Poetry is meant to be read aloud. But it's not meant to be questioned. That's what I'm learning at Boswell Book Company. You don't usually have a Q&A component when you bring in poets. Why? I don't know. But you don't.
We had a really wonderful event with John Koethe last week, celebrating the publication of his newest collection, Ninety Fifth Street. Close to 100 people showed up, lots of people bought the book, and I even was lucky enough to celebrate nearby with some folks and a glass of wine.
Koethe's poems reminded me of Susan Engberg's recent, enlightening on the story genre. She argued that stories are not a stepping stone to a novel (at least not artistically; perhaps financially), but are an art unto themself, with different rules and different standards of success. In some ways, they are closer to the poetic form. I was hoping I could somehow reprint Engberg's wonderful talk here, or use it in a story display (heck, it belong in a magazine or journal) but it's just another thing you folks missed if you didn't attend our event. Engberg's new volume of stories, Above the Houses, is now available in paperback.
Here's Engberg flanked by local writers Valerie Laken and Liam Callanan. As Tyra would say, this was my best shot. My photos of Engberg reading were a bit blurry.
So Koethe's poems really are like stories, reminding me in some ways of Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate, which as you may know, is my favorite collection of poems ever, as it's also a novel. And it's also a sonnet.
A sonnet? Why we're having a celebration of sonnets on Tuesday, September 15th, 7 PM. That's tonight if you're reading this quickly, and you missed it if you're not. You've got to subscribe to our email newsletter.
Marilyn Taylor and B. J. Best are presenting "The Sonnet. Not Just for Dead People Anymore." We're also celebrating Taylor's new chapbook Going Wrong, and we'll have Best's (This Mead Lake) as well. We're working at getting these books on our web site as well. Right now the site uses Ingram's title base, but we're learning how to add our own books.
Meanwhile, we'll try to restrain our tone of suprise (Sonnets aren't for dead people! We're having poetry events and it's not even April!) and just enjoy the whole thing, tonight at 7.