Does Poetry Sell?

I’ve been debating releasing a collection of erotic poetry I’ve been adding to for the past…nine years? And as I’ve been thinking about it I  wondered..do you guys buy poetry? I do on occasion, but more and more I have begun to wonder if poetry only sells if you are lucky enough to end up in the New York Times. Plenty of other writers have had success as poets, and poetry publishers.

Nikki Grimes,whose published 50 books over the course of 30 years, had a pretty honest perspective about selling poetry that I find very realistic:

To be fair, if you are a poet, it is highly unlikely that you will become wealthy working in this genre, no matter how well you hone your craft. That much is true. But chances are, you already know that. I would wager that most writers, keen on this particular genre, aren’t looking to make a killing in the marketplace. They simply have a penchant for the lyrical line, and a passion for metaphor. Like me, they pen poetry because they, quite frankly, can’t help themselves. Poetry is in them. It’s part of their DNA. Poets don’t value their work in terms of fiscal weight, and that’s where we differ from agents and editors.

No one alive should ever expect to break bank via publishing. It’s just not how it goes, but you can be comfortable. Besides poetry is about the feeling, the intent, and inspiring others to feel and see in new exciting ways. But here is the catcher. I am a poet who likes to have food and ,ya know, live.

As I’ve researched poetry publishing it is becoming clear that it’s a gamble, no one knows either way how it could go, but ya know what? Don’t act like you’ll make money. Act like you’ll do what you love. That’s…hard to do sometimes.

Still the world would be lesser for a lack of poetry than an overabundance. Poetry, like music, can do things in a line that thousand page novels fail to do in 400 pages not because those 400 pages are ineffective, but because the minimalist nature of a poem can do things in ways novels simply can’t do. In that way poetry offers an exceptional learning opportunity for writers of all kinds…which I will detail in my next post. For now let me say that poetry is incredibly important for writers to read and comprehend. You don’t have to like all poetry, but reading a diversity of poetry can sharpen your skills at conveying feeling, producing imagery, and understanding line structure.

I am proud to say I write great dialogue because I read and wrote poetry starting from 10 years old. Actually maybe even younger I remember reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at some point with my mother’s help. How did poetry help me write dialogue? A good insult should be as sharp as a good poem and just as heavy with the punctuation. A proclamation of love that, I believe, has the most effect can be as simple as one line when you craft to context well. Poetry has done a lot of me as a writer, as a human being, and I know I’m not alone.

So why do we let it go so under appreciated? Why do people hesitate to spend $5 on a book of poetry that could effect them as deeply as 400 pages? Times are tough for many people. Yet even still there is so much we could do if we embraced poets more.

No one should ever expect to get rich off of writing. If you read those “I made a Bajillion $$$ Writing Ebooks” articles and believed them I’m sorry. There’s a reason a ton of those articles reference Stephen King or J.K Rowling, and not hundreds and hundreds of other writers. There’s a million of us. Yes, some are better than others, but this field must be about passion. Whether you write to market or no you must display some kind of passion because $$$$ doesn’t just fall into your lap; because you may write 30 good books before ever making $500; because so many authors haven’t been “discovered” until after their deaths. Writing is a cold hard mistress, and I’d say poetry holds a steel tipped whip.

But we can make it softer.
If we consume each other. If we’re willing to take that risk and buy a random book of poetry, if we’re willing to say our emotional and mental labors are worth something.

We have to create and contribute to the market as both buyers and writers. We have to recommend books and poets to build excitement and appreciation for poetry.

 

Check out my two releases:

Suffer too Good and Dirty Honey on Amazon.

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Stretching Your Legs and Getting Creative

The worst thing about being a lazy and creative person is realizing how much doing different activities fuels writing. As much as I would love to just lounge around and write all day there is an energy from going out into the world and being active that makes my writing flow easier. When I go for walks my mind wanders, and more often than not it wanders to my writing. That quiet time away from people is one factor, but I’ve realized using my body in an environment that is constantly changing or is simply not my home adds something. In previous blogs I’ve talked about this, but I want to put this in a different way. Something about moving your body and exposing your mind to new or different activities gets the juices flowing. Monotony breeds apathy, but even worse monotony breeds a lack of ideas. If you do the same unstimulating things in an unstimulating place every single day you’ll probably find yourself at a stumbling block. You’ll probably also find yourself five seconds from pulling your own hair out. As much as I’m a lazy introvert I’ve learned the value of being in the world and not just thinking about it is priceless. So often I like to pretend I can just live a life of the mind, but that quiet contemplation (which comes with a side order of repetition) eventually wears me down.  It’s hard to explain, but it leaves me with a frustrated restlessness and a profoundly unsettling emptiness. It becomes a scream I can’t get out. It disrupts my focus and muddles my creativity.

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Sometimes I can work through it from home and sometimes I have to when my anxiety about outside gets high. While reading does contribute a lot to writing and creativity, while going to art museums does the same, while watching shows can do it too, and while talking does boost creative thinking going out and doing activities enhances creativity. Anyone who works out will tell you that after a while doing the same exercises the same way loses the effect on your body. It is still good for you, but the assumption that you can just keep jogging for a year and it will be as effective as it was during the first month isn’t quite accurate. It’s something a lot of people forget when trying to lose weight, and it is why a lot of people quite. Truthfully it is why a lot of people assume anyone over weight or even a bit heavier than average must never work out or be active despite the facts. You have to break your muscles, your system, and your body out of routine because then it adapts. I could lose one hundred pounds(and hopefully I will) but I won’t ever be skinny (And why would I want to?) and chances are my body will find its balance point and I’ll gain back twenty pounds in a few years. Why? Routines let your body tread the same processes and unless your shifts really get your body in gear, for a lot of bodies routine just allows it to do the same thing. The gains decrease. The brain is the exact same way. Doing the same 100 piece puzzle can only help you so much. You can only learn so much about solving any puzzle from doing the same one a thousand times.

4997768-drawing-of-a-girl-doing-a-vicious-sidekick-stock-vector-karate-taekwondoThe mind of thinking creatures needs exposure to different exciting things, and the most direct way to get that is by going out. The mind also needs the body to move, to use different neuron pathways instead of the same ones over and over. Not only is this good for creativity, but it helps fight mental decay such as dementia. Dancing is the best thing you can do for your brain, so far as I’m concerned. The brain is ultimately a muscle that requires a work out to stay healthy. The best thing about giving your brain a work out by reading something you wouldn’t otherwise read, meeting new people, going new places, going for walks, or trying out a new hobby is that it enriches what you create. It allows you to bring something new to the table and get inspired. We don’t always feel the inspiration, but the fact that we use our brains means we’ve added to the experiences we can pull from and allowed our brain to flex in a different way.

So the next time you get a brain fart that blocks creativity try switching up your routine. Try doing something a bit different and you may just be surprised!