So, by now you probably are aware that I've got a book for sale. This is actually the biggest understatement of my century. What I really meant to say is: I have a project that explores the impact of identity in the ways we define ourselves and the world around us. I do this through unpacking various relationships, impacts, and experiences, both internal and external. This journey through identity and its evolution is magnified through other features like an annotated bibliography (cause I'm a nerd who LOVES them), an index (cause toc is boring), various collage images, and various design elements. So, it's not just a book. Its the culmination of the journey thus far. Its not just a book, its an artifact. That's dic tion ary. dic tion ary is an artifact. It's more than just a book with poems in it. It's a thing to sit; to experience; to study; to enjoy.
That brings us to a lively debate I've been having with myself and those who are in the business of marketing, talking, and reviewing the collection. The question is: so how is this title styled, exactly? Kimberly Uslin, who gave me a great write up in this month's Baltimore Style , emailed me post interview with a more eloquent phrasing of the question, So I've seen the book title a few ways, which exactly is the right way?* I gave her the styling from the book cover: dic tion ary, which borrows, but doesn't mimic, the syllabic breaking (cause design). I noticed it again in one reviewer's words concerning the collection. Then I started thinking about all the moments when it isn't and wasn't styled that way. All the moments it's slipped through the cracks and been spelled the traditional way, Dictionary. I hadn't really thought it was an issue, then I thought about it as an issue, panicked and calmed myself down. That worked pretty well, until I prepared the artifact version of the collection for Kindle consumption. "Oh God. They'll never find it. The search will just bring them a bunch of dictionaries! FUCK!" I moaned this into the computer screen right before dropping my head to the keyboard. Upon searching for the book post Kindle production I saw how write (pun.) I was. I then realized that I had to create a variation. So, you can find the Kindle Version of dic tion ary on Amazon under Dictionary 1. See Poems. This is far from perfect, but until I hear otherwise, I believe its working now (please tell me if you can't find the book!!!!!). This whole experience with the collection has made me really think even more critically about accessibility. I'm soon releasing a non-artifact version for those who just want the distilled work. For those who are just interested in the poems, and could care less about the other features and art. This book will have a slightly different name.
So then comes the question, WHY did you name the book dictionary? Didn't you, with the Bachelor's in Business and over three years active marketing experience forsee the complications?! No one really asks me that, but I have talked to myself about it all the time. The truth is, I didn't. I didn't think about how people were going to find it on Amazon, because I didn't write these poems or design this book for Amazon. I didn't write these poems or design this book thinking about it being reviewed, or printed in magazines or referenced in journals or tweeted all over the Twitterverse. I wrote these poems because that's what I do. I built this collection as a reflection on a life lived and evolving. I named it dictionary, because I love them. Here's how the story goes: I pretty much began expressing myself as soon as I could. When I learned to talk, it was a wrap. I wanted to know what EVERYTHING was and I HAD to know its relationship to other thing around it. For awhile, my parents would tell me. However, that grew old real quick. Probably about the same time, both my parents and I realized that I needed to learn to read. I had the sneaking suspicion that they weren't telling me everything; my parents had the sneaking suspicion that they had created a monster. So the summer after my grandmother taught me to read was relief to our household. My father found particular joy in the phrase, "Go look it up, Sharea!" So I did. I would get the dictionary and sit in my floor and read for hours. I would go to other peoples houses and read their versions. I would read all manner of reference books because I wanted to know the world. I wanted to know what it was called, what it was, and how it worked. I wanted to know.
When I think about all I've been and who I am, I have to think about the ways we define life. I think about how the reality of some experiences don't fit into the definitions and expectations we are given. I've learned that just because it doesn't fit into what society says, doesn't mean it's not valid or true. I've also learned about the origins of my beloved reference book; I've learned about publishing, exclusion, and the politics of language. As I built this collection, I realized I had the opportunity to create a reference to my own life and evolving identity; I realized I could create my own truth. So, there really was no other title I could use. It had to be dictionary. It had to be styled in a way that fit into the black silhouette on the cover. This had to be. That's how I calm the panic. I remember the intention.
In the end, I want the poems to get to you. What ever you is now and will become, I want you to have these poems. Names are things we are often given and they often morph and change as we move along in life. Think of all the nicknames and pet names and legal name changes you alone have acquired. Its a part of our identity that evolves with us. Its a part of what the very work and this collection attempt to explore. I guess, in that way this poetry collection is evolving in its identity too. When I think about it that way, I am less panicked and more peace. Know that what ever version you choose, the intention is the same: poems from one life to yours.
*paraphrased because Kim's email and mine are private.