SoCS: collection

Things have been pretty quiet here at Top of JC’s Mind for the past few days because I was back in North Adams on a solo writing retreat to work on my poetry collection.

I’m happy to report that I have the bulk of the manuscript assembled, including a few pieces that I wrote this week. There is only one blank page with just a title; I’m hoping to get that poem written and integrated into the manuscript over the holiday weekend. I also need to write a foreword and a notes and acknowledgements section at the end. When I have the draft complete, I will ask my local poetry circle, the Grapevine Group, to do a group review/critique for me, with the goal of having it ready to submit by mid-July.

This collection has been in development for a looooong time. In November, 2015, I took a leap of faith and applied to attend a week-long workshop/residency at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a collaboration between The Studios at MASS MoCA, which had, at the time, only been in operation for a few weeks, and Tupelo Press under the direction of Jeffrey Levine. I was accepted, even though I was a relatively new poet at that point. Had it not been in that particular place, I would not have even applied, but I grew up in the North Adams area and had hopes that a chapbook might grow out of the experience, given the intersection of my personal and family history with the current, very different reality there. Case in point: MASS MoCA occupies the complex that housed Sprague Electric when I was growing up but that started out as Arnold Print Works that made textiles. (If you are interested in how the week went, you can check my blog archive for Nov. 2015, as I blogged every day of the residency.)

Short version of the story is that I was in way over my head, but was saved from going under by my fellow poets. We all bonded so well that we have returned to MASS MoCA every year (except for 2020 due to the pandemic) for a reunion residency as the Boiler House Poets Collective.

So, two things happened to my initial idea of writing a chapbook about my family and the North Adams area. I realized pretty quickly that a chapbook would be too short, so it would need to be a collection. Also, life intervened in the form of a long and ongoing period of inter-generational caregiving, which made the time required to devote myself to the project scarce.

There have been two other attempts at this collection, both of which failed miserably in review. I learned a lot from the failures – at least, I hope I have – and this new iteration of the manuscript has a (I hope) more compelling focus.

We’ll see how manuscript review goes…

There are over fifty poems in the collection and over seventy pages, so there is room for cuts if needed. Most publishers expect collections to be between fifty and one hundred pages, so there is some space for adjustment.

While members of the Grapevine Group have seen a lot of the individual poems, this will be the first time they have seen the manuscript. The two prior iterations of the collection were with Boiler House Poets Collective, back before Grapevine started doing manuscript reviews within the group. The exception is my friend Jessica, who is a member of both groups. It will be especially interesting to see her reaction to this newest iteration.

After Grapevine review and edits, I may see if any other BHPC poets want to weigh in – or maybe even before, if any of them are especially keen on the concept/subject to my begging/gluttons for punishment/very bored.

At any rate, come mid-summer, I’m hoping to start doing submissions with the collection. Then, in the fall and winter, the rejections will start rolling in, where they can join the growing list of rejections for my chapbook manuscript in my submission database.

Eventually, one of them may make it into print. The chapbook has been both a semi-finalist and finalist in contests. So, someday?

This version of the collection is definitely stronger than the two prior attempts. So, maybe, someday?

If it happens, you will definitely be able to read about it at Top of JC’s Mind, which will probably be around even though it is cheugy. I just learned that word…

Or, if the chapbook or collection gets accepted for publication, you may just be able to hear me scream, even if you are not close by. πŸ˜‰

Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “collect.” Join us! Find out more here:

Author: Joanne Corey

Please come visit my eclectic blog, Top of JC's Mind. You can never be sure what you'll find!

16 thoughts on “SoCS: collection”

  1. Oh my! I am a North Adams resident born and raised. My father was born and raised here and still lives in our city. What a small world. I’ll be doubly interested in your writings and progress from now on. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! I lived in Monroe Bridge, but spent a lot of time in North Adams where my grandparents lived, as well as attending Drury, shopping, etc. I remember a Michelle St. Pierre when I was at Drury. A relative of yours, perhaps?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband comes from a huge family. His father was the youngest of 14. I don’t know a Michelle but probably a cousin of his somewhere in that lineage. My maiden name is LaValley. Do you recall the LaValley Oil Company? My grandfather and his brother started it.
        I went to Drury and my sister, brother, and kids all graduated from there. I actually graduated from Mt.Greylock in Williamstown. Long story. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I do remember LaValley Oil! It really is a small world! I have a poem about Drury in my collection. I happened to be in the last class that started at the old Drury; we moved to the new building mid-way through my first year. My older sister was in the first class to graduate from the new Drury. Of course, that was a long time ago now… Did you or anyone in your extended family go to Greylock Elementary? My father-in-law was principal there for decades.


          1. We all went to Greylock elementary, my kids and grandkids too! My youngest granddaughter will be a third grader there if she goes in Sept. I’ve been homeschooling her this year.
            [I started at the old Brayton school and finished at Greylock 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.] I currently live in Blackinton. I grew up near Braytonville.
            I think my brother was in the Drury class of ’76. Were you in that class? My sister was in the class of ’79. My brother was in the band. This is cool!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. So you must have known Mr. Boisvert! My older sister was class of ’75, I was ’78, and my younger sister was ’80. My husband was class of ’77. I wasn’t in band, but I was in mixed chorus all four years and in the Girls’ Ensemble my senior year. So cool that your sibs and mine were there in the same timeframe!


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