We finally made it to the finish line! I’m so excited and honored to be a part of the process of creating Why Poetry? and I still can’t believe that it’s finally done. I know the book itself has been years in the making, but it was truly special just to be a part of the last few months of putting it together. As a class, we took a closer look into small presses; how they operate, what the goal of a small press is, and who is behind them. We took the liberty of trying to understand what exactly we were getting ourselves into and I think after everything we each took away some key moments or lessons from our time in making Joe’s book.
When I first read Joe’s book I went through the entire thing and wrote down questions that I had and highlighted parts that I liked and that I thought were my favorite. I, as well as the rest of my classmates, were examining Joe’s work just as Professor Gil-Montero wanted us to do. The truly surreal part was getting to meet Joe literally the day after I was first sucked into the “maelstrom” of his beautiful thoughts and ideas. I think the opportunity to speak with Joe had to be one of my favorite parts of the entire book-making process.
I remember asking Joe about a the maelstrom that he spoke of in his poem, “Nowhere Else” and I wanted to know if this storm he felt like he was trapped in was a good thing or a bad thing. I guess I really wanted to know if it was good for me to be stuck in my own personal maelstrom. Joe seemed ecstatic about this question and he even brought it up again during the reading. I can’t describe how honored it felt for a man with as much artistic talent and spirit to remember my question that I’d asked. I also appreciated that he wouldn’t say whether or not it was good or bad to be stuck within the storm, because that’s life, he said. As much as I wanted to know the answer in the beginning, I know that Joe wants us as young aspiring dreamers and creators to find out for ourselves and I couldn’t agree more now on the matter.
As we close the chapter on a very exciting and cherishing experience I’d like to personally thank Haylee at Meshwork Press for allowing me to get my hands dirty and learn more about the beautiful and imperfect process of creating art. I’d also like to thank Professor Gil-Montero for being such a wonderful beacon of light for me and all of her students; I will never grow tired of her endless stream of encouragement and wisdom, as it is solely helped me with my own writing. Another thank you to Joe O’ Connor for writing such amazing poetry and for letting us pick at your brain; your talents will never be easily forgotten. Finally, I need to thank the other students in this semester’s Small Press Publishing course. Your company was a blessing and each and I hope each and every one of you achieve your dreams, whether it’s right out of college or further down the road.
May you find your places within the maelstrom and enjoy the ride!