Monday, August 31, 2009

Last Call

Congrats to Oliver de la Paz for winning the Akron Poetry Prize. His book, titled Requiem for the Orchard, will be out in spring ’10! Woo hoo!


Caught the end of the movie The Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, and Robert Downey Jr. One of the few movies about writers that I like. Of course, it’s not really about writing—it’s the engine that drives the story.


And now, I’m watching the Venus Williams battle it out at the U.S. Open. It’s just the first round. She really should be mopping the floor with her opponent, not going three sets at 10:30 p.m.


Love this.

"I’m both an entrepreneur and a brand," he said. "Being in the center of my universe is important to me. That’s what Twitter lets me do. . . . I want to get out in front of the conversation."

~MC Hammer at a conference on social media at Harvard.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Musings

The sky has opened up to a furious rain. But here I sit at a Starbucks with a hot chocolate, perfectly content. I’m so happy to have the gift of time that all I want to do is waste it. I know when I get home, the kids and I will finger paint, or create flowers out of pipe cleaners and egg cartons, but for now, it is enough to just sit among strangers and get lost. It is absolutely decedent; eating a box of a Godiva chocolates could never taste this good.


Taking a few minutes to read the latest editions of Poets & Writers and APR. Working on new poems, too.


Have you seen any of the Ted Kennedy memorial and funeral? Heart wrenching. It’s made me think a lot about eulogies and their purpose—for celebration and comfort in a difficult time. It's inspired me to write my own eulogy as a prompt. Who knows, maybe it will come in handy in 60 years!


Writer Bug is starting a dialogue on her blog: Do you submit to contests with fees? Visit Bug and give her your two cents.


Song playing on iTunes: Walk Like a Panther by The Pretenders, “To keep up with me, you’ve got to walk like a panther tonight.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mass Poetry

Just wanted to highlight the three readings I'm involved with during the Mass Poetry Festival. Register early. The events are free; however, festival organizers are taking donations to keep costs down.

Salem Launch: Mass Poetry Festival
Thursday, October 15 from 7-9 p.m.
Salem, MA

North Shore poets will help initiate the Massachusetts Poetry Festival with a reading and celebration of poetry from the Commonwealth. J.D. Scrimgeour will host. Among the readers will be: Rufus Collinson, James Connatser, Bill Coyle, Amy Dengler, Diane Kendig, Claire Keyes, Ruth Maassen, Rich Murphy, January O'Neil, John Ronan, Dan Sklar, and Suellen Wedmore.


Poetry Voices Past and Present, Presented by Tapestry of Voices
Saturday, October 17 from Noon-12:55 p.m.
Lowell, MA

Tapestry of Voices is an eleven year old poetry organization, co-founded by Harris Gardner and Lainie Senechal; based in Boston with over 150 affiliates from the Greater Boston Area, most of whom are widely published. TOV has produced numerous programs throughout Massachusetts, including the Ten Year Old Boston National Poetry Month Festival and two on-going monthly Boston venues. The participating poets in Poetry Voices Past and Present, presented by Tapestry of Voices will read from beloved poets from the past such as Anne Sexton, Emily Dickenson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, T.S. Eliot, Longfellow, Lorca, Neruda, and others. Each poet will also include two original poems thematically related to each past poet creating a wonderful blend of past and present voices. This hour of poetry is sure to leave you wanting more.


Cave Canem Reading
Saturday, October 17 from 3-4:25 p.m.
Lowell, MA

A sampler reading of Cave Canem poets, featuring: Metta Sama, DeLana R.A. Dameron, Tara Betts, January O’Neil, Jarita Davis, Jericho Brown, Lillian Bertram, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, Venus Thrash, Joy Gonsalves, and Johnny Davis. Founded in 1996 by poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. The organization has grown from an initial gathering of 26 poets to an influential movement with renowned faculty and a high-achieving fellowship of 287 poets in 34 states. Its programs include a week-long summer retreat, first and second book prizes, a Legacy Conversation series, writing workshops, publications and national readings. Cave Canem fellows have published over 150 books and have received many prestigious awards—Guggenheim and Lannan Literary Fellowships and the Whiting Writers’ Award, among others.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Midnight Madness

Like many of us, I’m mourning the death on Ted Kennedy. The last lion. Living in Massachusetts, his passing is especially poignant. What a life. What a family. Feels like the end of an era, doesn’t it?


