Voice Break by Kari Wergeland
I’m not sure how many people actually read poetry books in eBook format. Poetry is one genre that seems to demand the printed page. Still, I thought I’d experiment with an eBook version of Voice Break to see if readers prefer it to the paperback. That edition came out more than five years ago. Voice Break did receive some attention in a few media outlets in Oregon. It is now in a few libraries (probably donated review copies). Still, I couldn’t get my launch to garner a lot of attention. Voice Break is a self-published book. Enlisting CreateSpace to help me put the paperback together was an experiment, too.
Voice Break is a short memoir in verse about singing and writing. It focuses on setbacks, if not outright failure. It is also about getting back in the saddle. My adventures with singing and writing continue to unfold. Though I view writing as my first priority, singing has become a second art form for me (and this has been a huge surprise). I’ve just finished performing in a series of choir concerts on the Oregon Coast. I’m now looking forward to seeing what singing opportunities lie ahead. I have no doubt regular singing informs my writing, particularly the rhythms that bubble up as I compose poems. Strong rhythms aren’t only important for poetry. Good prose has interesting beats. As I write, I find myself trying to feel the rhythm of the words lining up inside my head. I listen for it, too.
I am timing the release of the Kindle edition of Voice Break in anticipation of the upcoming promotional launch of my new chapbook, Breast Cancer: A Poem in Five Acts (Finishing Line Press). Breast Cancer won’t be available until mid-June, though I plan to begin plugging it in February. If I’m lucky, my publicity efforts will help with the prepublications sales of Breast Cancer, while also generating some interest in Voice Break (particularly the less expensive eBook). I guess I’m dipping a toe in on this: testing how Voice Break will do in electronic format. If I do find there is enough interest in the Kindle edition, I may also release The Ballad of the New Carissa and Other Poems as an eBook. To be completely honest, I’m hoping Breast Cancer: A Poem in Five Acts will nudge me and my work firmly into traditional publishing, where I’d like to park my computer and stay a while.
Here’s the jacket blurb for Voice Break:
Following the advice of a community college music instructor, Kari Wergeland began taking voice lessons with a respected teacher at the age of 24. After roughly two years of study, with dubious results, she decided to stop singing. She began working as a librarian and eventually turned to writing newspaper articles, fiction, and poetry. Twenty years later, and on something of a whim, Wergeland enrolled in a workshop called The Natural Singer, with vocal coach Claude Stein. Inspired to resume voice lessons, it wasn’t long before she discovered her singing had changed. Voice Break is a long poem of possibility that tells the story of the author’s voice.
As an FYI, a shorter poem is embedded within the longer text of Voice Break; it’s titled “The Next Mountain: a Riddle.” This riddle poem actually has a specific answer, one that serves as a key to the entire piece. When I first put the manuscript together, I considered placing the answer at the end of the book, in case the reader became stumped. I decided against it, thinking poets don’t usually explicate their own work. Now I’m wondering if this decision was a mistake. I have a suspicion most readers didn’t assume there was a concrete answer to “The Next Mountain: a Riddle,” just a feeling tone. I have this suspicion because nobody ever suggested any answer to my face in an attempt to ask if they got it right! Ah well. The joy of self-publishing. It’s a learning curve, that’s for sure.
Special note to poetry aficionados who prefer good old fashioned printed books: I will be signing copies of Voice Break and The Ballad of the New Carissa and Other Poems in the Indie Author Pavilion at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 11, 10 am – 12 pm.