LAUNCH PARTY REPORT: About 40 people showed up during the two-hour launch party for Slow To Burn yesterday at galerieMC (that's the gallery pictured at right). Not bad, not good. For a poetry event on a Saturday afternoon with a zillion other things happening the same day (including other literary events), I suppose it was a pretty decent turnout. It just seemed like there should have been more. As stated in the other post, we had heavily promoted it in a number of ways, but as I joked during one of the readings, those who turned out were my (to borrow from Dubya) "base." And by base I mean those friends and poets who have supported me from the beginning, and who I love very much. Thanks to all those who came yesterday and hung out. It meant the world to me. And of course Marscha Cavaliere, owner of galerieMC, is just a goddess in my eyes. A supporter of the arts, a gracious host and just lovely in every way. I am devastated that Marscha has decided to close the gallery and move on to new projects, but I know she will remain a vital force in the art scene. Thanks also goes to Poets & Writers, Inc. for the funding to help make this event happen. Bonnie Marcus and her team in NYC have been fantastic in bringing more attention -- and money -- to the city's writers.

What has been on my mind since the event is something Cherryl and I have talked about on numerous occasions: local writers don't get enough support at home. Both Cherryl and I travel extensively and we've both found that audiences are more eager and more excited elsewhere. Book sales are better, you get invited back, there's plenty of media coverage. Personally, I've been trying to turn that notion around here in Atlanta. I attend many events, because I want to be supportive. The sad fact is that those folks you go to support, don't necessarily return the favor. And that's exactly what happened yesterday. I'm not going to get bitter or launch into some rage about it. I'm just pointing out the obvious. And many people who claim to support poetry and the arts can't be bothered to turn out for a local writer or an even by a local organization. Until this month, Poetry at Portfolio Center was getting very little love and Word Diversity Collective has sometimes struggled to find an audience. If it's not Billy Collins or Ted Kooser, then the "art patrons" aren't going to venture out. I love Billy and Ted, but there's a lot of so-called patrons who are really nothing more than starfuckers. Couple this with an almost total lack of support from local media (who seem to be hypnotised by American Idol rejects and who's on the guest list at the clubs or funerals of dead rappers), and you're basically screwed.

What I am going to do is take the advice given to me by several poets I admire: take more time for me. When you get down to basics, all that matters is the writing. I spend a great deal of time working in the community to promote poetry through various organizations and through my own contacts. That will not change. However, over the summer I'm going to be reevaluating a lot of things. I have another manuscript to put together and I've neglected to send my novel back out to publishers because I've been so overwhelmed in "po' biz." That's got to stop. I think it's time for a change...to shake things up a bit.

Comments

Anonymous said…
atlanta's just not a literary town... but thanks for everything you do to try to change that! i'm gonna get flamed for this, but: i chalk it up to georgia's abysmal public school system. i graduated with people who were still functionally illiterate.
BLUE said…
first ... you DO need to do YOU more. second, yeah ... get back to that writing. third, this is my public apology for being involved in other things (personal and professional) and not coming to your launch. but you know i'm always there, Capote (lol). and i'm about ready to say screw the glitter of the plastic literati in this town. yes, let's shake it up a bit. i know it's going to be good whatever is up your sleeve. smoochies!
Collin said…
B, you know you get a free pass for missing yesterday. You called and explained and I know you've got a ton of shit on your plate...so you don't have to apologize to me, Harper (lol). It's all the others who didn't even bother to call that disappointed me.
jenni said…
Seems like a good idea to just focus on your writing for a while. This is why i only send out about 5 submissions per year--any more than that and it starts to become a distraction for me from my true goal--to write better. But 40 people is pretty good! And i stil want to congratulate you! if i were closer, i would've benn there.
Cleo said…
Collin - sorry, I wish I had an excuse, but really just completely flaked out. I had it on my calender, and it's right down the street from me, but Sat. night I just all of a sudden reliazed I'd missed it, and was kicking myself.

Hope I still can keep my "base/posse" status.

You know, I think the whole "literary scene" is just a building thing. There's things going on here and there, but nothing really cohesive. It's a similar thing to what goes on in the Arts community here. As soon as some one "makes it" they tend to move on to bigger markets. I think that happens with writers too.

But you're definitely a pioneer and laying a lot of groundwork. I guess it seems like throwing a lot of poetry on the wall though and seeing what sticks. Eventually some things do though.

When it boils down to it though, any "literary scene" comes down to people. Poets, supporters, editors, publishers, etc. You've definitely created your own. Let's just hope more people continue to step forward to continue the work.

And definitely take some time for yourself. Relax, listen to some Kate Bush, maybe find yourself a boyfriend.
Collin said…
Cleo, it's big of you to admit flaking out. Yes, I'll keep you in my address book. :)

I'm on an indefinite boyfriend break. Been there, done that, got no writing done. If someone of interest darkens my door, I won't turn them away, but if they start distracting me, I'll be throwing them up against a wall to see if they stick. :)
nolapoet said…
Hey, Collin--

I also lost track of what day it was and didn't mean to slight you (or Portfolio Center, for that matter).

I wouldn't worry about it. 40 is a respectable turnout for a poetry booklaunch.

Why don't you apply for a residency somewhere and take a little time off without distraction? Making the scene constantly can eat you alive.

Robin
bookfraud said…
i agree that 40 is a good turnout for a poetry book launch. i have been to smaller gatherings for novels. which were launched in bigger cities.

i admire and am jealous of your dedication. we can lose sight of why we're working "other" jobs; it's to support our writing, not conversely.
Collin said…
No worries, Robin. I would love to do a residency somewhere, but unfortunately the intensive day job gets in the way. You know how that journalism game works.

You're right, Bookfraud (and Robin), 40 isn't bad, but it's not great. We had estimated more like 75 judging from responses, etc. Where those people were is the big mystery. I suppose I had my hopes up, which I usually never do.

I realize that getting caught up in the numbers, media, blah, blah, blah is part of the "po biz" trap. That's what I have to continue to avoid. Getting off the merry-go-round of continually attending and promoting events that distract from writing is part of the solution.
Cleo said…
Collin, Robin had a great idea. You should check out the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, that program lets you stay in his Mom's little house in Winter Park. It's actually where he'd go after his travels and pull it all together. That's where Dharma Bums and some of his best known works were done. It get's poets from all over the country and they sometimes tie in readings in CA and NYC.

Closer by there's also some residency programs up at the Hambridge Center.
Tania Rochelle said…
I also had a previous engagement I couldn't get out of, Collin. But I see and appreciate all you do--your support, your mission to promote awareness, your devotion to writing and writers of all types.

Thanks again for everything, and congratulations on Slow to Burn.

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