Sand in the Desert: Putting Together a Poetry Collection
I am a way-back science fiction fan, but until November, 2010, I had never
written a science fiction story. The
truth is I had a phobia about it, mainly about the world-building, which in the abstract intimidated me.
Around September or October of 2010 I decided I would simply go for it and write a science fiction novel for NaNo. I started with the world-building: the planet, the aliens, the Terran Federation, the aliens’ society, values, arts, politics (or lack thereof). I’d been mulling over several things for years: a society based on personal responsibility, and one where the “normal” relationships contained multiple partners and included same-sex relationships. I continued happily outlining the society and the people. I noted down about a page about the plot, including the main character, his father, and a couple of others. I decided to write a YA/MG sci fi novel.
For various reasons which I will not fully divulge, in case any of y’all decide to read the book, I needed my aliens to be distinctive but not outlandish. I needed them to have skin color that could be found here on earth, yet still be distinctive, so for this and a number of other reasons, one of them being that I was damned sick of the good guys always being white, I made my aliens, my main character, and his father Black.
I also wanted to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, so I conceived of a poet to tie the two together. One of my alien characters is a scholar, and my main character ends up studying the poems of my imaginary poet. Raketh Namar, the author of the poems, exists in the universe of the novel some five thousand years before the action of the book on planet Aleyne. Raketh Namar, the poet, was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty. Raketh Frey, the main character in the novel, studies these poems during the course of the action. Eight of the poems, noted in the acknowledgments, appear in the book.
In the universe of the novel, this collection of poems was translated into English Common Speech by two of the other characters in the novel, Ardaval Namar and Gavin Frey, the father of my main character, Raketh Frey. Aleynis do not translate their sacred texts, and this translation is therefore unusual.
Having written the poems, I wanted to put together the collection and publish it, but having dilly-dallied for some time, I decided to self-publish. At the present time, I have a cover, designed by Karen Cioffi, and Michele Graf has edited the collection, including some valuable suggestions about the order of the poems.
All I have left to do is to hop over to CreateSpace and put the whole thing into their system, and after that I have to decide on a price.
Here is one of the poems, one that does not appear in the book:
Ode to My Father
When I was very small child
he was as tall
as the stars.
When I was boy-high
he had shrunk
to the height of a large tree
When I became a man,
he shrank to the size
of a fist.
When I became a father,
he rose again.
His head touched the sky.
Now he is gone.
I take my small son
and point heavenward.
“There is your grandfather”