This is the second day that I have not spent any money. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s sort of a test of will, but whenever I go through a period of spending (car repairs, travel, gifts, etc.), I like to go on a “money fast” to see how little I can spend for a few days. It helps me put things into perspective, and reminds me that I need to focus on my savings goals.

In truth, I was in desperate need of chocolate this afternoon. I would have bough ice cream if a friend hadn't treated me, but it worked out in my favor so my zero spending is in tact. Even talked the kids out of buying pizza for dinner.


Fun things I am saving for:
• Book launch party
• Knockout dress for party
• Travel to support book in ’10
• Christmas
• Jazzfest 2010


I feel the same way about poetry. After a long period of not writing, I really enjoy overdoing it and writing in overdrive. Gets me back into a groove. So I am writing, sorting through what’s worth saving. What an ugly, humbling, spiritual process.


Will work on the manuscript this weekend. Looking forward to getting back into it after being away for a few weeks. It’s not ready for public consumption by any means, but I enjoy the struggle of putting together a coherent piece of work.


I’d like to start a pet project of mine: a screenplay on Anne Sexton. I don’t have time to work on it this year, but I may make it my yearlong project in 2010 after manuscript #2 is complete and I’ve read through the bulk of the books on my book list.


Goodnight moon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Confession Tuesday

If it’s Tuesday, it’s time to confess! Take a moment to share a little of yourself with us, and we’ll do the same. Don’t forget to stop in and say hello to the sinners doin’ time in The Confessional. If you’d like your name added to The Confessional, let me know!

(Pics from The LEGO Store)

Spent Sunday afternoon at the Rainforest Café and The LEGO Store, which has cemented my status in the Mom Hall of Fame as a Supermom!

Last night we put together a pink house with what seemed like a million pieces. In reality it was only 216 but I’m sure one-fourth of them will be on the floor this afternoon. Still, there was something quite zen putting together this little pink house for the kids.

Alex wants Star Wars LEGOs for his birthday.


Lately, I have been wondering two things: Why I’m so tired, and why am I not gaining weight. I’m about 17 lbs lighter since April. Perfectly healthy (last dr’s appt. in July), but well below my pre-pregnancy weight. Thought it was stress but I think it's because I’m on the go for most of my daylight hours. All I do is burn energy. Here’s a sample schedule:

  • 5:30 a.m. Wake up
  • 7 a.m. One-hour commute to work
  • 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Full day at work, one-hour lunch
  • 5:30 p.m. Survived afternoon commute.
  • 5:31–8:30 p.m. Kids, Kids, Kids! Play with kids, prepare and eat dinner, get ready for baths, watch TV or read books, tuck in kids.
  • 8:30 p.m. Crawl into bed with laptop, Red Sox game into background
  • 9 p.m. Fall asleep in uncomfortable position
  • 11:30 p.m. Wake up in an even more uncomfortable position. Turn off laptop, TV. Sulk at my lack of writing. Go to bed.
  • 2 p.m. Get woken up by child who can’t sleep.
  • Repeat cycle the next day.

I’m sure many of us go through periods like this. But for me, this is becoming a new reality. No downtime. I’ve cut out most of the unnecessary stuff so I could streamline my schedule to this. I just have to be better about using my time after 8:30 p.m. (read: stay awake!). When the kids start school in a few weeks, getting them to bed earlier will give me more free time. I’ll just have more to do packing lunches, getting clothes ready, etc.

Calgon, take me away!


On the poetry front, I started a new poem that I hope to finish tonight. Still aiming to write and post four poems this week. Also need to read the books piling up on my nightstand, and will start working on manuscript #2 this weekend.


Been thinking about my goals for the future--writing, money, happiness--you name it, it's crossed my mind. Will post more about that later tonight.

Have a great day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dodge 2010

Good news! Looks like the Dodge Poetry Festival will take place in 2010! Woo hoo! Apparently, the outcry from the poetry community weighed heavily in the decision to bring it back, possibly in Montclair, New Jersey.

For anyone who has yet to experience Dodge, I can think of no better festival than this to support. Mark your calendars, folks!

You can read about it in the New York Times article, "Poetry Festival Prepares to Spring Back to Life."


