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?
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!
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.