inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #26 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 30 Sep 11 12:36
    
By the way, should I have written "Garcia Marquez" above, rather than
"Marquez"? I suspect I should have.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #27 of 140: Jennifer Simon (fingers) Fri 30 Sep 11 13:05
    
Ooh, excellent question, I want to hear you say more about that too,
Mary!  About Garcia Marquez or just Marquez, I am not sure -- I think
I've mostly seen it the former way.  I'm having another "That reminds
me of a poem" moment here as well, thinking of Auden's "The Novelist":

http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/55/
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #28 of 140: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Fri 30 Sep 11 19:41
    
From an off-WELL reader:

Thank you for this introduction to Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey and
for having poetry as the topic for two weeks.
 
Mother Goose rhymes and  writing poetry in school were part of my
childhood. Writing and reading poetry in adolescence kept me sane
giving words to feelings that seemed far too large and overwhelming.
Annie Dillard, in the final chapters of her book American Childhood,
delighted me as she described poetry's place in her survival of
adolescence.
 
In grad school, after mind-numbing hours researching in the library, I
would wander to the shelves and pull out the poetry journals.
Concurring with Therese's comment Wednesday, poetry definitely created
space during long days in the library. Strangely this experience of
poetry resonates with what Jonathan Franzen writes in an essay,
"Sifting the Ashes," but he is talking about cigarette smoking.
" Time stops for the duration of a cigarette; when you are smoking you
are acutely present to yourself: you step outside the unconscious
forward rush of life. This is why the condemned are allowed a final
cigarette, this is why ( or so the story goes) gentlemen in evening
dress stood puffing at the rail as the Titanic went down: it's a lot
easier to leave the world if you're certain you've been in it. As
Goethe writes in Faust, 'Presence is our duty, be it only a moment.' "
 
I do not know what it is to smoke, but I do know this is my experience
of reading or hearing poetry.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #29 of 140: Jennifer Simon (fingers) Fri 30 Sep 11 20:47
    
Wow, is that ever a good comment!  Thank you so much (and thanks for
posting it, Julie).  Beautifully written, marvelous use of a fine
quote, and spot on, and I say that as one has both smoked and written.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #30 of 140: Paula Span (pspan) Fri 30 Sep 11 22:38
    
I'd be interested in hearing whether new forms of digital publishing have
expanded poets' ability to reach readers, given how hard it seems to be to
get traditional publishers to get excited about poetry (Norton and whoever
publishes Billy Collins and Kay Ryan excepted).  Have either of you given it
a shot?  Does the prospect fill you with dread or glee?
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #31 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sat 1 Oct 11 08:58
    
Seconding Jennifer's response to that off-Well reader's post--it almost
makes me want to start smoking. But I will stay with the nicotine of words,
as Franzen's own prove so mesmerisingly restorative to the moment.

Beginning to answer Paula, those new forms are a pretty broad spectrum.
Almost any publishing poet will be found on the web, deliberately or boot-
legged, and the increase of outreach in the immediate moment and of
accessibility in the long run is a fine thing. From the Writers Almanac
poems (which stay up forever on their site) to Slate to the web presences of
formerly all-paper periodicals (New Yorker, Atlantic, Poetry), I quite like
that my poems can be found for free (mostly) and easily. The big poetry
organizations (The Poetry Foundation and The Academy of American Poets) both
have a lot of poets up with profiles and sample poems; one of my favorites
is the non-U.S. one, Poetry International--a great place to browse the poets
of the world. That the poet doesn't control the content of those sites is a
wee bit difficult sometimes--my profile on the Poetry Foundation is
primarily a very out of date one from Contemporary Authors.

I also love the sites--there are more and more of them--that put out a poem
once a day or once a week--Poetry Daily is the ur site here, I think, but I
also love Panhalla (couples poems with artwork and music), Slate's "Classic
Poem" (Robert Pinsky opens a discussion about some older poem that's out of
copyright), a new site called Gwarlingo.com that's doing a "Sunday Poem,"
and the relatively new column Lisa Spaar is doing for The Chronicle of
Higher Education/Arts & Academe, the "Monday Poem," for which she writes
astonishingly good essays... Then there are the webzines...