Can you believe Labor Day is almost here? Where has the summer gone?

Just spent the morning at the beauty shop. Instantly, I feel better after I get my hair done. Also, I get my monthly dose of hair-care tips and life counseling! Now I’m at Starbucks waiting on a friend and I’m completely happy. Simple pleasures, my friends. Simple pleasures.


After the Trashfinder’s event on Thursday night, I realized that I don’t have any going-out clothes. I either have work clothes or mom clothes, but nothing in between. *Sadness* Time to save up my pennies and buy a new dress or something to show off my legs. *smile!*


I was so busy this week, I forgot to mention that one of my baseball poems was posted at Bardball. Check it out!


A few personal projects have shifted off of my plate, so I’m ready to write again. The plan is to write four poems in four days. Will post them, good or bad, on the blog. Maybe what I’m missing from my writing life is accountability. It’s probably time for me to review my to-do list as well.


While I don’t have a publication date, I think it’s safe to say that my book, Underlife, will be published in three months. Time to start thinking about my book launch party. Yikes! Again, it’s time for a new dress.


Time to start revising manuscript #2 again.


I’m reading three times during the Mass Poetry Festival, once on Thursday and twice on Saturday. I’m pretty psyched, I must say. Hope you can come out for one or all of the readings.


Listening to "Make It Happen" by Mariah Carey. Caught myself singing out loud a few times.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting Trashed

I’m feeling pretty lucky today to be part of a community of Trashfinders. These are people who see the world differently. They look down a lot. They’re not afraid to get dirty. They find beauty the things others throw away. Someone else’s unwanted item gets a second life in the hands of a new owner.

One less thing in a landfill.

Congrats to creator Sean Devlin, documentarian Kevin Carey, the Trashfinder’s board, and the participants for turning a trashy idea into treasure!

Here are a few pics from last night’s event. See the trailer here.

Sean Devlin, Creator, Trashfinder's Ball (also featured in movie poster)

Doumentarian Kevin Carey with Sean

The after party!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Quickie

After another night of not sleeping well, I’m really feeling it today. Stiff neck and sore throat. Drat!


Part of the reason I stayed up late was to finish reading a friend’s manuscript and write a back-cover blurb. I feel privileged and honored to do so, as this was my first. Just feel terrible that it took me three months to do it, but it’s done. Woo hoo! And the book is excellent.


Tonight is world premier of The Trashfinder’s Ball documentary! This is a documentary on a community-based effort that celebrates trash. Well, it celebrates the unique things we throw away, and how we recycle. You can read about the film in Wicked Local and the Salem News.


One of my best friends offered me the chance to write articles with her online venture. More on that later.

I’m finding no shortage of writing opportunities out there, I’m just too tired to take advantage!

I’m slowing catching up on my blog responses. Sorry for the delay.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday folks! Time to confess. Share a little bit of yourself with us. And don’t forget to say hi to those waiting it out in The Confessional.

Life is strange. Well, that’s nothing new. But my life feels strange. Divorce is incredibly painful. I’m saying goodbye to one path in order to forge another. Yet, I'm moving in a direction that will get me closer to the life I want for me and the kids, cutting out much of the unnecessary BS that’s been holding us back.

Also, I find myself doing things I’ve never had to do before, like using an air compressor to blow up a pool, or cutting the grass (ugh), or change an air filter, which my friend, Heidi, says she does all the time to save money. All of this is supposed to build character, right?


Lately, I’ve found relief in spending time with Alex and Ella. Sounds strange coming from me, who craves her “me” time more than most moms, I think. But we’ve had a pretty good summer goofing off. Whenever the stress gets to be a little too much, they usually do or say something that gets me out of my funk. I’ve said it before, but they are my silver linings in all of this.


Yesterday, Ella called me a “… sleepy, old pear!” Maybe she meant, “Sleepy, old bear.” Either way, how can I not laugh at that?


This also has been the summer of spending more time with friends than ever before. That has been a real blessing.


The Trashfinder’s Ball documentary premier is this Thursday. Hope you can make it! I think I’m in a few scenes.


Special thanks to Carolee, again, for pulling me out of my poetry writing funk by collaborating on baseball poetry. I’ll write a few more poems before the month is over. The fact that wrote anything is a miracle in itself.


