Ah, yes. The dreaded book tour. Writing a book is long and arduous, sure, but the marketing? As they say in Central America, “Aye, Dios.” And as they say of high rises, it’s a whole ‘nother story!
My editor has set up a most complicated plan, but that’s the price you pay when you play in the high-demand field of poetry. As P.T. Barnum once allegedly said, “The masses must be pleased.”
I’ll start in Boston, of course, because it’s closest. The theme here will be “Banned in Boston!” It sure helped sales of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Nothing like a bunch of Boston Brahmins frowny-facing your poems. “What’s in these poems?” the poetry-reading population will wonder. “Surely something better than woodpeckers and bumble bees and a summer’s day!” As my editor is fond of saying: “Racy sells. So does censorship.”
Then it’ll be on to Worcester. Pronounced “Wuss-tah,” people. Please do not give me that “War-chester” stuff. Take it to Ohio, or some other state of confusion.
Third stop? New Haven. Boolah-boolah. Pom-poms. Ping-Pong. My stop there will be brief and hyphenated. The books will be pre-signed (editor’s idea). I must slash out my name on the facing page and sign it below. I have no idea what this means or why it’s done, but my editor says it means something and must be done. It’s what authors do. And I’m playing author (“all the world’s a stage”). Forget the backstory.
Brooklyn bookstores are fourth. Readings, readings, readings. To be followed by Q & A. For the thousandth time: “Who’s lost? You or the sherpa?”
For the thousandth-and-first time: “Read the last poem. The eponymous one.”
“The hippopotamus one?”
Then I will feel my editor tugging at my elbow-patched tweed sport coat, pulling me away. I’ll want to ask her, “Who does this anymore? Don’t poets just make racy commercials for their poetry collections and upload them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, from the comfort of their homes?”
“They do,” she said. “But they’re mostly 23-years-old writing about love and lust and ego while puckering up to the camera.”
“That’s legal?” (Incredulous)
“In Ohio. Let’s go….”