© 2022 . All rights reserved.

Jerome Sala reads from How Much?


The first poem in How Much? questions the value of poetry. Why does that Urinal signed by Marcel Duchamp continue to go up in price while the poems of Frank O’Hara do not?

while the other arts add value
to their objects, conspiring
with the world of commodities
to nurture the enrichment economy,
verse makes its objects worse,
relieving them of their worth,
casting them out into the world
beyond the cave of moneymaking
into another place that we do not
yet understand and cannot name.

Most poets wind up with nothing more than a little bit of love given to them by a small but admiring crowd. In the old days, there was the chance that a well written poem would last and be remembered and recited by its fans long after the poet expired. But in a future rife with climate change, folks will be too busy treading rising water to have the time to read. Sadly, perhaps, the world and the poem as we know them may soon be over. With that being said, you might expect the new and selected poems in How Much? to be grim and glum, but they’re not. 

In the late 1970s, Jerome Sala was a punk performance poet in Chicago inspiring and inspired by all that seminal era supplied. In the late 1980s, he moved to New York City with his wife, the poet Elaine Equi, where he worked as a copywriter in advertising and public relations, work that allowed him, aided by his talent and his love of language, to know and hone how words can convince others and manipulate the moment. This may sound cynical and sinister, but it’s not; it’s actually what a good poem does. Truth be told, the meaning of life can be found in a Cherry Coke if we’re guided there by a poet.

It might be a cliché to say that a good poem illuminates, but that is exactly what happens when I read How Much? In the Vimeo below, Jerome Sala reads some of his poems, and gives the dark some light.

I’ve scanned the following seven poems from How Much? I could have scanned more, but at some point you have to stop. Enjoy.







How Much? is published by New York Quarterly Books. You can check it out here.




Here is an interview with Jerome Sala discussing poetry with fellow ad writer/poet Jack Skelley:



Jerome Sala

Leave a Reply