I put my manuscript revisions on hold to finish up a few other projects, but I’ll take another look at it this week.

I'm tweeting. Not sure if I see the value yet, but I'm tweeting.


Maybe I am a sleepy, old pear.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pure Trash

You are cordially invited to the premiere of the documentary The Trashfinder's Ball, a film by Kevin Carey and Sean Devlin.

Thursday, August 20
9 p.m.

Cinema Salem
2 E India Square Mall
Salem, MA

Tickets $9 at the door or in advance.

A Quickie

Happy Birthday Mom!

Took a little blogging break this past weekend because New England is finally getting a blast of summer. Two words: heat wave! Couldn't bring myself to work on the laptop. Still can't, but a Confession Tuesday post is on its way.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Maria Shiver's eulogy of her mother - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

I was deeply touched by Maria Shiver's eulogy of her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shiver, especially these lines:

"Now if you had told me a few years ago that at the end of my mother's life she and I would sit in a room and just be, I would have said you were crazy. If you had told me that at the age of 52, I would finally get up the nerve to crawl into bed with my mother, hold her, and tell her that I love her, I would have said you were nuts. And if you had told me that Mummy and I would write poetry together, I would know for sure you that you'd lost your mind. But all those things really happened, as Mummy learned to let go."

Maria includes her poem at the end of the eulogy.

Maria Shiver's eulogy of her mother - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Car Talk

(Frick and Frack behind the wheel!)

This may go down as the greatest trashfinder find of all time! Last week, I was leaving for work when I spotted this battery-operated Barbie car. The sign on it read, “Free. Needs battery.” So I did what any budget-conscious-not-wanting-to-put-another-big-plastic-toy-in-a landfill person would do. I stopped, put it into the back of my Subaru, and took it home—on Ella’s birthday, no less!

The battery finally came in this week, so the kids have been driving around every chance they get.

*Kids make terrible drivers. *


Continuing the car talk, I decided to get my 2000 Subaru with 200,000 miles fixed instead of buying a new car. *sigh* There’s just too much going right now to pretend I can make a rational decision about an expensive piece of equipment. And if I can get another year or two out of the car, I’ll be happy.


Maybe I should start driving the pink Barbie car around town.


Speaking on trashy finds, I have been working with the head trashfinders to promote their new documentary on the Trashfinder’s Ball. The world premier at our local event is August 20. I’m so looking forward to this little event because it is a community-based celebration of the things we throw away.

You can watch the trailer at the Trashfinder's Ball Web site.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poetry Marketing 101

Please share your thoughts and ideas. I hope to expand and revise this list often.

Special thanks to Erin Dionne for her input.

  1. Develop a Web site or start a blog to communicate with your audience directly.
  2. Create a list of contacts with e-mail addresses. This list may include friends, family, former classmates, and booksellers.
  3. Get involved in social networking: Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Red Room, Good Reads, and RWP, to name a few.
  4. Create a Facebook "Fan Page" for your book or event. Speak directly to your audience, and let the word spread virally.
  5. Join a listserv or two.
  6. Create a video or audio post for your poem for your blog or Web site.
  7. Organize a Skype poetry reading. *I'm trying this next week. *
  8. Organize a small group of fellow poets or writers to market work collectively.
  9. Organize a blog tour.
  10. Run contests though your blog or Facebook page, and participate in contests that others host. Offer books as prizes.
  11. Give away signed copies of your title via Goodreads.
  12. Hang flyers or posters to promote your reading. Make sure the date, time, and location is prominent.
  13. Contact schools, libraries, and community centers to give talks or lectures.
  14. Check into besides bookstores, such as bars, restaurants, retirement homes, and hospitals. Underserved groups truly appreciate the outreach.
  15. If you have friends in other cities, see if you can arrange joint readings, allowing the local poet to draw in the crowd for you.
  16. Teach a free poetry class at your local library.
  17. Get involved with your local arts community.
  18. Post events in the calendar section of local newspaper and on community Web sites.
  19. Build a list of possible reviewers with local, regional, and national newspapers, radio and TV stations, alumni magazines, and public radio outlets.
  20. Have postcards made and send them out to your mailing list.
  21. Build a media kit featuring cover art, a photo, and reviews of the book/project.
  22. Create bookmarks or a nicely printed poem as a takeaway for your readings.
  23. Create business cards with your contact info and Web site. Always carry them with you.

