Survey question


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)



The Big House

I spent the last four years of my prison sentence at Lewisburg, Pa. The prison was built in 1932 in the French Gothic Revival style and was locally known as “The Big House”. As some of you know, I am writing a memoir and I’m thinking of calling it “Slouching Towards the Big House”. For those of you who read, you will see the obvious problems with this but I think they aren’t big enough to bother with. My editor, Dale Peck, hates the title. Eileen Myles called it “jokey”. But I can’t seem to let go of it. What do you think?


16 thoughts on “Survey question

  1. DJ

    I say hold on to the title, at least for now, you may consider changing it as you progress along in your writing. Who knows what might be revealed in the process? It’s your inspiration and your book. Regardless of what you write, some people are going to hate it, and some people ain’t.

      1. DJ

        I can appreciate the title as amusing from the wee bit I know about you from following Scott’s BIE the last six years, and from the postings of your more recent blog; but if I was in a bookstore with a table of books on display and saw this title I probably wouldn’t pick it up. Nay.

  2. mkf

    as someone who has blogged for years now, i face this issue (on a much smaller scale, of course) every time i title a post, and often end up choosing one which i know will probably resonate only with me. this satisfies me artistically; but then, i’m not trying to sell books.

    while i understand why, especially given the context, this title is redolent with meaning in your mind and heart, i fear it will come across as an awkward conjoining of two cliches, and thus not an accurate reflection of your cleverness.

    1. williamcullum Post author

      Dammit! That’s what I was afraid of. Ok… Question closed. Maybe I’ll just let Dale come up with a title. Thanks, mkf and DJ. You were both really helpful. I know no one knows the scope of the book but anybody got a suggestion for a working title?

      1. Bob

        “Smart Women, Foolish Choices” is already taken.
        “Painting Myself Into a Corner Cell”?
        “I May Recite Yeats, But I Was Locked Behind Gates”?
        “Medication, Masturbation, & Incarceration”?
        “I Shoulda Stuck to Selling My Dick”
        Obviously, I am lousy at titles, but something with a hook — something that makes a person think “What is THAT about?” — in it is more likely to get a book picked up.

  3. Bob

    Well, I got here after the others killed that (fill in the blank) title for you, but I was GONNA say:
    If the purpose of the title is to please you, I can properly have no opinion of it.
    If the purpose is to interest someone into picking up the book, checking it out, and possibly purchasing it, it completely blows, at least to me.

    1. Bob

      Listen, Cullum, you know I don’t have to come all the way here to get insulted: it’s available locally in abundance.
      My new fav title suggestion is “IN THE CAN!” — it has a certain ring to it


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