What began as a project to help his daughter earn a master’s degree in publishing has now resulted in two books of poetry and song lyrics for local author Michael Incitti.
“Night Owl Rhapsody: Poetry & Lyrics” covers 11 themed chapters with nine poems in each. Most of the poems were written between 2016 and 2019. The book is available at Browseabout Books.
“Night Owl” represents a more traditional literary approach than Incitti’s earlier work, “A Minor Poet In A Minor Key,” published in 2016, with poems written from 1979 through 2015. In “Minor Poet,” the author included commentary on the stories behind the individual poems, which gave his daughter more material to address for the earlier manuscript.
“I’ve been writing poetry and song lyrics since I was a teenager, but because of my primary work in finance and investments I never had the time to assemble my writing into a cohesive form,” Incitti said. “My daughter wanted to use my unpublished manuscript to present as a capstone project. I worked almost around the clock selecting, organizing and editing the first volume to meet her semester deadline, but I got it done. And she got her degree.”
In the bargain, he got his book published. “We sold out two runs of ‘Minor Poet’ in bookstores from Delaware to Pennsylvania,” Incitti said. “But I knew I was going to write a follow-up literary effort.”
In “Night Owl,” there are no commentaries or backstories attached to the poems and lyrics. It’s just the work itself. “This gives readers the chance to bring their own sensibilities and imagination to bear on what they’re reading,” he said. “That’s the goal of any writer, to engage and entertain the reader.”
Incitti said he hopes readers find all 11 chapters engaging, but when pressed for favorites, he said he likes the poems in Conveyance for the stories they tell, and Heartstrings. “They’re all love songs in that chapter, and I’ve set most of them to music. They’re very compelling with internal rhyme and metered movement.”
Incitti plays piano and has sung at multiple venues in and around Rehoboth Beach with guitar and piano accompanists as M&M 45s and A&M Records. The focal point of their repertoire is classic rock ’n’ roll from the 1960s and ‘70s. He has performed several of the songs he’s written to generally warm responses. “We played one of my songs at a Georgetown locale and a patron came up to us and asked ‘Was that a Bob Seger song?’ and I said, ‘As a matter of fact, I wrote that song.’ The patron said ‘Not bad, dude.’ That made my night.”
His musical work in the community has been abridged by the coronavirus pandemic, but he still sings as a soloist at a regional church with the service recorded for replay on YouTube. He said, “The music is still beautiful, and even though it’s an empty church, you sing for God. Who’s a better audience?”
Incitti’s creative process is to not wait around for inspiration. He often assigns himself a topic or a theme and gets to work on it. Sometimes it can take a month to finish one poem. Other times inspiration hits and a 16-line poem is done in five minutes, complete without editing.
“I can write anywhere. It’s a matter of placing yourself in the proper frame of mind and then seeing the world in a different way than what objective reality gives you,” he said. “One of the chapters in my book was written almost entirely in airports between flights. Ideas just kept coming. I often write at the beach, just watching things going on around me. The other day I wrote about two dogs playing in the surf. I’m like a painter or a sketch artist, except my easel is a legal pad.”
He said the most challenging aspect of writing his second book was arriving at a title. “I labored over that for weeks. I generally write late at night, long after the traditional workday is done. One night in exasperation my wife said ‘You’re such a night owl!’ I gave her a kiss and said thank you very much – that’s my title,” said Incitti.
“Night Owl Rhapsody” is in the local authors and poetry sections at Browseabout Books, 133 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach. To purchase online, go to browseaboutbooks.com.