Bottom line: It's OK to market yourself. Don't be shy about asking. You are your best advocate. If enough people hear your work, they will be ones championing you!

New Poem

Again, thanks to Carolee for pulling me out of my doldrums. Sometimes it's good to have a focus so writing about baseball helped.

I guess I like writing about pitchers. The pitcher (and the catcher, to a certain extent) control pace of the game. But I like middle relievers, the ones who come in after the starting pitcher exits. Relievers carry the game until the closer comes in. Starters and closers get all the attention, but the guys who pitch the 7th and 8th innings are where it's at. They do the grunt work.



Shake your fingers,
let your tree trunk arms
dangle below your belt.
Under the surface,
a river of lava begins to seethe.
This is who you are.
Feel the muscles unfurl
above your forehead.
Let go of the voices
calling for your destruction.
The grimace around your mouth
gives away too much in this moment,
which is all you have. Runners at the corners?
You’ve got this. If the catcher throw signs at you,
throw them right back. Give ‘em
the split-seam, high heat all the way.
A double steal is in play—don’t get rattled,
you’re made of pure will. Start the play
around the horn: one-six-thee—
double play! The runner will argue the call.
Benches clear, but it’s over before it begins.
End of inning. Your job is done.
You are a stop gap. Take a deep breath.
Listen to the crowd. Remember
that you live for this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Time to confess. Don't forget to stop in and say hello to the folks hanging out in The Confessional.

This is my new Lenovo IdeaPad (left). Isn't she pretty?


Had I known the very next day after ordering the laptop that I'd need to replace my car, I would have waited on that purchase. Tomorrow I'm taking my Subura in for the nail-in-the-coffin diagnosis, which I believe will be a head gasket. Hope I'm wrong and the car can be fixed for little money.


My aunt is in the hospital recovering from surgery. Please send good vibes her way. Thanks.


Every day, we have the ability to do the right thing. If yesterday was a disaster, today is a new day to do better. We get a do-over. Unlike animals, humans can make a conscious choice to right some wrong, help a friend, or make things better for ourselves and the people who surround us.

It pains me when good people make bad choices, and then neglect to fix them. (I think about this concept a lot these days.)


Working on a few projects that are keeping me busy. On tap for today is finishing my third baseball poem, writing an article for Read Write Poem and a blog post on marketing and poetry later this week.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Poem

Without a doubt, the poems are the best part of the Red Sox-Yankees series. In poem #2, I stayed away from the word "baseball." A good first draft, I think.

Stop over at Carolee's to see her baseball poetry.


I came to the party late,
long after Babe was sold to the Yanks
past the magic of Ted Williams and Yaz
and Buckner’s ball through the legs.
Didn’t understand The Curse
but the years without a championship
added up like runners on base
and no one to bring them home.
Generations of Red Sox fans
passed away without a World Series win.
The velocity of our hatred
was unmatched, and we liked it that way.
In 2003, we were Dirt Dogs.
A tribe. A nation. Even the anticipation
of spring training became a torture so real
it bordered on beautiful,
how beauty is supposed to reach us,
with a temporary luster,
with nothing to show for it
but our longing.
If you’re a member of this Nation
you’re full of hunger and angst,
there's nothing you can do
to ease the silence. Win
or go home is the only option.
We watch no matter what,
learning to live with loss,
that soft hurt that never goes away.

First Loves

In my hands are the first tomatoes from the garden. Also coming in are strawberries, jalapenos, basil, rosemary, parsley, and cilantro. Waiting on the bell peppers to come in, and late-season beans to sprout. There's something wholly satisifying in being able to grow something.


Also satisifying is writing poems, and I have two baseball poems that I'll post today.


Saw the movie Julie & Julia yesterday. Delightful! I highly recommend it. Makes me want to buy a Julia Child's cookbook and get in the kitchen. It will give me something to do with my fresh veggies and herbs.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Poem

Carolee and I have been talking for weeks about doing some sort of collaborative poetry effort during the Red Sox-Yankees series. Admittedly, my team is not doing so well so it's hard to write about being the losing team. Oh well, two more games. If we can split the series, I'll be happy.

