Saturday, March 2, 2013

#65 - Noah Falck

How often had you sent out Snowmen Losing Weight before it was chosen for publication in 2012 by BatCat Press?

Snowmen was sent out about 3 times a year for about 5 years, in various incarnations, before BatCat picked it up.

Tell me about the title. Had it always been Snowmen Losing Weight? Did it go through any other changes?

The original title was The Snowmen Are Losing Weight. Then it was briefly called The Gods of Standing Room Only, and later Traffic Islands of Our Youth, but none of those gave off enough light. Eventually, I came back to Snowmen, but decided to simplify it to Snowmen Losing Weight.

Your book recently went into a second printing, correct? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages to a more handcrafted book versus a collection with a more defined press run?

Yes, it went into a second printing in December 2012, seven months after the initial printing.
The advantages of handcrafted books are they feel more like friends than third cousins. Not that there is anything wrong with cousins. Well, not really. When you hold a handmade book it makes you feel good about yourself and the world. Like driving in an eco-friendly vehicle or better yet, a bicycle. It gives you a completely different reading experience.

It seems like there’s a possible misconception among some poets who are trying to get their first book published: that they must win a contest. Were you concerned about winning a contest at any point? What advice would you give to poets sending their book out now regarding contests versus open reading periods?

Contests are catapults. Winning one will put your name and work in certain circles, and I respect that. I was not at all concerned about winning a contest, but I still sent Snowmen on the contest tour in hopes of getting noticed. And it was a finalist in enough places to make me smile. But I don’t think you need to win a contest to generate inspired work. 
The only advice I have is to send your work to presses you admire, places that are publishing work that excites you. I don’t think it matters if it is through a contest or an open reading period.

How involved were you with the design of the book—interior design, font, cover, etc.?

I had nothing to do with the design. It was all BatCat Press. I didn’t actually see the book until the release party in Midland, Pennsylvania. When I first saw the book my heart skipped a few beats, similar to the way it did when I first saw my wife. It was sexy, and beautiful, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands all over it. That didn’t come out exactly right, but you know what I mean.

What about the publication of the actual poems in journals and magazines prior to the book being published? Was there ever a concern for you to have the majority of the poems published before you were sending out your manuscript?

I like sending work out and I like hearing from editors and presses no matter what news they bring. I wasn’t concerned at all with publishing any percentage of the poems. I did want to have some of the poems picked up, but there was no special number in mind. 

How much work did you do as far as editing the poems from the day you knew the book would be published to its final proofing stage?

The BatCat crew and I went back and forth over a period of 3 to 4 months discussing poems, order, punctuation, and all that fun stuff. None of the poems were heavily edited or rewritten. Working with the editors at BatCat was truly enjoyable. And it felt particularly special working with BatCat because it is a student run press. The student editors (Alison, Jane, & Robin) did a fantastic job. They were very considerate in regards to the layout and thoroughly thought out how people would interact with the book. And Deanna Mulye, who oversees the projects at BatCat Press, must be some sort of saint teaching her students the art and craft of bookmaking.

What do you remember about the day when you saw your published book for the first time?
There was a lot of sweaty palms and more applications of deodorant to my underarm region. Also, there was a nuclear power plant and margaritas. 

How has your life been different since your book came out?

A lot has happened in my “life.” I took a job in Buffalo, New York, working as Education Director for Just Buffalo Literary Center. Before I was teaching 4th graders in Dayton, Ohio. 

So I’ve moved to a new city, which I am slowly falling in love with, and working a gig that puts me in a more direct conversation with literature and the arts. I also am writing more than I ever have. I am on more of a schedule that permits me to focus my creativity energy.

If you struck up a conversation next to someone seated on an airplane, and after a few minutes you eventually told them that you were an author who had a book of poetry published, how would you answer their next question: “What’s the book about?”

Ha, people on airplanes. I would tell them that the book is about you and me, and this shared air, and the baby crying its body to sleep in the arms of a young mother ahead of us. 

It’s about all those moments you want to remember forever. The moments you wish you had on film so you could watch them again in slo mo. It’s also about the moments you don’t want to remember, but are somehow thumb-tacked somewhere inside you and you can’t shake them off.

What have you been doing to promote Snowmen Losing Weight, and what have those experiences been like for you?

I’ve been doing little interviews, and reaching out to reviewers and other writers to let them know that the book exists. I made a book trailer, which was fun. I’ve also been trying to participate in as many readings as possible, though I haven’t had the time to really travel or “tour,” but I’d like to. I like road trips of all kinds. Particularly, road trips that are focused around reading poems.

What advice do you wish someone had given you before your first book came out?

Be patient and believe in the process. Keep at it. Don’t let it get you down. Never surrender. And ride your bicycle near the river, the ocean, the greatest of lakes.

What influence has the book’s publication had on your subsequent writing? Are there any new projects in the works?

The publication of the book has only made me want to write another book. So that’s what I am doing. I am working on a new manuscript right now. Mostly prose poems.

I am also shopping around a chapbook collection about celebrity dreams, aptly called Celebrity Dream Poems. And I just finished a collaborative chapbook with the poet Matt McBride, tentatively called Vocal Air.

Do you believe that poetry can create change in the world?

I think poetry can act as a sort of communication vessel for the soul. A vessel that highlights both the quandaries of the everyday, and shares the dreams of the intellect. Can such a vessel change the world? Absolutely!

Noah Falck is the author of Snowmen Losing Weight (BatCat Press, 2012), as well as several chapbooks. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, Jellyfish, Sink Review, Paper Darts, Fact-Simile, interrupture, and elsewhere. He works as Education Director at Just Buffalo Literary Center in Buffalo, New York. Visit him online at