Monday, June 04, 2007

Gift economies

I write somewhat addled by wine after returning from our launch. It was a enjoyable event, attended by 25 or so discerning souls, with poetry readings in 3 languages (yes, we lived up to that billing -- couldn't help but, in fact), lots of music (some provided by moi) and variety. I enjoyed reading Francisco's texts -- boy, are they good -- with Elizabeth Robert, and also acquired a deeper appreciation of the deadpan wit of Blomgren's texts when I re-read them with Elizabeth, who read her French translations. Most of the audience seemed to enjoy the readings too; we got several compliments that I took to be sincere. Rather typical of poetry, sales were nevertheless slow: we sold 4 copies of my translation, 5 of Walkups. I've heard tell of poetry launches selling one or two copies (these dire statistics are usually kept hush-hush, as R.W. pointed out in a comment a few posts ago), so this was not entirely unexpected. Reflecting on my audience, I don't have any reason to be disappointed. Several of my guests had bought copies already. I suppose a few of hers had too. A couple of people there were, I think, genuinely interested in buying my book, but had literally empty wallets. These are poets who live on an especially frayed shoestring -- so I take their word for it. You can be sure that special arrangements, if and when we cross paths again, will be made. Free drinks were provided with each sale, and I decided to give away free "promotional" CD's (or copies of my book) with each sale too . The cafe, whose huge air conditioner over the entrance has long been broken, was uncomfortably hot. At the end of the evening, we raffled off a number of our books and CD's (Adage, the other publisher, had quite a few remaindered books to give away) and gave free drinks for all eight or nine guests who remained. So it was a fun celebration in all, a generous gifting away of cultural products, with the usual words exchanged about how poetry is indeed a gift economy, etc. I'm actually proud of all my cultural products, so getting them into hands that could not otherwise readily afford them is really quite gratifying. Better than having them under my bed. I have lots of booze left over from our celebration, enough to keep my partner and me well stocked for the next few weeks. Not to mention books.

1 comment:

R. W. Watkins said...

Should I say "I told you so"? Do I dare to eat a peach...?

Oh well, at least you have plenty of booze left over.