Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Poetry Stimulus

So I’m sitting here wondering where the bottom is going to be on the world economy, and wondering what this will mean for artists in general.

I’ve decided on my own little stimulus package, where (unless something drastic happens) I’m going to buy two books of poetry a month for the remainder of the year. I bought quite a few at AWP, and I have quite a few that I’m waiting for later this year (Kocot, Ramke, etc), so finding two a month to buy shouldn’t be difficult.

First up, I just got a copy of Zach Savitch’s Full Catastrophic Living. Seems appropriate to the times. When will I get to reading it, I don’t know, as I’ve only read one of the books I brought back from AWP so far—Allison Benis White’s wonderful Self-Portrait with Crayon—and I’m a little way through Lytton Smith’s also wonderful The All-Purpose Magical Tent (disclaimer: though I don’t know him well, I’ve known Lytton Smith for a few years, so I’m not completely impartial—but I am really enjoying it, even so).

The next book I’m going to get will be Ron Silliman’s massive 952 page The Alphabet that’s currently ranking #165,087 in books at amazon, which, for poetry, is a big deal. Most books of poetry rarely get much lower than 700,000 or so. Anyway, I can’t imagine reading it cover to cover. How does one do that with a book this size? So I’ve been putting it off. 952 pages. I’m completely daunted. But I’m going to dive in.

I’m also looking forward to finally getting a copy of Dan Kaplan’s Bill’s Formal Complaint. I had a copy in manuscript, and somehow never got around to buying a final copy. I’ll fix that next week.

So those are my two for March.

Anyone want to join me in diving into The Alphabet (and/or Bill’s Formal Complaint), or, more generally, in trying to buy at least one book of poetry every month for the remainder of the year? Email me. Let me know how it’s going.

Together we can be the change we’re waiting for.


At 3/03/2009 7:07 AM, Blogger Matthew Thorburn said...

My ongoing poetry stimulus package involves annual infusions of capital into an array of small presses via contest entries. If only this stimulus were tax deductible!

Seriously, though, I agree -- buying books is a great way to support the poetry economy. If you can buy them directly from the poets or their presses (or, if not, then from independent booksellers), I think that's even better.

At 3/03/2009 7:14 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Yeah, I hear you about the contests. I'm not sending anything out to contests this year (I've been so lucky lately to avoid that - at one point I was spending nearly $800.00 a year on contests) so I can make the argument to spend the money this way.

I know that amazon has been getting a lot of flak for the way it treats presses, but unless the press has a fairly easy ordering system, it's just so much easier that way.

I see so few poets, it's nearly impossible to buy from them. You're such a spoiled New Yorker.


At 3/03/2009 8:23 AM, Blogger Penultimatina said...

I'm game. Let's do it!

At 3/03/2009 10:21 AM, Anonymous Jason Crane said...

I'm in, too. It's what I would have done anyway, but it's even more fun as part of the official Poetry Stimulus Plan.

Jason Crane

At 3/03/2009 11:01 AM, Blogger C. Dale said...

The last sentence of this post is so Obama-esque that I am now afraid of you!

At 3/03/2009 12:03 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Ah, you're right, my friend. I should have written "Clue:" just above it... !

At 3/03/2009 12:22 PM, Blogger C. Dale said...

I swear to God you are the sassiest straight man alive.

At 3/03/2009 1:29 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

That made me laugh. Thank you.

WV: psynodsm

I feel like that has somethign to do with it.

At 3/03/2009 6:22 PM, Blogger Justin Evans said...

I have decided to enter book contests with no expectations whatsoever of being selected. I am lucky enough to have the cash to occasionally do such a thing. I am also going to do the new subscription thing smaller presses are offering. Tilt press comes to mind. I have also stepped up my book purchases.

I have already received my copy of Ron's book, and it is a daunting task at such a heft. Wait until you open it, though. It's a real challenge, but even if I never get through it or even to it for a really long time, I bought it and helped out in my little way.

So just say the word (for Mary, Jason, and myself) and I will start into The Alphabet with all of you.

At 3/04/2009 8:56 AM, Blogger Matthew Thorburn said...

Haha. Touche, JG! And I'll admit I mostly buy from Amazon and B&N (b/c B&N gift cards seem to be the default gift to give "the book lover" in the family) myself.

Okay, I'm in for the monthly book buying but have to pass on the Silliman reading (for now). My economic stimulating up to this point has already left me with a big stack of books to read.


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