I've been working on turning my manifesto into a small eBook. I realized that writing a manifesto sounded ridiculous. But while working on my topic, a side result was learning about advertising techniques and how you can tell a lot about an audience by what gets advertised to them (and how things get advertised to them).
Over the past few years I've been alarmed by the number of MFA ads in my American Poetry Review, American Poets and Poetry London magazines. Granted, the classified ads provide a nice sample of variety, the main ads are mostly for MFAs. No silly little Bachelor of Arts for us.
Some publishers advertise and you see the random ad from an independent poet, but it appears that MFA are all poets care about.
Now I’m the sort of person these ads appeal to. I have and MFA and when I see these ads, I still want each one. Usually, my desire corresponds to the location of the school. But even outback locations sometimes appeal.
Then I remember I have one, and aside from the friends I made there, it’s not doing me much good. I have loads of debt and some school pride whenever people ohh and ahh over my Sarah Lawrence degree. The value is in the social cachet and the occasional swanky alumni events I used to attend in Los Angeles. I hate to say these things because there are some very fine teachers who are MFA professors.
The useless and attractive MFA program isn’t the issue here. It’s the fact that this is all there is on the advertising pages of poetry journals. It's like we’re a one-eyed monster craving only MFA degrees. Do we not read novels or go on vacations? Do we not eat tofu? Try to sell me something else, please! A meditation bell. Here are some ideas:
Top 10 Things You Can Sell To Poets That They Might Possibly Buy:
- Free-trade coffee and memberships to NPR
- A set of gardening tools
- Manifesto-writing software
- The dating service Bards Mingle
- Competing rhyming dictionaries
- Down to Earth: the berets and turtlenecks store
(we also sell jackets with patches on the elbows)
- Low income home loans
- Lexapro, Zoloft or Wellbutin
- Rosetta Stone French
- A round-trip vacation to Père Lachaise cemetery
About the only thing a poet won't buy are clichés. That is...except their own.