Monday, October 03, 2005

Notes from Memory on the JRW Conference

"Songs of Myself Panel" - Moderator: Cheryl Pallant, Participants: Jon Pineda, Ron Smith, K. Lorraine Graham and me

We discussed a usual day, when we find time to write, read and do all the other things one does. Things that prompt poems. How writing poetry makes us weird and alienates others. An audience member asked how we defined a poem and it was pretty early because I blurted out "It's like pornography. I know it when I see it."

After that panel I gossiped with Jon Pineda about poets. If you're reading this and have ever had interaction with either of us, we probably made fun of you. Or at the very least I made a crass comment and cackled while Jon politely nodded his head.

I chatted with some attendees and discovered mutual blood feuds.

I attended a panel given by publisher Morgan Entrekin and some of the authors from Grove/Atlantic. Though it focused mostly on fiction (as did most of the conference), it was a helpful panel. I even took notes. Entrekin talked a lot about how important it is for an editor to pitch their authors, share information with them, all the things necessary to inspire a sense of loyalty between both the publisher and author. While a poetry press doesn't have to worry about a corporate publisher swooping in, offering million dollar advances to lure the best authors away -- there were definitely things to take from it. He talked about making a "grand history" which apparently requires publishing quality books for 125 years.

Speaking of poetry presses, I asked Entrekin if he had any advice for someone starting a small poetry press. He tried not to laugh too much and said anyone who was thinking about starting a poetry-only press was very brave. We all know "brave" is code for nutty. Grove/Atlantic publishes four books of poetry a year and on average each sells around 800 copies. His advice was to do everything and anything to keep costs low. I asked him about Print on Demand and he said that was probably a good way to go.

"Everyone's Blogging—Should You?" - Moderator: Caroline Kettlewell, Participants: Ron Hogan and me

Caroline demonstrated how one publishes on a blog and her filling a non-fiction blogging niche. Ron discussed book reviewing, covering literary events and picking up the slack of print publications. I talked about finding a community of writers and other possible opportunities that arise when other writers and editors have a way of knowing you and your work.

The million dollar question: How does one get and keep readers? Answer: Be interesting. Write stuff people want to read. Update your blog on a regular basis.

I caught the last half of a panel on "The State of the Art" which focused on fiction. There was discussion about "shock" what is shocking, can people still be shocked, is there any value in shock, etc. Firmed up my opinion that the last thing I want is for my work is to shock people. That seems like a cheap gimmick. No, I much prefer to engage (and hopefully) stimulate.

There was a party afterwards that I kinda wanted to check out, but I was exhausted and didn't want to hang out for two hours waiting for it to start. So I drove home and got a chance to see Gideon before he went to bed. Then I soaked my dentures and watched episodes of Matlock and the Golden Girls.


At 3:10 PM, Blogger cornshake said...

hi reb--isn't jon just so dreamy? i love his big laugh. if the conference is still going on, tell him i send a big hello!

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Hello Aimee! Dreamy, fer sure. The conference is over -- but your name did come up in conversation.

cackle cackle


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