should take her chances with an American jury.

3. It's 1919, and David Smithers is returning to the little French town where he met gorgeous Marie. Entranced by the daring pilot, she quickly agreed to become his wife. But when David gets there, he runs into a few problem, namely her three brothers--and all the other daring pilots she agreed to marry.

4. Daisy O'Hara plans to marry her lifelong friend, Joe Birmingham, before he is shipped out after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, Queen Boudica who shares Daisy's body is not willing to wait at home for her man, or even join the WACs. She's got a war-ax to grind.

5. Marcella was married to the king of the neighboring kingdom to seal a peace treaty. However, she knows the incompetence of her homeland armies. She plans on poisoning her husband and leading his armies against her homeland to join the kingdoms and ensure peace. Too bad her husband's a cutie.

6. Ares, god of war, has found a spouse for each of his children. Now he just needs to find a bride for his seventh child, a son. When he finds the perfect candidate, he's torn. He may just take her for himself.

Original Version

Thirty-five poems reflect on nature as a cycle of death and life, a master who tempts subject after subject into a life of devotion; a beautiful place to wake up, and a rocky catalyst for love. [I can't tell if that list includes two items, separated by the semicolon, or four items, separated by commas and a semicolon, or if it's one lengthy description of nature.] Pictures of the woods flit in the book's half-awake rhythmic prose, trapping the reader at the same moment that they free him.  [I don't like "flit in." Maybe "flit through" or "dart throughout."] [Wait, "enshroud." Yes, it has that feeling of poetic language you're going for, the kind that inspires the reader to think, WTF?] The facet of the outdoors beams first vicious then softly caring as the reader dares himself further into the book. [WTF?]

[I've dared myself further into the query. Hope it turns out better than the time I dared myself to eat a dozen jelly doughnuts.] Until the last poem, "a war bride", the author struggles with the burden of having one foot in the civilized world and the other strapped in a snowshoe, ready to migrate. [What this book needs is a poem about an ostrich that tries to migrate while wearing one snowshoe.] From the convincing lines about fall's surreality, to the suicidal epic of "we two can't die", the poems muse through moods that meet their extreme in the wild outdoors. [You had some good alliteration going there, but you dropped the ball. How about "...they muse through moods that meet their match in Marrakesh, Morocco."?] As "A War Bride" appraises a human lover and, soon after, winks slyly at the wilderness as the true object of adoration, this book chases after images that words have yet to define until now. [I was going to say it's highly unlikely that you are the first person to describe the images in your book with words, until I realized I'm probably the first person to describe in words the image of an ostrich wearing one snowshoe.] 

The tempting and scary sense of being pursued as the sun goes down, and the urge to tear away in a hunt of one's own as spring melts the snow, plant their feet into the scenery of "A War Bride". With images of wolves, dry jerky, and affection that vows, "no matter the land / I will call to you", the poems of "A War Bride" lead the reader to the middle of the forest, where words - and the silence between them - are at their most powerful.

[Sample poem:

Ode to Dry Jerky

Whether at home or land afar,
I will call to you,
O strip of dry meat, 
Salty and lean.
Ostrich, elk or venison, 
Bacon, boar or kangaroo;
All enshroud the buds of taste
But to a poet, just one will do,
And that, of course, is turkey jerky.]


"Half-awake prose" doesn't sound like a description of poetry. Even if it is, I don't recommend being half-awake when you pen thine epistle.

If you want to impress the editor with your poetic language, include a few of the poems. This is a business letter. Start over.

Poetry books don't fly off the shelves, so few agents will bother with them. Find a poetry publisher accepting manuscripts, and not asking you to pay them. Describe your book, how the poems are connected, how long it is, previous poetry publications if any. If they haven't told you not to, include samples. It might help to submit the poems to magazines in hopes of getting some credits. Don't be surprised if you end up self-publishing.

Feel free to send us a revision of the query with a sample or two.

Also, feel free to use my sample poem in your book, but only if you mention me in the acknowledgements.


IMHO said...

"...the burden of having one foot in the civilized world and the other strapped in a snowshoe, ready to migrate."

I've kinda felt this way. In my case, it was one foot strapped to a Canada goose, and the damned goose (not my foot) wanted to migrate. My foot just wanted a comfy footrest.

Anonymous said...

Poetry is a tough sell. The only place it makes money is the music industry.

EE covered the basics.

One other option is to write a novel and stick the poetry in between the prose.

Know what your goals are. Make sure you understand what's reasonable. Good luck.

alaskaRavenclaw said...

Never talk about yourself in the 3rd person in a query.

Jay said...

First, we take organic prose and wrap it in a layer of rich, creamery metaphor, surrounded by a thick candy coating of hyperbole from the rock strata of candy corn mountain. Wow, my teeth hurt.