Recently I received something pretty unusual: a kind of “fan email” for my limited-edition chapbook, White-Feathered Bodies. It was from a guy I’d never met, Steve Scafidi. I told my publishers at Q Ave about it, and learned just what a gifted poet Scafidi is. You should check out this collection at Blackbird, featuring poems like “On the Occasion of an Argument Beside the River Where I Live,” and “The Hayfield Chandelier” along with an audio interview and a reading. Or check out this discussion of “How a Poem Happens,” analyzing “To Whoever Set My Truck on Fire.”
What an unusual and generous thing! I think it says something about Steve. A passion? That someone can feel like Emily Dickinson’s description of how she knows she’s read a poem (the top of her head feels like it comes off)? A humility? That someone (fellow writer or not) would take a moment and try to communicate that experience, as a word of encouragement to the writer? For me, Scafidi’s email was generous and unexpected. And it came, I don’t know, a year after that small book was released? Or was it that I’d been on a run of rejections? A few weeks later when I was setting up this blog and posting reviews and summaries of a few books, I decided to include Scafidi’s comment along with the original blurb on the book by Rick Jackson.
A few weeks later, he said he’d seen what he’d written to me, and wished I’d have at least let him know that I was using his email as a blurb. Fair enough. I wondered, Why did I use a quote he’d sent to me as a private email in such a public way as to include it on my blogsite as if it had been written publicly? I was in a hurry, I guess. At the very least I certainly should have given thought to promoting my own work with Scafidi’s email comment. It would have been more polite–more appropriate–to have simply asked him if it would be all right to use what he’d sent me on my blog. So, here, publicly, thank you Steve for taking the time to look me up and send me a good word!