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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