Thursday, June 09, 2005

Secondses

I just got back from Kansas City, and it was the second time I've spent any amount of time there. This time I stayed at The Raphael, a wonderful boutique hotel just across the creek from KC's reknowned Country Club Plaza, the nation's first master-planned, auto-oriented mixed-use development.

There wasn't enough time to try to set up a reading/signing for Riverfall, but I was able to get together with my old friend Matt Wiewel---the second time in two years I've seen him.

Some of my (new) favorite things about Kansas City:
  • O'Dowds Little Dublin, a "Top 10" Irish pub in the Plaza, with a rooftop deck, fully Irish-imported wood bar, and a different musical performer every night, including Ryan Patrick Imming, who played Tuesday evening and was really outstanding. Ordering his CD very soon.
  • Kangaroos, as in the mascot for the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I'm all for original mascot names, and despite the apparent lack of indigenous kangaroos or even wallabies in the Kansas City area, it's a great name nonetheless!
  • Bagpipe-playing bus drivers: My coworker and I, after an over-stuffing steak dinner at K.C. Masterpiece (sorry to offend any veggies out there), cut across an alley to follow the draw of bagpipe music. When we exited onto the street, across the street, a city bus was idling at a bus stop, the driver belting out bagpipe classics while the passengers waited, mostly outside for better listening.
  • The Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City at 5235 Oak Street on the UMKC campus. I'm not a big toy fan in the great scheme of things, but if you're a fan of tiny toys, and old games and enormous marble collections and amazing miniature replicas of pretty much everything you can imagine, this is the place for you. AAA membership gives you $2 off the admissions price, to boot!
  • KC BBQ. Oh, I've really missed good BBQ living down in Tucson. There's really not even any good Tex-Mex down this way. But in KC, everyone has a different favorite BBQ joint, and none of them disappointed us.

Speaking of secondses, congratulations to fellow blogger and poet Paul Guest, who just announced he has a second book coming out, titled Notes for My Body Double (Black Lawrence Press).

Apparently it's much more difficult---if his and many other experiences like his are the norm---to get a second book of poetry published than the first.

Now that Riverfall is out, I've been thinking a lot about a second book, because it's no longer a case of "Can I publish a book?" Now, rather, it's a case of "What will my second book be, and when?" I don't have enough good poems for a second book yet---it will be quite some time---but I do find myself thinking about the poems I'm working on now in a more collective manner than I did with those appearing in Riverfall. Perhaps that's the downfall; why it's so much more difficult to get a second book?

Perhaps my absense from writing poetry---I didn't write in any kind of dedicated manner from 1995, the beginning of graduate school, until early this year; indeed, nearly all of the poems in my book were written from 1991 through 1995---will be impetus enough as I in effect relearn the craft, to allow me to bypass the second-time blues? Hard to say at this point, of course, but I am looking forward to the challenge, and I am very excited about opportunities for reacquainting myself with the scripts, themes, and actors of the poetry play altogether.

For example, I'm reading 1997's The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, which I'm really enjoying. And who knows? I've got a master of urban and regional planning, but since I'm a University of Arizona employee, why not pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing, as well? No guarantee I could get in UA's excellent program, of course, but it would be lots of fun, and certainly I'd learn quite a bit more!

Until then, keeping at the craft, and reading lots and lots.

Simmons

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