About the book
Full-color edition with photographs and graphics
Softcover 8.5 x 8.5 in., 314 pages
Alarm Cat Press #ART 53
31 October 2016
Just the Words, Man black-and-white edition with photographs and graphics
Softcover 5.5 x 8.5 in., 200 pages
Alarm Cat Press #ART 53x
21 August 2016
Smashwords e-book edition (ePub & Kindle)
23 September 2016
Amazon Kindle e-book edition (Kindle)
23 September 2016
What’s in the book
This Is Fifty-three is my seventh collection of poems—and my most ambitious to date. By coincidence, the next number in my cataloguing scheme was 53, while 2016 was the year in which I turned 53. Accordingly, it made sense to make 53 the focus of the book.
In addition, I wanted to try something more ambitious, both in scale and content. I resolved to make the book physically larger, include photographs and graphic elements, and print the whole thing in full color—and, to emphasize the personal nature of the book, put my photo on the cover. Most poetry collections are either 5″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″ (as the rest of mine are), or 6″ x 9″, and contain only text. Although their covers may feature illustrations or photos, these are usually either scenic or abstract; when they do include one or more people, none is ever the poet. So I was breaking some rules with this one.
It took several months—including several weeks at the end of having to re-edit nearly all of the photographs when the print quality of the initial batch was significantly darker than the printed proof—to compile, edit, design, and lay out all 314 pages, but by autumn, I had my book.
At the same time, because color is expensive, I also put together a black-and-white edition of the book, stripped-down to include just the poems (plus the photos and graphics that introduce each new section).
The contents are divided into four sections, plus a prelude and postlude:
Formalities is an exploration of poetic forms: tritina, san san, pantoum, terzanelle, viator, rimas dissolutas, rhyming couplets, lune, landay, and haiku (in actual Japanese!).
Sample poem: God’s green earth
Oddities contains poems that are experimental, strange, or quirky—or all these things at once. This is also the section of the book where the design and layout change from spread to spread (or page to page, in the black-and-white edition).
Secrets (and Other Secrets) focuses on introspective poems.
Sample poem: Hope
Delicates features poems about little moments and small details.
Sample poem: The futility of words
(Updated 7 August 2017)