I never realized how hard it is to get a second book published. My first book a collection of poetry “You Don’t Know Me” was published by TSAR Publications in Toronto. Now two years ago when my poetry collection came out of course I was happy until I actually looked at the book. TSAR just didn’t care. Despite the problems I had with TSAR if you check Worldcat which is a big online resource for books you will see my book has reached over 102 public libraries in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States on Worldcat. The book is available in the British Library in London as well and other UK public libraries. The only good thing about my book is the fact it is in public libraries and people can actually read the book. I do have a legitimate professional credit the book is also available in the Library of Congress in the United States, the British library in the UK, and the Library of Archives of Canada.
I got a close call earlier this month. An American publisher was interested republishing “You Don’t Know Me”. The first batch of editors liked it. But the poetry book editor rejected my proposal. Of course I was upset for a minute. I made sure I didn’t waste time with Canadian publishers though. Because as a black gay man I know that Canadian publishers just don’t bother to publish us. And when I go to bookstores all the fucking books on the shelves are about African Americans. I think African American history and culture of course is important. I am a part of the African Diaspora. However, I am not an African American I am a black Canadian. What about us? What about our experiences? Do our lives matter? I wonder sometimes?
I mean I don’t live in the USA. I think African American history is interesting. But where is the balance? And then if there are books about black Canadians. Its always written by some 50 year old or 65 year old uppity black person that thinks they are the shit. Its so fucking annoying!!!
I have been told by an agent that Canadian book publishers think “blacks don’t read” and that “blacks don’t sell in Canada.” Of course blacks don’t sell in Canada because Canadian publishers have such a distorted and racist viewpoint about black Canadians in general especially young black Canadian men. I mean flip through a motherfucking newspaper and read the fucking shit written about us 24/7. It seems the only images of young black men are those fucking rappers or those motherfucking basketball players. Yeah, that big deal. In my mind those kinds of images of the hyper masculine black male are not positive and I believe those images are very myopic in their presentation of black masculinity.
Anyhow, My first poetry collection I pitched it to all the small press Canadian publishers and they just rejected it. I thought to myself “why?” I mean I know I am good. But you see I am also a black gay Canadian man. For Canadian book publishers yeah I am Canadian but I am also black. And the Canadian book scene is a pretty uppity, stuffy, white establishment.
I got a story published in the Philadelphia Inquirer last summer on July 12th 2006. The article “TV Still Stereotypes Black Women” and that gave me so much confidence. It was a big deal to get published in the United States for me. And although I have been published in the United States in the past it was very special to get published in a big American newspaper. It taught me a lesson. I won’t waste my time on the Canadian market any longer. Its just no good. Why devalue myself? I don’t got time for that bullshit. I am not giving up but there is a lot of frustration I am feeling right now. I hope for sure that I get something published soon.