But I don't think any of these magazine-model sites are actually what you
were asking about. THis post has gotten long, so I will perhaps go on in
another one.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #32 of 140: William F. Stockton (yesway) Sat 1 Oct 11 09:18
    
Don't want to derail your response to Paula's question, but perhaps
you might also talk about what it means that we can often see or hear
the poet reading. This was rarely the case 15 years ago. It is probably
only a 7 or 8 year old phenomenon, if we're discussing it having an
effect on the general public's level of interest in poetry.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #33 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sat 1 Oct 11 09:21
    
I think you were asking more perhaps about book publishing... I would by the
way question your original premise to some degree. For both Random House
proper (Billy Collins's publisher) and Grove Atlantic (Kay Ryan's
publisher), the poets' work drove the success, not the publishers. Random
House did lift Billy from Pitt, where he started out, because of his wild
popularity, but when Grove Atlantic took Kay on, she was still not terribly
well known, and the press before them, Copper Beech, deserves a lot of
credit too for taking her early, when she was downright unfashionable, and
just as good as after she caught on. I've done one book with a small press
(the now gone Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series), one with a
university press (Wesleyan), four with HarperCollins, and now a new one with
Knopf, and I've felt wonderfully well supported by every one of those
places. My last two books (After, 2006, and Come, Thief, just published) are
both available as e-books, and quite recently Wesleyan made my second book,
Of Gravity & Angels, 1988, available that way as well.

So, the line between e-publishing and print publishers is not black and
white...

For the totally new formats, I've done one thing, and that was because it
was a piece that didn't fit into any possible print home. In June, Amazon
Kindle Singles brought out a long essay with new translations on Basho and
haiku that I'd had in a drawer for years because it was too long for any
periodical, but not long enough for a regular book. They retitled it "The
Heart of Haiku", did the e-formatting, offered me my choice of ten possible
covers, and promoted it--as they do all Kindle Singles--when it first came
out and for as long as it stayed on their top ten bestselling Singles list.
What totally stunned me was that it stayed top ten for something like 6
weeks, sold a huge number of copies, and was Amazon's top ten poetry book of
any kind or any format for two months. A startling experience, and a very
good one. But I wouldn't race to bring out a new poetry book that way (these
are readable on almost any device--any computer, iPad, smart phones--but
they can be bought only from Amazon). And when I finally have my next book
of essays ready, I'm sure I'll want to do that the old-fashioned way too.

The whole landscape is changing, and none of us can know what it will look
like in 5 or 25 years. I'm thrilled with the Kindle Single and how it worked
out--but I see it as more an alternative to having put the essay into a
magazine (for which this was enormously superior) than to publishing a book.
And I can still put this piece into my next book of essays, and doubtless
will do that. I could even still expand it and bring it out as a print
book--but that I probably won't do. (I would not though be surprised if at
some point the Kindle Singles program begins offering Print on Demand as an
option for the Singles; and wouldn't that be kind of ironic? But some of the
readers of "The Heart of Haiku" have clamored for a paper version...)

We are not supposed to talk sales numbers in public, but I'll also add that
even though the Single stunned me with its quick sales, my now 21 year old
Vintage Classic translation of the two great women poets of ancient Japan,
"The Ink Dark Moon," has still sold in much, much higher numbers, it just
took longer. It's become a classic for anyone who loves Japanese poetry. I
am not sure that a book available only as an e-book Single can ever do that.
Maybe, but I'm not sure. The "long tail" is an interesting thing--it
preserves access, but someone has to know to go looking.

