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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ron Pretty has some good ideas about getting Oz Poetry delivered!


The great Queensland Poetry Festival has a lively website at http://www.queenslandpoetryfestival.info/?page_id=1526 which currently has an interview with RON PRETTY

Ron Pretty has published seven books of poetry, the most recent being Postcards from the Centre (July 2010) . He won the NSW Premier’s Special Prize for services to literature in 2001 and received an AM for services to Australian literature in 2002.

Catch Ron at QPF 2011 in:

Filled With Ink – Saturday 27 August / 1.30pm / Theatre Space

Among The Last Bright Leaves - Sunday 28 August / 5pm / Shopfront Space

Quote from the Interview:

John Wainwright: You have done a lot to develop the means by which poetry in Australia is created and poets are supported. What are the next developmental steps you would recommend?

RON PRETTY: I have to confess that I am still a great believer in the pleasure of holding a well-produced book in your hand, and having something to offer an audience when you do a reading. So, for me, the thing I would like to see writers centres, Australian Poetry, the Australia Council do is to develop a much better system of promotion, distribution and sales for poetry books than we have at present. I’ve made a number of suggestions about ways to do this over the years; I’m pleased to see that one of them – the poetry book bus – is being considered up by AP. There are a number of other ideas I’ve had over the years if you’ve got the space.

We have a generous server, please continue!

Well, here are the suggestions I’ve made to the Australia Council, to Australian Poetry, and to anybody else that would listen:

1. Poets as distribution agents. This is a proposal to appoint volunteer poets as distribution agents for independent publishers. At present, retailers take 40-45% and poetry distributors ask an additional 22% of RRP of a book of poetry, and do not distribute poetry very effectively. Under this proposal, a poet would nominate a district for which s/he was prepared to act as poetry distribution agent, and would receive 20% of RRP on all sales. They would sell, not just to book stores, but to schools, colleges, universities, writers’ centres, FAW branches and libraries. Publishers would supply them with books and publicity materials.

2. The poetry book bus. A bus would be leased/bought and fitted out as a travelling book store (It is possible that there might be a travelling library bus sitting unused in some council yard). The bus would tour the country, selling poetry as it went. It could be met at various regional centres by poets to give readings/workshops as it went. Its novelty value would ensure good coverage in local medias.

3. Poetry retail stores would be opened in regional cities. They would double as coffee shops and performance spaces. Publishers (including self-publishers) would hire a space in the store for a set fee (according to the number of titles they had for sale), and would get full RRP for all books sold. The store would have a website and a catalogue of the books in store – the cost of that would be included in the fee. Books would be displayed cover out, rather than spine out.

4. Poetry spinners in book stores. Major book stores would be paid a rental fee to put a poetry spinner in a prominent position at the front of the store, displaying current poetry titles from a range of poetry publishers. If the books thus displayed sell well enough, the store might eventually be prepared to waive the rental fee.


I also feel that there is still a deal of parochialism in Australian poetry: we know and are interested in the poets from our home town, but find it difficult to get too interested in poets from elsewhere. This is a gross over-generalisation, of course, and events like the QPF, and the coming of Australian Poetry do a lot to break it down, but we need more interstate tours by poets so that we all become more familiar with each other’s work.

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