poetry, Uncategorized

The “Cover Reveal:” Just Say No

A word of warning before I begin here: This post is probably going to upset a number of my creative and socially inclined readers. But what you see below must be said.

I will not be holding a “cover reveal” for my upcoming book. If you want to know what the cover looks like, here it is:

johndaviscover (3)

There. It’s revealed. And as happy as I am with this cover (isn’t it COOL?), I don’t feel anything further is warranted. After all, the real meat of this work lies between the covers, and that’s where I’m hoping you’ll look when this volume hits the bookstore shelves soon.

“Why the snarky attitude about cover reveals?” you might ask. Well, here’s the thing: I am a husband, a father, a teacher, and a writer. I serve as a community volunteer and as an active member of my church. My weekends are most often consumed with birthday parties for other people’s kids, lawn maintenance, and the peripheral tasks of education — grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and so forth. My time is valuable, and honestly, unnecessary and entangling social engagements are nothing more than a gigantic time-suck.

Now before my readers accuse me of being some selfish, antisocial hermit, allow me to say that I love a good get-together as much as the next person. Just recently (as you may have read here), I hosted my own chapbook launch for “The Boys of Men,” and it was thankfully well-attended. The food was delicious, the company was wonderful, and the reading was fun and interactive. I sold lots of copies, and was able to make a modest donation to one of my favorite charities who helped host the event.

Why, then, am I against the notion of a cover reveal, in particular? I oppose cover reveals for the same reason that I oppose “gender reveal” events for babies that have not yet arrived: It’s one more thing. That’s right — one more space on the calendar filled with pointless banter and oddly colored punch. We’re all very happy you’re having a boy/girl, but isn’t your fourth baby shower (also inappropriate, might I add) enough? Must you subject us to yet another inane occasion to stand about, idly discussing the weather until you drop a curtain or pop a balloon? Seriously, stop. No more, please.

Authors: Please don’t consume the valuable time of those you know with the literary equivalent of the gender reveal. We know your book has a cover. We’re ecstatic for you, and proud to call you our friend. But to hold people hostage while you unveil a placard is both ludicrous and disrespectful, even if you provide finger sandwiches and fruity beverages. By all means, launch your book. Hold readings. Give lectures and seminars. I’ll be there. It’s an opportunity to learn something, hear something new, and culturally engage. Reveal something more than a shiny piece of plastic, some crackers and a “TA-DA!” Give us your words, give us your work, give us your heart.

poetry, Uncategorized

Making “the Small Time”

Last night, I was privileged to attend Writer’s Harvest 2012, an event at University of South Florida. People paid $5 at the door, or brought three canned goods to help feed the hungry. In exchange, listeners and participants got to hear readings from the likes of Jeff Parker and poet Traci Brimhall. The hall where the event was being held was standing-room only. Of course, this was in Tampa, where the literary arts have a pretty loyal following.

In smaller towns like mine, poetry readings are generally greeted by a handful of patrons who feel an “obligation” to support writing and culture in general. That being said, these “few but proud” gatherings have their own unique benefits. For one, small gatherings allow greater intimacy with the work presented. The poet can speak about the writing and be understood well, and usually, the readings are far more personal. Addressing a hall full of 500 people might be a rush, but it loses some of its closeness. Both the work and the artist are “drowned out” somewhat by the environment.

Comparing venues and styles of presentation caused me to think a little about the up-and-comers (like yours truly) who have to fight for their space in the limelight. Library and coffeehouse readings are great, and having a loyal little flock appreciate your work is nice. But at the end of the day, making the small time is exactly that — small. We poets are not unlike aspiring country crooners: Like them, we have to “pay our dues” in the dives and the honky-tonks of literature — the shabby cafes and tiny conference rooms where a handfull of people can begin to spread the word.

There are no backlit marquees or laser-printed fliers proclaiming the greatness of the small-town writer. This is why so many scribblers migrate to locales like New York City, where, with any luck, one’s work can be heard and experienced by larger crowds and potential game-changers for one’s writing career. However, throwing fate to a place populated by similar dreamers and doers has its own hazards. All of the old “fish bowl” cliches have some element of truth; one can be a big fish in a small pond or a smaller fish in a larger pond. It depends on your desires.

Personally, I would prefer not to be a fish at all. I write because I like to, I read because I love the music of language, and I appreciate people who appreciate my work. Whether that’s a crowd of 5 or 5,000, I’m simply happy to be the attended voice. Yes, I’d like one day to move beyond “the small time,” but for now, with my situation in life, I’ll take the sporadic applause of a few over the ovations of masses. There’s time for both yet.