Eeva Maria al-Khazaali

3 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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From debut to comeback in poetry

From debut to comeback in poetry


My debut poetry collection (in Finnish only) was published the year 2009 from a small on-demand publisher called ntamo. Because I still love the book and what it has made of me, I thought that I would like to share the story behind the scenes. Before I do, I also wanted to summarize the nature of the debut. It is a unrequired and one-sided love story between the leading woman, Elise and a man, a glassblower, that doesn't even notice how Elise spends her days by doing chores and dreaming about the man and him coming home to her. The sound of drawing echoes through the walls, as Elise dreams and the man ignores him, focusing in his work. The titles are contemporary and very pop art even if the actual poetry has a narrative of a drama.

I had made attempts before to write a poetry collection - ever since I started writing seriously when I was in high school. In Orivesi College of Art, where I studied creative writing after that, I got positive feedback but the publishers were a bit iffy on my work, I worked even harder. In College I got feedback from an author/teacher, who said I should go forward with what then was a draft of my debut. After College, I moved in a studio apartment and worked from 8 till 5 on my poetry. I read a lot: for an example Goethe and de Beauvoir, and made remarks on how to "hyperlink" or contextualize the whole book. I like the hidden meanings in books: maybe only something the poet and her peer would know. So, I hid people in the book in simple verses and wrote the prose poetry collection in just about 6 months time, working endlessly at home.

This was when I met various poets and got so much feedback that it blew me away. I met people who did really influence me. I wanted to have a dialogue between their books and my book-to-be. So I wrote the references in, ever so subtly they are very difficult to find in the book. The poets I met back then introduced me to all sorts of outer-literature procedures and emphasized the importance of networking. Through these connections I met the publisher of my debut. When I met him, I gave him a rose and asked if they could print and sell my script as a book. He said that if I really know this poet I referred to, he could make it a book without even reading the script. I was ecstatic.

Later on, whilst I was studying in England, I got an email confirming the publication. The book was ready to be once more proof-read by me. I did my best but hid a couple of spelling mistakes in the book in the advice of my artist friend - just to see if the script would be actually read before making it to the printing machines. The mistakes, as odd peculiarities, stay: I have a missing "." and a missing "h" from the word "she" in it. After signing my contract and returning to Finland, once the book was already in stores, I had no idea what a tax card was. I send a copy of my taxes to the publisher, lost my email password, my blog (that had an ad on my book cover) and hence the publisher never got back to me. This resulted various problems in our relationship and the book only got a couple of reviews online. I didn't have a publishing party or anything like that. I purchased a couple of copies of my own book on a discount to hand out to my family.

My family has probably got already tired of me speaking about my debut. Gosh, it's been so many years since it came out. Before that and after, I have written poetry in both English and Finnish to various culture and art magazines. Also, I scored a post as an assistant (and a columnist) in a local newspaper because of this experience I have in writing. Over the course of years, I have wanted to make a movie, theater play, an English translation and whatnot from my debut. None of these projects have found any chances in the real world so my debut remains small (but real) in the literary world. Having the book published was nevertheless a dream come true, maybe hence the name "Unelma" (engl. "The dream").

And boom! Where has it gotten me today? I am planning my poetry comeback with a book coming out next October. It will be older poems I have blogged once but deleted from the blogsphere. They are about growing up as an artist and never losing the sight of your light. The name of the collection remains uncertain at this time and contract is yet to be signed after a feedback session. But it will happen, also with the same publishing house the debut happened with. In the future I wish my writing will enable me more "writing jobs" (as I once vaguely posted I am searching on LinkedIn) and by that I mean that will portray my skills and knowledge in writing and open me new doors and horizons in the field. In result, there will be more books - and maybe even an English translation sold in USA area from the second book. I shouldn't be talking yet about what looks possible and focus on what is possible - but I am an optimist after all these years of isolation, emptiness and being unheard of in the field.

This text is originally published in LinkedIn.
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Eeva Maria al-Khazaali

Eeva Maria al-Khazaali

3 years ago #2

#1
Thank you. I will let you know if anything comes out in English in the next year or so. :)

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #1

Welcome back then :-) I will check out the book too :-)

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