jueves, 22 de enero de 2009

Begin with the Blurb

('Nothing to do with me, Babe' (Galway, Summer 07))

Blurb is a strange word! It doesn’t conjure up to me at all what it really means – I guess, for me, it appears too near, in sound and looks, to the words 'burp' and 'absurd' – I know – this is serious, but really, the word blurb brings out a certain giddiness – not sure why, maybe it’s attached to the fact that I have to ask for some.

One definition of a blurb in the free online dictionary is: ‘a brief publicity note or a promotional description …as on the jackets of books’ Love that word ‘jacket’ for book covers – I had completely forgotten about that.

Apparently, the first literary blurb in history was when Walt Whitman extracted a sentence from a private letter of Emerson’s and emblazoned the jacket of the 2nd edition of Leaves of Grass with the line: I greet you at the beginning of a great career – Emerson hadn’t actually meant an academic career but the choice of words proved quite truthful, in hindsight.

Some questions related to blurb writing that spring to mind are:

1) Does a blurb writer need access to the whole book in order to write a blurb for that particular book? or

2) Does it suffice to have a few sample poems and blurb based on those poems, generalising, somewhat, about the author?

Possibly, there are no hard or fast rules – I imagine it is the person who is writing the blurb who decides, accordingly.

And I’m wondering also if people in general like writing blurbs or is it viewed as an inconvenience? They do get their work cited so I suppose it can be a way of promoting their name and work too…if any one who has blurbed or who is in search of blurbs has anything they’d like to add, I’d love to hear it. : )

I don’t think I’ve ever had a blurb written about my work before …well, let’s see – I remember an unofficial one from Arsenic Lobster where I have my poem 'Small Acts' published…Lissa Kiernan said in her editorial titled: One Paints What One Hears:

‘The attention to detail in Liz Gallagher's "Small Acts" brings me to my knees just like a Catholic church Sunday, when I thought ...preparing for the Holy Ghost means short / lengths of white cloth are woven into strands of hair. ‘

This leads me to think that maybe there are more unofficial blurbs out there attached to my published poems than I hadn’t given consideration to before, I mean, I had read them and appreciated them at the time but had never thought of them as blurbs as such before…I think I will go on a blurb-search and maybe I will be back with more if/when I track them down… : )

9 comentarios:

  1. Well when I was asked who to ask for blurbs, I asked two poets I knew, and they kindly said yes. I sent them the early MS which they read and then they wrote some very kind words. The third blurb came through a poet that the publisher knew. I was very pleased with the words they offered!

    There are probably more unofficial blurbs out there in terms of comments - why not harvest them... they're in the public domain :)

  2. Hi Liz,
    I have done blurbs for a few books. I would read the whole MS, but I guess it depends on how busy the blurber is at the time.
    Easier to read the entire MS with poetry, it must be said! IMO the blurber should be known for the genre (poets should blurb poetry etc.)
    I guess famous authors are asked to blurb a lot and it probably becomes v time consuming. I've just done a few and was honoured to be asked.
    I think you must exploit the (well-known?) contacts you have and pick people who will really care about your work and you. You want them to consider the work carefully and find, & comment on, what's best in it.
    As a matter of interest, have Salt asked you to get blurbs? They've said nowt to me, but a famous author of my acquaintance has already offered one, so that's cool. Still, I wouldn't mind chasing up a few more, if needs be...

  3. Hey Liz, good to see ya have the 'Wrong Miracle' blog under way.I like the bi-lingual vibe, it's cool to be making a 'comentario' I've beentrying to figure my difficulty with the title of your book, then it dawned on me , it's been like I've heard it before and sure enough I've been thinking of 'The wrong trousers' the wallace and Gromit cartoon.Phew! now that I have that out of my pea brain, I can offer my blessing on your choice -I know that you wouln't use it without my approval like ;) It is a strong and catchy moniker. As fer all da blurbiosity I know feck all about that,actually when I really think about it, I know feck all about anything, which is quite liberating in a perverse kind of way, like when you've spent your very last cent, a kind of scary liberation.I'm really curious to know about the book , what poems are in there and if there are any new previously unpublished ones, what will the front cover be like, do yu chose or is it down to the sodium dudes? I wish ye all the best wit da buke ,I know it's gonna be great. Be da way I still don't know about blurbs but I do live in da sublurbs, is that any use? Buenos tardes amigo (is that roight?)TFE.

    I loike da pic o da cow wit da dandylions (did ye know that it's actually french 'dents des lions'and if ye look at da leaves they do resemble teeth. TFE on mastermind ,specialist subject -'totally useless information' slan leat.

  4. Great to see this site up, Liz.
    Love that cow, too.

  5. Barbara, Nuala, TFE and Sarah, thanks for stopping by this wee experiment of a blog! ; )

    Barbara, great to know that about the blurbs - have just asked two people today and thinking of another one or two to ask...and yes, may eek out the blurbs from online zines and mags but just for blog-use only! : )

    Nuala, good advice there, thanks. No, Salt haven't mentioned blurbs to me...I'm just going by what I see on their website - when the writers get their pic and sample poems up, there are blurbs published there too... : )

    TFE, thanks for The Wrong Trousers explanation... ; ) will never be able to say wrong miracle aloud now without having wrong trousers in mind!

    And as for the dandelions - we only ever knew them as pee-the-beds at school! ; )

    And regarding poems and stuff...the book will have about 50/50 between published and unpublished poems - 60 poems in all...and the art work, don't know naught about that yet...that will be a future blog post...!

    Sarah, thanks. I was on my stomach on a slope staring that cow in the eye while taking the pic... : )

  6. I couldn't face the whole blurb thing so I wrote a poem for mine. Just a little one. It got mentioned in a couple of reviews too so I guess it...did the job.

  7. Hey, nice one, Rachel...original idea and a successful one at that. Thanks - you got me pondering on that possibility too. : )

  8. I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

  9. I think Lissa's editorial blurb is wonderful! Hi Liz.

    I've written blurbs and like to read the entire mss, if possible, so I can really get a feeling for the collection.