This poem came out of Thursday night's game, from a play made by center fielder (and Red Sox hottie) Jacoby Ellsbury. Beyond that, I really can't muster anything about this particular game, but I will write a game-specific poem for my next effort.

For the record, this is the first poem I've written in months. Not my best poem, but I have to thank Carolee for giving me something to focus on again. Will write two more poems over the next few days.

I would have posted it sooner but I had to deal with my car today. My Subaru has more than 200,000 miles but I think she might be on her last leg (read: head gasket).



Is Jacoby Ellsbury
running down the warning track,
tracking a ball’s trajectory
as his shoulder slams
into a padded wall.
Home run or long single?
Inning ending or game spark?
It’s his job to put his body
between the ball and inertia.
He’s learned how to see
what’s in front of him
and face it.

High drive to deep right center, way back …

It’s a can-of-corn play,
though half the crowd
wants the longball,
the other half leans back,
holds their breath
as it spirals below
the bright lights.
A nation of voices
siphoned down to whispers.
He knows the game
is out of reach,
yet he fully extends
his supple body,
lifts his arm
and braces for impact.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Happy Friday

I have the day off, and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day!


Thanks to Color Online for featuring my book Underlife on her blog. Thanks S!

Carolee and I are collaborating on baseball poetry during the Red Sox-Yankees series. Dueling poems, so to speak.

*Poem #1 free write
*Poem #2 leave out the word "baseball"
*Poem #3 must use the words "double," "steal," "sign," and "argue."


Thanks for the feedback on my posts about the marketing of poetry and the average poetry book buyer. Keep those comments coming!


Today, the kids and I are going to a kids carnival at our local park. Should be fun.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

August Poetry To-Do's

Yesterday, I took my car in for repairs, ordered a mini laptop, killed a mouse, and cut the lawn for the first time ever. I am woman, hear me roar! (Thanks, Helen Reddy.)


Have you read Steven Schroeder's Ranking System for poets? It's a scream, yet all too true.


And now, the August Poetry To-Do's

  1. Because the marketing question is an important one, I'm going to write a series of blog posts on poetry and marketing. Specifically, I'm seeking out and sharing the innovative ways poets and writers promote their work. I think it's important to recognize successes as well as failures so we not just grow but thrive as a community.
  2. Write 8 poems. I'm stepping up my number because ... well ... I've written one poem since April. *sigh*
  3. Continue revising second manuscript.
  4. Write article for RWP. Dana and co. have done a great job updating the site. It's like a poetry playground of sorts.
  5. Start reading Animal Vegetable Miracle.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Marketing of Poetry

First, let me acknowledge that poetry is a time-honored craft that has always appealed to the counterculture. It has never been a mainstream genre like fiction, and probably never will. We write for ourselves, and we’re happy if anyone comes to our readings, buys our books, or recites a line from one of our poems. By nature, poetry is a not-for-profit enterprise. I get all of that.

Let me also acknowledge that I work for a top business school in its marketing department. I’m a marketer with an entrepreneurial streak. Poetry is my passion, yet I spend my free time trying to reconcile these two seemingly opposite sides of my brain: art and commerce.

We live in an age where anything and everything is marketable. It bugs me when people say that poetry cannot or should not be marketed. Why not? My goal is to find the widest distribution for my work. Fortunately, there are many more ways that people are finding and reading poetry because books and print journal are no longer the only delivery system for poetry. We have the Internet, which allows readers to tap into blogs, zines, and podcasts globally, not to mention online writing communities and social networks such as Facebook, My Space, and Twitter (to name a few).

If we concede that the delivery systems for receiving poetry are expanding, then the poetry community needs to respond proactively with new and innovative ways to reach a wider audience. I believe this is happening in pockets, but not as a whole. Has there ever been a successful marketing campaign in poetry? And what is considered successful these days?

I’m sure most of you know the “Got Milk” marketing campaign. Brilliant! Who knew milk needed to be marketed? I’m sure much research went into figuring out how to make milk a sellable product. Poetry is not milk, but I’m convinced that even a marginal increase would increase sales and page views, and create a positive ripple effect throughout the literary community.

