|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #24|
While nothing is certain, the odds favor the second group producing better hoppers.
Barring academic sales and flukes, if no one is selling more than a few hundred poetry books you won't either. You might think this would be obvious but, in a recent blog post, "I Just Don’t Know What I’m Doing Wrong", an editor received an email from the last person on earth to discover that poetry doesn't sell. The editor's response?
"Lower your expectations!"
At first blush this is excellent, practical advice. Let's face it; there is no significant chance that a book of verse will top the Times Best Seller list any time soon. Given the miniscule hit counts on YouTube, we literally can't give poetry away!
If you share our ideal of expanding poetry's audience then "Lower your expectations" is the worse advice ever given. At the risk of stating the obvious, we need to be raising our hopes, our expectations and, above all, our limits. It doesn't have to be--and likely shouldn't be--a book. One famous contemporary poem would suffice. Hell, one iconic line might do!
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #45|
In "Do you promote poetry-not-your-own?" we discussed the importance of promoting the best poetry available other than our own. Until there is a buzz, a bustle, a clamor about a verse on Facebook, Twitter or public media, there is no real opportunity for our work to do so. We can't have two recognized contemporary verses until we have one. Ideally, it would be a poem that authorities are already touting.
Success builds on success. When we raise the visibility of one piece we raise the potential for all works, including our own. The trick is to avoid blunting the message. Too many authorities, when asked to cite one example, give many. Stick to one poem. Or, for that matter, part of a poem.
1. Poet Laureate
2. Poet Laureate - Part II
3. Hurdles Rule - Part I
4. Hurdles Rule - Part II
5. "Vegetarian Meat Lover" from "Shelf Life" (2011) by Valerie Macon, with a 2011 Pushcart nomination
6. "Detour" from "Sleeping Rough" (2014) by Valerie Macon, with a 2013 Pushcart nomination
7. North Carolina Poet Laureate (2005-2009) Kathryn Stripling Byer Reads from "Descent"
8. North Carolina Poet Laureate (2010-2012) Cathy Smith Bowers reads "Snow"
9. North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-2014) Joseph Bathanti Reads "Knocked"
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Earl Gray, Esquirrel