So I had this poetry book published late last year and I thought I might send it to a few people whose poetry I’ve enjoyed over the years. Kind of a way to say hi and thanks – a little bit of fan worship or whatever you want to call it.
The first person I thought about sending a copy to was US poet Stephen Dobyns. I picked up his Heat Death ages ago, and I think it had a very direct influence on my writing, especially the last ten years or so. I tracked down his agent online and sent a polite little email to them asking if they might be able to pass on a copy if I sent it to them.
They replied a day later, saying that they’d been in touch with Stephen and he’d said it was okay for them to pass on his direct email address. I was pretty excited at such a positive and quick response, but a week later the excitement ramped up to eleven when Stephen Dobyns himself emailed me to let me know he would be glad to see a copy of my book, and also to ask if I had any advice about touring Australia, since he’d never been here and was keen to come over when his new book was released.
I put together an enthusiastic-but-restrained (and hopefully helpful) email with some suggestions about festivals that he might consider approaching, and also humbly suggested that if he was interested in being feature reader at the monthly readings at the Guildford Family Hotel, just down the road from us, that I’d be happy to put in a word with the organiser and he’d be welcome to stay in our guest room in Chewton if he wanted, ha ha.
That was in April.
I emailed him again in June just to see if he’d received the book, and if he’d given any more thought to touring Australia, but he never replied to that email, either.
Now, I know there are a gazillion reasons for not replying to emails, from spam filters to falling down a deep well in an isolated part of the countryside, but it’s hard not to jump to the obvious conclusion and comb through my email – and chapbook – to find out what exactly it was that I wrote that made Stephen Dobyns decide to pretend that I don’t exist.
Maybe it was the poem about the guy who murdered a monkey sidekick (too cruel?). Maybe the one about not being able to fix anything (not funny enough?). Maybe it was the bit about staying at our place (too Wolf Creek?). I dunno.
I’ve got two other author-crush-writer-types on my list to send copies of my book to, but after such a spectacular failure first time around, I’m a bit reluctant to to get back on that horse.