Publishing is about money. Got to earn those bucks somehow. No one's buying poetry books. Maybe, like an English student at Georgia State, because his professor says, "Oh, check out Burt Kristbaum. He rocks." Meanwhile, Burt Kristbaum is his buddy from back in the day.
That's how poetry is sold these days.
The question is will poetry make bank ever again? Will there be more thought put into poetry collections to make them function as entertainment as well as art?
This is where a book like Harryette Mullen's "Sleeping With the Dictionary" succeeds so well. It has a title that is dope, plus a series of poems that are unified in their process and action. It’s a great book. Really a textbook on how to write poetry and have fun with it. A must have.
It's not as good as WHOLE MILK though. That book is the shiz nit. No doubt about it. Pure entertainment and fun. Helps you dream. The world needs that. The world needs poets who dream. I need poets who dream.
I like the cover of Mullen’s DICTIONARY. It's okay. I guess that's the extent of thought that goes into putting out poetry books. Make the cover look good.
Man, make the cover look fun? Are you kidding? Make the poetry fun. For shiz nit sakes. Make it dance!
That balance between entertainment and language is the key to making poetry marketable again.
Now don’t get me wrong; poetry can function as art, but it is also entertainment. People don’t like poetry. I don’t write poetry. People are really into movies. Television is the bomb. (For as much as DYLAN hates it). This language. The commercial. The blatant commercialism that makes you cringe a bit. Mmmm. Good stuff. The things dreams are made of. Whole books. Pages of it. Right there.
The best poetry book I’ve read this year is Loren Goodman’s FAMOUS AMERICANS. That is the ultimate shiz nit. Loren, if you’re reading, I love that book and what you’re doing. This is a must have on anyone’s list for what will be the poetry that is a marker for a change in the art form. Then get WHOLE MILK.
These two books are the best I’ve read so far. They make me giddy and a little cartoony. They relate to both the literary mainstream and American culture in beautiful ways.
That contempo lit scene (CLS) will catch on. But right now they ain’t got shit on these books. The CLS are outdated and too much about ego. Nothing wrong with deconstruction. Nothing wrong with messing with a bit of language. But to do it, and have fun, and not care what who said what? Man, that is the shiz nit. That gets you the real accolades. People coming up to you. People buying your book. People saying you made a change in their lives. People coming out in droves, because the poetry makes you laugh, because it can be somber, because it can make you cry and fart at the same time.
This is what is missing, and what WHOLE MILK and FAMOUS AMERICANS bring to the table.
I’m down. I like fried chicken. I head over. We take JP’s car. Subaru. Laid out. Morphine on the freak show. I try to flick it to the next station.
“Dude, what are you doing?” JP asks.
“How do you get to the next song?” I ask.
“Just flip it,” he says, and flips it.
Then we groove for a bit, driving down Lankershim. JP looks over at a car wash. He points up at the sign, “I like that script.”
I look up. It’s got that kind of Eastern feel.
“It’s Arabian and shit,” he says.
“Mmmm,” I say. “yeah.”
Then I am looking at signs. Pretty soon, there’s too many. I can’t even keep up. None of it matters. PEACHES does though. I like fried chicken. Catfish isn’t bad either.
I order up some catfish, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes.
“Man, you’re hungry,” JP says.
“Yeah, I am,” I say.
Then we all sit around. The whole WG crew. It’s an MC, 2 writers, a comedian, an actress, and a filmmaker. We're a movie waiting to happen. A production crew ready to be made.
Does anyone realize this? Man, it’s good to be alive. To be rolling with this crew. To be eating catfish on a Friday. To know that artists are working so hard everywhere to bring their hearts to the table. To have fried chicken with other artists—no matter what they do. No matter who they are.
We are the gang. It multiplies upon itself for those who are willing to call themselves a part of this dream. The dream to create for themselves. The dream to connect to the world. The dream to change the way this planet people thumps.
“Is this possible?” a voice asks.
I tell the voice it is. It is possible. This thought. These hearts. They multiply. One on another. Small particles. Like dust. Orbiting. To make deserts and oceans and small valleys, where the conifers grow wild, and Tanto lifts a neck to hum:
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm (turn this sideways) ; >………