MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT – THE UNVEILING OF ADAM
by Bryan Borland
On December 20, 2009, my father died unexpectedly from injuries he received in a motor vehicle accident. On November 25, 2009, I gave my father a copy of my manuscript, My Life as Adam. My Life as Adam is a portrait of my family as we struggled to accept both my sexuality and the death of my older brother, who similarly died in a motor vehicle accident when I was thirteen years old. Because the poems of Adam are extremely personal and intimate as they relate to my family, I asked my father for his blessing prior to moving forward to publish my first full-length collection.
He told me I didn’t need his blessing, but that I had it.
As an early Christmas gift, my father provided me with the funds to hire prominent New York-based author, editor, and book designer John Stahle to create my own imprint. Thus, in his last act of love to me, my father enabled me to bring Adam to the public. Two weeks before he died, I told him, “Dad, you’ve made my dreams come true.” His generosity culminates with the announcement that my first book, My Life as Adam, will be published in early 2010 by Sibling Rivalry Press.
After lengthy counsel with mentors and friends, I made the decision to bypass a partnership with a traditional publishing house. Though there are many wonderful independent presses in existence and many benefits to walking the road commonly traveled, I believe that my potential audience could best be served if I maintained a level of involvement that is so often impossible within the constraints of traditional publication. I wanted to be intrinsically involved with every aspect of Adam, from the look and feel of the book to how it is marketed and promoted. In the spirit of Whitman, Poe, and Wilde, My Life as Adam will come to the masses with its author in complete control, live or die.
There are stigmas associated with self-publishing that I intend to shatter. Perhaps the strongest stigma is that self-published books suffer from a lack of professionalism or quality. I guarantee you that my book will aesthetically hold up to, if not surpass, the looks of other poetry books on the market. I’ve selected the cover art, a portrait by the talented gay artist Seth Ruggles Hiler. John Stahle, who many will recognize from his work on the top-of-the-line journal Ganymede, has worked tirelessly to coordinate the book’s layout and production. I asked gay art guru Philip F. Clark to write an introduction, which he did, and folks, it blew me away. The team I’ve assembled continues to impress me, and I can say, unequivocally, that when My Life as Adam steps out of our collective imaginations and swaggers seductively into your hands, you will not be disappointed.
In the end, my father made this decision for me. He taught me that so often, we waste time by not seizing opportunities. The world of publishing is changing and, indeed, has changed. I could have waited. I could have spent $25.00 per manuscript contest entry and tried to catch the eye of a publisher. I could have done back flips to win over expert panels. I could have sent My Life as Adam out to mainstream press after mainstream press and, yeah, I might have eventually been picked up. I might have been paid an advance. I might have been assigned cover art I abhorred. I might have received little-to-no promotion or support from my publisher. I might have gone out of print after a year. I might have grown old waiting for something to happen to me rather than making it happen myself.
It seems the only argument I could find against self-publishing a book of poetry came primarily from MFA programs and their administrators, many of whom believe in only one path to literary success. Self-publishing apparently kills one’s chances to become an academic. I think I killed those chances myself long ago.
With the advent of Sibling Rivalry Press, the champagne of success or the blood of failure is completely on my hands. My Life as Adam is, more than anything I’ll ever publish, my story. But it’s also the story of the kid in Nebraska, or Illinois, or Alabama, or New Jersey. It’s our story.
My Life as Adam is soon to become a reality. I want to express a great appreciation to so many who have helped me on this journey, including my husband, Christopher Baxter, and friends Loria Taylor, Stephen S. Mills, David Koon, and Jessie Carty. I want to thank Philip F. Clark for the hours of communication and motivation. I want to thank the readers of this blog whose feedback transformed me into a poet. But mostly, I just want to thank my father, the man who made the first thirty years of my life as Bryan truly wonderful.