poetry, Uncategorized

The “Cover Reveal:” Just Say No

A word of warning before I begin here: This post is probably going to upset a number of my creative and socially inclined readers. But what you see below must be said.

I will not be holding a “cover reveal” for my upcoming book. If you want to know what the cover looks like, here it is:

johndaviscover (3)

There. It’s revealed. And as happy as I am with this cover (isn’t it COOL?), I don’t feel anything further is warranted. After all, the real meat of this work lies between the covers, and that’s where I’m hoping you’ll look when this volume hits the bookstore shelves soon.

“Why the snarky attitude about cover reveals?” you might ask. Well, here’s the thing: I am a husband, a father, a teacher, and a writer. I serve as a community volunteer and as an active member of my church. My weekends are most often consumed with birthday parties for other people’s kids, lawn maintenance, and the peripheral tasks of education — grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and so forth. My time is valuable, and honestly, unnecessary and entangling social engagements are nothing more than a gigantic time-suck.

Now before my readers accuse me of being some selfish, antisocial hermit, allow me to say that I love a good get-together as much as the next person. Just recently (as you may have read here), I hosted my own chapbook launch for “The Boys of Men,” and it was thankfully well-attended. The food was delicious, the company was wonderful, and the reading was fun and interactive. I sold lots of copies, and was able to make a modest donation to one of my favorite charities who helped host the event.

Why, then, am I against the notion of a cover reveal, in particular? I oppose cover reveals for the same reason that I oppose “gender reveal” events for babies that have not yet arrived: It’s one more thing. That’s right — one more space on the calendar filled with pointless banter and oddly colored punch. We’re all very happy you’re having a boy/girl, but isn’t your fourth baby shower (also inappropriate, might I add) enough? Must you subject us to yet another inane occasion to stand about, idly discussing the weather until you drop a curtain or pop a balloon? Seriously, stop. No more, please.

Authors: Please don’t consume the valuable time of those you know with the literary equivalent of the gender reveal. We know your book has a cover. We’re ecstatic for you, and proud to call you our friend. But to hold people hostage while you unveil a placard is both ludicrous and disrespectful, even if you provide finger sandwiches and fruity beverages. By all means, launch your book. Hold readings. Give lectures and seminars. I’ll be there. It’s an opportunity to learn something, hear something new, and culturally engage. Reveal something more than a shiny piece of plastic, some crackers and a “TA-DA!” Give us your words, give us your work, give us your heart.

poetry, Uncategorized

What If and If Only

PreacherI heard a minister deliver a sermon that cautioned believers against these two phrases. His point, for those within his congregation, bore validity: If the family members of a faith spend too much time in worry or regret, then they (we) are displaying a lack of confidence in our Higher Power.

For writers and creators, however, there are no two more powerful phrases. “What ifs” open the door to imagination, whereas “If onlys” encourage reflection. There’s a proud tradition behind both of these phrases yielding creative, dynamic works across genres. Consider Coleridge’s Kubla Khan — a “What If” poem if there ever was one. Scholars and speculators agree that much of the poem may have been induced by chemical means, but even so, without the questioning of reality, such language would not have existed.

For “if only” work, see Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t think a great deal of exposition is needed for this example. From Lenore to Annabel Lee, Poe’s work is rife with the “if onlys” of lost love and longing. This isn’t to say that all creative work must contain angst or fantasy; certainly much great poetry, art, and creation has been produced from the images and occurrences of “average” life (see Billy Collins). However, to exclude the questions mentioned above from the creative process would result in enormous detriment.

As artists, the need for us to pose and answer creative inquiries is great, and perhaps no two questions are more idea-inducing than these. Fellow writers and makers, delve into your what-if and if-only moments. Your Kubla Khan or your Raven may be waiting just around the next question.