I began this endeavor with a certain amount of curiosity about how well the poems would work together in a manuscript. Knowing that this chapbook would be a collaborative effort with Nic Sebastian, as editor and reader of the poetry, I was also interested in seeing how our perceptions of the works would mesh. However, during our e-mail discussions—as Nic acutely suggested a couple of minor revisions to one of the poems, recommended some of the pieces that might work best in the chapbook, and commented upon a possible order of presentation—I was thrilled to discover she is a careful and penetrating editor, whose views of the poems and thoughtfulness about the significance of the subject matter paralleled mine in so many ways.
We even immediately agreed, after deciding separately, upon the title for the chapbook. Additionally, we both believed the cover artwork I had recommended conveyed a sense of the poems’ content without being too obvious. Nic’s keen assistance as an editor proved very helpful, and her desire to highlight certain components, especially the lyricism and implied narrative movement of the poetic sequence, seemed right in line with my own thinking.
Since the poems would be offered in an audio format, I was particularly intrigued by the sound my poetry would have when read in a woman’s voice with an accent distinctly different from my own. Frequently, when working with students in my poetry-writing classes, we engage in conversations about the separate nature of the written word in a text and the spoken voice heard aloud.
My students are often asked to consider how the substance and style of their compositions are reflected when they read them to their classmates. Indeed, a primary requirement in my poetry-writing course involves a formal public reading open to the university community at the end of the semester, an activity serving as a capstone event that confirms a connection between written and spoken word at the conclusion of the course.
However, in class we further take into account the ways others might read our poems. When I give public readings of my poetry, I know the places I want to pause and the syllables I need to stress, as well as the lines I try to emphasize. But such opportunities are rare. After all, most encounters with poetry occur individually as each reader provides his or her voice for the words witnessed on the page.
Therefore, my students are urged to fashion lines of poetry that invite the kind of cadence and tone they expect everyone to gather from the language. If a work is successful, the word choice, sentence structure, and lyricism—through rhyme, assonance, consonance, alliteration, etc.—will compel a reading fairly consistent with that intended by the poet.
When I received the first drafts of the audio for Dark Refuge from Nic, I must confess that I was amazed by the results. I had heard her read others’ poems in the past, and I knew she would do a fine job; yet, I felt her presentations of my poems were even more magnificent than I had anticipated. As I had hoped might occur, her voice perfectly complemented the tone and atmosphere I desired to be created by the sequence.
Indeed, I usually think of the lyricism in my poetry as one of my strengths; however, Nic’s exquisite sense of rhythm, exact enunciation, and emphasis of syllables bring out even more the numerous examples of alliteration, assonance, consonance, and internal rhyme I wish readers to hear. It has been exciting and rewarding for me as I listen to my work rendered so elegantly by someone who obviously cares about the content and the context of the material, as well as its musicality.
An additional aspect of the publication at Whale Sound that I greatly appreciate involves the variety of platforms available for readers to enjoy Dark Refuge. Occasionally, I have shared opinions in the pages of One Poet’s Notes about the advantages of technical advancements for publication and distribution of poetry in electronic formats to widespread audiences. I have also considered the blending of media in online publications—text, graphics, audio, video, etc.—as something yet to be fully explored and exploited.
On the other hand, I have a fondness for the tradition and tactile contact of paper associated with a conventional print chapbook. Consequently, I am thankful to Nic Sebastian for her good work as an editor promoting poetry and allowing Dark Refuge to be available for readers to experience in differing manners: as online audio, online text, downloadable mp3, pdf manuscript, e-book, cd, and in a print edition.
Most importantly, as I write in the acknowledgments for Dark Refuge, I am also grateful to Alex, whose inspiration leads the way for me in daily living and in these poems. My poetry in this chapbook is meant as a testament to how much he has enriched my life as well as an expression of admiration for the enduring spirit he displays every day, even when confronted by obstacles that could be so discouraging and when challenged by frustrations that ought to be disheartening.
I commend Alex for his courage as he repeatedly faces unfamiliar or overwhelming situations fraught with anxiety or frightening to him. I know the level of his emotional agitation and the degree of his physical apprehension about the sometimes disconcerting elements in the world around him are frequently difficult for me to imagine, but the poems in Dark Refuge represent an attempt at understanding.
I invite readers to visit the main page for the poetry in Dark Refuge, and I encourage all to browse through the many wonderful works by other poets at Whale Sound.