Are you the right kind of poet? Do you write the right kind of poetry? Are you friends with the right poets? Can they advance your career? Have you signed with the right publisher? Are you being disingenuous? Where is the theory behind your work? Can you defend it? With footnotes?

That’s a poem.

No, that’s an anecdote.

There’s a poem.

No, that was a pithy observation.

I’ve been on book tour all this past week and have been overwhelmed with excitements good and bad, highs and lows, ups and downs, lack of sleep, exciting words, lack of sleep and, um, lack of sleep. Granted, that’s not critical thought, that’s just “feelings.”

I read that book; it wasn’t very good.

My publisher had taken the perhaps unprecedented step of publishing 10 books of poetry together, and calling it “Dektet.” Which led me to a tour event in two cities with 9 other poets, none of whom I’d previously met.

Now write the “i got so wasted, and then….” narrative anecdotal subjectivist poem. Do it! (Then publish it under the name of one of your poetry enemies.)

I’ve been humbled and encouraged by the diversity of voices and approaches that I encountered in the other writers. There truly are countless ways to live poetry.
Thank you for introducing me to this “art” business; I was pleasantly surprised.

I did remember that wine always makes me sick.

I was feeling a bit nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect tonight, but I was really impressed by all the poets.

Sina recently posted “I hate the cuts too…but seriously…we can’t sell 5,000 copies of a lit mag annually? What are we doing in the arts?” on Frackbook, in response to a Star article on the federal Publications Assistance Program/Canada Magazine Fund cuts. The party line in these parts (Metro Vancouver, West Coast of Canada), at least amidst the KSW/academic poetry crowd, as far as I understand it, is that “we” are largely uninterested in expanding/diversifying our audiences, in part because our poetry is inherently difficult and the expansion of our audiences could possibly cheapen the reading and discussion experience; also because the act of marketing our poetry is anathema to the poetry itself.

Poets aren’t part of schools; they’re part of cliques.

Several friends and relatives who were it not for me would never have been anywhere near a reading attended, and by all accounts, enjoyed the Dektet launch and the 10 diverse poets who read. Many bought books, and not just mine. They were intrigued, excited and inspired by the possibilities of language.

This leads me to believe that we do in fact have an advertising problem.

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.


So what are we doing in the arts? In poetry? In general? In words? In language?
In the future, the girls are gonna be spiky.

(Words stolen and modified from DM, TN, DC, KG, ED, KG.)

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Nikki Reimer is the author of [sic] (Frontenac House) and fist things first (Wrinkle Press Chapbook). She lives in Vancouver.