important imposing interesting beautiful

Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.

So said Gertrude Stein and I keep coming back to this line as to the border of a new country, as to a world inside a grain of sand.

It’s so easy to undervalue almost any activity with that creeping, unspoken but pervasive belief that one should always be somewhere else, doing something else.

As I get older though it’s becoming easier – and how sweet and relieving it is – to really believe that the most important thing in the world is what I have chosen to do now, right now.

negative capability & a letter to a young poet

… it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason [...] capable of remaining content with half-knowledge.

Have always liked that concept, as articulated above by John Keats. Same message from Rilke in the excerpt from “Letters to a Young Poet” envideo’d below:

I thought I knew that Rilke segment well, but, us usual, the ‘voicing’ process made me see I had only half apprehended it before.

who needs words in the age of the image?

…the most important language of our so-called post-literate society. The image. Ours is a world where the ability to communicate doesn’t require anything more than rudimentary reading and writing. And, in fact, sounds and pictures can do the job just as well.And given time constraints today, perhaps better. This is what virtual reality has wrought.The image is the new word. Don’t send a message expressing your emotion, send an image representing the idea.

[...]

It would be useful [..] to trace the history of Western civilization with an eye towards evaluating the war between image and word. Start with the Mona Lisa on one side and Don Quixote on the other and count up the wins and losses in each column [...] most realists among the wordsmiths already know that short of some massive cataclysm that lays to waste the electronic grid that makes the delivery of images so easy, we are pretty much done for.

From The War on Wordsmiths by Ali Eteraz – read full article here.

I don’t necessarily disagree with his premise, but do think there is a key distinction to be made between written wordsmithing and spoken wordsmithing. Which doesn’t much help the written word crowd, but does make the overall case for wordsmiths somewhat less dire.

revisiting ten questions for poets – on poetry, publication, technology

This series represents a wealth of poetry and po-biz wisdom from a bunch of awesome contemporary poets. I used to have these linked as separate standing pages, but didn’t refresh that format when I changed blog themes recently. Have just added these standing pages back to the left-hand column, and got lost in re-reading while I did so. Thank you once again to the generous poets who participated for doing so! That wonderful group includes Ron Silliman and the late Reginald Shepherd.

TEN QUESTIONS SERIES
- poets on poetry
- poets on publication
- poetry editors on publishing poetry
- poets on technology

poetry book sales survey: results

I’ve closed the informal, unscientific survey on poetry book sales after running it for a couple of days. I was pleased to get a total of 74 responses to its three questions, which were:
 
1. How big was the initial print run for your book or chapbook? (possible range presented was 50 to 2,000 copies. In hindsight: should have included a ‘print-on-demand’ option, and possibly a ‘more than 2,000′ option.)
 
2. How many print copies of your book or chapbook were sold? (range same as above, also included a ‘don’t know’ option)
 
3. Was your book or chapbook published in any other formats? (options were PDF download, website, e-book, audio or ‘no, only print’)
 
Click on graphics below to see larger versions.

Size of print run: a topic of interest to me since writing this post way back when. The numbers from the survey pretty much confirm the range discussed in that post and exclude the multi-thousand runs of real best-seller poets. According to this survey, nearly 80% of initial runs are less than 500 copies; close to 50% are less than 200 copies; and 35% are less than 100 copies. Our world is indeed a small one…
 
print run survey results
 
Number of copies sold: 74% of respondents reported selling less than 500 copies of their book; about 50% reported sales of less than 200 copies; and 27% less than 100 copies. These numbers are skewed, however, by the ‘don’t know’ category, which represented 15% of responses. In reality, each is probably a few percentage points higher.
 
copies sold survey results
 
Publication formats: This was the real surprise, although perhaps it should not have been. Almost 90% of respondents said their book had been published in print only. Five respondents (7%) reported PDF downloads as well; four respondents report e-book publication too; while two said their poems were published on a website, and one said it had also been published as audio.

I’ve gone on at length about the advantages of multi-format publishing in previous posts, and will do so again, now that this survey is done. Watch this space…
 
publishing format survey results

‘the impertinence of being frightened for another soul’

This terrific quote from The Land of Spices by Kate O’Brien was just featured by Dawn Potter:

The years … instructed her, as she studied her father’s candid, intelligent face in the sunny parlour of Place des Ormes, that a soul should not take upon itself the impertinence of being frightened for another soul; that God is alone with each creature.

It comes on top of the Toni Morrison quote from A Mercy that Kristin Berkey-Abbott highlighted yesterday:

…to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.

Sentiments that for me complement and complete each other, and come to me at just exactly the right moment – thank-you!