Thursday, November 5, 2009

10 Items You Need to Hustle Your Poetry

Image via WikipediaBrockhaus Konversations-Lexicon, 1902
Some of us ok me work at perfecting our craft for years. We fantasize about MFA poetry workshops and dream of all the silence and solitude to write. Our thesis will get picked up by a university press and our life as a poet begins.

There is a shorter route. If you’ve written 20 poems, there is no reason not to organize and share your work.   What distinguishes modern poets from our literary ancestors is our access to communication media.  With all the avenues available to us today, it can become overwhelming to figure out how to distribute work. Below are a few items that can help your hustle.

  • a bookmark
  • a broadside
  • a book  (preferably with 6  poems accepted in literary journals/magazines)
  • an album
  • an audio interview
  • a video of a live reading, recitation, or performance
  • photographs
  • newspaper, magazine, or blog feature
  • website (with upcoming events)
  • press kit
I debate friends saying Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Tretheway’s imagepoetry may  not go well in the spoken word/slam/open mic scene.  She wouldn’t memorize her poems. She doesn’t read with a cadence. She probably wouldn’t even have a book or cd to sell afterward. Yet she won the top prize in literature.

On the other hand, I have witnessed people with hustle sell unfinished, unedited, unpoetry, by sheer force of personality.  There’s something to be learned from both.  Polished pieces sell. Marketing works. Surely those who cherish the written word can offer a polished product with a little hustle. 

 Can you think of another item to hustle your poetry?

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