Launch Day!

Today is the official launch day for my second book, Call Me by My Other Name! I kicked off the day with an interview on my friend Jessica's Periscope channel. It was so much fun to talk with her and the viewers about my writing process.

Then, tonight, I hosted a Book Launch reading, Q&A, and giveaway on Periscope, with folks tuning in from all over, from Texas to Japan! I read several poems, offered advice to budding poets, and discussed my research methods. I also debuted my new weekly poetry series on Periscope: #ReadMorePoems, where I'll be reading and chatting about a poem I like every Thursday. Tonight I read a poem from Tana Jean Welch's book Latest Volcano. 

For more on the #ReadMorePoems series, head over to the page on this site!


Carl Sagan on Books

I love this quote by Carl Sagan:



What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan 




Review in The Southeast Review

The Southeast Review just published an in-depth review of Call Me by My Other Name. Emily Faison wrote the review, and she also interviewed me back in November. It's moving to read a review by someone who obviously spent so much time with my work. I've worked on this project steadily for a decade, and now that it's out in the world, it is exciting to see how other readers interret my writing.

"I’m still not sure if Valerie Wetlaufer has written a history in verse, or simply folded history into poetry, but either way, Call Me By My Other Name leaves readers gasping with both horror and understanding.

A news clipping epigraph, rewritten in verse in “Helpmate IV,” shapes the tone and the historical realness of the book, describing the imprisonment of Frank Blunt, born Anna Morris, and the grief of partner Gertrude Field. This history weighs heavy on the entire collection, but rather than reading like a historical fiction novel, the reader gets vignetted glimpses of a period in time through verse.

Poems featuring moments from Frank and Gertrude’s fictionalized life together cut no corners with lines like “Born Anna in the fields / under the sun, born goat-tender, / sister-keeper, son-in-a-dress” (“Naming Spell”) and “I’ve been in trousers / since I was ten. / Prison dress wilts around me” (“Distance Cuts No Figure”). These poems, and others equally blunt, do the heavy work of plot without sacrificing the grace of verse. Wetlaufer builds verses with a kind of intimacy surprising for the lack of primary source material, relying instead on poetry to tell her story.

Not every poem directly addresses Frank and Gertrude’s story, but serves to establish the mood of the period through details like “Dots and dashes intertwine on paper for lovers / faraway” (“The Telegrapher”) and “The fires of home blazing, / my petticoat awash by the river” (“Cupid’s Itch”). Immersed in a sepia world that still rides on horseback and wears “corsets and aprons, bustles and bonnets” (“Epidemic: Diptheria”), these poems blend the romantic and stoic to develop the accuracy of emotion so crucial to historical fiction."


The #othernametour for my second book

My author copies of Call Me by My Other Name arrived late last week, and I'm thrilled to see the finished book in person.




I've also been busy scheduling my book tour (#othernametour) in support of the book. I look forward to visiting Austin, TX, Buffalo, NY, Madison, WI, Chicago, IL, various locations around Iowa, and those are just the spots in the midst of being scheduled right now! Lots more info forthcoming, but I'm so excited to meet readers around the country and share the stories in Call Me by My Other Name. I'm so proud of this book, and it means quite a lot to me.

My first reading for the book will be on March 10 at 8pm as part of the Midwest Writing Center's Spectra Poetry Reading Series at Rozz-Tox in the Quad Cities (2108 3rd Ave Rock Island, IL), along with poets Justin Boening, Jason Bredle, and Karyna McGlynn. Even though it is a few days before the official launch of the book, I will have both books for sale.

Would you like me to come to your town, speak to your class, read for your friends? Hit me up at valeriewetlaufer at gmail dot com, and don't forget to use the hashtag #othernametour to follow along and participate in the tour on social media!


It's a Periscope Party!


I love Periscope. It's such a great app, and very well-suited to literary events that aren't always accessible because of time, distance, accessibility of the venue, etc. So I am throwing myself a Periscope Launch Party to celebrate the publication of my second book, Call Me by My Other Name. The app is free to download, so get it, follow me @v_phd, and tune in on March 15th, the official publication day, at 7pm central for a reading, Q&A, giveaways of both my books, and more! (You can also watch from a computer and tweet me questions, but you won't be able to interact through the app from your desktop.)