I never begrudge a poet for finding success. Much has been said about Billy Collins and Mary Oliver being too accessible. But are we confusing accessibility with being popular? Let’s not forget that they are very good poets, working hard on their craft. But I would never resent Billy Collins for making an appearance on NPR, or Robert Pinsky appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show, The Colbert Report, because viewers want to hear poetry. Same with Matthew and Michael Dickman. I cheer their successes. Now, are they marketing themselves or taking advantage of opportunities to find a readership beyond the traditional, somewhat academic, poetry audience? Rising tides raise all boats. If someone reads an Oliver poem, then there’s a chance that reader might find poems by other contemporary poets. Those are the readers I think poets should target.

What’s troubling is the lack of information about who buys our poetry books. Publishers know a lot about fiction readers, or romance novel devotees, or readers of cookbooks, for instance. Conversely, it’s difficult to find information on the poetry market. I’m sure it exists, but the publishers aren’t sharing it. The NEA report Reading on the Rise only scratches the surface on this market, but the report was not written with the goal of increasing poetry readership. We can all build our own profile on who the typical poetry book buyer might be, but it’s all antidotal.

If the poetry community had a better handle on its target audience, poets and publishers could market their books with more confidence and certainty. Publishers could set better, more profitable price points. Poets would know where the reader finds out about new poets or poetry readings. And the community, as a whole, would benefit from the creation of new and different ways of reaching a wider, more diverse readership.

We need our own “Got Poetry” campaign.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

CC at Mass Poetry

Here's the lineup for one of the three Mass Poetry Festival readings in which I'm a participant. The Cave Canem event will be hosted by Afaa Michael Weaver and Jarita Davis.

Saturday, October 17
St. Anne’s Church, 8 Kirk Street
Lowell, MA

Metta Sama
DeLana R.A. Dameron
Tara Betts
January O’Neil
Jarita Davis
Jericho Brown
Lillian Bertram
Kamilah Aisha Moon
Jacqueline Jones LaMon
Venus Trash
Joy Gonsalves
Johnny Davis

Confession Tuesday

I confess: I love this special little girl so much. Ella is 4 years old today! Here she is with the one, the only, Chuck E Cheese.


Happy Birthday President Obama!


Feeling a bit overwhelmed these days. It's finally sinking in that I'm traveling this road without a partner. I'm dealing with things I've never had to deal with, like car troubles, cutting the grass, or solving a mouse problem (that's a new one). And last night, because of all the wet weather we've had, I found evidence of mildew in the family room. An easy fix, but I spent more than an hour cleaning off surfaces--left me with little energy to write.

When I dwell on this stuff too long, I remind myself of a few kind works that Carolee wrote to me (hope she doesn't mind me sharing):

it *could* be the universe doing a few things: giving you a chance to prove to yourself that you can handle the things he would have handled OR giving you a chance to fail at something (auto maintenance/repair) that's ultimately unimportant to who you are (it's not the kids; you're all over that. it's not the poetry; you're all over that. etc.).

Thanks Carolee! XOXO


Frugal find of the day: On my way to work, I found an toy electric Barbie car someone was giving away by the side of the road. It's one of those cars big enough for two small kids--something I'd never pay for. So I stopped the car, put it in my trunk, and drove it home. Ella will be thrilled with mommy's latest find! It's amazing what people throw out. I'm just happy I can keep it out of landfill for a few more years.


As for my car, it hit 200K miles on my trip to D.C.! My 2000 Subura ROCKS!


The Lenovo (IBM) mini laptop I've had my eye on the pass few weeks has dropped in price to $291. So tempting. Is it possible that the price could drop even more? It would be nice to travel with a lighter laptop, that was clear to me on the D.C. trip.


On the writing front, I started a new poem on Sunday that I hope to finish today or tomorrow. I also booked a reading for January 2010! To-do list coming today or tomorrow.


I posted a poetry poll yesterday. Scroll down and fill it out--just takes a second.

Thanks for reading and confessing. Don't forget to stop by and say hello to my fellow sinners in The Confessional.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, August 03, 2009

"What is the profile of the average poetry book buyer?"

(I'm reposting a question I origially posted on the Wompo list serv.)

A coworker asked me that question and I honestly didn't know the answer. Who is the typical poetry book buyer? We can all guess, but what are the demographics? Male vs female? Young vs old? Poet vs nonpoet? Large booksellers don't share this information, so I'm hoping to get something more than opinion. Maybe a few of our indie publishers/booksellers can shed some light. What do we really know about our readership?


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