Lovely, Raspberry

This week’s other featured books, “Petroleum Transfer Engineer,” by Richard Klin and “If You Lived Here, You’d Already Be Home,” by John Jodzio, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Author’s page.Image result for Aaron Belz + poet + photos

THE BOOK: Lovely, Raspberry.

PUBLISHED IN: 2010

THE AUTHOR: Aaron Belz.

THE EDITOR: Gabriel Fried at Persea Books; also Dustin London, visual artist who helped me pick the poems that made the final cut.

THE PUBLISHER: Persea Books in NYC. Small poetry press since the mid-70s, big brand since it’s distributed by W.W. Norton, kind of the best of both worlds except SPD won’t carry it.

SUMMARY: It’s hard to summarize a book of poems. These aren’t really narrative poems; when narrative does appear, it’s surrealistic or absurd. These poems are mostly short lyric bursts à la Wallace Stevens or Stephen Crane. As a whole they form a kind of Rorschach blot of my consciousness from 1998-2009 or so. Enjoy.

THE BACK STORY: Lovely, Raspberry was my first collection of poems, which I began assembling in 2003 or so. I submitted it to contests, publishers, etc., and nothing came of it — It did get honorable mentions in the Brittingham Poetry Prize and one contest in Florida. In 2007 I was approached by a small press in New York, BlazeVOX, saying they wanted to publish my book. By then I had almost three books worth of finished poems, and for whatever reason I didn’t want to send them Lovely, Raspberry; it was like my first weak child, who’d never amounted to anything, and I didn’t want it to leave home. So I gave BlazeVOX a big stack of my favorite poems that I’d written but that didn’t quite fit Lovely, Raspberry, and they loved it, and they published The Bird Hoverer.

A couple years later after I’d given a reading from The Bird Hoverer at the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou), and I signed and sold 15 or 20 books, a slender redheaded man approached me saying he liked what he heard and wondered if I had another book to publish. I said, why yes. He was Gabe of Persea, and thus began a relationship that resulted also in Glitter Bomb (2014) and will soon produce Soft Launch (late 2019). I just keep writing.

WHY THIS TITLE? The title came from the side of a children’s shoe box. One of my daughters was wearing dark pink shoes, and I had inherited the box to keep receipts in, and the model of shoe was “Lovely” and the color was “Raspberry.” The manufacturer is UMI. Here’s the product, now apparently discontinued: https://www.littlewanderers.co.uk/lovely-raspberry.html I STILL use the SAME BOX to keep receipts in. Mostly for tax purposes. My tax guy, Gary, is a genius!

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I enjoyed writing it. The poems are akin to jogging around an abandoned schoolhouse or deserted cabin. Good little bit of exercise, might see something weird like an old waffle iron with one gray sock hanging over it, etc. You wonder “What’s the story there?” But then you just keep jogging, because after all you aren’t there to inspect ruins. You’re just getting some sun and oxygen.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

The best one was the blurb John Ashbery sent me: “Aaron Belz’s poetry reminds us that poetry should be bright, friendly, surprising, and totally committed to everything but itself. Reading him is like dreaming of a summer vacation and then taking it.” He says in a few words everything I try to accomplish when I write poems. There are also a number of other blurbs, links to reviews, interviews, and other related stuff in the right-hand column at http://belz.net.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am from St. Louis, for the most part. I think very much like a St. Louisan; and I am most cheerful when in the company of fellow St. Louisans, whether in-town or in some remote place. We’re dots along the contours of the same eternal narrative.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I just received my first royalties check from Lovely, Raspberry. In the future I do plan to continue writing. As I said, I have a new book coming out this fall!

SAMPLE  Here’s a fan-favorite from Lovely, Raspberry:

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/love-hat-relationship.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Can be ordered through any bookstore.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc., everywhere. PRICE: Should be around $15; possibly $16. At Goodwill quite a bit less.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I have quit social media for the time being. Usually you would have found me at twitter.com/aaronbelz. For personal contact, my website belz.net works well. Or comment on my blog at belz.blog

Published by

bridgetowriters

Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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