If you're a poet and you're thinking about New Year's resolutions and if you've ever complained about the minimal audience for poetry, why not determine to do a few things to increase the audience. Sometime ago, with the assistance of several of the poets on the Wompo list, I compiled a list of easy activities that poets can do to spread the good word. I've done #1 for the past four years and have recently organized a #12 called Girl Talk: A Women's Poetry Reading, to be held on March 15.
Widening the Audience for Poetry
1. Hold a Poetry Fair or Festival at your local library or on the campus where you teach.
2. When teaching a poetry class at a college, university, or conference, use books from living and recently published poets.
3. If you are associated with a press, reach out to professors and teachers. Move beyond English teachers.
4. Make use of local book groups. Check your local bookstores and libraries for a list of book groups and what they are reading. Contact such groups and offer to give a poetry reading and discussion. Consider dispensing with a fee but instead ask that each member purchase and read your book ahead of time.
5. Create a Poetry Gift List. See Kelli’s holiday list as an example (Find November 25, 2006.) Give books of poems as birthday, holiday, or hostess gifts. It’s another avenue to share the work of favorite poets with others. Post on your blog.
6. Host an at-home salon to promote the work of a poet you know, perhaps for a new book. Invite guests outside the usual circle of poets. Mingle the arts.
7. Grab whoever is around you and take them to poetry readings/events. You might be surprised by the result.
8. Get poetry on the media whenever you can—tv reading, radio reading and/or interview.
9. Try to get your local newspaper to run some poetry and some poetry articles. It’s possible that if you send something, the editor will be interested. If you’re feeling ambitious, ask the editor if he/she would be willing to let you run a weekly or monthly poem feature. You could add commentary, but not required. Think Ted Kooser.
10. Try the above with magazines that typically don’t run poetry. Let’s let the editors know that poetry is relevant in contemporary American society.
11. If you have a blog, post poems and see if you can get some non-poetry blogs to link to your poetry entries.
12. Plan and host a themed reading at your local library, eg, for Women’s History Month. Ask each poet to bring as many followers as possible, plus at least one person who has never been to a reading.
13. Create an email list of your friends and acquaintances who are not poets and occasionally send them all a poem.
14. Take your excess journals to your doctor’s or dentist’s office. Leave them on the table.
15. Print poems on small squares of paper and tape onto mirrors in public bathrooms. Leave a stack on the desks at your library. Think of other places.
16. Those who teach—invite your colleagues from different departments to join you at a reading. Send them poems related to their field of study.
17. Place "Poetry in Public Places"—bumper stickers, postcards, buses, bookmarks, t-shirts.
18. Put poems on posters and place them in stores. Put them in your local library. Put them wherever you find bulletin space available.
19. If you live in an apartment building or condo complex, stalk the manager or president until she agrees to hold an annual poetry reading in the lobby or community room. Make it a poetry party.
20. Organize a poetry run. See Kelli’s blog for photos and details. (Go to June 13, 2007)