What a Birthday Bash

June 16, 2018

Hi Everyone!

All my life I have been in love with maps and towns—especially Canada. As a boy, it seemed like the toughest hockey players came from Saskatchewan—Flin-Flon, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Prince Albert. So, for my 70th birthday which took place in March, my kids took me on a tour of those (and other) Saskatchewan cities. My wonderful wife took care of home and hearth and dog.

Then my daughter posted the piece below on her website along with us at the statue of the giant moose (where else but in Moose Jaw?).

My best to all Dad’s (alive and passed) and to the children who love them!

 

My dad Has Always Wanted to Go to Saskatchewan.

 

Some people have safari on their bucket list.  Others a trans-Atlantic cruise.

Not my dad. He has always wanted to go to the Canadian equivalent of North Dakota.

Greetings this Father's Day from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

My brother, dad and I have been to every Canadian sporting museum in a 500 mile radius.

I now know what a Canadian hockey hat trick is (a goal, an assist, and a fight).

My dad is cool in part because he has absolutely no idea that he is cool. 

He taught me I could do anything in life so long as I used logic as a guide.

In Southwest Ohio, years before I knew what Pride Month was, he taught me to love everyone.  "Live and let live," he still says.

We'll head back on Saturday and have stories to share of the Canadian plains.


 

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How Relevant Is poetry, Anyway

Hello again! And thanks for coming back.

So, in my last blog I tried to make a case for the relevancy of poetry by discussing the number of poetry books and magazines being published. From that I made a conservative estimate to the thousands of poems published every year. And that’s not including the hundreds of thousands of unpublished poems written each year.

But is this good news or bad news? Like everything else in life, it depends upon how you look at things. And to paraphrase my wife who says about me: “Not only do you see the glass half empty, but you believe someone spit in it when you weren’t looking,” things don’t look all that good.

Is poetry relevant to most readers? I would argue that the answer to this question is a resounding “No.”

Here are some interesting facts to ponder

·         The average commercially published poetry book sells less than 2,000 copies. Most sell less. Any poetry book selling more than 5,000 copies is rare indeed.

·         By far, more self-published and vanity press poetry books are published than commercially published books. These generally sell less than 100 copies and are heavily subsidized by the poet him/herself. Most of the readers of these books are the author’s friends, family and fellow poets. In many ways, this is a good thing. It keeps poetry at the grass roots level, but it does reinforce the fact that published poetry books simply do not sell well.

·         The overwhelming majority of magazines that publish poetry are literary journals with readerships of (perhaps) 300 subscribers. Many literary magazines are web based and have a readership of 150 or less. And again, God bless these heroic magazines and editors!

·         There are virtually no general interest magazines (except for perhaps the New Yorker and The Atlantic) or newspapers that publish poetry. It just isn’t done anymore.

Finally, let’s try an experiment. Ask a friend or co-worker to name their five favorite contemporary non-fiction and/or fiction authors.  I’ll bet you’ll get a lot of answers. Now ask these same folks to name their five favorite living poets. How many people will be able to answer five or even one?

I write this not as an indictment of any reader or set of readers. People vote with their feet, their library cards and their pocketbooks and clearly, they not voting for poetry.

No, the fault lies elsewhere. And before we can talk about the craft of poetry and how to get folks more interested in the genre, we need to figure out what has gone so badly wrong.

Like any writer, I want to leave you in suspense about the answer, although, if you know me and my work, you can probably guess where I’m headed.

Hope to see you next week!

Best to all.

Rich

 

 

First Blog...

November 21, 2018

Hello to everyone who is crazy enough to be reading this.

This is my first blog. The little voice in my head is telling me that it should also be my last blog.

But friends and readers of my poetry (hopefully this is an overlapping population) have been telling me for years that I should write a blog. So, I guess I’ll try.

I’ll try on the condition that the blog is not about me or my life. Neither is that interesting.

Instead, I will write a blog about the one thing I might know, poetry. Of course, this begs the question: Who cares about poetry?

When I did some research on this question, I admit to being shocked. According to Statista which keeps stats on this sort of stuff, in 2013, the last year for which they have numbers, 10,156 poetry and drama books were commercially printed (they don’t split the category). If that seems high, consider that in 2008, 13,474 such books were printed!

But as the TV commercial says: “Wait, there’s more.” Duotrope which keeps tracks of current magazine markets for poetry and literary fiction found 1,544 magazines that prints more than one poem per issue.

Now (and I don’t have exact numbers for this) let’s assume that a given literary magazine appears either in print or online two times per year (usually they appear more frequently than that) and that each issue prints ten poems (a conservative number). That’s 30,880 published poems per year. And that’s not counting submitted poems that were rejected. Given low magazine acceptance rates I bet there’s almost one-million poems submitted for publication per year!

And how about all the people who write poetry but never submit for publication? That must bring the total to tens of millions of poems written every year!

My conclusion is that, in contradiction to popular beliefs, poetry is alive and well; people are writing and (hopefully) reading it. In other words, people are interested.

With those numbers in mind, I humbly hope I can write a blog that is informative and interesting for readers. We’ll talk about what makes a poem, what makes it good, readable and enjoyable. We will also discuss ways to come up with, write and revise the poems which you write.

Like everything in life, the operative word is hope.

As in hope to be in touch with you soon.

Best

Rich