Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Tag: blinks of awe

Blinks of Awe Beyond the iPad

So far only poetry lovers with iPads have been able to read blinks of awe, my new poetry book. People without an iPad can now get a better peek at the poetry in the book, which you can see, touch, and hear. I also want to learn where else people want to experience this kind of work. So please check out the samples below and voice your opinion!

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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!

blinks of awe themes: romantic antics

Until recently, I believed being in love was my purpose in life. That’s why the last chapter of blinks of awe, “a lonely heart,” is last. It’s one of the ways I’ve been consciously de-emphasizing this once omnipotent force. But being last is not just an act of defiant neglect. It’s also the writer’s last chance to drive his or her point home, to leave a mark, to get one step closer to immortality.

Love is a powerful way to find purpose in your life. Even the mildly reciprocal can instantly convince you that everything is worth it. Those gentle places of your heart are intoxicating to visit. The raw feelings are addictive and more memorable than scars. What else do you need to justify your very breath if not the way she looks at you and how that makes you feel?

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blinks of awe themes: losing youth

It’s hard to write about the poems in the third chapter of blinks of awe, th’ Lost & Young, without getting lost in thought about the people who inspired them. One endured one of the ghastliest things anyone could experience and went on to rebuild and build. Another isn’t here anymore. Another is still growing up so it’s too early to judge the effects of her youth.

Being young is fascinating because of the moments when we start to lose it. The adult world doesn’t wait until you’re old enough or strong enough, mentally or physically, before it pulls you in. No kids make it out of adolescence whole. They walk with young scars, whether badges of survival or self-inflicted. No one asks you to grow up. Time rolls on, and the world puts you in that difficult position.

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blinks of awe themes: the in-between

It’s fitting that “tiny anomalies” is the shortest chapter in blinks of awe because it refers to largely forgotten parts of life. When picking poems for blinks of awe, I tried to group them together thematically and emotionally. Most poems carried many feelings and suggested very clear categories but soon something else snuck up on me. I first came across it when I realized Chaos & Cappuccinos simply didn’t fit in any of the other chapters. I scribbled “off-beat” in the margin until I found a better name: the in-between.

The majority of life happens between moments we remember. Everything else, every coffee sip, every brisk walk, all the moments between places and phone calls and everywhere you’re going, ends up almost entirely forgotten. My mind gently glosses over all the hours I spend here until nostalgia rushes in to remind me that quite a bit of time has passed. All of those times you lived through but hardly remember? That’s the in-between.

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blinks of awe themes: nostalgia

“preDawn”, the first chapter of blinks of awe, touches on traveling, inspiration, the deep corners of the night, and nostalgia. Though the latter is only directly referenced in two of the seven poems, it drives the other topics and ideas in its own unique way.

Nostalgia has been a pet topic of mine for years. I moved over a dozen times before finishing college. That taught me how to connect and disconnect but not how to forget. My first novel is very much a nostalgia story. But before I was ready to write about it at book length, I explored those constant fields of change through poetry.

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What exactly is a poetry experience?

Roughly a week ago I submitted my first collection of poetry to Apple’s iBookstore. As I eagerly check the submission site for the book’s status several times a day, I reflect on what brought me here. How does someone who never imagined releasing anything other than a traditionally published novel end up self-publishing an interactive collection of poetry, exclusively for the iPad? Why poetry? Why just the iPad? What exactly is this poetry experience I’ve been pushing since I started the project?

I have a confession to make. I hardly read any poetry. I’m not going to come up with a convincing excuse. I’m just going to shake things up and make more people read more poetry, period. How? The iPad. Yes, the same iPad full of endless videos, high definition games, elegant news readers, and a thousand other distractions. Of all the apps that raced through your mind when I mentioned the iPad, I doubt iBooks was one of them. But I’ll change that too.

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