Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Spot of Honesty with Your Tea, or Perhaps Pee in Your Tea?

Warning: These are not words of encouragement.

If we ever moved, we'd have to fold up the bookstore and take it with us for a whole other community of literary types to snub. I'm tired of the word "grateful." How about honest?

People don't want to shop local. They want quick and easy, shrink-wrapped and shipped to their doors from a warehouse. People don't want to read poetry. Even poets don't read poetry! Well, that's not fair. Some do. A few, I guess. Then there are those who just read their own poetry. Writers around here are "grateful" to have a literary community to sustain them, then never visit their local independent bookstore. Most don't even approach to ask if they can give a reading. I'd be thrilled to have a poet come in and ask to give a reading. Do I want to chase them all down to offer them readings so they can feel extra good and puffy-bloat that they are now published? No. No, I don't. Your poems have been published. Great. Now go find places to read them.

Do I want to carry your book? I don't know. Have you ever been in the store before to see what we carry? No? Then no, I probably don't want to carry your book.

This is nasty, I know, but it's honest. Sometimes I sit in this store and wonder why I'm here at all, in the same way I sometimes sit at my desk and wonder why I ever bother to write poems. No one cares about any of it, because they are all too busy caring about themselves.

I know the grass isn't greener. It's just other grass. Other grass that will still be a pain in the ass to mow. And I don't know why I titled this post with tea, honesty and pee, and then ended it on a cliché. It's not a metaphor. It's just tea with pee in it.


Deloney said...

Tea with pee or a bee in your bonnet? It's ok, I've been in exactly the same ornery mood many times myself. My advice? Get drunk quietly in a corner and reread a favourite book with your favourite music on.

Jodi Anderson said...

Aw, damn it.

I didn't mind reading this at all. I wish that I could be more of a shoulder, if you know what I mean.

In my mind, I picture you so happy and in your element at that store, and it pisses me off that local people are coming by, especially writers, damn it. There has never been a book store in my two little villages; I'd love to have one! (There was a second-hand book shop in the town where I grew up, and it is where I purchased St. Vincent Millay's complete poems. I visited that place all the time.)

My heart hugs you, Jenny.

P.S. Yesterday, Paige and I met up with a Xanga friend at Hubbard Avenue Diner and we sat in one of the big booths, just like we did with you and Dan. :)

Indigo Bunting said...

Well stated. These things need to be said!

Deloney said...

I listened to the radio interview. It was cool to hear your voice! So, you met one of the Four Horsemen. I saw them once. They weren't my cuppa but I thought what they were doing was valid. I've never been too sure about poems about language itself. I mean just wordplay and little else. It's like a chef cooking his cookbooks and expecting other people to eat them. It's hard to believe that a few decades ago "A Coney Island of the Mind" sold a zillion copies. I still believe there's a hunger for what we call poetry, and I think it's unfair to blame the readers, or lack of readers. The fault is ours. We don't deliver. It's not a matter of "pleasing the public" but understanding that poetry is about companionship, a way to whisper to one another in a different way. It doesn't mean sentimentality, but if serious heart-felt things are left out all the reader is left with is wordiness. Abstract expressionism. No human being available. I don't blame the readers for avoiding us.

I do love your poems and flash fiction pieces!

Jenny Hill said...

Deloney - I agree, meaning is important. There is a lot out there that reads (to me, anyway) like the Emperor's New Clothes. Which interview did you listen to? In answer to the advice - I'm not a good drinker. Once I got drunk alone and was so afraid of passing out I turned on all the appliances in the house (including the blender) just to stay awake. It didn't work, of course. I will, however, re-read a good book.

J - I miss the Hubbard, and I miss you and Paige!

IB - thanks for the support of my cranky rant.

Deloney said...

Jenny: it was the interview where you were talking about your "Girl's Guide." It was fun hearing you read a couple of the pieces. I absolutely suck at reading my stuff aloud. My readings, and I haven't done one in decades, were train wrecks. I guess it's stage fright. There's no other explanation.

PS: the secret is to not get smashed. A little buzz is good enough. :-)

Jenny Hill said...

Ah, "buzz" is better than "bolthead," yes.