Old Moon

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Buy Poetry

Had a mild jolt yesterday when a friend reminded me about my promise to do a program for her book club. Needless to say, I'd spent time on it already, nervous about how and what to say. I had the date on my two calendars: Friday, the 18th. The jolt came when she said, "Wednesday, ten o'clock." Wednesday? If we hadn't met at the salad bar, would I have missed the whole meeting? She admitted she'd said the 18th. I'm not a member of this group, though once before I did a program for them. I didn't remember what day of the week they meet.

So what's the big deal? I hadn't yet arrived at the true stage-fright phase. (I'm pretty close to it now.) I had a feeling there was still plenty of time to decide which of the two fully written-out talks I'd try to give. I'd already marked the pages of the books from which I intended to read. It wasn't as if I'd waited till the last minute...but now that date seems to loom. I've fretted about trying to "give a program." In days gone by, I got used to knowing where I wanted a lesson to end up, but found much greater success winging it and taking advantage of spontaneous reactions in the classroom. Now I have to decide whether elderly ladies in a beautiful living room with porcelain cups in their hands want to be talked at, or might be expected to contribute. I really prefer letting the chips fall where they may. Well, I've done this before, but the truth is, this time I'm on a bit of a crusade.

With thousands (probably a conservative estimate) of people writing poetry all over this country, and scores writing really good stuff just in the state where I live, I'm wondering whether anybody over college age is reading it. There will be 15 or 16 people to hear this, and I want so much to make them think about leaving prose for at least a little time and buying poetry. Yes, BUYING poetry. I'm astonished that it's still possible to purchase nicely bound and produced books of poetry from even the mega presses, in paper and hard cover. Long live the poets! and they won't, unless someone buys what they write. So I want to shake these ladies up enough to hope one of them might go out and buy a book of poems. Who knows, even add one to next year's book list for the club!


Glenda Council Beall said...

I wish you have been at Writers Night Out in Hiawassee, Ga last night to see and hear all the poets on hand. Our featured poet was Tracy Schmidt, and she had memorized her poems which she performed against the music of a hammered dulcimer played beautifully by her friend. The open mic went on and on with almost everyone reading poems.
But, I don't know if any poetry books were sold there. I know I didn't sell any of mine.
I think only poets buy poetry books, and poets sometimes give poetry books as gifts. I don't think most poets are good book sellers.

JLC said...

Precisely what I meant! And I don't expect it to change very much, but every little bit...