Treating Poetry Like it Matters: A Hearty Cheers
I want to get this up here before MEAN WEEK kicks off tomorrow. It’s a rider-thought attached to the previous post where I mentioned in passing that a Knopf publicist sent me a few poetry books this week. I don’t want to leave our readers here with the mis-impression that I was merely gloating over having been gifted with free stuff. Indeed, all three books were sent to me because I requested them, on the promise of consideration for review–a promise I intend to honor in all cases. But the interesting thing is how I found out about the books in the first place. Lena, the publicist in question, may or may not be a regular reader of HTMLGiant–I don’t know. But I do know that she decided to get in touch after reading Michael Schaub’s “Any Wonder We Tried Gin” post, which mentioned the poet Philip Levine. She wrote to say hello, mentioned that Levine has a new book of poems out, News of the World, and invited me to an upcoming reading in Brooklyn. Presumably, she wrote to me and not Schaub because she’d done enough leg work to know that I live where the reading was happening, and he doesn’t. Point for her. In any case, I couldn’t go to the reading, but I offered to take a look at the book, and invited her to keep me posted on Knopf-related poetry stuff. Since that time, not quite 10 days ago, she’s suggested a few other books she’s working on that I might be interested in–didn’t get irritated or write me off when I said no to stuff–and invited me to at least one other event. As it stands today, I now have three books to look at- the Levine, Marie Ponsot’s new collection, Easy, plus an oral biography of Robert Altman that I absolutely cannot wait to dig into (The NYT loved it) and which you, gentle reader, should expect to hear about at some length in the days and weeks to come. Lena has done an amazing job of making me feel like I–as a blogger–and poetry–as an art form–matter, two things which are more or less unheard of for a major press in these sad times (except of course at HarperPerennial, the forward-thinkingest imprint at any outfit great or small, advertiser on this website, and happy home of yours truly). The result of her efforts, which in total couldn’t have taken up more than fifteen minutes of her working week, is that I’m now not only inclined to actually read and thoughtfully consider three books I didn’t know existed this time two weeks ago, but my interest in Knopf has been piqued, and where and what that will lead to, who can say? Lena the publicist, a hearty cheers! Here, here!