Friday, February 01, 2013

We No Longer Carry Poetry

Thanks to my la Bloga deadline, I composed a new poem on my mother's typewriter.

Last week, I was on a mini Bay Area tour to Moe's in Berkeley, Reader's Books in Sonoma, and UC Merced. At Moe's, I read poetry with Francisco X. Alarcon as part of the Poetry Flash reading series. A few days later, I joined Reyna Grande at Reader's Books. The next day, I was the 34th speaker at the Chicano/a Literature Series at the University of California, Merced.

Owner of Reader's Books in Sonoma, Andy Weinberger with Melinda Palacio and Reyna Grande
Reading with my friend Reyna Grande is always fun. We got into a lively discussion, the details which I'll save for another bloga post, on the trials and tribulations of publishing poetry. Reyna has written fiction and memoir, but has yet to tackle poetry (I'm sure she will). She was under the impression that poetry books are easier to sell and publish than fiction or memoir. To make a long story short, she gave me the assignment to write a poem titled, "We No Longer Carry Poetry."

I don't recall seeing my mother use this typewriter. She preferred an electric word processor. 

During the week of travel and meeting with readers and students, I did not think about my typewriter at Chuck Rodger's Office Repair in Santa Barbara. Over the Christmas holiday, my grandmother had decided it was time to give me my mother's 'writing machine', a manual brother typewriter. This morning, I picked up the typewriter and put the $80.04 repair fee on my credit card. I wanted to test out my typing skills and I wrote the first draft of "We No Longer Carry Poetry," for Reyna.

We No Longer Carry Poetry
Melinda Palacio

We no longer sell poetry books.
No room for Whitman, Langston, Plath, or Espada.
Poetry books don't sell as well.
Putamayo CDs, music from all over the world, have replaced poetry books.

We are the first book store with a state-of-the-art e-signing table.
Bring your laptop, kindle, phablet, or phone, get a virtual signature,
a germ-free kiss from the author via instant messaging.

Thirsty?                        Stop by our latté experience counter,
buy yourself a hot drink while perusing our Best Sellers.

Best Sellers are books you've already heard about
by authors you already know, not obscure poets,
like the crazy lady pushing her book, sneaking
poetry in our store, confusing our staff.

Lucky you. You've walked into our store, a beautiful space with
vetted books on every aisle by a bona fide book buyer.
We have room for pens, iPhone for Dummies, and Gun Safety for Kids.
We no longer sell poetry books.

© 2013 Melinda Palacio. All Rights Reserved.

Melinda Palacio is the author of  the novel Ocotillo Dreams and the poetry book, 


Lowell Jaeger said...

This wonderful poem makes me think. I'm mystified as to why book-savvy people walk away from poetry. Sure, there's a lot of bad poetry out there. There's also a lot of bad music. I don't hear people say, "I don't like music because so much of what I've heard is bad." Instead, we listen to lots of music and find the music we do like. If only people would listen to more poetry, not less, they would find something there especially for them. Thank you, Melinda for this wonderful poem.

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again Bloguera Palacio for your insight and expression in your poem. As Karen Blixen wrote, "Write a little everyday, without hope, without despair." So we write. Those of us who don't have MFA's or are just wondering if a second clip is in our future are encouraged everyday by La Bloga. To all the founders and contributors I want to say thank you for your time and dedication. I often write about "lasting impressions" in our life and this site is one for me.
Sincerely and with blessings. May
La Bloga continue!

Anonymous said...

rLinda Melinda, thank you for your poem. We will read the poem to our students; hopefully, they will ask their bookstores for poetry. BUT! Where can they find bookstores? They have disappeared. Glendale went from having 8 to 1 and that's only at the Americana Mall. "We not longer have bookstores.
Montserrat Fontes