Friday, January 14, 2011

On the Poetry Beat in Salem Oregon

Friday, January 21 sees not one, but two poetry events taking place in Salem, Oregon, and the P&PC staff is hoping to make it to both. Consider:

1. The SAIF Corporation Agri-Business Banquet

With a long list of sponsors, this year's "celebration of Willamette Valley agriculture" is featuring renowned mustachioed cowboy poet and humorist Baxter Black as the evening's entertainment. With his ten gallon hat, huge ol' belt buckle, and spirit channeling Canadian balladeer Robert Service, Black has been described by the New York Times as "probably the nation's most successful living poet," appears on NPR, and lives—where else?—"between the horse and the cow—where the action is." No slouch when it comes to touring, the Brooklyn-born, former large animal veterinarian is set up for five January events alone which take him to Ohio, Montana, Arizona and Florida before he hits Oregon. You can check out some of his poems here, here, and here.

2. Willamette University MLK Celebration featuring Angela Davis & Good Sista/Bad Sista

The same night that Baxter Black brings his stylized spurs to the sold-out Salem Conference Center event, renowned civil rights leader and activist Angela Davis will be speaking on the campus of Willamette University as part of the school's two week-long MLK Day celebration. As cool as this is, what's landing her event on P&PC's calendar is actually the opening act that Willamette has lined up for Davis—the Portland-based spoken word duo of Turiya Autry and Walidah Imarisha known as Good Sista/Bad Sista. Check out an interview with them here and watch them perform here:

As far as P&PC can determine, tickets to the Agri-Business Banquet are sold out (they were $40 per person or $400 for a table of 10), but there are still seats left for the Davis & Good Sista/Bad Sista event. They're $15 each, with proceeds going to benefit the World Beat Festival and Oregon African American Museum.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Poetry & Popular Culture's 2010 Year-End Report

In previous years, year-end reports from Poetry & Popular Culture have been private affairs sent almost exclusively to our investors. Things are proceeding differently for the 2010 year-end report, however. Acting in concert with our marketing consultant (who hopes to see P&PC land on as many "Best of 2010" lists as possible), the P&PC Board of Directors has mandated that the 2010 year-end report be made available to the public. In the interest of transparency and accountability, then, the following document is hereby released.

During the 2010 calendar year, Poetry & Popular Culture not only experi- enced certain milestones—including our 45,000th unique visitor and our 70,000th page view—but saw a marked increase in site traffic from the previous year: 29,374 unique visitors accessed P&PC in 2010, compared with 20,280 in 2009. Accordingly, individual page views went up as well, from 26,710 in 2009 to 39,653 in 2010. Stated in terms of percentage increase, P&PC experienced a 44.8% increase in unique visitors from 2009 to 2010, and a 48.4% increase in page views. Some of this increase can be attributed to the current culture-wide craze for zombies and, therefore, also for zombie haiku (see below). However, this does not explain the sudden growth entirety. While consumer confidence in the retail marketplace remained lethargic, confidence in P&PC appears to have gone up. We do not think the correspondence is an incidental one.

Much of P&PC's success in 2010 can be attributed to guest opinions and guest postings. (That's Edgar Guest pictured to the left, though he has yet to do any guest posting for P&PC.) While contributions from P&PC's home office in Salem, Oregon, remained popular and clearly played an important part in sustaining reader interest and attention, some of the year's most successful postings came from P&PC correspondents around the country including Ce Rosenow, Melissa Girard, and Angela Sorby, to whom the entire P&PC organization remains grateful. The top 10 most visited postings in 2010 were:

1. The Book of the Undead, Part One: Ce Rosenow Reviews Ryan Mecum's Zombie Haiku
2. Assassins and Outsiders: The Obscurity of Popular Poetry
3. Poetry & Popular Culture Heroes: An Interview with Jim Buckmaster of Craigslist
4. Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Asshole, and the Haiku of Fight Club
5. Slam, Spoken Word, and the Democratization of Poetry: Melissa Girard Reviews The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry
6. A Picture of Our Poets
7. Poetry & Popular Culture Heroes: Firefly, Sci-Fi, & the Latterday Chronicles of Lewis Turco
8. Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and John Keats
9. Robert Frost's Christmas Cards
10. Herman Munster, Pragmatic Beatnik: A Guest Posting by Angela Sorby

Next, in moving beyond the quantitative aspect of this report, we would like to present a series of more subjective and even anecdotal pieces of praise and critical acclaim that P&PC received this year. These items are not meant to be an exhaustive account of such correspondence but a sampling:

"The only legitimate poetry blog around." — Ernest Hilbert, author of Sixty Sonnets and former editor of Contemporary Poetry Review

"My first stop for the news that stays news!" — Meredith Martin, Princeton University

"Almost all of the posts on Poetry & Popular Culture are things I skim with plans to go back and read when I have the time." — Ryan Mecum, author of Zombie Haiku, Vampire Haiku, and Werewolf Haiku

"I'm glad to know about this blog/site." — Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate and founder of the Favorite Poem Project

"This is the most positive ad-verse environment I've ever worked in!" — Sally the Stenographer

"One of my new favorite poetry bloggers." — Stephen Burt, Harvard University

"I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Poetry & Popular Culture. I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that Mike Chasar has yet contributed." — Angela Sorby, author of Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865-1917

"It made me more popular just reading it." — Bartholomew Brinkman, co-editor of The Modern American Poetry Site

"Everybody should be reading the newsy and fun P&PC." — Desperately Seeking Salem

Finally, we would like to conclude with an expression of thanks to all who wrote, researched, read, oversaw, audited, guided, photocopied, paper shredded, designed, litigated, marketed, promoted, computed, and otherwise worked to make P&PC the success that it was in 2010. The Board is grateful for your ongoing and generous involvement and wishes you even more success in 2011.