To end this long, long answer, I'll just say that I think the real life of
poetry is one poem at a time, passed by hand from one person to another,
because in some moment it's the only possible language that can hold a
thought. Poems don't live in ink or electrons, they live in us.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #34 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sat 1 Oct 11 09:22
    
That other question slipped in while I was typing this last one...  let's
let fingers breathe for a minute and come back to it, and maybe Mary will
arrive and say something also.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #35 of 140: Jennifer Simon (fingers) Sat 1 Oct 11 10:38
    
So much useful information there, thanks, Jane.  I particularly like
the way you put this: "I think the real life of poetry is one poem at a
time, passed by hand from one person to another, because in some
moment it's the only possible language that can hold a thought. Poems
don't live in ink or electrons, they live in us."

Not to interrupt the flow here, but while we're waiting to hear more
from Mary (Sugar Zone is officially coming out today, so she may be up
to her neck in the business of putting the word to the street), here
are a couple of links to sites with listings of our poets' reading
schedules:

http://www.marymackey.com/

http://www.barclayagency.com/hirshfield.html
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #36 of 140: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 1 Oct 11 11:00
    


Ah, so many wonderful questions. I want to thank the reader who posted about
poetry stopping time and allowing a space for contemplation. I find the same
space for contemplation, not in smoking but in meditation, which I have been
doing for many years.

I think one major difference between novels and poetry is how often we go
back to poems and how rarely we reread novels. You might, perhaps read a
favorite novel five times, but we read the poems we love over and over and
even commit them to memory. We draw on them for comfort in hard times,
recite them at our weddings and funerals, send them in love letters. In
part, because of the deep emotional resonance of poetry and in part because
poems are short enough to take with us like a small overnight bag, we
cherish them and keep them closer to our hearts and draw on them in times of
grief and joy.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #37 of 140: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 1 Oct 11 11:11
    

As for digital publishing, I welcome it. Right now my agent is in the
process of putting all my novels into digital form. Three of them--the
novels about the goddess-worshipping cultures of Old Europe--will be
available in e-book format in a month or so. (They are "The Year the Horses
Came," "The Horses at the Gate" and "The Fires of Spring").

But what excites me even more is the prospect of people being able to hear
me read my poems. This is especially true of the poems in "Sugar Zone" some
of which contain Portuguese words and phrases.

If you don’t speak Portuguese, the trick is to ignore these words or treat
them as if they were a chant or an incantation.  I’ve made sure that every
poem in “Sugar Zone” can be read as if it were written only in English. I
proofread all the poems that contained Portuguese words twice: once with the
Portuguese and once without it—so each of these poem is really two poems. On
the other hand, if you do speak Portuguese or any other Romance language
like Spanish, you’ll be treated to subtle levels of meaning which enhance
and deepen the poems. Portuguese is a beautiful, musical language. So I’m
very happy to know that there will be places online where people will be
able to hear me read some of these poems out loud.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #38 of 140: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 1 Oct 11 11:13
    

Here's an example of one of the poems that contains some Portuguse words:

Dreaming of the Bullet-Proof Cars of Maceió

This is the terra do açúcar e maus sonhos
the land of sugar and bad dreams
infinite darkness without borders
where birds passing overhead
smell like biscoitos molhados/wet crackers
sour milk and the sweat of sex
aqui/here in the night room    doorknobs turn
your hands    mirrors reflect receding galaxies
and the clown who lies on his back beside you
twitching and suffering    is your soul

wake up    acordar!    tell me why nothing moves
why starving people lean into their shadows
like flies caught in amber
why the past goes on eating the present
like a rising ocean eats the beach

tell me why they are burning
palm trees on the road to the airport
why the water tastes like ashes
why the windows of the cars are blind

at low tide the children drink cachaça
and call on Iemanjá    fishtailed mother of storms
wake up and tell me why the sand beneath this city
keeps shifting    why all the stores are stocked with
hallucinations    tell me why Solange left
and where she went
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #39 of 140: Ozro W. Childs (oz) Sat 1 Oct 11 18:22
    
I have such a limited experience with poetry. As a high school
student, I fell in love with Garcia Lorca, and have read his poems over
and over in Spanish (Neruda ain't bad, either, but Lorca was my
favorite). Then or certainly not long afterwards, I became enamored of
Gary Snyder (and if Kerouac was telling the truth, a lot of women did,
too). His poems about life as a forest-fire lookout and about the
feeling of places in the Northwest blew me away. My admiration
increased after his return from Japan and the Far East. So when I moved
to San Francisco in 1970, I never missed the chance to hear him read.
And read he did, usually with another poet or two, in those  years. The
idea that poets should read is not something new. It may not be
*entirely* what sells their work, but people who care, go, and they
tend to write about it in the newspaper. 

