Guest Post: Publishing Poetry by Kurtis Ebeling, author of Beneath Stretching Pines

Today’s guest post is from Kurtis Ebeling, author of Beneath Stretching Pines.

Here’s a little bit about the poetry collection:

Please give Kurtis a warm welcome:

Publishing a collection of poetry, even one as modest as Beneath Stretching Pines, was a rather extensive, drawn-out endeavor. Some of the 30 poems were composed and then published in journals nearly 3 years before I decided to compile and organize them, and a few others were composed within a couple weeks of the book’s publication. It is also important to note that these poems are, in many respects, an extension of my graduate studies at EWU—my studies of the modernist poets in particular. Thus, for better or worse, I have both teachers and academia to thank and/or blame for the inadvertent inspiration for these poems.

While Beneath Stretching Pines takes simple, modest subjects as its focus (trees, dead leaves, streetlamps, bedside windows, etc.), it is also at play with a somewhat complicated philosophical subtext. Namely, the poems in this collection are inspired by the epistemological, or meaning-
producing, relationship created between the self and the world as we experience it. I like to think that my poems use language in a way that collapses (and questions) the distinction between abstraction and the perceived world (selfhood and worldhood), and that, in doing so, they articulate self-expression in relation to self-effacement. They suggest that thought and the experienced world are, moment to moment, co-emergent and intertwined. To use a favorite metaphor of both W.B. Yeats and William Carlos Williams, these poems suggest that the material world and perceiving mind come together to perform a kind of dance, which, in this case, symbolizes sensory experience and abstract meaning making observation and thought active rather than passive. That said, I hope that my readers will interpret my work in other, perhaps more interesting, ways unique to their own thinking. My ideas about poetry can be—to my chagrin—deceptively romantic.

It is also very likely that I was slightly overeager to publish Beneath Stretching Pines when I did. While I am incredibly happy with the way this collection turned out, I do remember feeling like I needed to be free of these poems to continue writing new ones. Ultimately, the only difference additional time would have likely made is that this collection would have probably ended up longer. Nevertheless, there is a certain charm to its brevity. Beneath Stretching Pines is also my debut collection, so I wasn’t entirely conscious of the effort I’d have to put into marketing, post-publication, if I wanted to reach an audience outside of my friends and family. As time passes though, I am becoming more and more comfortable with its small, intimate audience. Art doesn’t have to find a home within the larger culture to be worthwhile—its creation is an accomplishment either way. Of course, a large part of me would like to find a larger audience, which is why I continue searching for places like Savvy Verse & Wit to promote my work.

Opportunities like these are always exciting.

Thank you, Serena, for extending this opportunity, and thank you readers for spending time with the words I’ve strung together!

Thank you, Kurtis!

Please take a moment to read a sample poem from his collection:

A Willow

A willow—limbs cracking under
grayish white bark and hunching
under gravity (somewhere between
consciousness and sleep)—shrugs

in early spring: where breath flows
in woody veins. Behind the guise
of death—undressed by winter,
touching spears of grass—there is

a small kind of hidden horizon:
a small kind of scene.

Curling from some central stem,
an entangled mess of branches
sway with the subtle breeze; sunlight
colors in yellow and clarifies 
what little we get to know
before dying: what little we get
to see without undressing.

This poem speaks the beauty of nature and the many unknowns we face in the shadow of death.