February 23, 2009

Here & There

There seems to be a twinge of disappointment in the industry that sales figures for the commemorative chapbook of Elizabeth Alexander's Inauguration Poem, "Praise Song for the Day," aren't higher. 6,000 is usually a great number for a volume of poetry...but in the context of Graywolf Press's very public announcement of a first run of 100,000, it's a little anticlimactic.

Here's my question: is this perhaps one of those rare cases where the wide availability of a "book-length" text on the internet nipped sales in the bud?

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This morning over at Harriet, a blogger surfaced whose name was probably unfamiliar to most in the poetry world: Cathy Halley. If you're curious about Cathy, the new web director for the Poetry Foundation site (replacing Emily Warn), you can find the record of her last gig, the "Scrappy Girl Decorates" blog over at the now-defunct Domino. She also has a personal blog, "Maison d'Etre," here. I think it's interesting that they chose somebody whose primary savvy comes through the web versus the poetry world, and I'm hoping she brings a youthful spirit to the Foundation's site. Welcome to the job, Cathy!

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I'll do a bigger push in another two weeks, but I would urge those in DC to SAVE THE DATE for a killer reading coming up at the Arts Club:

Tuesday, March 10 - 7:00 PM

The Arts Club of Washington presents "Flirting with the Masters: Poets on Elizabeth Bishop," featuring poets Jehanne Dubrow and Michael Collier, the former Poet Laureate of Maryland. Free and open to the public, with reception and booksigning to follow.

Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street NW, DC. (703) 994-3166.


Jehanne has been on fire lately, with the debut of her first book THE HARDSHIP POST (chosen by Peter Pereira as the winner of the Three Candles Press Open Book Prize), followed by the news of two more books coming down the pipeline: From the Fever-World, which won the Washington Writers' Publishing House Prize, and Stateside, which will be released by Northwestern University Press in 2010.

Michael Collier is a nationally recognized poet; The Ledge was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His latest book, DARK WILD REALM, is now available in paperback. He's not only the director of the annual Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, he is also a mainstay of our local scene and a longtime professor of creative writing at the University of Maryland.
You must, must, must come hear this pair read if you haven't heard them before. Not to mention the excuse to celebrate Ms. Bishop, who has recently been a hot topic because of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.

5 comments:

Shann Palmer said...

I dunno about the inaugural poem- I heard it once, wasn't excited enough to buy a copy. If I were still teaching I definately would, to have it there for the classroom.

There are bags and stacks of poetry books all over my house, a few unread (mostly read, however)- I don't need another one unless it's a friend or someone I adore (like Tony Hoagland).

Matthew said...

I'm not complaining about the poem, but I didn't like it enough to buy a copy. Interesting to think how the availability on the the web plays into it, though.

Jehanne Dubrow said...

Sandra, I am very excited to be part of the upcoming reading. Thank you so much for including me! I can't wait.

Greg said...

I agree with Shann & Matthew. It was nice to have a poem at the Inaugural and it suited the occasion well enough, but wasn't sufficiently compelling to make me want to read it repeatedly.

apt pupil said...

Hi there-
Thanks for the welcome! I hadn't ego-surfed in a while, so I just discovered this. I have to enter the fray over at Harriet. We've been relaunching the back end of the site, so I haven't had much time to blog yet, but I will. I'll be trying to open up the discussion to a wider audience and encouraging women to comment on the blog.