Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Touched by Fire -- the surprise poetry book

I’m one of those writers who just can’t work on one thing at a time. I need to have several projects going at once – several articles to write, several books going through the publication process and several books going at one time. And I actually have several books lined up to write after I finish the current batch, among them several different kinds of poetry books. Now, these poetry books are books I KNOW I want to write and will eventually write. Some of them have bits and pieces already written, and it’s just a matter of finishing them. So it was interesting how my new poetry book, Touched by Fire, was completely unexpected and ended up being something of a "surprise."

One particular poetry book I had put together was a book I titled Wandering Soul, which is taken from the title of one the poems in this book. This manuscript was the combination of a poetry book that was out of print, as well as newer poems to make the whole thing “new” again. That collection ended up being pretty long, so I decided it would be my “big book of poetry.” When the original manuscript got a rejection, I took another look at it, and I realized it was not “right.” So I sent it back to the virtual workshop and operated on it.

The second result was the breaking down of the whole book. I took the original poems from the out-of-print poetry book and that short collection was republished as Follow That Dream (original title: Take My Hand, which was published twenty years ago by a subsidy publisher). Next, I tried to take what was left of the poetry book and use them for a poetry book with the title “Wandering Soul.” But after all was said and done, and I started thinking about that book’s cover, I realized something else: This book wasn’t right, either! Back it went to the workshop.

The third and final result was another breakdown of this book. I took so many poems that seemed to have a theme and put them into what will DEFINITELY be Wandering Soul. Then I realized I had quite a few soldier-themed poems in this book. Why not turn that into another poetry book for the soldiers? So, that’s exactly what I did. (This particular poetry book was recently completed; it just needs to go through the revision process before I send it off for edits.)

Then I took a look at what was left. I saw some poems in this collection that were about being a burn survivor. It made me realize, you know, there’s a theme here. So I decided to make this particular poetry book about being a burn survivor. That was how the new poetry book, Touched by Fire, was born.

As I worked on this poetry manuscript, I had to pay close attention to the poems I included. I have always wanted to include some of my favorite poems in a poetry book, but, put together, they didn’t have a theme. So I decided to include these favorite poems in this book. I also included poems that readers have contacted me about telling me how much they loved the poem or how it inspired them. I also included poems I wrote for friends and poems in memory of those lost.

Now, as the theme of the book was about being a burn survivor, I felt it was appropriate to give readers some idea of what kind of person I am and where I’m coming from. There is one downside to this. I have not exactly had a charmed life. You know, there’s been some bad stuff, and I was worried that portraying this side of my past in the book might cast a negative mood over it. I texted one of my sisters about this and told her I was worried about “creating drama” in the book. I want the book to be positive and inspire others. My sister pointed out that it was good to show the bad and negative things, because this would make it more “real” and some people, even burn survivors, might be able to relate to it. So I kept those poems.

These are the poems in the book that relate to personal stuff from my life:

“Touched by Fire”
“The Other Room”
“A Family Thing”
“Stop Living in Denial”
“What Do You See?”
“They Said ‘Don’t’”
“’No’ Means ‘No’”
“He’s Out There Somewhere”
“Burned And Deaf”
“Lost in a Book”
“The Truth”
“There Once Was A Man”
“After I Am Dead”
“Just Another Restless Night”
“When I Dream of You”
“A Distant Memory”
“Walk Away”
“Run Away”
“Listening to the Silence”
“Still Waters”
“Golden Boy”
“Together in Death”
“You Do Not Belong to Me”
“To My Friend”
“All We Have”
“I’ll Always Be Close By”
“A Light Gone Out Too Soon”
“Baby’s First Christmas”
“Remembering Lukas”
“People Watching”
“Mommy Can’t Hear”
“Don’t Judge Yet”
“Rescue Me”
“Rules of My Heart”
“Can This Be Real?”
“This Choice I Made”
“While You Are Small”
“My Face to the World”
“Don’t Call Me Victim”
“A Friend Across the Miles”
“My Past is Not My Present”
“Embrace Today”
“Songs in My Heart”
“Won’t Give Up”
“A Different Kind of Christian”
“Don’t Wanna Play”
“My Friends”
“Lone Wolf”
“Never One Thing”
“Always Close By”
“Rise Up!”
“Please Stop and Think”
“Being Sick”
“Thank You”
“It’s My Turn”
“The Survivors”
“The Right Notebook”
“A Love So Strong”
“Fake Friends”
“Can’t Help the Way I Feel”
“Those Days Must Pass”
“I Would Have Liked”
“Walking Fool”
“The Desert”
“A New Day”
“Dear Mother, My Mother”

Some of these poems reflect my philosophy about life and certain attitudes. Some of them were written in memory of family members who have left this world, or written for my children. And some of them were about my dream experience.

Some of the other poems in the book were inspired by events, online chats and just feelings that came over me. For example, once, at sundown, when I lived in the desert, I took the time to observe my surroundings and the changing colors of the sky. This inspired the poem “Twilight in the Desert.” The poem “The Lost Firefighters” was written in memory of the 19 firefighters who died in Arizona, but I kept the poem to where it could be something honoring the memory of any firefighters who died while on the job. Firefighters are our true heroes. They saved my life long ago and I will always be grateful to firefighters and respect them for what they do.

I am very excited about this new poetry book. It really is the largest collection of poems I have put out there (there are 152 of them!). So it looks like I got my “big book of poetry” after all. I will still get the soldier poems book and Wandering Soul out there in due time.

Here is the blurb for the book:

"Burn victim." The term is applied as though someone who has come through the flames will now and always be a "victim." For anyone who has been touched by fire, a transformation takes place and life takes on new meaning and new challenges that will inspire courage, self-acceptance and hope. The poems in this book are about how one "burn victim" transformed herself into a "burn survivor." To survive the flames and bear the scars of a fiery ordeal means a life of struggle, seclusion, fear and a desire to be accepted by others. But in the end, one must be able to get past all of this, find the strength to hold their head high and face the world as a burn survivor who can stand strong.

And here is the buy link.

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