Do You Know About the Raintree?
Do you know about the world’s broad belt?
They say that in Brazil at the equator
birdsong fills the heart of the Catrimani
River. Its bed, teeming with diamonds
and gold, grows fat with this riot of light.
Do you know about the beehive tombs in Greece?
Lower yourself by rope into the dark secret.
If the rope breaks, let your eyes adjust
to blindness. They say there is a sun
behind your lids. Climb its ascending
rays back to the earth’s roar.
Do you know about the rainbow fish?
Solid black, they ruled the waters
before earthquakes opened their coffers,
turquoise, topaz, amethyst, jade
plummeting into the rivers where
the eyes of the dark fish shimmered
as they fed on the earth’s rainbow.
Do you know about the hidden mountains?
They say that in Tanzania and Kenya
the mountains warred. Kilimanjaro
and Mt. Kenya pushed their broad
shoulders too high into sky.
Now, whenever they nudge God’s throne,
his angry breath shrouds their peaks.
Do you know about waters of the Grotto?
You will find the pool off the coast
of Italy on Capri. Lie down
in the boat’s bottom to enter
the cave’s mouth, then feast on
a blue mirror that butterflies
carry here on their wings: pieces
of sky they gather learning to fly.
Do you know about the raintree?
There’s a tree, invisible, with a broad
canopy in the sky. The earth sings to it
whenever it’s thirsty. They say
if the song’s loud enough to rise,
the ripest blooms will break off
their branches and rinse earth’s
green cathedral in firstlight and last.
Previously published in Antietam Review and reprinted in Gathering Light (SCOP Publications, Inc., College Park, MD, 1993), “Do You Know About the Raintree?” was recently featured in Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments (Issue No. 21: Winter/Spring 2008: Islands and Archipelagos. The poem was subsequently selected to appear in Best of the Literary Journals.
When Birds Speak
To Shakespeare, they were not isolated objects
but living creatures.
Levi Fox, Shakespeare’s Birds
How can one ignore his chattering pies,
a lapwing close to earth, every goose
cackling, a strutting chanticleer?
They are all there in his drama:
dive dapper, pigeon, woodcock, wagtail—
and among them, such pretty talk.
Did he study birds to see how all
creatures work, how man in his folly
climbs commanding peaks? A vulture
circles, then swoops. In the shadow
of its wings, wren and robin hover
over their young. They are all there.
Swift flight: the swallow points
its wings and ascends while thrush
and jay harmonize with wind.
And the graceful swan, what metaphors
did he see in her: royal birth, music,
majestic curves of the universe?
He must have sat next to her,
away from paper and ink, with her
neck arced like a river’s bend.
He must have seen prisms in those
feathers, prisms in expanded wings.
When the birds spoke the language
of waves, they flew to him out of elm
and ash. Always a triumph: birds
on every branch and the playwright
in his haven learning to sing.
Both poems reprinted from eBook Gathering Light (Northampton House Press, 2013) by permission of the poet.
Interview with Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda about her experience publishing Gathering Light as an eBook, through publisher Northampton House Press.
What is your general feeling about the eBook market? Does it have a future for poetry?
I believe the eBook market has a future for poetry. In fact, there are quite a few reputable publishers—Copper Canyon, Graywolf, Coffee House, BOA—who are moving toward digital publishing. From what I’ve read about this transition, these presses are committed to addressing the issues that cause alarm to poets. Specifically, when the screen size of an electronic device is too small or the font size is too large, a shift will occur in the typographical arrangement of a poem with long or staggered lines. Since form is an important consideration in poetry, the visual display on an electronic device matters. As soon as publishers address these concerns, then the market will attract more poets.
What was your thought process coming to this decision? Difficult? Easy?
Initially, I was hesitant to enter the eBook market, but after discussing the matter with my publisher and editor at Northampton House Press, I decided to give it a try. Since the print version of Gathering Light is no longer available, I wanted to enter a market that would make the book accessible to a large audience. I also considered the fact that many young readers, who are technologically savvy, prefer eBooks. Storing books on a Kindle, Nook, or a Kobo e-reader is more convenient and certainly beats hauling books around in a satchel. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided this was a viable route to take to reintroduce an out-of-print book to the market.
How was it working with your publisher, Northampton House Press? Was there any vetting or acceptance process? Any editing, revision, or other editorial involvement? Or is it close to a vanity press situation, where they publish whatever is sent to them? You have published with other normal presses. How was the eBook process different?
I couldn’t have chosen a better publisher for this project than Northampton House Press. Both the poetry editor and publisher worked closely with me to ensure that the end product was a well-honed work of art. I should point out that this isn’t a vanity press. And there was an acceptance process. I was initially contacted by NHP’s poetry editor, who invited me to submit a current or out-of-print book for consideration. Gathering Light was originally published by SCOP Publications, Inc. of Maryland, which closed its doors a decade ago. The book was always a favorite of mine for its uplifting themes. Here was a chance to reintroduce the work.
During the editing process, I made a few minor changes and took out one poem—a translation—which seemed obtrusive. Once the book reached the formatting stage, several of the poems were hand-coded to ensure that the line breaks and stanzaic shifts were honored. At one point I was asked to rework the lineation of four poems with long or indented lines. Although I was hesitant to do so, I soon met the challenge by readjusting the typographical arrangement of each piece. After the manuscript was converted to the e-book format, I was given the chance to proofread the entire work on an e-reader. Thanks to the meticulous oversight of the publisher, all seemed to be in order. However, I realize that issues might still exist for those who download the e-book to a smartphone.
I found the overall publishing process similar to that of working with other presses—with the exception of being asked to re-lineate a few poems to solve display issues on an e-reader. I should also point out that NHP publishes both e-books and print editions.
What was the cost?
I honestly don’t know since the press covered all costs.
Have you sold many books using eBook?
Ask me in a few months. We’re still in the early stages of seeking online reviews to promote the book. All of this is new to me, but thankfully, the press has an intern who will guide me through the process. I just “met” her online a week ago.
Are you happy you’ve taken this step?
Yes. As an older writer, I feel the need to move in the direction that the publishing business seems to be headed. Given the proliferation of writing programs in universities and the growing number of young authors entering the field each year, competition is stiff. And new books are plentiful. Having worked in the past on the editorial board of a small press, I know the challenges of publishing, promoting, and even storing print copies of books. Obviously, it’s easier to store e-books, and hopefully, they’ll remain available for a much longer period of time.
Dr. Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda served as Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2006-2008. She has published five books of poetry, co-edited two poetry anthologies and has two other manuscripts near completion. Her poems have been nominated for six Pushcart Prizes and appear in numerous magazines, including Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Best of Literary Journals, Poet Lore, r.kv.r.y. and An Endless Skyway, an anthology of poems by U.S. State Poets Laureate. Her poems also appeared in After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events.Her awards include five grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts; a Spree First Place award; multiple awards in Pen Women competitions; a Special Merit Poem in Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial contest; a Passages North contest award; an Edgar Allan Poe first-place award; and a Resolution of Appreciation from the State Board of Education for her contributions as Poet Laureate of Virginia. In 2010-2011 she served as a Literary Arts Specialist with Claudia Emerson on a Metrorail Public Art Project, which will integrate literary works, including her own, into art installations at metro stations in Virginia. She recently received the Poetry Society of Virginia’s Ellen Anderson Reader Award for 2012.