Today I participated in our company’s Annual Holiday Bazaar at work. I set up my booth and readied myself to promote and sell “Poetry in Different Colors.” What a day it turned out to be. Let me start by saying I was a tad nervous, but also very excited to see how I would be received and how well my book would go over.
I arrived at 6:40 am lugging a roller bag filled with my prized possessions in 30 degree weather. After, I made the trek into the building, I realized I forgot my personalized table top poster, you know, the one that catches the eye of the passerby, yes, that one. So, I go back out to the car and grab my poster and return to begin my tabletop set up. I prepared my simple yet attractive display, with a white tablecloth that I dressed up with colorful silk fabric leaves, spread around the front of the table. Who knew, as the day went on, my simple but beautiful table display would end up becoming a topic of conversation.
That’s right people wanted to touch the leaves, ask about the type of material, etc.
There were people, who would stop and look, and those that pick up the book and thumb through the pages, which were my preference; yes read it. However, I had a back up strategy for those who thought they would just walk by without curiosity. I had a stand up frame, which I inserted my poem entitled “Baby Girl,” for those of you who have the book you are familiar with this one. This lovely frame filled with words drew the attention of many eyes and they couldn’t resist nor ignore the table and its position, so they couldn’t ignore me and I encouraged them to look at the book. This was the selling point for my second customer of the day, she tried to walk by but the framed words caught her eye and she read the poem, picked up the book and said, “I think I should buy this,” well I’m thinking, “I agree with you.” Then you had your normal encounters with people who said they would return, not. But that didn’t deter me from my mission, confidently selling my book.
The biggest purchase of the day was by a colleague, she purchased four books. She said she was giving them as gifts to several friends. She said “I appreciate the book more than the other items at the bazaar because she realized the book was something I had put my heart and soul into. Subsequently, she had no problem paying the full price, but I felt compelled to give her a discount anyway since she was purchasing several copies. As if, that wasn’t the highlight of the day, it gets better; she took my business card and said she was going to share it with her sister, who works at the museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. She said they have a gift shop in the museum and they are always looking for unique items to sell to visitors. I think I scored with my new reader. She shared her love for books and acknowledged my book as a practical gift for the holidays.
But the encounter that stood out, that one special customer. It was a woman with a beautiful spirit. She shared that her husband who had passed away four years ago wrote poetry. She described how he would leisurely write poems on small pieces of paper and laid them around the house. Over time she had collected quite a few of his poems and eventually had them published. My mouth dropped as I thought how beautiful and moving that was for her to have made such a grand gesture in honor of her husband. She stood right at my booth and recited two of his poems, one of which he had written over 40 years ago. I was amazed at how naturally the words flowed, so clear and precise. She smiled the entire time. I knew she missed her husband and I listened as she took the time she needed to reminisce and express the love they so clearly shared as man and wife throughout the years. Then she had a question for me, she asked me, what inspired me to write my poetry book? I simply responded “life.” As we continued to talk the affirmation was clear that poetry written by an individual could resonate for others and bring into being words and thoughts that they themselves were unable to articulate, and they are grateful to see them on paper. At the end of our conversation she bought my book, thanked me for writing it and told me she is excited about reading it.
So, I end my day with confirmation and affirmation that what I am doing matters and the words I write are part of my life experiences connecting with others and it continues. My growth comes from the engagement with others as they share with me their journey. The time I spent at my company’s Bazaar “Priceless.”