Category Archives: book review

Bedtime reading

    My bedtime reading has always been kind of a ritual. Currently, I read a poem, if it is a page or shorter, followed by a couple pages of prose. That is, if I don’t fall asleep first. Right now I am rereading William Stafford’s ‘Even in Quiet Places,’ poems collected from several chapbooks that his son Kim and several associates made after Stafford’s death. I’m particularly attracted to ‘The Methow River Poems.’ For prose, I’m rereading ‘In Pharaoh’s Army,’ Tobias Wolff’s memoir of the Viet Nam War.
    Both of these writers share my valley, the Upper Skagit, with me. Stafford wrote some of his last poems at the request of two forest rangers as he traveled over the North Cascade Highway; and Wolff is an alumnus of my high school, Concrete HS. Two cautions: He came about 20 years after me and ‘This Boy’s Life’ is a highly imaginative memoir and the movie even more so.
    What is on your bed stand?

How ‘Reimagine’ rated in WD self-published competition

I entered Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 in the 18th annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Competition shortly after it was published. I submitted the book, paid the reading fee, and didn’t lose any sleep worrying about it winning a prize.

When the notification date rolled around and I didn’t hear anything, I put the competition out of mind and kept writing. In late January, I received a large envelope from WD with an evaluation and a “certificate of participation.” This was a real surprise! Normally, you receive a “thank you” letter, the list of finalists, and the name of the winner, if you’ve included an SASE with your submittal.

So how did the book do? On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), it received a 4 in each of rated category: structure and organization; grammar; and production quality and cover design.

The judge’s comments were:

“In reading his poetry, the reader seems to be introduced to Harris as both a writer and a person. The inclusion of backstories and dates of First Draft [sic] to Last Draft [sic] was something I really enjoyed (especially when I tend to view things of that nature as excessive—in this case, it worked).

“The photos included seem too small. Also, black & white was not the best quality for them, especially since Harris seems very proud of them.”

My response is:

From the beginning, I was advised against including backstories, year of origination, and year of first draft. Yet, I’ve received only thanks from readers for including these, confirming my gut feeling that the more one knows about a poet’s background, the poem’s backstory and when it was written, the better it is understood and enjoyed.

Apparently, the judge hasn’t self-published many books. Yes, the photos are too small, but they fit the format. I would have loved to have them in full color, if I could have found a printer who would print the book for a reasonable price. You bet, I’m proud of the pictures.

You bet, I’m proud of Reimagine. And I look forward to reading your book.

See Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 at www.richardleeharris.net.

‘Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009’ reviewed

          

In May, I e-mailed everyone I had met at Iowa Summer Writing Festivals between 1997 and 2008 for whom I had addresses, to let them know that I finally published the book that every year I had threatened to publish.

Alice Osborn, whom I had met at the 2007 ISWF, responded by asking if she could review it. We, like most of the participants, had exchanged e-mail addresses, knowing full well that our chances of communicating after we left ISWF were very slim.

I knew from Iowa that Alice was a good writer but had no idea how accomplished she was. After I visited her website www.aliceosborn.com, I couldn’t believe that she would include Reimagine: . . . among the books she reviewed. I sent her a copy anyway.

Last week, she sent word that her review was posted. Wow! It is one of the best I’ve read for any book, anywhere. And, she was right on about the weak points as well as the strong ones. It is on her blog, http://aliceosborn.com/book-reviews/reimagine-poetry-book-review/.