We drove to San Francisco for an afternoon poetry reading featuring our good friend Carol Snow and Brian Teare, (I asked him to be my new best friend--I can explain that, but won't now) whom we had never met. They both have new books out. My husband just read me a newspaper article on a Newsweek survey that found that the reading of poetry in America has declined by half in the last sixteen years. It wasn't a huge percentage in the first place. These are the figures: in 2008, 8.3 adults said they had read some poetry in the preceding year; in 2002 it was 12.1 percent and in 1992 the figure was 17.1. Thus are we led away from poetry by, for instance, Facebook.
I've often wondered what this was about and when I asked my brother to explain how it worked, he joined and sent me an invitation. In a flash, Facebook asked for permission (foolishly granted) to view my email address book, and I let it send out "invitations to be my friend" to many people. I unchecked a lot of them, but there must have been more than one page and a LOT more invitations went out than I had estimated. It is almost horrifying. The upside is that I have had personal notes from many old friends and family members. A few of them spent quite a while looking for the "photos" promised in the generic Facebook message. I haven't put photos there, and do not plan to, being quite satisfied with Flickr where I have almost 7000 photos of varying quality and interest.
Here is some information about the new books:
Brian Teare's new book of poems is Sight Map. D.A. Powell says of his work, "Brian Teare's poetry is turning the lyric on its ear. No one is safe in any of these poems, in any sense of the word. What a brave new voice, vivid and gutsy and fresh." A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, he won the Brittingham Prize for his first book of poems The Room Where I Was Born.
Carol Snow's new book of poems is Placed: Karesansui Poems. Cole Swensen says of it, "This delicate, masterful book joins Zukofsky, Waldrop and others in a growing body of work honoring the preposition and the primacy of relationship over objects. . . ." Her three previous books are Artist and Model, chosen for the National Poetry Series, For, and The Seventy Prepositions. She's collaborated on two text-dance works with choreographer Alex Ketley, "Syntax: A Reading Danced" and "Vessel."
It was a very good reading!