Some confessions of branding

In the process of writing maybe brand is in the background somewhere but after a while it seems to me the author is branded.

What are blurbs but a brand? I often glance at the blurbs for names/brands (shameful I know). Not to rule out the book completely. But if Dana Gioia blurbs a book of poetry, I am cautious.

Sidenote: I met Dana Gioia at a book fair in Seattle about five years ago. I talked to him after a panel celebrating Graywolf and small press publishing. He repeated a lot of info word for word from his Can Poetry Matter and took down my address. A few weeks later I received an invitation to a conference in PA on writing poetry in form etc. He also sent a huge blow up of an article about him with a little note saying: a small triffle. It also contained his signature in case I wanted to frame it. Don't know where it went. Somehow it got lost in the shuffle when I moved from Bellingham, WA to Greensboro, NC.

Back to main idea: I want to be open, not too narrow. But in all honesty I often look for brands/presses (Verse press, Fence books, New Directions, Coffee House Press etc. etc. etc.

Sometimes I just look for the brand via publication credits. If it's a mix of "mainstream" and "experimental" publication credits great. But if it's all Poetry, Hudson Review etc. chances are I won't like the brand.

In some ways I hate to admit all this. It appears as if I am close minded. But at some point I have to narrow the choices and why not by brand?

Which brings me to another dilemma. Billy Collins is coming to Greensboro to read at the Carolina Theater as part of the Randall Jarrell conference at UNC Greensboro. Fred Chappell loves Randall Jarrell. He's the hero of the MFA program. A lot of poets are attending but I really don't enjoy Billy Collin's poetry/politics.

Am I snooty? Too stuck on brands?

Should I attend the Billy Collins reading in the name of non-elitism and open mindedness?

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