rob mclennan and the INBOX project

Over at his blog, rob mclennan kindly comments on a recent chapbook of mine, published by Sacrifice Press.

Over the past few years, Winnipeg filmmaker and writer Jonathan Ball has been producing increasingly interesting works, and there’s already a new title forthcoming . . . Ball’s chapbook Proverbs, From the INBOX Project suggests that this is part of a larger, book-length project, and the collage aspect of the work makes me interested to see how the work will hold together as a larger manuscript. Where is all of this leading?

The “new title” rob refers to is The Politics of Knives, which just came off the press and will launch in Winnipeg on Sept. 11. If you order a copy it should arrive post-haste.

I’ll take a moment to answer rob’s question. Proverbs, like some other poems I’ve published recently, are subtitled from the INBOX project. This project constitutes a collection of poems I have produced by massaging and sculpting spam text I received when my filters failed me for about a week. In fact, I completed an entire book-length manuscript in 2008.

INBOX is one of a handful of book manuscripts that I could publish anytime, that are in fact publishable, but that I don’t feel measure up to my recent books. Maybe with further revisions the ms will improve. The poems, in clusters or individually, work well. As a book, though, it doesn’t seem to have the unity and force that I demand.

So, instead of foisting a new book on the world, I’ve been excerpting and reshaping text from INBOX for chapbook and magazine publication. I am considering doing some sort of self-released eBook, sort of a lengthy chapbook. There’s a section of INBOX that was once the entire book (in an earlier draft), and that still constitutes most of the ms, that might work well as an eBook (it’s named, fittingly, This eBook is Otherwise Provided to You As-Is). Time will tell. It’s one of those projects that still interests me but doesn’t command my attention and my time.

I have two projects: INBOX and Factory Poems (one may become a subset of the other), which are things I work on when I have no time or energy, because they are composed through mechanical or automatic processes. (When you have no brain in your head and are exhausted, you still need to work! You can still write good poems, kiddos! Just don’t write poems that depend on you for their development. In your thinking moments, develop a concept and then in your unthinking moments just trust the concept and carry the work through.)

So, rob, the answer is: I don’t necessarily think it does hold together as a larger manuscript, at least right now. Maybe later. So that’s why I haven’t published this book that has been otherwise completed since 2008. Where is it leading? Perhaps to further excerpts in eBook form? Maybe some other chapbooks? In my next post, I’ll print a poem from Cluster, a different section of the ms.



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