Thank you for publishing poetry
The first question in an online interview with agent Anna Ghoush of Ghoush Literary from Poets and Writers magazine is from Dan in Hagaman, Illinois. Dan, take it away…
Agents for poets seem almost nonexistent. Why is that?
Dan from Hagaman, Illinois
“The answer to that question lies in the fact that very, very few people buy books of poetry by contemporary authors, especially by those who are not friends, relatives, or winners of the Pulitzer Prize. Book publishing is ultimately a business, where book sales largely drive what book editors acquire, and agents are able to sell. In other words, your book purchase pays for the salaries of the employees at a publishing house and the commissions earned by an agent. There are a few publishers, such as Graywolf Press, that have been successfully publishing contemporary poetry (Graywolf also happens to be a nonprofit publisher) so there are venues, but simply not enough for agents to get involved or to be able to make a living representing poetry. Now, it is possible to imagine a world where people read poetry on their iPhones instead of tweets and Facebook updates….”
The business of poetry is that there is no business in poetry. Books like Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (Graywolf Press) and Daniel Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press) are the award winning exceptions that prove such a rule. But to only focus on the money aspect is the wrong reason to start writing, reading or publishing poetry in the first place. So this holiday season, if you enjoy reading poetry or if poetry means something to you, please show some love to independent presses that are publishing poetry. Even if you just take a few minutes to send them a quick thank you message. I am sure Bloof Books or 421 Atlanta or CCM Press or any other publisher of poetry books would be grateful.