Sep 17, 2008

Marketing the Poet

Day 3 of Writing in Metaphor and Imagery for Book Blogger Appreciation Week

In the age of the Internet, it is no wonder that book publishers are looking to the myriad housewives, students, professionals, and other bloggers to promote their authors’ books through reviews, interviews, guest posts, and virtual book tours. The 21st century provides businesses with a unique opportunity to directly access their customers through blogs, social networks, and other means on the Internet. As a poet, I’ve thought of the Internet as a level playing field for writers, allowing poets the same access to the public as fiction and nonfiction authors.

While writers of fiction and nonfiction are familiar with marketing their own work to the masses, I’ve noticed that poets are not as comfortable publicizing their own work. However, perhaps growing up with access to the Internet has enabled me to see the potential of growing the readership base of poetry. Up until recently poetry has circulated in college and university English courses and among academics in their “ivory” towers, but more and more contemporary poetry is bleeding into general audiences from poetry slams to online journals. Despite poetry’s elitist reputation, the form continues to evolve and reach new audiences. Spoken word poets are taking their poems to the streets, local events, bars, literary festivals, and other venues, and some poets focused on the written form are submitting to online rather than print journals.

The American Academy of Poets, for example, embraces the Internet by offering audio readings and videos of poets in conversation, spotlighting different artists periodically. There also is a list of events online, and each state has its own dedicated poetry page. The academy will even send those who sign up a new poem once per day to their email. In addition to the groups online striving to widen the audience for poetry by embracing technology, poets themselves are getting into the groove. Arlene Ang is one contemporary poet using the Internet to market her work, which you can see here and here. Meanwhile, the U.S. Poet Laureate position has gained ground in the media; I didn’t start noticing the poet laureate until about 1997 when Robert Pinsky was named, but with each passing year I’ve noticed each new poet laureate take the office with greater zeal, spotlighting poetry as an art worthy of attention by general audiences. Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins and Poetry 180—a poem a day for American High Schools—aim to have one poem read in a public forum at high schools willing to participate in the program, but how the poem is applied is up to the school. Students, teachers, staff members, and others can read the poems out loud, but discussion is not necessary. According to Billy Collins, “The most important thing is that the poems be read and listened to without any academic requirements. The point is to expose students to some of the fresh voices in contemporary poetry.”

I’ve been blogging for about three years, though only for little over one year at Savvy Verse & Wit, but I am dedicated to including poetry book reviews and other items about poetry on my blog to broaden the audience for poets. The goal of the site is to incorporate poetry during National Poetry Month, which is every April, by discussing poetic forms, new poets worthy of recognition, or posting poetry book reviews. Eventually, interviews from poets could be used to highlight how poets are very similar to fiction and nonfiction writers in terms of their process and struggles to get published. Poets are down-to-earth people tackling emotions, themes, and inner and external struggles, much like prose writers. The Internet is a powerful tool that poets and writers alike must grab onto and mold to meet their purpose, exposing the widest audience possible to their art.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Contest:

Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a 1-year subscription to Poetry magazine, which has one translation issue per year, poems, and short stories. In the comments tell me one thing you love about poetry and one thing you dislike about poetry or share a couple lines from your favorite poem. Deadline is Sept. 19, Midnight EST.

Another friendly reminder about these contests:

1. Diary of an Eccentric is holding a contest for The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks Deadline is Sept. 30

2. Savvy Verse & Wit is holding a contest for Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg as the first contest for Book Blogger Appreciation Week Deadline is Sept. 19

3. Savvy Verse & Wit is holding another contest for "A Coney Island of the Mind" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti as part of BBAW; Deadline is Sept. 19

3. Book Club Girl has a new contest today as well.

4. Bookish Ruth's contest for The Sally Lockhart Mysteries by Phillip Pullman

Please also double-check the growing list of giveaways at My Friend Amy's blog.

Deadlines for all of my BBAW contests will be Sept. 19, Midnight EST.


Anonymous said...

I love the imagery that poetry evokes. I dislike the need people feel to rhyme all the time (oops) when writing it.

Serena said...

I hear you on the rhyme issue. Though I have found some poets that can actually accomplish rhyme without making my ears hurt.

Theresa N. said...

I love the rhythm of poetry, it's like a language all on it's own. Dislike BAD poetry, when it's bad it's relly bad.
Theresa N

Serena said...

Thanks for entering the contest, Theresa. I hope everyone is enjoying this week in "Writing in Metaphor and Imagery"

Anonymous said...

came in from MyFriendAmy over at BBAW.

I'm delighted to find your site! Poetry is one of my guilty pleasures, reading and writing it- it shouldn't be guilty, but it gets shoved aside for other, more lucrative reading and writing. I should recalibrate that, I know.

Tracee said...

Poetry truly shows free thinking and makes you work for understanding - this is what I like and dislike about it, lol!


Majgie said...

I love poetry, it speaks to you, painting a picture for you and envoking emotions as well as thoughts. Anyone who can do that with a few lines of 'text' has a special talent.

