Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Next Big Thing

[The following conforms to the chain-letter ominously known as The Next Big Thing.] 

1. What is the title of your new book?

The Problem of Boredom in Paradise (Selected Poems by Paul Hannigan).

2. Who is the publisher of your book?

Flim Forum Press. Originally, Pressed Wafer offered me the chance to do a selected. It was to be no more that 100 pages, which at the time seemed reasonable, since I’d yet to uncover Hannigan’s unpublished ms. The Higher Slum, or the hundreds of unpublished poems, or the unfinished novels, etc. Pressed Wafer lost interest in my participation because I was slow to produce a ms. I suggested the project to Matthew, even though Hannigan is not an obvious Flim Forum poet, and expected to be turned down. Matthew asked me if I thought Hannigan’s poetry was good and the project worth doing. I said yes. So he said yes. An act of faith I appreciate.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry. Sub-genre, the rescue-volume. That is, from obscurity. Hannigan has been out of print since the late 1970s.

4. What is one sentence from your book?

"When, as occasionally happened, a tribesman burst into tears at his own joke, his peers would roar in rebuke: That is not sad; this is not funny." [from “The Bush”]

5. Where did the idea for the book come from?

From Paul Hannigan. (I write about the origin of the selected in my introduction, but, without repeating myself, I can offer a less flip answer than “Paul Hannigan.” When I started the Hannigan project, I did not imagine I would edit a selected; I just wanted to know a little more about who he was. The idea of doing a book gradually grew from that research.)

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Not exactly applicable, however—I began typing up poems  (with the help of my wife Amy and the choreographer Nina Joly) that might end up in a book in 2007, shortly after I published an article about Hannigan in Open Letters Monthly; his widow, Caroline Banks, read the article and gave me the go-ahead (and helped fund a research trip to Georgia, where his papers reside).

7. What are your influences for this book?

When writing my introduction, I specifically thought of  Michel de Montaigne. John Cotter offered suggestions that helped me to think about the book. Otherwise, and obviously, what of Hannigan’s spirit I could pick up from his corpus, so-to-speak.

8. What else might pique the reader’s interest?

The March issue of OpenLetters Monthly, our Paul Hannigan blog, and the article I wrote for OLM back in 2007.

Coming Soon!

     March 2013
     ISBN 978-0-9790888-6-5
     flim forum press
     166 pages, 7x9, $20

Poems by Paul Hannigan (1936-2000), a Boston-area poet most active during the late 60s, early 70s, with ties to poets and writers from that time and place, including: Fanny Howe, Bill Knott, William Corbett, DeWitt Henry, and James Tate. The Problem of Boredom in Paradise contains poems from a young Hannigan’s A Theory of Learning (1966), the chapbook Holland and the Netherlands (Jim Randall’s Pym-Randall Press, 1970), selections from his books Laughing (Houghton Mifflin, 1970) and The Carnation (Tom Lux’s Barn Dream Press, 1972), and the entirety of Bringing Back Slavery (Dolphin Editions, 1976). Also: a large portion of an unpublished manuscript The Higher Slum (1975), an assortment of other unpublished works from the 80s and 90s, and a few original drawings.

Paul Hannigan, society reporter on safari, sketches serpentine philosophers and corporate baboons, chronicles “these degrading surprises we call our days.” Like a good comedian, he paints these fools on his own face, in othered self-portraits, alternately toothy and toothless, sad saccharine, smothered in “moral sherbet.” Hannigan mumble mumbles a messy subjectivity, all the insecurities of our race, gender, sexuality. He can be rhapsodically self-felicitous in fantasies of self-pity. He can be witty, crude, and brutally cruel. Paul Hannigan, fall-guy, castaway, shackles Milton with suburban shopping malls and maps over happiness with The Bush, that colonial/genital beachhead. Hannigan’s poems are busy napping, bong coughing, constantly undressing, disabling, donning a series of hospital gowns. Perverted lyrics parade from his hopelessly open mouth.

     You have already
     had enough fun
     now you must
     what watch watch
     and listen and
     remember. Sort
     according to subject.
     And cross-reference.
     At your dwindling
     so-called leisure.