Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Category: Reading

Why I Write

The following is my winning entry to the Kevin Smokler Scholarship for the 2016 San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC). The conference began yesterday and I’ve already gleaned a lot from a first day of connecting with insightful writers, editors, and agents! A huge thanks to Kevin Smokler for sponsoring the scholarship and SFWC’s Barbara Santos for sharing the great news.


 

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What Else Can a Poem Be?

The following snippet of Jack Morgan’s review of blinks of awe brings up some fun questions:

…it’s hard to judge his poetry by itself because it isn’t. Are we going to start judging poetry like we do films and plays, where every job is criticized on its own merit? Should I take the sound production on its own and talk about that? We get a lot of new questions from work like this, which might be why Klepchukov made it in the first place.

Jack is referring to the unique qualities of the poetry in blinks of awe: the book lets you see my visual representation of each poem and lets you hear how I feel each poem should sound. How do you judge poetry by itself when other elements are involved? More importantly, do you even have to?

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I’m Now a (Self-)Published Poet

blinks of awe cover

I’m so thrilled to type these words: blinks of awe, my first poetry book, has just been published in 32 countries!

Blinks of awe is an interactive book of poetry, or as I prefer to call it, a poetry experience. It’s only available on the iPad but when you first open it, you’ll see why. There’s no boring, black, left-aligned, serif text on a tidy white page here. Traditional poetry isn’t boring; it just doesn’t leverage what’s possible today. I’ve pushed the technology further than I’ve ever seen in a poetry book so that the medium truly complements the content. In the future, I plan to write more about iBooks Author, the main tool that made this book (and the textbook I designed earlier this year) possible. But in the mean time, I need your help!

This project began as a “wouldn’t-that-be-neat” idea on a late January weekend. What I thought I’d throw together in two days and nights ended up taking two months. In the process, I learned a lot about self-publishing ebooks, from formats to ISBNs to imprints to copyrights to pricing to working with Apple. I learned the joy and exquisite pain of trying to record your own voice, from replicating the way it sounds in your head to how it sounds on various kinds of speakers. I pushed my vocal limits and made voice recording part of my editing process. I went through numerous design iterations of every single poem. I leveraged my best personal photos, my pencil and digital artwork, and royalty free photography to put together designs that I’m damn proud of. To keep myself motivated, I started a Seinfeld calendar with six friends and worked on blinks of awe every single day for 55 straight days. And now seeing it published just made it all worth it.

I have little experience in marketing. But I know that if I don’t try everything I can to share this book, all this hard work and wonderful, late-night inspiration will be for naught. So take a chance on something new. I think you’ll be surprised.

Buy blinks of awe in the iBookstore.

Looking for unusual poetry books

When I got the idea for blinks of awe earlier this year, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to push what modern technology can do for an artform as old as poetry. I’m excited by what I’ve come up with and I’m sure you’ll be excited too (as soon as I get Apple’s approval). While I’m waiting, I’ve been looking at what other poetry books have done to push the boundaries of the expected. Unfortunately, most moden poetry books are still left-aligned, black text on a white page. Most poetry ebooks shun the power of the devices they run on and are essentially exact replicas of their print versions.

The first really standout example I’ve found is Between Page and Screen by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse. Now this is what I was talking about when I wrote about creating a poetry experience! The book is both physical and digital, requiring a physical copy and a visit to the book’s web site to be read. The site uses your computer’s webcam to show you what neither the printed page nor the digital screen can. I am eagerly awaiting for my copy to arrive. I’ll post a review as soon as I can!

In the mean time, please feel free to suggest unusual poetry books in the comments! I’m sure there are others pushing the boundaries of verse.

Updateblinks of awe is now available here!

The Data Hiding Inside Ebooks

I recently met with one of the founders of a startup pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in ebooks. We discussed what impact more technology and better insight into reader behavior would have on publishing. Could books be more like web sites or apps in that regard? Would that be a better experience for readers, writers, and publishers?

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Judging Books by Their Opening Lines

You pick up a book with an interesting title or attractive cover. You flip it over to the back cover, trying to ignore the praise as you hunt for the description. Sometimes you have to crack open the jacket and occasionally the price in one of the corners catches your eye before the description. If you haven’t been distracted or turned away yet, you turn back to the cover, crack the book open, and hunt for that first real page. Does this process have to happen in this order?

No matter how hard I try, I still judge books by their covers. I judge them by their titles too but that feels less guilty since an author has more say in the title than the cover. It’s depressing to think how many good books I’ve missed out on because the cover and title didn’t entice me enough to open them to that wonderful first page. Could there be a way to overcome our biases as readers and find better books that are deserving of our time?

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