Have I mentioned how much I like people with skills? The furnace man came, added a little more duct tape to our furnace and for $81, we now have heat. Being a writer requires skill, but I admire people who can take something broken and fix it. People who look at the wiring and say, "Here's the problem." I also admire people who build bridges and buildings.
I must say the irony that I spent more on reading fees yesterday for book contests ($30 + $25 + $25 + $10) that heating my home was not lost on me. While I support the contests these small presses offer, there must be a better way. As a poet without a "regular" job, money comes to me in bits and pieces and when it arrives, I'm thankful.
Though I guess, I would much rather give $25 to a small press than have 5 lattes at Starbucks. And these small presses need to stay afloat. We've talked about people buying poetry books, supporting presses. Is there a box we can think outside of? Is there a way to let the poets keep their reading fees (or lower them) and the presses still have enough to print quality work?
These independent presses are our voices. I definitely do not want to see them go away, but what can we do differently, do better? I'll consider this today in my nice warm home. What does $81 buy someone these days-- 4 book contests, a fixed heater, cellphone service for 2, a mini iPod, 20 gallons of gas, 3/5 of a cashmere sweater at Nordstrom. We all make our choices.