Friday, April 8, 2011

Poetry reading

The life of a poet, or almost any write has it's tough times. This poem is by my favorite poet, Wislawa Szymborska

Poetry Reading

To be a boxer, or not to be
at all. O Muse, where are our teeming crowds?,
Twelve people in the room, eight seats to spare --
it's time to start this cultural affair.
Half came inside because it started raining,
the rest are relatives. O Muse.
In the front row, a sweet old man's soft snore:
He dreams his wife's alive again. What's more,
she's making him that tart she used to bake.
Aflame -- but carefully -- don't burn his cake!
We start to read. O Muse.

During the short story class I am taking, yesterday I attempted to explain why a young writer with her first book of short stories to sell had built, probably at her own expense, a beautiful website. I explained that writers are advised to do that even before they have a book to sell, and to be sure to get on Facebook and Twitter and have a blog. I explained the necessity of racking up some prizes from literary journals, and that those prizes are small potatoes financially, and actually have reading fees, so that is you are not a winner you are subsidizing the future of your competitors [and paying for the "name" judge who gets his/her "honorarium" for reading all those stories and choosing the winner and runners up.] All this is true for poets as well, if anything there are more poetry competitions in literary journals -- after all the poems are shorter and quicker to read and more can be put into one journal.

This morning I was reading an article in the newest Poets and Writers Magazine about the book business. I can only moan, with Szymborska, O Muse! Writing is a joy as one sits alone with a pencil or laptop or whatever, when thoughts take surprising shape and characters begin to speak in their own voices ... but then ... O Muse!

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