On the eve of my 73rd birthday, in early October, I have published 50 poems, about 100 pages’ worth, via Kindle Direct Publishing, Transitions: Early Poems, 1979–1989. (Available in both paperback and ebook versions from Amazon. You can download a sample of the ebook version free and see a few of the poems. Or just write to me.)
The book may not soon be a major motion picture, and may not sell in the hundreds of thousands. Still, launching such a boat even at this late date makes me a bit giddy.
The main point, at this point in my life, is neither financial success nor personal validation per se. It’s not to prove that I’m rich, a great poet, or admired by legions. It’s simply to show what I have done with a bit of my life, now that I’m entering the home stretch. And to leave something behind. (The way the astronauts on the moon, I read in today’s New York Times, left bags of poop? Well, poop and footprints and various other detritus, which some would safeguard as historical heritage like earthbound artifacts.)
When my older brother Gerry died a few years ago, of brain cancer, he regretted especially not publishing a book of his photos and illustrations. He was an excellent and zany sketcher of the mythical and impossible. I have a few of his sketches and his notebooks to establish the point, so may show you examples from time to time. (Or some day launch a postmortem collaboration of some kind.) But Gerseybro, as he called himself, regretted not publishing more on his own.
Gerry wanted to make an account, I think, or to settle accounts, it could be. He’d been given this gift, and needed to give back. To show the world, at any rate, what he could do and, in fact, did.
And isn’t that enough?
Naked come we into the world, but it would be a shame to leave without a stitch on, a garment we have woven, however modest, of the gifts we have been accorded and, in our own sweet time, developed. As Lewis Hyde suggests in The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (a book I gave Gerry, and he gave another copy back to me), nothing is so giving, and fulfilling, as giving back.