Monday, November 10, 2014

Introducing Grace Ocasio: Poet and Performer Part II

Here is the second part of my interview with North Carolina poet,  Grace Ocasio.  Click here if you missed Part I.
Photo of Grace
by Edwin Ocasio
Carol: How did you pick your publisher?  
Grace: I found BlazeVOX in a list of small presses and was  glad to see that it was open to submissions throughout the year. I received an encouraging email after my submission, but that was all. Over a year's time I received a series of emails pertaining to upcoming group readings of BlazeVOX authors as well as their online journal of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. I didn't think much of these emails except that many poetry publishers send little or no material out to potential authors. I liked that the publisher, Geoffrey Gatza, reached out without soliciting funds. His approach struck me as egalitarian in the best sense of the word.  Geoffrey is also a motivator which is highly unusual within the poetry field.  The more I interacted with Geoffrey via email exchanges, the more I knew BlazeVOX was right for me.  There was another small press interested in my manuscript, but ultimately I went with my gut feeling and committed to going with BlazeVOX.  I haven’t regretted it. 

 Carol: How will you market The Speed of Our Lives?  
Grace: I’m planning to send some books to Small Press Distribution this November, which will allow the book to be seen by many fellow poets.  Although it is available through my website, Amazon, and on BlazeVOX, I have mainly promoted the book through my readings. Selling poetry books is really not a lucrative business.   It’s most important to make connections with other poets: to go to other poets’ readings, to invest the time in attending meetings and/or conferences sponsored by organizations like the Association of  Writers and Writing Programs, the North Carolina Writers’ Network, the Poetry Society of North Carolina, and the Charlotte Writers’ Club. 

Carol: Any recommendations for other poets?  
Grace: Persist, persist, persist.  You are your own greatest promoter.  You will receive a ton of rejections and a handful of acceptances.  It is simply the nature of the poetry profession.  Don’t take it personal.  Don’t give up.  Your ultimate acceptance is just around the corner.  Hang on.

Carol: What are you working on now?   
Grace: I am working on a children’s book designed for older middle graders, The Adventures of South Bronx Sally, and my second full-length poetry project, Family Reunion.   I only have three more poems to write for the Family Reunion project, and some of those poems are making their way into small press journals. Then I hope to turn my attention entirely to South Bronx Sally soon. 
Grace will autograph a copy of The Speed of Our Lives for one of you. Leave me a comment by 6 PM on November 13 and I'll enter your name in the giveaway.  If you say what you liked about Grace's poem on last week's blog, I'll enter your name twice. Make sure you leave me your email address if I don't have it. 


Linda A. said...

Connecting with other poets/writers is important. By the way, I love the cover of your book.

Thanks for another terrific interview, Carol.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

"Your ultimate acceptance is just around the corner. Hang on."

Thanks, Grace!

Linda Phillips said...


I know you will make it with the attitude of "persist, persist, persist." Not only that, anyone who can wear a hounds tooth jacket with panache is stellar in my book!

Rosi said...

Thanks so much for introducing me to Grace Ocasio and her wonderful poetry. What did I like about her poem? The sheer audacity of the speaker. I loved her voice.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Linda, Linda, Joyce and Rosi. I'm sure Grace will enjoy your comments and Rosi- you are in twice!

.Grace Ocasio said...

Hi Linda! Thanks so much for your comment about my book cover. I will let my husband know as it was his vision for me to do such a cover.

.Grace Ocasio said...

Hi Joyce,

I hope the comment about acceptances does indeed inspire you!


.Grace Ocasio said...

Thanks very much, Linda! I just received my copy of your book Crazy in the mail on Friday and am eager to read it!

.Grace Ocasio said...

Dear Rosi,

Thanks so very much for your kind and generous words on my poem. Made my day!


Anonymous said...

Carol, I enjoyed learning more about Grace. I too love her attitude of persist, persist,persist! Grace thank you for sharing and inspiring the rest of us!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Kathy. Your name is in the hat!

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