In today’s guest post, author and poet Tracey S.Rosenberg looks at Acknowledgements. If you’re genuinely overwhelmed, how do you express your thanks in a public setting without making yourself – or onlookers – cringe? Read on to find out…
The stereotypical Academy Award acceptance speech involves a tearful starlet clutching her statuette and blubbering thanks to her agent, producer, plastic surgeon, dental hygienist, and every driver who let her merge into the exit lane on the 405 that morning. Writers also have plenty of thanks to give, though we don’t often have the chance.
It’s unusual that anyone publishing short fiction or poems has the opportunity to slip in an acknowledgement. The only time I can ever remember doing so was at the end of my biographical blurb for a short story I published many years ago in a publication called – I am not making this up – Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Even then, it seemed a bit amateurish, and I don’t think I’ve done it since.
Poems are elastic enough that you could include ‘in memoriam H.’ or something similar between the title and before the poem itself. But that would only be doable if the poem were itself an homage to H., rather than a general statement that without H. you never would have written this poem because they made dinner that night when it was your turn but you were ON FIRE with literary inspiration.
And even then, you want to be careful; my poem ‘Miracles’ is about my husband and I always explain that when I use it in a reading, but including that information in print form would make me cringe. (It also closes down interpretations for the reader, but that’s another blog entry.)
So, it’s really only in book-length form we can let the entire world know who we want to thank. If it’s your first book, you probably have a lot of people on that list. Virginia Shapiro, in the front matter of A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft, noted wryly ‘It has often been remarked (in feminist circles) that feminist writers are almost obsessive about acknowledgments, reaching back to their kindergarten teachers who let them play with trucks.’ Shapiro herself names only a dozen people, most of them critical readers, and her publisher.
But how does all this work in practical terms? I’ll discuss that in part 2.