I thought then, and think now, that Gary Snyder figured out it was
very important that he develop his voice to the point where people
would listen, jaw agape, when he read his own work. Maybe he always had
that talent, but I think that is something he had to learn. Recently,
I heard Jane read some of her poems, and it seemed to me she, too, has
trained herself to acquire a voice that makes you want to keep
listening to whatever she has to say. 

And now I'm sorry I haven't heard Mary read some of her work, at
least, not recently.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #40 of 140: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 1 Oct 11 20:37
    
What a terrific discussion. My mom is a poet and asked me to read get
poems starting when I was maybe 10 or 12 -- for clarity, for dead
spots. I didn't become a poet, but I think I did develop an ear for
cadence, and it did a lot for my self esteem to be thought of as
someone whose opinion on such things mattered.

Anyway, there have been times when our relationship was strained, and
at those times her poetry was a way for us to get at each other, to
reach through and understand each other on a "heart level," I guess. My
husband has said, after hearing her read, "if she'd just write
everything in a poem I'd understand her so much better." 

I wonder if either of you have found your poetry helps you in a very
personal way, if you find yourself communicating with people through
your work, not in a cathartic way but just by being able to reveal
shrouded parts of yourselves.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #41 of 140: Mary Mackey (mm) Sat 1 Oct 11 20:44
    

Poetry definitely helps me reveal a side of myself that most people rarely
see. I appear to be, and mostly am, a very cheerful, upbeat person. But I
have a very serious, darker side that takes life itself quite seriously. I
think the poems in "Sugar Zone" express this the way nothing else I have
written does, including my previous collections of poetry. Several people
have said that they can't believe that my novels (particularly the comic
ones like "The Stand In" and "Sweet Revenge") come out of the same brain as
"Sugar Zone."
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #42 of 140: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 1 Oct 11 20:47
    
Haha. And do you think they do? I mean, do they all feel like you?
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #43 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sat 1 Oct 11 21:18
    
I went off to do a poetry reading, and suddenly there are three or four
different questions on the loose here!

I do think Oz has it--the Beat poets, and the poets protesting the Vietnam
War, were the start of the current culture of poems read aloud. But Dylan
Thomas and Edna Saint Vincent Millay both did major reading tours in their
day, with huge audiences.

As for voice, I suspect Gary and I both draw from the same well: in Zen
practice, you learn to chant from the hara, and you learn something about
the expression of intimacy in breath and larynx and tongue. That helped me a
great deal when later I came to reading my poems.

Poetry's always been about ear and voice, even when it's coming in by ink
and eye, you hear it. Sound-awareness is what changes thoughts and words
into poems.

Amy, that is a remarkable description of how poems gave you and your mother
a kind of alternative mode of communicating. I do think that good poems
can't help but reveal. They reach deeper into the pocket of the self, and
find a way to bring the almost-inexpressible thing into expression.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #44 of 140: Jennifer Simon (fingers) Sat 1 Oct 11 23:07
    
Yes.  This is all so good--thanks to everyone.  I love the way this
discussion has evoked stories of the varied roles poetry has played in
each person's life, what it's meant to us as readers and writers.

I'm curious about the public aspect of poetry, and not just the
readings and festivals.  Both of you have had experience with
bestseller lists; you've both been featured on Keillor's Writers
Almanac; you've appeared in places where poetry meets a broader
audience, composed of people you can't see when you're composing.

