I totally empathize with your predicament. It sucks that it had to happen with your first book, too. Not that I know this guy, or the press, or you, or that I'm making excuses for anyone, but we all have to remember that this is poetry, and whatever reasons small presses have for doing what they do is definitely not for money or prestige. They do it for the love of the word. And they can get away with more "stuff" because they are...small. We have to give them the benefit of the doubt. They keep all of us going. They're the little invisible machines in the air that we hear whirring at night.
It seems like, and I could be wrong, that if you were a little more patient, this guy would have eventually put out your book. It may have taken longer to get your check, but was that check really going to help you do anything? If you're counting on poetry to pay your rent, you picked the wrong genre. If you book came out a few months later than you thought, is the world really going to hold its breath until it does? I don't mean to sound like a jerk. I'm only playing devil's advocate, but it did seem like you were a bit high maintenance with him. Which makes sense. You're young and excited and expect more from everyone. You want to be catered to, adored, complimented. We all do. I totally do. That's not how it works in our scene, unfortunately. The Pavement guy has a busy life on top of doing his press. Kids and death and teaching can really put a damper on small presses. Yet he's put out a lot of books. I'm pretty sure he would have eventually put out yours, too. Whether he's a jerk or not. Separate the art from the artist. Always. Or you will be constantly be let down.
What the hell do I know, though. I'm nobody, located in Nowheresville, population 1.
Regardless, if your book got picked once, it will probably get picked again. When it does, maybe ask for a few email addresses from other people already published on the same press, so you can get a different feel/view of your editor(s), just so you don't go pulling your book again!
I'm working with a pretty big time editor/publisher right now, and he/she is impossible to get a hold off, they don't return emails, I haven't signed a contract yet, etc. But it doesn't matter, really. It will happen eventually. And if it doesn't, then I start sending it out again. Patience is the key in poetry, I've found. Not drama, not anger, just patience. If I were a novelist with an agent and a $50,000 advance, I would tell you differently. But I'm not.
Sorry to go on so long...Good luck!
Under the guise of empathy you decided to comment on my blog in order to tell me about myself, and offer helpful suggestions for self-improvement.
Unfortunately, offering disclaimers such as "not that I'm making excuses", "I could be wrong", "I don't mean to sound like a jerk", and "what the hell do I know" does not ease the blow of things like, "You're young and excited and expect more from everyone." I'm pretty floored by this. I keep re-reading it and waiting for the sentence to change. I expect more from everyone because I'm young? It's true that I have high expectations of myself, but from others, I simply expect that they do what they say they're going to do, and finish what they start. David Baratier did not do what he said he would do. I lost faith in him as an editor and in his operation.
My age is irrelevant, unless you want to get to the point about the thousand dollars, which you apparently do. If you had just broken up with your boyfriend in New Mexico, were living with your parents in Illinois, and had accepted a job in New York City requiring immediate relocation, would the thousand dollars that was promised you four months prior be a significant amount of money? Yes.
You admit you don't know anything about me, so really, you shouldn't be telling me anything about me. You haven't noticed, for example, that I work in publishing, in New York, and understand the world of contracts! editors! deadlines! advances! I get it. And I get that poetry is a different league than Michael Chabon novels. But that doesn't mean I should have any less respect for myself, as a writer, and as a person, because I'm a poet, and not Michael Chabon.