Tuesday, April 10, 2012

National Poetry Month

During this month long celebration of poetry, I am taking the opportunity to once again promote my latest book of poetry, Entre la claridad, published four months ago.  If you have been reading this blog since the fall, you have read about this book several times (indulge me, please), but some of you are more recent followers and may not have seen much about it.

Entre la claridad is a chapbook, or short book of poetry, written by me, mostly in English, with some Spanish phrases to more accurately reflect the dialog of South Texas.  The title can be translated as “Moving into Clarity.”  The first poem in the collection, “Border Sonnet” actually discusses the South Texas way of speaking, known as Spanglish, that is distinctive to the communities where my parents were raised.  Read an excerpt from this poem here.

National Poetry Month is the perfect time to acquaint yourself with poetry, and to support poets and poetry publishers by buying and reading a book, specifically my chapbook, of poetry.  If you already have a copy of Entre la claridad, please share your thoughts about the book with a friend or family member, or consider buying another as a gift.  For only $7.00, you can purchase a poetic reading experience for yourself or someone else!

If you would like to know more about the book, you can read several excerpts, as well as information about the book editing and publishing process at these postsYou can also listen to radio broadcasts featuring these poems at the links on my Audio page.

As I mentioned earlier this month, you can buy Entre la claridad and my first chapbook, Familia, for a limited time at Brazos Bookstore in Houston.  Last week at the Local Poets Event, several copies of each book sold.  With your help, the store may decide to keep stocking my books.  Or, you can purchase directly from the publisher, Mouthfeel Press.  Maria, the press’s founder, editor, and publisher, reports that my book has been selling slowly, so I decided to write this post to speed up sales.  

Self promotion is not something I have ever been good at, so please excuse the awkwardness of this post.  However, in the electronic publishing age, self promotion is a necessary marketing strategy for physically published books, especially for poetry, the least read genre of literature.  After all, we must have a whole month dedicated to poetry on a national scale for a reason.  

Just for fun, you can read a tongue-in-cheek (sort of) critique of National Poetry Month by the poet Charles Bernstein here.  He asserts, among other claims, that National Poetry Month is meant to save poetry from extinction due to lack of interest among Americans, despite the clear connections between poetry and contemporary culture, such as popular music.  More awkwardness: Bernstein suggests that National Poetry Month activities actually hurt poetry more than they develop interest for it by championing “safe” and understandable poems over innovative and more aesthetic work.  Unfortunately, most people know more about National Poetry Month than they know about contemporary poetry or poets . . .

If the last statement applies to you, the easy solution for you is to read my book.  In addition to poems about my parents’ courtship and the unfortunate end to their marriage, you will find spiritual poems, others about Tex Mex culture, about a young woman (a younger me) searching for her vocation, and much more!  I promise that my poems are not obscure or overly difficult to understand; many of them are narrative, which means they tell a story, and the book as a whole tells its own story poem by poem.  

Even so, I don't think Bernstein would categorize them as "safe" (meaning unaesthetic or lacking craft).  I am interested in your opinion about my poems, my book, or poetry and it's national month efforts.  Is there an audience for literary poetry?  Leave your thoughts in the comments, or send me an e-mail.

Have you liked the Entre la claridad page on Facebook?  I post notices about writing, readings, publications, and literary events there, including things that I don’t have the chance to blog about.  Do go like the page if you are interested in those topics, or if you just like my book!

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