Is poetry a collectible commodity?

There’s nothing especially unique about this news story about Eureka Books celebrating national poetry month. I mean, many poets (including me) have their plans for getting through April. But reading the article kickstarted my brain into motion: Can poetry be a collectible commodity?

It’s so obvious that the answer is yes. But even with my background in collecting bubble gum cards and comics I still had trouble seeing the forest from the trees. I, of course, know the value of a first edition of books, but most trade books are not printed with the intent of becoming a collectible–it’s just something that happens when an unknown author suddenly finds him or her self in the position of being Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. If the publishers knew they were going to sell 500,000 copies initially, then they would’ve printed them up that way (notice the difference in how many first edition copies of Harry Potter were printed between Potter’s first year and seventh at Hogwarts).

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. In the article above, Jack Irvine says, “Broadsides have become very popular among collectors, because it’s an affordable way to get a signed, limited edition work by a favorite author. It’s a great way to display a work of literature on the wall, and they do frame up very nicely.”

I found speaking about poetry in this way very interesting. It sounds as if the broadsides could be framed as works of art. Imagine someone visiting your house and admiring your framed paintings and then stopping to read a very moving poem–with maybe some cool design elements to complement the work. Now that’s art! And that’s a collectible, for sure.

So maybe this is yet another avenue for poetry. I know savvy publishers have been going this route for ages, but still. Let me have my epiphanic moment. Okay. Done.

I just wonder if we can ever get to a point where 10-year-old boys and girls are swapping a Bob Hicok and Gwendolyn Brooks for a Louis Gluck and William Carlos Williams. One can always hope.


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5 thoughts on “Is poetry a collectible commodity?

  1. Nan Becl;ean

    April 1, 2008

    Fools was the theme of today’s New York Times crossword
    And once I saw the puns, it was even easier than usual to solve,
    Mind you, it’s only Tuesday.
    Come Friday, I won’t say that
    Even if I know the theme right off the bat
    And by the way—forget Saturday.
    Sunday is another story where every other week
    I find joy in the acrostic—
    Although I miss Thomas Middleton’s elegance
    His classic exchange of letters
    That made it plain, speaking of fools,
    He was nobody’s.

  2. Steven Randall Schwarz

    "…Imagine someone visiting your house and admiring your framed paintings and then stopping to read a very moving poem–with maybe some cool design elements to complement the work…"

    you forgot something: "…while listening to some cool music you composed and recorded to accompany the poem, eating delicious canapes hand-rolled for the occasion, and enjoying a back-rub or massage, all at the same time…"

    thanks for the invite to Poetic Asides.

  3. Jim K.

    Agree. At "Antiques Roadshow 2020",
    hand-mades are likely to be the
    big collectibles, with the right
    collectible qualities, unusual details
    and limited quantity. So many po books
    are POD now…and the quantity could
    be hard to determine. Early chaps
    of names turned bigger should be big.
    (should anyone escape long-term obscurity)

  4. Joan

    I made up broadsides for Christmas one year with one of my Detroit poems "Merry Christmas, Lincoln Street." I’ve got a long ways to go before being collectible, but my friends and family really liked them. It could be a great combo with some of those letterpress publishers, a gorgeous woodcut and some Denise Levertov. I would buy that.


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