The Story behind Poet in the Park

photo by Bob Kidd

After unsuccessfully trying to reach publishers and literary agents for 20 years, I finally learned how to self-publish my books.  Then I printed out copies and decided to move to New York City in 2011.  I have wanted to live here all my life and this is where all the publishers are, so, I thought - maybe I’ll be able to meet someone.  Then I said - and even if I don’t, I’ll sell my books in the streets.

photo credit: Bob Kidd

Poetry is a labor of love and selling poetry is certainly not the most lucrative enterprise but I have managed to sustain myself and I continued to build my audience on a daily basis with every person I meet on the streets.  I have even become a recognizable figure in New York City while I tote my “Meet the Author” sign and cordially ask people: “Do you want to hear a poem?”  Walking down the street one day someone shouted, “Hey Author, you sold a million books yet?”  I responded, “I’m getting closer every day!”  Later I did the calculations and at the rate I’m selling books, it will take me over 20,000 years to sell a million books, but still, I’m getting closer everyday with my personal performances for the public.

photo credit: Jerry James

Yea, I get a cold reception sometimes, but I persevere.  As I tell everyone, days that are cold are the days people need the warmth of poetry the most.

People have enjoyed my presentations so much, many insisted I perform onstage.  So, I adapted my novella - Zoë - into a musical.  I wrote lyrics for songs for different episodes of the story and developed simple melodies to perform my solo show a cappella.  Then I  produced, directed, promoted and performed the show on stage.  I made my Off-Broadway debut in 2015 and have since performed the solo musical at numerous theater festivals.  

People also suggested I write a book about my experiences performing poetry on the streets of Manhattan.  So, I wrote The Nobody, a poetic pictorial built upon anecdotes from my experiences and illustrated with my own photographs of New York City.  Released in 2019, The Nobody immediately became my most popular book.  

I have also begun to perform the book as a solo show at Off-Broadway venues.

As I say in the book, “Every day I stand before the entire world with nothing but a song - and I sing!”

With the success of The Nobody, I decided to experiment with more projects integrating my poetry and my photography.  This developed into another celebration of the people and the poetry of New York City in City of Poems.  

The image is from the original hardcover version which was 11” x 8.5”. I have since released the book in a softcover that is 6” x 9” and split the images into diptychs.  The hardcover was spectacular, but was also difficult to manage.  The release of the softcover version has proven to be popular and the book continues to receive a wonderful reception from the public.  

In 2018, I registered my business as my own publishing company.  This has developed into Poet in the Park.  

I’m on this curb everyday too and while the thronging masses are passing, I just keep asking if anyone would like to hear a poem.  Then on some very rare occasions someone will step out of the thronging masses and walk directly up to me and say, “Yes.”  Then I open up my life and let all the poetry pour forth.  

from The Nobody

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