POETRY & FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Award-winning poet Beth Gylys featured last night at Poetry at Portfolio Center, reading from her collections, Bodies That Hum and Spot in the Dark. Not a huge turnout, but those who did were serious poetry lovers and fellow poets out to support one of our own. Beth gave a great reading. She writes fluidly in form (esp. those villanelles) and free verse, with her themes ranging from searching for love via personal ads to tension with her family who are unsure what to make of their poet daughter who uses the word "fuck" way too much. Her deadpan reading of these poems are hilarious.

After the reading, a group of us -- including fellow poets Tania Rochelle, Rupert Fike, Chelsea Rathburn and Robin Kemp -- all walked up to Mick's restaurant for a late dinner. The conversation revolved around poetry, music and blogging. Robin and I are both avid bloggers and there's been plenty of bitchery and umbrage out there in the poetry blogosphere, esp. this week. Ron Silliman's blistering post on Stephen Dobyn's work at his blog has caused a stir, and there's been plenty of back and forth on why poets are afraid to promote their own work (see posts at Deborah Ager's 32 Poems blog and at Emily Lloyd's blog). Apparently, there are many writers who are afraid to promote because it will make them look like "careerist" poets...whatever the hell that is. Since poetry is a niche market, it has become, in many respects, one big circle jerk.

I guess I'm one of those "careerist" poets, because I flogged Better To Travel nearly to death and when Slow To Burn comes out in April, I'll be back out on the road and seeking reviews, readings and other forms of publicity. I don't sit around doodling in my notebook for shits and giggles...I'm writing for an audience. So, hell yeah, I'll be out promoting. If you want to sit in a classroom, behind a computer screen or pen woe-is-me missives to literary journals about how no one reads poetry anymore, you're part of the problem. Instead, be part of the solution: get off your high horse, go to an open mic and sell a few books. Just don't bitch about it.

The best thing about last night, besides spending an evening with friends and fellow poets, was that I was inspired to come home and write. Not just one poem, but two! Rough drafts, of course, but hearing Beth triggered a memory that was perfect poetry territory, and another poem that had been floating in my brain all week finally found its way to the page. The food was delicious, too.


Anonymous said…
Tellemlikeitis, bitch! HA!
Collin said…
Ummm...okay. And word to your mother. :)

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