Creating an Online Collection of Poetry
Guadalupe Peak, Texas
Online Poetry Collection
Part One: Earlier Book Collections
My first several collections of poems (including Palms, Peaks and Prairies (1967), Cottonwood Moon (1979) and Bamboo in the Sun, 1983) came out in book form long before the internet existed. They were all with small presses like The Golden Quill Press, Jelm Mountain Press, S.U Press in Japan, and Writers House Press in Iowa City. But, as all hubbers know, it is more and more difficult to publish collections of poetry even with small presses in these tough financial times.
For the longest period, I had wanted to write a book that winds through the Rocky Mountain chain from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. My original title was to be "Winding Through the Rockies." But the audience for a collection of mountaineering poems, I suppose, was scant. So, instead of writing poetry about the Rockies, I collected my prose essays about climbing mountains from the southern to the northern Rockies that I entitled Breaking Through the Clouds (2005). This book met with success by being published by a very reputable regional publisher in Boulder, Colorado called Pruett Publishing Company.
An Alpine Focus
However, my dream of writing and collecting narrative poems about climbing mountains in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana remained a dream until last year when Climbing Magazine's online editor, Luke Laeser said he'd be delighted to run my collection one by one with digital illustrations taken mostly by me. Not only that, he said he would run them similutaneously online in both Climbing Magazine and Mountain Gazette.
What turned out to be a great experiment--the first ever, to my knowledge, was to have one of the poems illustrated with a live, online webcam located in northern Yellowstone National Park of Electric Peak that John Muir climbed back in the 1890's and said, as a result of his day-long climb, "Go to the mountains and hear their glad tiddings." My poem recalls this climb among others as well as my own visual climb of that peak while standing atop Mount Washburn.
The great majority of my narrative poems record my actual climbing experiences of summiting over forty peaks from Texas to Montana. In one poem, "Brocken Specter Atop Longs Peak" I narrate our climb (fellow park rangers) at midnight under a total eclipse of the moon with flickering northern lights up above the Wyoming border. After we arrived at pre-dawn we awaited sunrise to experience the rare "brocken specter" in which the shadow of Longs Peak raced westward at the speed of the rotation of our planet, one thousand miles per hour. My fellow climbers and I were awestruck.
Mountain climbs before writing
Some of the climbs required backpacking for one day to get closer to Kings Peak, Utah or Mount Sneffels, Colorado. One the next day we proceeded up to the summit to again sleep at base camp before descending back down to the trail head. During the Kings Peak ascent, one of my climbing buddies was a professional photographer (William S. Sutton) with whom I had a lively discussion about the art of photgraphy, the capturing of pieces of magic by letting "things happen" and avoiding "set-ups."
Well, it took two years to complete this project from 2009 to 2010. The collections is called "Mountains on My Mind: poems of the inter-mountain West." They depict climbing the highest points of the four-corner states, side-treks over to the La Sal Mountains of eastern Utah that rise above Arches National Monument, glacial horns in Glacier National Park Montana, and numerous volcanic crests including Humphreys Peak, Arizona and Specimen Mountain, Colorado. Four of the climbs were with my wife Maura who is generally frightened by heights except when they are beautiful beyond imagination. Several climbs were with my son Rich and daughter Maureen.
Part Two: Later Online Poetry Collections
Just last week (October 4, 2010) I received an e-add from Barnes and Noble about Pubit online books sponsored by Barnes and Noble. I submitted my idea for "Mountains on My Mind" and placed my hard drive file into a publication format in Times Roman font and voila, within a few days Mountains on My Mind (with my wife Maura on the cover staring at mountains) became available as an e-book at www.bn.com So ends a story of an online collection.
A news update: My second online collection Canada and Beyond: Poems of Other Lands just came outas an Amazon Kindle Book with poems beginning in Canada and going to Iceland, the British Isles, Continental Europe and the Far East. The collection took about 4 years to write.
But what remains to be seen is how well they will sell and how much effort will be needed for marketing purposes. Just having it displayed as a NOOKBOOK on the Barnes and Noble webpage is hardly enough! However, the opposite is true with the Kindle Book. It seems to be doing fairly well.
For writers interested in creating very good nature poems, go to www.naturewriting.com which is where I got my online start.naturewriting.com may even do short collections (5 to 10 poems) if they are truly good.