No, Canadian poetry is not the hottest selling thing in the US. Sorry, guys. And sorry too, to all my lovely Americans. I wish I could report that poetry sales were up for American poets, not to mention Canadian, but I doubt that's true. The writing of poetry I am sure continues to increase if submissions are any indication, but alas writing poetry does not seem to translate into reading poetry...
So no, poetry in general is not the hottest selling thing...but there is interest. I was by Poets House tonight for the public reception and was, as usual, overwhelmed by the number of books. Many of them compelling: Joshua Beckman, the Paul Auster translations, collected Berrigan, a new book by Derrida on the poetry of Paul Celan. It's worthwhile to drop by and have a look. And for those of you New Yorkers who complain of not being able to find and test drive the Canadian poetry I talk about here, and you hear about in general, you will find a good portion of this year's titles included in the mix (and Open Field as well!), so, no more excuses (unless you've ordered them already, which is even better...).
But here's a reality check for Canadian presses: if you don't send to Poets House your books aren't going to be on display. It's an important resource, added to substantially last spring with the launch of Open Field , and the donation of an impressive collection of Canadian poetry through the hands of Scott Griffin of Anansi Press and The Griffin Prize. Of course actually getting Canadian books distributed here would be a better solution. I rarely see Canadian titles on the shelves, except Coach House in St. Marks on occasion, and the odd title from Arsenal or Polestar in a lesbian/gay bookstore.
So, if you want Canadian poetry read send books to Poets House, thank Amazon.com, and someone, fix the distribution problem!