Let us assume, for the sake of this blog, that poetry is not part of mainstream culture, unless you count books like The Best 100 Love Poems, which I received as a gift once and liked, actually. What efforts in your city are there to get it there? Does it even matter if APA poetry emerges beyond cool readings where cool poets read great poems? I don't know. No, I do know. It should be read by a wider audience, plain and simple. And there is no part of my argument that says it should be a watered down, romantic verse that finds its way onto the Barnes and Noble shelves. It should be the difficult books, the beautiful and tragic books, the challenging and strong ones.
There is no large independent bookstore in Fresno, California. None. There are some small ones with Louis L'Amour and Grisham galore, but nothing like Logos in Santa Cruz or Moe´s in Berkeley or City Lights in SF, much less Powell's in Portland (oh, the books I found in Portland). So how to get good books in the hands of people in cities like Fresno, Modesto, El Paso? I like the poetry on busses idea...and I like to give books as gifts. I know of some colleagues who avidly read poetry---they teach ESL or philosophy or art, listen to NPR and would welcome a good, thin volume of poetry by someone besides Whitman or Neruda (assuming they are already a little familiar with these essentials). Last Christmas I asked for Inada's Drawing the Line, which my sister bought for me. With no birthday in sight, I may have to buy Of Thee I Sing soon, but I am sure there will be more books to buy some November (yep, I'm a scorpio).
If you're feeling philanthropic, give them as stocking stuffers or for other occasions. Host a reading if you're in a town other than SF, LA, or NY where they are more common. Spread the word. Make a bumper sticker. Or at least post to this blog about an idea of your own. Cheers.
p.s. Izalco, El Salvador, is a beautiful village.