by August Kleinzahler
August Kleinzahler reading ‘Green Sees Things in Waves’, ‘Portrait of My Mother in January’ and ‘Snow in North Jersey’ at Culture Lab.
This reading took place on 12th May 2011.
Please note that NCLA can not be held responsible for the content of external websites. If you discover a dead link, or would like to add further links relating to this content to the list, please use the comments section below to contact us.
A good reading from a poet who wriets movingly. Although sometimes sheer wit will win the day. Mostly I just want to study the poem to see how effects are achieved, and buying the book rather than having to borrow it from the library is usually more comfortable for this type of reading. Just as with any other book, you read it in the shop generally and if you’re blown over by it you have to have it. Obviously, there’s the recommendation-by-friends type of buy, but this generally applies to the more impenetrable stuff I feel I have to study and don’t necessarily enjoy instantly the growers’, as it were. These books are probably always going to be the more difficult to sell, and anyway people will generally lend them to you to see if you like them first.Also, there’s the type of poetry which takes me by surprise. If it’s by a poet I didn’t think I’d enjoy but ultimately breaks down whatever prejudices I felt I had but seemed unsheddable. This can be good for writing as well as reading as it helps you realise different ways of approaching difficult subjects.But that’s all writing-orientated, I suppose. Sometimes you just want to look at something completely different from your own or something totally beyond your experience or achievement which gives you fresh eyes on the world. I think it’s unfortunate that so many poetry publishers die because they don’t think commercially most businesses recognise there has to be a mainstay to support the more adventurous product’. That’s just fact, and the sooner it’s acknowledged, the quicker some houses will realise they have to get off their high horses and not nudge the people they really want to publish out of the market. It’s like having a fish and chip shop without salt and vinegar and mushy peas, or chip butties. Or even fish butties (they don’t seem to do those in Norwich I noticed, I was shocked).Poetry probably doesn’t get bought as much in general as it simply isn’t in the shops there’s no faith in the market, perhaps because it’s so diverse and can’t be conveniently categorised by booksellers like novels seem to be. There are massive publicity campaigns as the industry doesn’t have the same money pumping through it and it can’t compete next to the big prose fiction guns. Perhaps more cheap pamphlets need to be produced as tasters’, or maybe some form of literacy-orientated sponsorship campaign needs to help save the industry. It’s never been lucrative, but if people are going to buy it on a large scale it needs to be interpreted, explained, illuminated by those who would have it bought. After all, I always prefer lucid writing to the deliberately obscure or esoteric, and that alone encourages me to buy good poetry. That and nice pictures.Good luck.