What have those experiences been like?  What has it taken from your
writing to get there?  What has it brought to it?
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #45 of 140: Jennifer Simon (fingers) Sat 1 Oct 11 23:17
    
I love Breaking the Fever, but I'd say Sugar Zone is not only darker
but even deeper and richer in language and imagery.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #46 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sun 2 Oct 11 14:38
    
Jennifer, your question is a large and unponderable one. It's
particularly ironic for me that something that began as profoundly
private and solitary has led to so much that seems outward, and is
outward, and connects with others in ways both visible and invisible. 

When I write the first draft of a poem, I'm still very much as I was
from the start: not particularly aware of others. There is just
something I need to find, or see, or work through. I write first drafts
as I did in childhood, in some combination of extra awareness in one
dimension and self-forgetting in another. I am inside the unfolding, I
am the paper being unfolded. Does that make any sense?

After publishing seven book of poems now, and the essays and
translations as well, I do think of others at other points in the
process. I revise in the awareness that it's likely someone other than
me will see the poem. But I don't think the whole area of outer success
(or non-success) has much of anything to do with the poems. An
increased feeling of connectedness must in some way come into the
poems, but not the various forms of "recognition." That happens in a
different plane of existence. And it feels very important to me that
they be kept separate. It's a wonderful, startling thing if a person
tells you a poem has helped them, has changed their life--but I don't
think it would be possible for me to write a poem if I were thinking
about that at all. It would paralyze me, I'm pretty sure, if I did.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #47 of 140: Jennifer Simon (fingers) Sun 2 Oct 11 16:01
    
There's a lovely passage in Agatha Christie's autobiography about her
grandson's toddler days, when he was learning how to negotiate stairs:
"This is Matthew going downstairs," he declared over and over as he
worked it out.  I think we have to get past a similar
self-consciousness to make art.  Until the ego stops talking, the
subconscious can't get a word in edgewise.  As long as I'm saying to
myself, "This is Jennifer writing a poem," I am not, in fact, writing a
poem but telling a story.  The story's only good if it helps me learn
how to go downstairs in my mind without thinking.

I was actually asking less about the motives for and effects of
writing than publication, though.  Somehow you have to get from that
private impulse to the point where you select specific pieces, type up
clean copies, pick places to send them, and go to the post office...and
that's just to get started.  At your level, there are agents and book
publishers, travel schedules and readings, and a host of other worldly
activities, most of which, unlike writing, can't be done in a bathrobe,
so there must be other rewards.  You mentioned making a difference. 
Perhaps experience is another.

To narrow the question down to something smaller and more ponderable,
I wonder if you could tell us a bit about the outward part of being a
poet.  What experiences have you had as a result of putting your work
in the public eye?  What does it feel like to rub shoulders with a
celebrity like Keillor or see your name on a bestsellers list?
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #48 of 140: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Sun 2 Oct 11 19:24
    
I will probably going quieter in this conversation pretty soon--this
question is apt, because I fly off tomorrow for some class visits, an
interview, and a reading at Smith, in Massachusetts. And I think Mary's
first reading from her book is tonight. So one quick answer is:
distracting. Sometimes dreadfully, sometimes thrillingly. Sometimes
both at once.

But to take up one thread of this, I've never rubbed shoulders with
Garrison Keillor--only heard him read something like 15 of my poems on
the radio over the years (and once, wish me a happy birthday!). I am
always impressed with how well he reads--it's rare to hear your own
poem said by anyone else, but when I do, I'm often surprised. With
Garrison Keillor, I always find myself nodding. When he spoke, quite
recently, "I Ran Out Naked in the Sun" from the new book, he paced it
exactly as I do--which told me the line breaks and stanza breaks were
doing their work, and he also underplayed it, which I do as well.
There've been a couple times I thought he read my poems better than I
do. (The title poem of the 1997 book "The Lives of the Heart" was one.)

I know by the way that Garrison Keillor did two poems from Mary's last
book of poems, and won't be at all surprised if we soon hear he's done
some from this new one.

