“I am—a sea of—alone.”

Alfred Hitchcock (at one of his last public appearances)

Psycho. The Birds. Rear Window. Vertigo. North by Northwest. Notorious. The Thirty-Nine Steps.

The list goes on and on—the masterpieces of the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock is almost certainly the most popular and influential film director of Hollywood’s classic age—but he’s more than that. Nearly three decades after his death, the image and voice of Alfred Hitchcock remain instantly recognizable throughout the world. The word “Hitchcockian” is understood by movie fans in every corner of the globe to refer to films that are brimming with tension, romance, and shocking plot twists. The music from his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series (actually Gounod’s “Funeral March for a Marionette”) is known to everyone, forty years after the show’s cancellation, as “the Alfred Hitchcock theme.”

Hitchcock was one-of-a-kind, and there can hardly be a movie or TV fan anywhere who has not been affected by his work. A Sea of Alone: Poems For Alfred Hitchcock will celebrate this unique figure in a suitably unique way—through verse.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Update From the Editor...

With one month to go in the submission period for A Sea of Alone, I thought it might be helpful to let writers know where we are with the project, and what they might want to consider in terms of creating poems for us. We want to get poems we can use, and time is running short!

I really think this book is going to be sensational. We’ve got a great mix of known names and newcomers, and the manuscript as it stands has a real “wholeness”—different writers, yes, different voices, but all held together by the Hitchcockian theme. I believe that this will be an anthology that is truly more than the sum of its parts.

Submissions actually came in quite slowly back in the fall, when we first opened; that was a surprise. Both Vince and I were afraid of a deluge from Day One. It didn’t happen, and that allowed me to give early-submission poets a lot of leisurely individual attention. But things have accelerated over the past few months, to the point that I’m now a busy editor indeed. I expect the workload to increase even more in February, as we push up against the deadline. As a result, responses to submissions may be briefer than before—but they will come fast. I’m a pretty efficient fellow.

Here are some points to ponder if you’re thinking of sending us a poem.

  • I’ve already accepted several poems focused on The Birds. As a result, we’re pretty impacted on that particular film. I’ll read your Birds-related poem, no problem—but bear in mind that it’s going to have to be awfully good. I don’t want any one film to dominate this anthology.
  • To my surprise, we’re not impacted on Psycho. Early in the submission process, fully half the poems I was receiving were focused on this film—but they didn’t make the cut (as it were). I’m open to Psycho poems, but please: Everybody knows that Psycho is a scary film, and that Norman Bates is a creepy guy. Your poem needs to go deeper. You might remember that while Psycho is indeed frightening, it’s also very sad—and very funny.
  • I’ve rejected a lot of poems that do nothing more than skim over the major facts of Hitchcock’s career, with film titles and whatnot. This kind of poem just isn’t very interesting or insightful. After all, everybody knows who Hitchcock is. They know the titles of his major films. They know that he’s the Master of Suspense. Tell us (or, better, show us) something we don’t know.
  • I’ve gotten a number of poems on the subject of Hitchcock’s cameos in his films. This topic will probably be a tough sell at this point, unless you have something very striking and original to say.
  • With one or two exceptions, the light verse I’ve received has not been usable. Quality light verse has wit and insight. Silly joke poems aren’t going to make it here. Poets who wish to submit light verse should be familiar with contemporary masters of the form such as Billy Collins and John Updike.
  • I have received few (if any) poems about Hitchcock’s youth or early career. You may, if you wish, take that as a hint...or, rather, let’s call it a clue.
  • I have also received few (if any) poems about Hitchcock’s late career and final years. Another clue...
  • Why hasn’t anybody sent me anything centered on Rear Window, North by Northwest, or even—and this is kind of hard for me to believe—Vertigo?
  • In general, my feeling about the submissions so far is that almost everybody is taking the theme very literally. The poems I’m getting are clear, well-written, competent...and, generally speaking, a bit tame. I’m sensing a lack of wildness. Don’t be afraid to send something surreal, irrational, bizarre...as long as the connection to Hitchcock is clear, I’ll be happy to have a look. Hitchcock was an innovative genius of film—I want innovative geniuses of poetry.

So send me your best work, and let’s finish this anthology in style!