“Steve Jobs is dead,” I said.

So begins my new book, Falling Up: A Memoir of Second Chances, which drops today from Homebound Publications as part of their Little Bound Book Essay Series.

When I spoke those words, I was speaking to an audience at the SXSW Eco festival on the morning of 5 October 2011. Jobs had just died and many in the crowd had not heard the news. He was fifty six.

Fifty-six,” I write in the book. “As I stood on the stage that October morning in 2011, a couple of years shy of fifty myself, I couldn’t help thinking–as perhaps many in the room were thinking, too, in the wake of the example of Jobs–what have I done with my life?”

(You can read more from the opening of the book here.)

Falling Up, my most personal book to date, tells the story of several “second chances” I’ve had in my life, starting with a fall at Letchworth Gorge as a teenager in upstate New York through my most recent change of life, leaving EY after my job was eliminated despite the successful launch of a global technology-as-a-service solution that I led.

Along the way, I explore my original second chance in the wake of that fall in the gorge, my pursuit of art and writing throughout my life, learning to experience nature through the eyes of my children, as well as the story of several entrepreneurial endeavors–successes and failures–and, finally, how I found real and lasting love late in life and learned to embrace it.

Falling Up is about the struggle to become authentic, vulnerable, purpose-driven man in the 21st century and, ultimately, about making one’s dream a reality.

Mark Tercek, the former CEO of The Nature Conservancy–an organization for which I worked over fifteen years and that serves as part of the backdrop for several stories in the memoir–called the book, “An inspiring read for anyone seeking meaning in their work or in their life.”

I hope my little book–only 84 pages and around 10,000 words–lives up to the promise of that advance support and that it helps readers find a way to “fall up” in their own lives.

You can order the book directly from my publisher, Homebound Publications, or through Amazon, and wherever books are sold.

And if you do, please let me know what you think of Falling Up.

Fallow Field cover

This fall, the Aldrich Press is publishing my long-awaited new collection of poetry, FALLOW FIELD.

The book consists of 45 poems, representing my best work from the past quarter century.

You can order your signed copy of FALLOW FIELD here:

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My poetry has received the Nebraska Review Award and the Aldrich Emerging Poets Award, and I have been a Concordia Fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts.

My poems have appeared in magazines, literary journals, and anthologies or online, including the American Poetry ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewAnonLa Petite ZineMany Mountains Moving, and Terrain, among other publications.

I am also the author of a book of natural history, Walks in Nature’s Empire, published by The Countryman Press in 1995.

The paperback book is 96 pages, including front and back matter, with a gorgeous cover photograph by my good friend Joshua Sheldon (see picture), which was taken at the same time and has the same origin of inspiration as the title poem. (You can read the poem and its story here: “Fallow Field.”)

Here is what others have said about this collection, FALLOW FIELD:

“Scott Edward Anderson’s poems honor the reality that the things of the world – rye grass, fall warblers, ravens, owls, ‘Sargassum drifting/ in a pelagic wave,’ lovers and sourdough bread – speak to and for our innerness. Here the sense of place is not simply a matter of geography, but of feeling one’s way into that sense of becoming that makes one’s path clear. The book’s fourth section is comprised of poems that beautifully embrace the very human need to join the inner and outer, a territory defined, as the poem titles suggest, by ‘Becoming,’ ‘Shapeshifting,’ ‘Cultivating,’ ‘Mapping,’ and ‘Healing.’ Guided since childhood, as the book’s closing long poem relates, by nature’s teaching, Anderson is devoted to finding the words for what it means to dwell mindfully among others on the wounded earth.”

–Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Rope: Poems

“I was impressed by Anderson’s engagement with nature — especially the way in which his lyrical lines sketch the profound relationship between humans and their environment.”

– Jonathan Galassi, author of Left-handed: Poems

“Wow, Pop, I had no idea you wrote so many poems!”

