I am a published poet. I have yet to publish a chapbook, I have two written and am working on submitting it to publishers. I have had three poems featured in literary journals though. I'm working on a magic realism novel but want to pursue this other idea I had. I want to write a semi-autobiographical chapbook that takes the form of an epic poem, a narrative told through poetry. The idea is very inspired from Tennyson's long poems Maud and In Memoriam. The chapbook will switch wildly between genres, some parts will be written in metered, formal poetry, other parts where the narrator loses his mind will be written in an experimental way that plays with the layout of the words on the page, and some parts will be more like prose when the action needs to be conveyed.
It is semi-autobiographical, and the poem takes place entirely on the road between East Tennessee and Minnesota. The narrator goes through flashbacks of events in the past. He has just moved to Knoxville, TN after being released from the psych ward in San Francisco, and he is driving to Minnesota to propose to a girl he is not even dating because he is manic and thinks he is in love with her. When he arrives in Minnesota, he attempts suicide (out of despair regarding his personal life as he starts to realize the insanity of his plan) by cutting his wrists in a cornfield, and briefly descends into the underworld, but then he goes to his car and stitches up his wounds himself to avoid being committed again. He gets to the girl, does MDMA with her, and proposes to her, but she rejects him. They are close friends, so she understands though, and they sit together hugging most of the time after. He gets in the car to drive back to Knoxville, and the last section is his moving on.
It will follow most of the tropes of epic poetry, while still being contemporary in setting and theme. People, places, and things along the journey, like the annoying gas station attendant while the narrator tries to buy cigarettes, elaborated in a poetic way using metaphor, form the mythological "monsters," "crises," and "quests" of the poem. I thought I would restrict the scope of the poem to just the car ride because epic poetry usually focuses on a physical journey, as well as a spiritual one. There will be an invocation to a muse, although the muse will be the girl who is the subject of the narrators fascination. The suicide attempt in the corn field will be the narrator's passage to the underworld a la the Oddysey.
What do you guys think of my idea? As far as I'm aware the idea is unique in that no one has attempted to write a contemporary epic poem. Part of that is because epic poetry was a means of conveying history of ancestors in the past, and the purpose of poetry has long since changed. But do you guys think this can be done? And how marketable would this short book be? I mean, I'm not sure if this idea will swoon small presses because of its uniqueness or scare them away because of the fact that there isn't much written like it.