Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Settling for Beauty

I still have a lot to learn about publishing, but I can pass along one piece of hard-earned wisdom: if you have a choice, don't plan your wedding and your book launch for the same season. The wedding (appropriately enough) gets priority and the book launch suffers. I found this out in 2005 when my second collection, Settling for Beauty, was published in September and I got married in October.

With this in mind, I am back to promoting the book, beginning on Thursday, February 12 at the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Chicago. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. I will be signing at Table 750 of the Book Fair floor, which belongs to publisher WordTech Communications. On Friday, February 13, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. I will be signing Settling for Beauty and displaying The Best Mariachi in the World/El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo at Table 792, hosted by The Word Works, a DC-based press for which I have done some volunteering in the past.

While several poems in Settling for Beauty can be found online, I don't expect busy people to go looking for them right away. I would thus like to close this post with a poem from the book with the title "For Bad Wine":


For Bad Wine

Once in a field, in a wide rising stretch of paintbrush
& purple vetch, we stuck down

a tent, like punctuation, and drank through the evening
our bottle of bad wine.

Kate Northrop

Because the stores where finer wines are sold
are closed, or too far away to drive
on a rainy night, and because,
truth be told, we’re already a bit tipsy,
we’ll settle for what we can find in town.

Because the bottles of dusty neck and shoulders
that suggest long ageing, and a high price,
lie on their sides on a rack
too low to reach without stooping,
we’ll take one of the bright bottles
that stand close by.

Since so many of the labels are written
in strange languages that bring no comfort,
we narrow down to the plain-spoken domestics.

As, even in mid-life, we’re intimidated
by the corkscrew, the very cork,
the intricate and solemn techniques
and auguries of its removal,
we look among the simple screw tops,
such as we turned to open soda and juice
before our first high school drink.

Because we may as well toast our younger selves
who didn’t know Boone’s Farm from Bordeaux,
who knew we would get rich while doing good,
but in the meantime had to scrimp,
we will take the cheapest brand.

Because we now know better,
but have to save for retirement,
we will take the large and cost-effective jug.

Because we have our reasons
and don’t want to tell them again,
we’ll refill our glasses
and drain every drop.

3 comments:

Judy said...

Your wedding was wonderful, and the priority given it well worth it!

This is my favorite of your poems. I opened this just as I was pouring from my jug of bad wine. I was reliving memories of high school and Boone's Farm with someone today, and looking at the bottle in our fridge someone brought over as a joke months ago. What perfect timing, too.

You almost inspired me to open that bottle of Strawberry Hill. Almost.

J.D. Smith said...

Don't open the Strawberry Hill. Unless there's nothing better in the house. And I know that you guys have better taste.

I'll discuss my dealings with Carlo Rossi on some other occasion.

SueG said...

Terrific poem, JD. And when in Chicago, look out for a wonderful Irish writer who will be signing there too (I believe). His name is Nigel McLoughlin and his book, "Dissonances", was published last year by my publisher, bluechrome. If you do see him, say hi for me! And hi to yourself.