A Note About My Books
This post will be nothing but a bit of shameless self-promotion. So, apologies in advance if that sort of thing annoys you. If you have been following me on here for very long, first of all thank you. I hope that you follow me on Medium because you have found something to enjoy in what I write. If part of what you enjoy is my poetry, perhaps you would like reading that poetry in a bit of longer form, and how it is intended, on the physical page.
I’ve been writing and publishing poetry for several years. A while back, I decided to start publishing my own collections, via Amazon. This was decided after I became frustrated with the process of trying to find independent or small presses to work with, and the whole concept of paying for reading fees or entering contests where you can never be certain exactly how much anonymity is really kept among the entrants and the readers. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I had a contract ready to go with a small press for a collection, and then it all backfired because I listened to some bad advice from someone who I thought could be trusted, but who actually was more interested in promoting their own press, which ended up in some bad blood and a lost opportunity for me.
After all that drama, I just decided it was not worth it, and with poetry being such a niche genre with an already limited audience, I would be better off just trying my hand at publishing myself. Publishing with Amazon is much easier than one might expect, and I found the process to be rewarding, while also finding that the product they produce can actually look quite professional. As such, I have now published 16 poetry collections with them.
Here are a few of the books I have out, and why you might consider giving them a read:
Father Figures : Autobiographical Poems is my first chapbook release. All these poems are direct reflections on my experiences growing up in Kentucky. My biological father left the family when I was extremely young, and as such, I didn’t really have a relationship with him, and trying to build one later in my life proved unsuccessful. My mother seemed to be constantly searching for a companion that she could depend on, and that would be a good father to her children. Thus, I had many step-fathers throughout the years. It made for an interesting life to say the least.
life:death:love:theft is a chapbook of poems comprising the best works from a 30/30 challenge I undertook, during which I wrote a poem a day for thirty days, with each day responding to a poem written by one of my favorite poets, or a poem considered to be a classic. These are poems that respond to works by poets such as T.S. Eliot, Bob Hicok, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, and more. This is one of my favorite collections I have written, because the nature of the project took me in so many unexpected places, and I surprised myself creatively.
Second Amendment Pastoral: poems about guns, violence, and addiction is a collection that discusses in poetic form the topics mentioned in its subtitle. Basically, America has a gun problem. With so many guns proliferating the streets of this county, we have more violence and death, and more mass shootings than much of the world. I thought this topic was worth investigating as a poet, trying to bear witness to the tragedy that this addiction forces upon us as citizens all too often. As a method of contrast, I juxtapose poems about violence, with poems about nature and beauty, as a way of drawing attention to what this addiction has caused us to ignore. I feel like this collection is successful in what it attempts to do, and Kirkus Reviews gave it a highly positive review.
Corona: pandemic poems is a collection that focuses on the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, and its impact in America. I feel like this is some of my strongest work, and it is my most recent collection of poetry. Again, I tried to write poetry every day during the seminal events that brought covid-19 to the forefront of national and global attention. I tried, as a poet, again to be a witness to how this virus was creating a historical moment for society. Obviously, covid-19 has continued to maintain a prominent place in our societal mind, having taken many more lives than initially anticipated, and with a vaccine still months away at best, many more lives to come. I hope this poetry captures some of what was happening, and that people can connect with it at least at an emotional level.
Thanks for taking the time to check any of this work out. If you do, and you enjoy it, I hope you will leave me a review on Amazon that let’s me know your opinion of the work. Every one of these books contain pieces of me. I thoroughly appreciate anyone who gives me enough of an opportunity to spend time with something I’ve created, to take a piece of me home with them.
In the meantime, I hope you will continue to follow along here, and read my meager contributions to the canvas that is the Medium community.
Thanks again. — J.S.