Since we announced this as a poetry festival, with poems, here is "I
Ran Out Naked" from The Writers Almanac website, and the url for
hearing him read it:

I Ran Out Naked In The Sun

by Jane Hirshfield

I ran out naked
in the sun
and who could blame me
who could blame

the day was warm

I ran out naked
in the rain
and who could blame me
who could blame

the storm

I leaned toward sixty
that day almost done
it thundered
then

I wanted more I
shouted More
and who could blame me
who could blame

had been before

could blame me
that I wanted more

"I Ran Out Naked In The Sun" by Jane Hirshfield, from Come, Thief. ©
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

<http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2011/09/12>

It's easy to find the various others on that website as well,
including the other one from this book, "Three-Legged Blues," but since
I've mentioned it, here's that one:

Three-Legged Blues

by Jane Hirshfield

Always you were given
one too many, one too few.
What almost happens, doesn't.
What might be lost, you'll lose.
The crows will eat your garden.
Weeds will get what's left.
Your cats will be three-legged,
your house's mice be blessed.
One friend will take your husband,
another wear your dress.
No, it isn't what you wanted.
It isn't what you'd choose.
Your floors have always slanted.
Your roof has paid its dues.
Life delivered you a present—
a too-small pair of shoes.
What almost happened, won't now.
What can be lost, you'll lose.

"Three-Legged Blues" by Jane Hirshfield, from Come, Thief. © Alfred A.
Knopf, 2011. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


<http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2011/09/22>

and, because why not, here's a link to an audio file of "Three-Legged
Blues" put into proper blues form, and sung by David Lochelt (who is
Kay Ryan's brother-in-law--we worked this out at her kitchen table):

http://www.drunkenboat.com/db10/08poe/hirshfield/

I will add that this is a very atypical poem for me--the rhyme, the
subject, the tone, the mood--and I was absolutely relieved to find out
that people hear it as I meant it--both funny and, somewhere under the
surface, awful. I've always admired people who can be funny when things
are disastrous--it seems to me a useful skill for breaking the spell
of certain kinds of unnecessary despair, and it makes everyone around
you feel better as well. I was happy to have mustered up that spirit,
for once. 

(This has gotten long, so I'll close this post and say a little more
in another.)
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #49 of 140: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 2 Oct 11 19:28
    

I love seeing Jane's poems posted here. I can hear her voice and Keillor's
voice both when I read them.

I actually did rub shoulders with Keillor. After he read two of my poems on
The Writer's Almanac, I had the pleasure of giving a pre-Keillor reading
seminar on him and his work and then I got to introduce him: all for
California Arts and Lectures. I spoke to him after, and he was very kind,
intelligent, and in general a great guy. I think he's done a great deal for
poetry, particularly in bringing it to people who might not otherwise read
it or who might mistakenly think they didn't like poetry.
  
inkwell.vue.421 : Poetry Festival with Jane Hirshfield and Mary Mackey
permalink #50 of 140: Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 2 Oct 11 19:36
    

As for what the public aspects of writing do, that's a very intersting and
very complicated question.

Let's start with the bad and end with the good:

The bad: it can take so much time that you have little or no time left to
write. This is particularly a problem if you have a best seller and do book
tours, workshops, and a lot of readings (all of which your publisher--not to
mention the bookstores--need you to do because they need to sell books). I
am just starting this process right now, so I don't feel so cut off from
time to write, but I bet Jane would say that she is longing for some quiet,
isolated time to write her poems right now. Instead she is doing a wonderful
but very demanding book tour.

Another difficult thing can be the reaction of a very small minority of your
readers. A few people will always dislike you for being successful and feel
that they must put you in your place. Thus they will come up to you, say
terrible things about your work, and even say terrible things about you
personally. This is very rare, but it happens.

Finally, the world is changing in ways that makes it hard for artists of all
types. It used to be that you wrote a book, painted a picture, wrote music
and someone else agented it for you, publicized it for you, and sold it for
you. Most writers I know are not very comfortable with self-promotion and
most would rather be writing than be in sales. But at present publishers no
longer send you on the kinds of book tours they used to send you on (unless
you are very famous indeed) and you are expected to be your own publicist
through the use of social media, sky writing, and whatever else you can
think up. This takes a huge amount of time that I, at lest, would much
rather spend writing.
  

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