Please include me in your contest.
Jen C

Serena said...

Thank you for entering the contest, Majgie! Also thank you for the kind words about poets.

Elizabeth, thanks for stopping on over here to enter the contest and share your guilty pleasure with us. And I say wallow in the pleasure...because I do.

Serena said...

Tracee: that's the inherent dichotomy of poetry I'm afraid. But I like the fact that you have to think about it. In many cases, I find people lack the ability to think critically because they never experienced poetry or were given the opportunity to do so in school or on the job. It's a sad testament to the education system in some ways.

Jeanne said...

What I like about poetry is that it live in your head until needed. Since the central Ohio hurricane (!!) I've been going around with "What of a much of a which of a wind" in my head.

Anonymous said...

Sign me up for the contest!!

I've been enjoying your poetry week, and I think you wrote a great article.

I agree that poetry needs to be more accessible. When I hear the word poetry, it's easy to think of Frost and the other classic poets, but there are a lot of great contemporary poets writing poems that don't go over people's heads!

windycindy said...

Happy Wednesday, Poetry used to be my first literary love! I am just beginning to get into it again. In a poem called "The Snow Man", are these lines ~ One must have a mind of winter/To regard the frost and the boughs of the pine/Trees crusted with snow. Thanks, Cindi

Serena said...

Great poem Cindi. Thanks for entering the contest and sharing.

Rebekah (monkeygirlsmama) said...

I grew up loving poetry, and read everything I could get my hands on. Then from the time I was 6 or 7 I began writing poetry. That's not to say it was always wonderful, but people always said I had a great talent/skill/voice when it came to the poetry I wrote. Sadly, as I got older I kind of lost my way, and moved on to other things. I'm 27 now, and I very rarely write anymore. Your post, however, has inspired me to start anew. You're never too old to do the things you love, and both reading and writing poetry has and will always be something close to my heart.

My favorite poet of all time is Robert Frost, and more specifically his poem "Fire & Ice".

Fire & Ice by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
is also great
And would suffice.


Rebekah (monkeygirlsmama) said...

Ooops, forgot to say WHY I enjoy reading poetry. Quite simply, I love how through poetry pure and raw emotion can take form and tell a story.

Jena said...

I was a teacher, and one of my favorite times of the year was National Poetry Month, which coincides with March Madness (NCAA basketball), so we'd have a poetry tournament. My favorite activity was inviting students to illustrate the imagery of the poetry; one of their favorite poems to illustrate was Billy Collins's "Introduction to Poetry." ("But all they want to do / is tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it. // They begin beating it with a hose / to find out what it really means.") One of my personal favorites is William Carlos Williams's "This Is Just To Say"--it's so... teasing and sensual and cruel.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest I am not a huge poetry reader but I would love to expand my reading horizons. I do like the way it makes you feel and stirs your emotions. Dislike would be sometimes difficult to understand the meaning. Thanks so much for the contest!
I'm excited about your Sylvia Plath contest:) I did love her book!

Serena said...

Tracy: Thanks for commenting and entering the contest. This magazine is one of my favorites for contemporary poets and its not to academic.

Jena: What a great story...thank you for sharing it. I love that Bill Collins poem as well. Thanks for entering the contest.

Rebekah: It is good to meet another poet, even if you haven't written in a long time, it is still something you are obviously passionate about. Robert Frost is another of my favorites, I have an anthology volume of his poems that Anna at Diary of an Eccentric got me when she checked out his house. Thanks for entering the contest, and check out the upcoming post on Sylvia Plath.

April said...

I do and have always loved poetry. I have been a writer of poetry for as long as I can remember and just love how you can take an entire story and compose it within one short page of verse. I also love the abstractness of some poetry and how it just opens the mind to so many possibilities.
Honestly, there really is nothing about poetry that I dislike. I just wish it were more recognized in today's society.

Serena said...

April, thanks for entering the contest. I'm glad to meet another poet.

darbyscloset said...

I love poetry when I can see the "picture" the author is describing. I get frustrated with poetry when "I just don't get it" matter how many times I read the poem I cannot figure out what the author is trying to express.
Thanks for the contest!!
darbyscloset (at) yahoo (dot) com

Suey said...

What I love about poetry is the cool and amazing way words can be used.

What I don't like about it is that sometimes, I just don't get it!

A favorite line:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Serena said...

Suey: Thanks for stopping by and entering the contest.

Serena said...

I think that a lot of contemporary poetry is much more accessible. Bill Collins is someone that everyone should check out, as well as Mary Oliver.

Icedream said...

I love poetry, the great poetry that moves me with the beauty of language perfectly chosen. I also love the bad, it has it's own charm that tickles my funny bone.

Unknown said...

I enjoy poetry because it takes me away from daily life. The imagery is restful.

Serena said...

Icedream: I hear you...sometimes that bad poetry just makes you want to giggle. I love it.

Bobbi: I'm glad to hear that you find imagery in poetry restful...sometimes I find some images to be disturbing.