December 7, 2010


I’m about to send off the manuscript for my new book of poems, HAPPY LIFE, which will be published by Copper Canyon Press in September of next year. I hope I’m done with it this week. My editor and I have settled on the poems that will be in the book and in what order and now all I’ve got to do is write the front matter—the half-title page, other works by David Budbill page, title page, copyright page, epigraph page (I’ve got two for this book, one by a Taoist hermit in China whose name is Hsu-tung and the other by the 18th century Japanese poet and tea maker, Baisao), The acknowledgements page, dedication page, and table of contents. Then at the very end of the book there’s a short “about the author page,” which is a short biography of sorts. After all that front and back matter is in place and I’ve gone through the poems for the umpteenth time, I’ll send the manuscript off to my editor, both electronically and a hardcopy, so that the design and production process can begin.

I’ve already sent off a number of possibilities for cover art for the book. I picked about a dozen possibilities, with a great deal of help from my wife,  Lois Eby, who is a painter. Some of the possibilities are abstract, ensos and so forth, and some are landscapes from ancient Chinese painters. It’ll be interesting to see what the designer comes up with. It’s important to give the designer free reign because she’s the one who knows what image will go best with the kind of type and layout the cover of the book will have

And while the book is being designed—Copper Canyon Press, in my opinion, by the way, has the best book designers in the business.—the manuscript itself will be shipped out to the greatest copy editor of all time, David Caligiuri. David will go through my manuscript with a kind of attention to detail it’s impossible for ordinary mortals to imagine. He’ll track down every reference; check all the grammar and syntax, make sure all the spelling and capitalization are consistent throughout the book. Nothing escapes David Caligiuri’s eye for the minutest detail. I’ve been lucky enough to have my manuscripts go through the Caligiuri baptism by fire before and I can tell you, when a manuscript comes out of his sweat lodge you know it’s cleansed.

I’ve been working on this manuscript for more than a year. It took me more than six years to make the poems. Up until now this has been pretty much my book, then it became the creation of my editor and me as we decided which poems would get cut, which poems stay and in what order. We began with almost 200 pages of poems; we are now down to just a little over 100 pages of poems.

Now the number people working on this book enlarges from two of us to many: book designers, copy editor, sales staff, shipping clerks and so on. And all this so that a new book called HAPPY LIFE can be available for purchase by September 2011

Sincerely, David