Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BBAW Guest: Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit!

(Serena blogs about poetry (in addition to books)...which in my opinion rocks. So I asked her to write a little bit about that in celebration of BBAW)_

Marketing the Poet

By: Serena M. Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit

In the age of the Internet, it is no wonder that book publishers are looking to the myriad housewives, students, professionals, and other bloggers to promote their authors’ books through reviews, interviews, guest posts, and virtual book tours. The 21st century provides businesses with a unique opportunity to directly access their customers through blogs, social networks, and other means on the Internet. As a poet, I’ve thought of the Internet as a level playing field for writers, allowing poets the same access to the public as fiction and nonfiction authors.

While writers of fiction and nonfiction are familiar with marketing their own work to the masses, I’ve noticed that poets are not as comfortable publicizing their own work. However, perhaps growing up with access to the Internet has enabled me to see the potential of growing the readership base of poetry. Up until recently poetry has circulated in college and university English courses and among academics in their “ivory” towers, but more and more contemporary poetry is bleeding into general audiences from poetry slams to online journals. Despite poetry’s elitist reputation, the form continues to evolve and reach new audiences. Spoken word poets are taking their poems to the streets, local events, bars, literary festivals, and other venues, and some poets focused on the written form are submitting to online rather than print journals.

The American Academy of Poets, for example, embraces the Internet by offering audio readings and videos of poets in conversation, spotlighting different artists periodically. There also is a list of events online, and each state has its own dedicated poetry page. The academy will even send those who sign up a new poem once per day to their email. In addition to the groups online striving to widen the audience for poetry by embracing technology, poets themselves are getting into the groove. Arlene Ang is one contemporary poet using the Internet to market her work, which you can see here and here Meanwhile, the U.S. Poet Laureate position has gained ground in the media; I didn’t start noticing the poet laureate until about 1997 when Robert Pinsky was named, but with each passing year I’ve noticed each new poet laureate take the office with greater zeal, spotlighting poetry as an art worthy of attention by general audiences. Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins and Poetry 180—a poem a day for American High Schools —aim to have one poem read in a public forum at high schools willing to participate in the program, but how the poem is applied is up to the school. Students, teachers, staff members, and others can read the poems out loud, but discussion is not necessary. According to Billy Collins, “The most important thing is that the poems be read and listened to without any academic requirements. The point is to expose students to some of the fresh voices in contemporary poetry.”

I’ve been blogging for about three years, though only for little over one year at Savvy Verse & Wit, but I am dedicated to including poetry book reviews and other items about poetry on my blog to broaden the audience for poets. The goal of the site is to incorporate poetry during National Poetry Month, which is every April, by discussing poetic forms, new poets worthy of recognition, or posting poetry book reviews. Eventually, interviews from poets could be used to highlight how poets are very similar to fiction and nonfiction writers in terms of their process and struggles to get published. Poets are down-to-earth people tackling emotions, themes, and inner and external struggles, much like prose writers. The Internet is a powerful tool that poets and writers alike must grab onto and mold to meet their purpose, exposing the widest audience possible to their art.

Enter the Contest for 1-year subscription to Poetry magazine by visiting Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit!

Serena has been a huge supporter of BBAW and a blogger I'm grateful to have met. She's having some other giveaways this week as well...take a look!

Sept. 15 BBAW Kickoff at Savvy Verse & Wit will be an article about Beat Poetry and a contest to win 1 copy of "Howl and other Poems" by Allen Ginsburg, which is part of The Pocket Poets Series.
Sept. 16 for BBAW I will post my interview with Jill Celeste of The Magic Lasso, my partner for BBAW, as well as a contest to win 1 Copy of "A Coney Island of the Mind" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Sept. 17 for BBAW will include an article that will appear here and at My Friend Amy on poetry and blogging, with a contest to win a 1-year subscription to Poetry magazine.
Sept. 18 for BBAW, an article on Sylvia Plath and her writing, along with a contest for 1 copy of "Ariel" by Sylvia Plath
Sept. 19 for BBAW, an article on writing and writing spaces, along with a contest for a 1-year subscription of Writer's Digest.


Anonymous said...

Great article, Serena. I'll admit that I don't read much (any?) poetry on its own (if it's included as an element in a novel I don't skip over it!); maybe I'll step outside my comfort zone with some of your recommended titles.

Back when my daughter was in 2nd grade they had a poetry reading at a local coffee house. The kids all wore black and shook tamborines after each one read their poem. It was a great experience for students and parents alike.

Lezlie said...

Congratulations on your BBAW win!!! You so deserve it!

Books 'N Border Collies

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article Serena! I too don't read much poetry but your post has inspired me to do so. Off to enter your contests! Thanks for your generosity!

Serena said...

Everyone, Thank you for reading my post. I was nervous about it! LOL One book of poems I will highly recommend now is Carol Dine's "Trying to Understand the Lunar Eclipse."

You can check out my review here:

Please feel free to enter my contests.

Anna said...

I enjoyed this post. And as someone who's read Serena's poetry for many years, I can tell you she is a talented poet and knows a lot about the genre.

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

Rebekah (monkeygirlsmama) said...

Thanks for the post. I too am a huge fan of poetry, and was very excited to see it spotlighted.


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