Yesterday's mail of mostly too many query letters and not-wanted manuscripts contained an envelope addressed from Carol Malyon. I immediately felt guilt for promised writing never done.
I've known Carol since 1980 when she was still owner of Beaches bookstore. Somewhere I have photo postcards of her standing in front of that great little store. Both a poet and fiction writer, her short story collection Lovers & Other Strangers (The Porcupine's Quill, 1996) is a good read, if you can find a copy. A few years ago she was in Fredericton as writer-in-residence for half the university year (the other half of the year bill bissett was here).
Back to my guilt. Leaning against the lower part of the 3 x 4' corkboard atop one of my desk/worktables is a bulldog clipped bunch of envelopes and letters from Carol about a project she was working to pull together. She'd asked me to contribute an essay. I couldn't even remember when she'd written to me. Long enough ago that several times since my latest return from Serbia I'd glanced in their direction, half hidden as they were by a bulldog clip of an ever-growing stack of lost faxes for Los Cuyos Rocking Chair Factory in Costa Rico (we share the same phone & fax number). I'd been so well-intentioned, not one to make false promises, that I'd become afraid to wonder or enquire, "What ever came of that book idea?"
And now this 9 x 12" kraft paper envelope . . .
I slice the end open in two strokes because the wooden letter opener gets stopped by a paper clip . . . After a very friendly "Hiya Joe," the letter's first words are "Good news! Mercury has agreed to publish the creativity book, & it will come out this fall." Good news for Carol but why this letter to me? Good thing I'm sitting down. Carol continues with sentences about papers and contracts to sign. "For what?" I ask myself. Next paragraph is:
This is going to be a great book! I'm so glad you're in it.What? How am I in it? I never answered her raft of questions. Did I do something that I have no memory of doing?
The papers include two copies of a contract already signed by Carol as "Editor, Creativity (working title), for The Mercury Press" a two-page author questionnaire, a "Dear Contributor" letter, promotional plan outline, and questions from Carol about my bio and a suggested format for the article she called "I committed a chapbook" followed by "casemate poems (coda)".
Confused, I started by grabbing that clip of letters. Found my copy of a letter from me to Carol dated 7 October 2005. It describes my Serbian book projects, my artist-in-residence stint, and noted that I'd included copies of "recent media coverage." It was written before the Art Trek weekend when the "(coda)" was written. I must have sent another letter . . . so started looking through my computer files. Found a very short one-paragraph letter dated 19 October 2005the day before I flew from Fredericton heading to the YACS conference in Nis and to the 50th Beograd Book Fair. The core of the letter was "Am enclosing some poems written this past weekend. Your questions and other things were circling around while I had my studio space open for Art Trek visitors last weekend. You might see some of that in the enclosed “coda” poems."
I'd completely forgotten about that second letter and I certainly never thought that anything I had sent to Carol was a submission. Carol thought otherwise :-)
T-shirt: whale petroglyph by Alan Syliboy/Red Crane
loc: studio lapdog
temp: -2 C
sound: Absolute Blues 2: Another Collection of Stony Plain Blues Classics