Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

MassPoFestAccording to their website, 178 poets and presenters are reading, leading workshops or performing at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival this coming weekend, with simultaneous launches all over the state.  There’s a High School Poets Program, a huge slate of workshops, many many readings — and it’s free!

If you’re attending on Saturday, come look me up.  I’ll be at the Small Press Fair, staffing the Tupelo Press table –stop by, say hi, and buy a book or three.

Please note, they’re encouraging all Saturday attendees to check in at Festival Central, and everyone who does will be entered in a raffle. The Poetry Box, according to the website, will contain:

  • A gift certificate from Grub Street entitling you to attend one of their courses.
  • A gift certificate to attend one session with PoemWorks and Barbara Helfgott Hyett.
  • A gift certificate from Grolier’s in Harvard Square.
  • An assortment of poetry books.

Free books?  I don’t need to be asked twice!  There is just an outrageous number of events happening — I hope you’re able to participate. This is the only the second year of the Festival, and this year’s even more ambitious, so here’s hoping it’s wildly successful and sure to return for years to come.

And to whet your whistle, ReadWritePoem, in partnership with the Festival, is running a special series, wherein featured readers at the Festival were asked to answer the question, “What is poetry?”  The results are as varied and intriguing as the poets: a wordle from Joan Houlihan, a pastiche of quotes & frank ruminations from Jeffrey Harrison.  Take a gander, and offer your own thoughts, too — no grades allowed, but class participation is highly encouraged.

Poetry & Money: Addendum.

weave There are a few other journals I subscribe to that I forgot to mention, I don’t know why. It all seems like an abundance of riches now, doesn’t it?

  • Parnassus: Poetry in Review. This comes out about once a year, and I can never keep track of whether or not I need to renew. I once bought a copy in a bookstore thinking it a new issue & my subscription must’ve run out — but I already had it on my shelves. Love this journal. It almost went under recently, so it could definitely use some support.
  • Rattle. This subscription was part of a contest entry. The only kinds of contests I like to enter, and I rarely enter any, are ones that include reading material with your entry fee.
  • Bateau. Great poems & the journal itself is beautifully done. Plus I got a free t-shirt with my subscription. What can I say, I’m a thrifty shopper.
  • Weave Magazine. They’re having a subscription drive right now. And they accepted one of my poems for their fall issue.

Unfortunately, I’m tapped out now. But I was thinking: as I said a few posts ago, many small presses offer a good discount if you order directly from their website. However, maybe there’s a book you’re interested in from a small press that doesn’t seem to discount their books. Instead of ordering from Amazon, why don’t you email the press and ask for a discount yourself. Seriously. Why not? Amazon takes a big cut, regular bricks & mortar bookstores typically get at least 40%. I don’t recommend you ask for that much, but a 20-30% + shipping should still net the press a better profit than they’d get through Amazon.

Just a thought. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Graywolf Press

I’m sitting in bed with my new laptop, cat at my feet. Vincent’s asleep, Lance went for a walk — silence but for the ticking clock. Serene winter evening.  Let’s hope it doesn’t all go to hell.

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In terms of small presses, Graywolf Press is practically a venerable graybeard. It’s been around a while now, it’s a very successful press, their books get reviewed widely, and distribution is by Macmillan, who also distributes St. Martin’s Press, Henry Holt, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Graywolf books are even in the back of the FS&G catalog. This is great visibility for a small press.

And the Graywolf poetry list is reliably top-notch. New books forthcoming:

  • Colosseum, by Katie Ford. June, paperback, $15.00. A new book of poems from the poetry editor of the New Orleans Review. Excerpt: If you respect the dead/ and recall where they died/ by this time tomorrow/ there will be nowhere to walk.
  • Matter of Fact, by Eamon Grennan. June, paperback, $15.00. Excerpt: Don’t look back. Think Orpheus. Pillar of salt./ One breath, then another. Sweat of apprehension./ Still life with wind and breadcrumbs.
  • Letters to a Stranger, by Thomas James. Introduction by Lucie Brock-Broido. July, paperback, $15.00. A new book in the Graywolf Poetry Re/View Series, edited by Mark Doty, which is dedicated to bringing essential books of contemporary American poetry back into print. Excerpt: I will last forever. I am not impatient–/ My skin will wait to greet its old complexions./ I’ll lie here till the world swims back again.
  • Best Thought, Worst Thought: Art, Sex, Work, and Death, aphorisms by Don Paterson. August, hardcover, $18.00. “The male genitals are worn externally as evolution is in the process of expelling them from the body. Another million years and they’ll be stored in a drawer.”

As a bookseller, my knowledge can be limited to the catalogs I receive, the sales reps I meet. So I know Copper Canyon Press, Tupelo Press, and a whole host of others I hope to cover, are distributed by Consortium/ Perseus/ PGW / Whatever they’re calling themselves these days. Small Press Distribution (SPD) distributes a continent of small presses. And they’re (SPD) non-profit. (I wish their catalog was more like Consortium’s, which gives each frontlist book at least half a page. I have to work very hard to read an entire SPD catalog.) Being somewhat plugged into the poetry blogosphere has also introduced me to some fantastic small presses.

All of which goes to say that, while I’m gathering intel, it’s easy to miss good stuff, especially if a press doesn’t have a distributor or great online visibility, so if you have a favorite small press, please, go ahead & tell me about it! How else am I to learn?