Poets are Different from You and Me; They Hear Life and Experience it Through Sound

Poets are Different from You and Me; They Hear Life and Experience it Through Sound

This “borrowing” from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous quote about the rich kept working its way through my head as I listened to award-winning poet Christina Pugh talk about her work and her process at my recent Literary Salon.  Though his comment was disparaging, mine is meant with all admiration and, as one Salon guest put it, “awe.”

I’d met Christina in 2013 at what we both can only describe as a “celestial” experience at Ragdale, an artist’s retreat I’ve mentioned before in these posts. I’d been tremendously moved hearing her read her gorgeous words, delivered with a voice that invited us into a truly uncommon experience, and wanted to share. When she told me she had a new book out, Perception, we set a Salon date.  However, of the nine Salons I’ve held over the past eight years, only one had featured a poet, and it was a bit of a hard sell to get my avid fiction readers to come out for it. That Salon, featuring the wonderful Parneshia Jones introducing her book Vessel, was a tremendous success for those who attended.  I wanted an expanded audience to drop whatever “perceptions” about poetry might be holding them back and get re-excited about the literary form.

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A Cold War Thriller and Syrian Bombing Make for Implausible but True Plot Twists at Literary Salon

A Cold War Thriller and Syrian Bombing Make for Implausible but True Plot Twists at Literary Salon

I swear I didn’t plan it, but there was a lot of irony and surprise going around recently at my ninth Literary Salon. The featured author, Ellis Goodman, here to read from his new novel, The Keller Papers, brought more than a fascinating story both on the page and behind the scenes. He also unknowingly teed up the world event to happen later that evening, as well as resurfaced a bit of history between him and me.

The Backstory

More than a few years ago, when he was CEO of Barton Brands, my public relations agency at the time, Dragonette Inc, pitched Ellis for the Corona beer account. We had just left Edelman, so we were a young agency with a short list of smaller clients—Corona would have been a big coup. We jumped through hoops to demonstrate spectacular results for our modest clients with their tiny budgets, assuming he would, of course, easily extrapolate—“Wow! If they can get all this for only that, imagine what they could do for my big-budget beer!” Alas, his only words were, “It does seem that you have a lot of clients without much money . . . ” (I remember it verbatim). We were so charmed by his polite British accent and gracious manners that it took a while to realize we’d been rebuffed . . . and that he’d left the room.

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A Tale Of Two Writer's Conferences

A Tale Of Two Writer's Conferences

I just returned from two back-to-back conferences and am reeling a bit from what I’ve seen as I begin to peddle my novel after quietly writing it for the past 12 years.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs—I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

I’ve been to the formidable AWP Conference several times in the past, but always hung to the sides, picking up what craft or marketing information I could, but not feeling quite “legitimate” without a finished manuscript. I’d found my first AWP pretty frosty. Twice, someone I’d sat next to at a lecture responded to my “hello” with a quick look at my name tag and, apparently seeing nothing useful, literally turned full-body to the evidently more credentialed person on the other side. I’d been taken aback at such a PR faux pas. How do they know I won’t be the next Donna Tart? So, this is the world we’re in, I thought, as I was repeatedly mowed down again and again until I figured out a system—leave the current session before the Q&A and you’ll have a prayer at being able to get into the next, even though you’d probably still end up sitting on the floor.

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