The Joys of Signing

CewDC4BWEAAyGYYSomeone at yesterday’s book launch for Barrier Island Suite asked me what the pay-off is for publishing a book of poetry. I didn’t have to think about that much! My first thought was “events like this.” Writing a book in isolation is one thing, getting poems in magazines and working with your publisher to put the book together is another, but having a reason to get together with friends and colleagues — even strangers — is the best part. It is what keeps you going through all the other stages.

Most poets don’t expect to make a fortune selling books, though I was thrilled yesterday that we sold quite a few and I signed for over an hour straight, except for when I was reading. But even that thrill is less about the financial rewards than it is about getting the book in the hands of others. Poetry lives and breathes when it is read aloud in public. It thrives when books pass from one hand to another, when it sparks discussions, when someone reads it late at night or early in the morning. A book is never finished until it is read. Writing a book is that long process of honing language until it is ready to go out in the world. Publishing a book is the long process of making a product that can do the job of taking those poems out into the world. Both are rewarding. But the pay-off is when the poems are in the ears and hands of others. Talking to people and signing their books as you pass the poems on is the greatest reward.

Oh yes, and if you’re lucky there’s also cake…CewDC4lWIAAYWRF

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