My dear partner-in-crime (surely, poetry is a crime in many towns and even states in America), Deborah, has asked me to blog a little. While I, for the most part, eschew blogs, we need to get out of our comfort zones every once in a while, so here I go. Not to mention, I now have to confess I am the owner of a Facebook page, and I went on a “friending” frenzy recently, connecting with some folks with whom I haven’t communicated in a while. I have lots of “friends.” I’m sure I will crawl back into my shell soon, so don’t worry. Nevertheless, you should “friend” me if you are a friend. Shoot, I’ve been friending foes.
Okay, a topic. Blogs should have topics, no? My second collection of poems came out recently, and I tried to notify everybody I know without being an egocentric poet pain-in-the-butt. I gave a long email list to Story Line Press of maybe 400 email addresses, maybe one twentieth of them no longer real email addresses. But these are people whom I am in contact with. Nevertheless, I immediately (within two weeks of the announcement) sold a grand total of around 10 books. And all these people that I KNOW. And I also posted the announcement on my Facebook page!!! I was sort of thinking the “what if” of perhaps replacing one of Mary Oliver’s five books in the top five selling poetry books. Not really, but ten books?
Here’s the thing. Not too long ago, I was that guy who rarely would buy new books of poetry, partly because I was a poor poet who had little money, but partly because of some sort of mental block on buying poetry. People don’t bat an eyelash when buying a novel, but a book of poems?? We wince, we gnash our teeth, we, perhaps, begrudgingly, lay out that fifteen bucks for a book that we might actually read over and over again. Unlike that novel that we’ll probably read once. Why don’t people buy poetry? It’s embarrassing to me to be in a poet’s house and see a tiny bookshelf of poems. They should be spilling all over the place. Why don’t people (especially poets) buy it? How do we get past this?
On a side note, I have to say that any teacher of poetry should require students to buy at least two books by living poets (and a poetry magazine) every semester. Especially when a Chemistry book is $150. Just to be FAIR, we ought to have students buy 10 poetry books. That would do something for poetry sales. Yet the teacher probably shouldn’t force the students to buy the teacher’s poems!
I’m not trying to guilt anybody into buying my book. Do NOT, under any circumstances, buy my book of poems. I forbid you, dear reader. But buy somebody else’s book of poems today, or get a subscription to a magazine (32 POEMS) whose poems are worth reading. Don’t be a cheapskate. Well, be a cheapskate, for we all need to conserve, but be liberal when it comes to poetry. Why not?
Everyone, feel free to vent or rail or twitter or do whatever it is we do on these computer devices.