By Abby Wargo
Elm Staff Writer
On Oct. 18th at 4:30 p.m. in the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the Literary House Press launched their new poetry collection “Still Life With Poem.”
The book is a collection of poems written by 80 selected poets that is based off of a prompt created by editors Dr. Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby instructing the poets to create their own “still life,” much like a still life painting, and write a poem based upon it.
Lusby, the assistant director of the Literary House, said it took several months to get all the submissions in from the solicited poets, and once the submissions were received, the collection went through intensive editing.
The interior and cover were both designed by Lusby and her co-editor Dr. Dubrow. They were aided by Caroline Harvey, the 2016 Literary House Press intern.
According to Lusby, Harvey was extraordinarily helpful during the whole proofing process. It “involved hours upon hours of careful proofreading, research reference materials, notemaking, corrections, creating proofs and sending them out to contributors (with suggested revisions) for approval, and compiling all contributor responses and implementing approved changes,” Lusby said.
Most of the submissions were written specially for the collection, and the select few that predate the collection were purposely solicited with the intent of including them in the anthology.
In addition to being a co-editor, Lusby also contributed her own poetry to the work. She said that it, “was always a difficult professional decision…there is more than a little bit of a stigma attached to publishing one’s own work.”
Eventually, she gave in to her desire to contribute and included her own work, and she worked with Dr. Dubrow to peer-edit the work to determine whether it should be included. Ultimately, the inclusion of her work, she said, made the whole process more “personal and intimate…a feeling of belonging.”
Dr. James Hall, the current Literary House Director and a professor of English, was also a contributor.
Although he was not involved in the production of the collection, he said, “it gave me pride to see such a beautiful book made by Dr. Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby—a book which expands the field of ekphrastic poetry.”
His poem is an elegy, a monument to a lost person, which is a theme that is at the heart of most of his poetry. Dr. Hall’s still life was a monument to a man in New York City that had some of his personal objects available for passersby to take. The point was to take a piece of the man with them into their lives which, according to Dr. Hall, is also what elegy does.
Overall, the prompt is a stark reminder to both poet and reader that all objects contain stories and “it’s the job of the writer to make sure that the story has a fighting chance to outlive the object,” Dr. Hall said.
The book is now available for purchase through Small Press Distribution, Amazon, and select independent bookstores. Signed commemorative broadsigns of “A Second Plate At Pearl’s Place” by Tara Betts are also available for sale at the Rose O’Neill Literary House’s website.