– Walker Anderson, the author’s 10-year-old son

My poetry is rooted in nature and grounded in what Robert Hass called the “strong central tradition of free verse made out of both romanticism and modernism, split between the impulses of an inward and psychological writing and an outward and realist one, at its best fusing the two.”  (Hass, Introduction to Best American Poetry 2001)

I studied with Hass and with Gary Snyder, along with the late Walter Pavlich, and received some great mentoring and advice from poets Alison Hawthorne Deming, Donald Hall, Colette Inez, and Karen Swenson, as well as wonderful friends and readers.

My poetry is informed by a deep engagement with the natural world, attuned to the smallest details and complexities of nature and our experience of place. Attentiveness and mindfulness are critical to my method of working, both as the poem first evolves and later, through the often rigorous process of revision.

I believe poetry is the most direct language with which to approach our place in the world and reconnect us to nature. By nature, I mean not only the natural world, but also the built environment; not only the processes and causal powers of the physical world, but our immediate experience of the spiritual and the non-human.

For the past twenty five years, I have been building a body of poetry that tries to achieve my goal of writing that is open, approachable, and eminently readable, at the same time that it is intellectual and revels in the joy of language. FALLOW FIELD represents the best of my poetry over that time.

Order your signed copy of FALLOW FIELD below:

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Thanks to Peter Semmelhack, who asked for poetry recommendations via Twitter, I made a list of the 5 books of “contemporary” US poetry I can’t live without:

Elizabeth Bishop, Geography III

Robert Lowell, Life Studies

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island

Donald Hall, Kicking the Leaves

Robert Hass, Praise

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What are the 5 books of poetry you can’t live without?

I was reading Steven Johnson’s Wall Street Journal article on “How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write,” Monday morning and began to wonder about how the E-Book will change poetry publishing and writing.

I love books, always have, since I was a little kid and my Aunt Liz gave me a copy of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

I collect books.  Not in the way a rare or first edition collector does, although I do have a small group of 1sts, but rather as a collector of, well, books, of literature.

Many of the books have their own stories, especially the books of poetry that line the dozen or more shelves in my living room: where I purchased the book, how I learned about the poet, what I was doing in Berkeley or New York or Paris or India or wherever when I bought it.

Now along comes the Kindle.  How will that change the way I read or write poetry?  How will affect how I buy poetry? How empty my bookshelves would seem if all my books were in electronic form.

Most of the poetry titles I buy fall into three categories: the latest collection of poems by poets whose work I am interested in (or poets I know); new poets I read about in Poets & Writers or find in a journal; and books I stumble upon either in a used bookstore (less frequent these days) or the local bookstore chain.

One thing I find disturbing about Johnson’s review of the Kindle experience was how he (or any Kindle reader) could suddenly stop reading one book and quickly download another.

While I appreciate that hyperlinks may help illuminate a text or help you learn more about what you are reading, it bothers me that books will never be read the same way again.

(And if hyperlinks are de rigueur in E-Books, can ads be far behind?).

Of course, this can lead, to use Johnson’s own words to, “Entirely new forms of discovery.”

I like what Johnson says about imagining “a software tool that scans through the bibliographies of the 20 books you’ve read on a specific topic, and comes up with the most-cited work in those bibliographies that you haven’t encountered yet.”

This reminds me of my old practice of scanning the Index of biographies of famous poets for the names of writers associated with them.  Eliot–>Pound–>Joyce, is one voyage of discovery I remember well.

But this can be taken to the extreme: I’d hate to see an “intelligent” recommendations search incorporated such as they have on Amazon: “Readers who are reading this book are also reading…” Ugh.

I’m intrigued, but also a little concerned about the notion of “a la carte pricing,” which Johnson says “will emerge, as it has in the marketplace for digital music.

“Readers will have the option to purchase a chapter for 99 cents, the same way they now buy an individual song on iTunes,” suggests Johnson. “The marketplace will start to reward modular books that can be intelligibly split into standalone chapters.”

So, for fiction, we’re looking at the return of the serial.  But what about poetry, which may have to devise another pricing scheme, such as “per line” or a minimum purchase per poem.

(And how will poetry fare when it is “competing with every page of every other book that has ever been written”?)

If the Kindle already includes blog or newspaper subscriptions, can journal or individual poet subscriptions be far behind? How about a “Poem-of-the-Month” Club? Anybody game?

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