Ebookery: Gerald So On Poetry

For over a decade now, Gerald So’s been involved in the crime fiction community, first as fiction editor for The Thrilling Detective Web Site, and more recently as the force behind The Lineup, an annual crime-themed poetry collection. Gerald has just released a collection of his own poetry called We Might Have. He took some time to answer a few questions about the project, about The Lineup, and butt dialing.

1) Tell us about We Might Have and how you came to put this collection together.

We Might Have is a collection of twenty-four poems on love and chance.  It came together at a friend’s suggestion after I’d learned how to make an ebook version of my print journal, The Lineup: Poems on Crime.

2) The book contains the first mention I’ve ever seen of butt dialing in a poem. What prompted that?

You refer to the poem “Four Weeks Before The Wedding”, where the speaker second-guesses his decision not to attend an old friend’s wedding until, four weeks before the wedding, his friend inadvertently dials him. I like to use slang/jargon/shorthand when I can. It paints a clear picture in fewer words.  That’s often the goal of a poem.

3) What made you decide to go the ebook route?

Poetry is inherently more difficult to e-publish than prose because layout varies from one poem to the next.   I decided to make an ebook partly because it was challenging.  In researching how to do it, I read many articles about the obstacles of bringing poetry to e-readers.  In fact, Lulu.com did an automatic ebook conversion of The Lineup with no regard for poetry’s layout quirks.  That’s when I decided I had to code the book myself.

4) You’ve also done The Line Up for the last four years. What is that project’s current status?

My co-editors–Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Cortez, Richie Narvaez–and I are currently reorganizing, not taking submissions at the moment.  Keep an eye on http://poemsoncrime.blogspot.com for any updates. In the meantime, ebook versions of Issues 1-4 will be released as soon as I get all the reprint permissions.

5) You were Thrilling Detective’s fiction editor for almost a decade. Are you still dabbling in crime fiction on the prose front?

Yes. I write the occasional story, and a novel is still a gleam in my eye.

6) Do you think ebooks are a good bet for poetry?

I think poetry’s brevity goes well with an e-reader’s convenience. I haven’t seen many ebooks like mine–that account for an e-reader’s screen and font-resizing features and preserve poetic lines as written–but it’s easy enough to do if you take the time. I do believe, as new media emerge, poetry deserves a foothold just as prose does.

7) So what else do you have planned on the ebook front?

My next eBook project may be a collection of short stories featuring 1930s pilot-for-hire C.J. Stone.  I’ve had seven Stone stories published, and I hope looking at them again inspires me to write more.