The words Book Tour conjure up the Author Suite at the Alexis Hotel or at least a large cocktail by the beach. Sadly, this is not the Cloud Pharmacy poetry book tour that I've grown to love and dread in equal measure. Maybe Billy Collins sleeps on 700 count sheets when he's on the road but not me.
What I do know is that I love using a book tour to see good friends and push myself out of my introverted shell. This May I spent 5 days in Massachusetts and did just as many events including readings, workshops, and a museum takeover at the Peabody Essex Museum. My first rule of thumb: do as many events in one place as you can handle (and no more).
In Cambridge, Salem, and Newburyport I got to visit with old friends, including the poet Jennifer Markell who I first met in 4th grade and poet Kirun Kapur who I first met at Mass Poetry a few years ago. These two women are wonderful poets as well as being good friends. It's my favorite combination: to spend time talking about poetry and life --- eating good food --- and then giving a reading or workshop. Reading with friends who live in the place you read helps tremendously with creating an audience for the night. It also helps me to stay the night with friends rather than in a hotel. We go on the road to connect with readers; we crave connection for our work and for ourselves through our work.
Cloud Pharmacy (White Pine Press) has also taken me to the Skagit River Poetry Festival where I met wonderful poet Emily Warn when we were paired together for two panels on "Poetry and Technology" which I wrote about in a previous blog on Poet Technology. For this event I needed to push myself into new territory. Yes, Cloud Pharmacy is available as an e-book from TwoSylvias Press and I am the poetry editor of the (on-line) Human Journal out of Istanbul, Turkey. I publish this blog and I teach hybrid courses but I am no expert on technology.
I'm still on the road, looking to visit more museums, more bookstores, more colleges come next fall and winter. Certainly, wherever I go I plan to connect with good friends and also meet new people. Kirun was a new person when she met me at the airport in 2012, now she's a good friend. So what is the "dread" part I referenced earlier? It happens before I leave home. Will I remember all my handouts? Will people come to my event? Will I be my best self?
So far the answer has been yes! People do come, they write me emails and keep in touch, they become friends. And because I don't want to disappoint an organization that's paid my way, I am completely prepared, present, and in the moment. It's a good way to be -- on or off book tour.
|Cloud Pharmacy, White Pine Press, 2014|