Best-Selling Poetry and other Oxymorons
Bronwyn Lea has recently put up a post on the above topic …http://theconversation.edu.au/poetry-bestsellers-and-other-oxymorons-8164?
But first what is an oxymoron … see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxymoron
… basically a contradiction in terms … FUN run immediately comes to mind
But I was interested to see what poetry was most popular in Oz (based on sales) … the following text was taken from Bronwyn’s Post…
Neilsen BookScan, which records book sales in Australia since 2002, reveals twentieth-century Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, as the clear favourite.
Born in 1883 in Bsharii in modern-day northern Lebanon, Gibran died of liver failure at the age of 48 in New York. The Prophet, his first book, was published in 1923. Its fame spread by word of mouth. By 1931 it had been translated into 20 languages, and in the 60s it was a hit with American youth culture. It’s been popular ever since.
In the fictional set up for The Prophet, Almustafa has lived for 12 years in the foreign city of Orphalese and is heading home when a group of people stop him. He offers to share his wisdom on an array of issues pertaining to life and the human condition: love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, crime and punishment, beauty, death and so on. The chapter on marriage is perhaps the best known, as it’s a regular in wedding ceremonies. A testament to love (and an argument against co-dependence), it concludes:
Give your hearts but not into each other’s keeping.And stand together yet not too near together:
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,And the oak tree and they cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Thinking about bestselling poetry, there’s one more quality worth mentioning.
Laughter - in terms of sales for an individual poetry title, the second ranked poetry title in Australia is Michael Leunig’s Poems (Viking 2004).
Which goes to show that while Australian readers like thinking about god, they have retained a sense of humour.
My comment …
My copy of ‘The Prophet’ contains illustrations … and Michael Leunig books rely on illustrations for effect … perhaps another important consideration for success is to consider multi-medium work.
… and in that regard I have just come to understand a new term –ekphrasis … a verbal or written description of a visual presentation … see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekphrasis