Do You Know ~ Some “Real” Poetry Numbers

This week I was hoping to put together a witty little write, highlighting the growth of poetry through statistics and what I hoped would be hard numbers.  Perhaps I was a bit naive in my hopes, but what I found was a little less exciting, and for poetry lovers and writers…perhaps speaks to where we are at in our journey.

Did you know, that over 90% of self-published poets, seldom have purchased a poetry book, let alone the self-published poetry by a relatively unknown author?

Did you know, poetry books in Canada are lucky to average sales of 300-500 copies on average, IF they are lucky enough to be distributed.

Did you know, that in 2003, NewsWeek Magazine published an article announcing poetry was dead?

So, poets, readers, lovers and haters…how are we to overcome this distressing turn that our community has taken? We must support each other, in our efforts, in our works.  Many “real” poets turn their noses up at online authors, poetry bloggers, etc.  While I admit, not all are great, there is a huge volume of worthy writers that deserve to have their words heard.

We have built communities, hundreds strong , in our efforts to get our words to the people…I think it only fitting we be seen as champions for these words…supporting the communities, the poets, and the effort these communities take.

You know what…I think it’s time, that we, as a global community, change these numbers, these opinions, and these obviously unfounded ideas regarding our work, our words, and our intentions.

Do you know, dear readers, that there are those of us out there, that appreciate your words, your efforts, and will gladly bring home a copy of your self-published book? I personally am building quite a collection, one that I can’t wait to see grow!

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8 thoughts on “Do You Know ~ Some “Real” Poetry Numbers

  1. Thanks for this interesting article. I am aware that in South Africa they only print about 500 copies of poetry anthologies (barely enough to even buy a loaf of bread when the royalties come in) and even then trying to find a publisher that may do it is like pulling hen’s teeth.

    Personally, other than posting on blogs or other online poetry groups, I hate the thought of self-publishing. I always feel that anything worthy of publishing, whether it be poetry or a cookery book, will be paid for by the right publisher, just as Harry Potter was. In the meantime I blog just to get my words out there so all my scribblings will not have been totally in vain and someone may come across them in another time, another place…

    In the meantime, I live in hope…

  2. Marion! My hope was brought to life on my mini vacay this week, when I went into an “outlet” book store and came across an entire section dedicated to poetry! Too bad it was in another province. I myself am terrified, quite honestly, of taking the self-publishing route…which I think is one of the biggest reasons I DO try to support those that do it. IMHO, I think we can showcase our communities to the world, and make the world understand that we, the “poets” deserve to be regarded as a serious opportunity for the publishing industry. Look at the amazing communities such as Poets United, dVerse and more, where 100’s line up to share their work and have it read and appreciated…There are so MANY who simply visit to read the work, and I’m sure would support it in the form of book sales, if they could get to a shop that actually carried the product.

  3. I can count on one hand the number of poets who have actually bought my book. The rest were either given away, or sold to friends. I’ve bought small press and chap books and books by well known poets. My library currently has over 70 books of poetry or poetics. This, by the way, has all arrived in my home in the last 3 years…and doesn’t count journals or lit mags….

  4. Why is poetry dying? I don’t know to many people that read let alone buy a poetry book today.

    Why don’t poets support each other? Is it some snobby or competitive attitude? I notice with comments that people tend to comment on their friends but not others. Is that all that they read? Of course, I do not speak of everyone but in my opinion to many do it.

    We should all visit Poets United Bookshelf regularly.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Tash—- come on people!

  5. I was so very impressed with the Poets United bookshelf..and placed an order. 🙂 These are real people, real “poets” bleeding their words. They speak for those who can’t find their voice, for those that can’t find the words. To feel the pulse of a community, read the words of their poets. There was a time when the Poet was held in the highest regard…they are the recorders of change, they are the voice that echos throughout history, beyond text books and winners or losers…I think these are the voices we need to support, to lend power to, so that perhaps their reach can grow, and their words can bend the ears that need to hear before we run out of time…to add to River’s comment… Come ON People x10!

  6. I personally have a hard time getting into reading. I have always been much more of a writer. I do read a fair amount of poetry, but likely not as much as I should be. It is not a competitive or snobby attitude at all. When I am in reading mode, I read quite a bit. Thank you for the stats in your fine post. I too will check out the Poets United Bookshelf 🙂

  7. really great job putting these numbers together Tash…scary world of poetry that you paint…i think we should def support the poetry community as poets…and support each other….i have copies of several books by poet bloggers in my library…several bought…several given after i edited their works…and i try as well to give them promo on twitter as well as my site when i can…

  8. Speak of the devil…or the poetry if you prefer…I just received my copy of The Poetry Pantry: Thoughts That Breathe that I ordered from the Poets United bookshelf. It’s a beautiful book, and hats off to Poets United for showcasing their many talents.

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