Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Give Poetry

Musings for November 26

Give Poetry

Thursday was Thanksgiving, so that means we have officially entered the Christmas season, the season, among other things, of shopping and giving. This year, why not do something a little different? Why not, instead of giving the usual mass-produced, slickly-marketed, everyone-has-to-have-one, pre-wrapped, department store or Amazon.com, soon-to-be-forgotten or consumed gift, give something unique, personal, and long-lasting? Why not give poetry? After all, how many bottles of wine, how many desktop trinkets, how many boxes of gourmet popcorn or Godiva chocolates does one person need (okay there is really no limit on that last one)?

North Carolina is a great place to give poetry. Lately, it seems North Carolina is a hotbed for poets, with more new books and more successful small presses popping up every day. But you won’t find most of these books in Barnes and Noble or on Amazon, and even if you did, buying them there would depersonalize the process a bit. It would be so much better to buy them directly from the author (most of whom have websites of their own) or the small press that has worked so hard to give the poet a chance to be read. So, here is a rundown on some of the best books of poetry published in NC this year and where you can find them.

Main Street Rag has quickly become the busiest publisher of poetry in NC. Visiting the press’s website at www.mainstreetrag.com will give you access to a host of excellent work by poets you could easily meet by attending a local reading. My favorite recent MSR offerings include Paul Hostovsky’s Bending the Notes, Pat Riviere-Seel’s The Serial Killer’s Daughter, Irene Honeycutt’s Before the Light Changes, and Sara Claytor’s Howling on Red Dirt Roads.

Another rapidly growing local press is Press 53 (www.press53.com). My favorites from this Winston-Salem press include Linda Annas Ferguson’s Dirt Sandwich, Joseph Bathanti’s Land of Amnesia, and Joseph Mills’ Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for variety, for poetry by multiple authors rather than one, you might order Bay Leaves, the Poetry Council of North Carolina awards anthology, available at http://www.oldmp.com/poetrycouncilofnc/, or Pine Song, the North Carolina Poetry Society’s awards anthology, from http://www.sleepycreek.org/poetry/. Or you could purchase a subscription to any of the numerous literary journals produced in NC: Iodine Poetry Journal, Tar River Poetry, Cavewall, or Main Street Rag, just to name a few.

Finally, if you’re buying a gift for someone you know is interested in writing poetry, consider a gift membership in one of the statewide organizations that support writers through networking, conferences, and newsletters highlighting opportunities for development, publication and sharing. Or make a charitable donation in the name of your gift-recipient to one of these organizations. The North Carolina Writers Network and the North Carolina Poetry Society are both well-established, non-profit agencies whose purpose is to help writers and readers in the state connect.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific suggestions :)
    My stack of poetry books to be read is actually down to 4 or 5 so looking forward to a new year of readings so I can restock!