“The Disinformation Phase” of Chris Toll and PGP (vol 3 of 7)
(These posts are cross posted from the PGP Facebook, FYI.)
Today in where did this book come from part 3, I’d like to talk about Chris Toll’s poetry collection, “The Disinformation Phase.”
I think that book is listed at $5 in our shop, meaning with the 50% off coupon code “backagain,” it’ll cost $2.50, which is less than the price of shipping. But I’m cool with that. I just want people to read his poems (an oft-said thing by poetry publishers, I think).
First, though, did you know you can listen to Chris read his work on WYPR, thanks to radio producer extraordinaire, Aaron Henkin? Yep:http://www.publishinggenius.com/chris-toll-at-wypr/ — most of those poems made it into “The Disinformation Phase.”
It’s a good listen, especially that first, introductory, track which begins “I’m Chris Toll, I’ve been writing for many, many years.”
Chris was one of the first people I met in Baltimore’s lit scene, and right away he was into the idea of Publishing Genius. This was when PG was still an outdoor journal—2006—when the empire included just hanging up poems on trees and in bus stops and on the sides of the many, many abandoned row houses.
And in shopping carts, underneath windshield wipers, tucked inside City Paper boxes. A lot of these places were spots that Chris invented.
He made me feel a lot more comfortable doing that weird project, where I felt too exposed. But he brought along his roll of Scotch tape and got me out of my comfort zone and made fun of me a lot.
Not long after that I published Rupert Wondolowski’s book, “The Origin of Paranoia as a Heated Mole Suit,” and Chris proofread it. He was known for his eagle eye. He was a proofreader at an accounting firm, so he prided himself in his exactitude. I think when he proofread Megan McShea’s book, he called himself a berzerker or something.
I met with Chris so he could tell me about the changes he was suggesting to Rupert’s book, so he could preserve his friendship with RW, I guess. That’s funny to me.
It was one of our first editorial meetings in a long history of editorial meetings. After he helped with Rupert’s book I asked him for a chapbook and we met for lunch in the Inner Harbor and he gave me the poems that became “I’ll Be the Invisible Girl Till the Day I Die.”
A lot of those poems became “The Disinformation Phase.”
When I told him I’d like to do his book, he started taking me out to dinner a lot, to discuss his poems, and to tell me that poetry wasn’t words, it was what was BEHIND the words. That he was like the wind, like a ghost. He told me to refer to him as “My friend, the Ghost.”
We ate a lot of sushi and he carried his manuscript around in a folder inside a folder inside a couple grocery bags. He used his cell phone as a flashlight because it was often too dark to see in the restaurants (usually XS, on Charles St).
He also used his cellphone to calculate the tip. Proofreader at an accounting firm, amiright?
I accepted his book as a solicitation. The backstory there is that I was hanging out with Chris and Joseph Young, author of “Easter Rabbit,” and I told them both to get me a manuscript so I could publish it. I made it like a race. I think Chris had his ready in a month or two—but maybe it was Joe.
As far as the editing, I didn’t have a ton of input. I mostly argued with him about whether the ninjas or lady detectives in his poems needed rayguns AND broadswords. Then I helped arrange the poems into sections. He came up with the names for the sections, which are brilliant: “The Ritual in Spiritual,” “The We in Weep,” and “The Ion in Redemption.” I like the last one best.