At last post I was preparing for New Year’s Eve, and that describes how I’ve felt, as a writer, over the past several months. I haven’t felt like writing much since November, when I took part in the Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge sponsored by Writer’s Digest (poetry editor Robert Lee Brewer). My resultant chapbook, Fire Ritual, did well in the competition, but since the last day of the challenge I’ve been as dry as a . . . well there you go; I have no answer.
But I do have a few thoughts. As many of you know, my Around the Sun Without a Sail was published in early December. The collection was well received, and I appreciate all the encouragement you gave me. The problem is this: I have no desire to market the book, neither do I feel a particular need to over-inundate the general public with its Amazon link. I call this a problem, though I think it’s proper to leave it alone. I find poets consistently foisting their own relevancy, which I think is a huge mistake.
Poetry is truly unique in that the reader takes from it whatever she or he will. A poet writes about, say, a dead mouse; reader A in Canada finds it apropos to his recently deceased mother; reader B in Hong Kong determines its relevancy lies in how it deftly describes a peasant revolt. The poet wrote about a dead mouse. That’s one-way communication, and if the poet goes on to describe, in prose, why or how he wrote the poem perhaps both reader A & B will walk away disappointed. They both found the poem relevant for very subjective, personal reasons. I think that’s enough.
I see, though, many poets pushing their work in some very unsatisfying ways. I recognize the importance to have ways to market yourself, and recommend personal poetry pages separate from the general news feed on Facebook. But, in the case of poetry, it’s a mistake, I think, to constantly self-promote your work. Poetry is too subjective, too personal, for readers to accept the poet’s word for how relevant he or she believes they are. The readers either get there or they don’t. If they get there, they pass the work on. It’s a huge mistake, I think, to assume you can build a poetry audience. You cannot force-feed poetry, especially your own.
I suppose it will continue. As for me, I’m happy enough that the book is out there, and that another is in the works. I have a personal poetry page on Facebook, and I only occasionally make announcements there. I sent links to the book two or three times, then stopped. I won’t foist myself on you, neither will I let my ego (strong though it is) overtake common sense. That’s it.
I want to thank those of you who visit me here, and who have so wonderfully supported me and my poetry. Your encouragement has meant very much to me. As a reminder, the book is still available just by clicking . . .
Oh no you don’t, Fenwick.