The cover of my book, I left nothing inside on purpose, is complete! I am so totally blown away that 2 of my favorite writers, Nick Flynn & Shane McCrae, agreed to read & provide blurbs. Blurbing a book is such an enormous act of good will. W/both writers, I have vivid memories of first encountering their work, & thought I’d write about my love for them b/c this makes me nostalgic. I’m just so grateful to them both.
I used to own a bookstore in a small town, in my 20s (it’s a long story for another day). But I looking through the advance catalogs you get of the books coming out next season, & saw Nick Flynn’s memoir, Another bullshit night in suck city. I though it was the absolute best title I’d ever heard. I ordered it in, & quickly kept it for my own stash. I’d never read anything like it, & still haven’t–except for Nick’s other work. He circles back over scenes with different takes, as if trying to get un-stuck from them. It is obsessive & not overwrought & totally beautiful. I’ve read all his work & this one many times–for some reason, I made it tradition to read it on a plane, b/c the whole vibe is sort of about being there & not there. I’ve read & loved & learned from everything by him.
With Shane McCrae, I was meeting an awesome writer/my really good friend Kerry-Lee Powell for dinner, & I was early & went into a used bookstore. There was a copy of Shane McCrae’s book, Mule. I bought it, having faintly heard of him at the time, & thinking I could kill some time w/it before she arrived. I didn’t know what I was in for! I had a complete physiological reaction, a rush, a sense of disbelief–almost like anxiety, but good!! It was thrilling. His themes, his style, every page I was all just “you can do that?” & “HOW’d he do that?” I’ve read this book more times than I can count, as well as all his other books. His newest, In the language of my captor, is painful & incredible.
These two writers have inspired me so much, & for so long, that it’s really hard to believe they read my work & saw something in it. I owe them multiple debts–not just for the blurbs, but for the inspiration. For example, I wrote one poem in my book, “Hollow all the way down,” in a class w/Nick Flynn in Provincetown, hardly able to look at him, & kicking & screaming against his techniques (which I’ve since incorporated!). The first poem in my book, “I welcomed the wound &” is influenced by a line in Shane McCrae’s Mule. His first poem, “The cardinal is the marriage bird,” ends,
welcoming the wound