Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry SmithThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

Human beings have certain basic needs. The need for food, of course. And shelter. And warmth. And the need to self-publish a collection of their poetry. Until these basic needs are met, you’re just scrounging around in “survival” mode. In 1999 I gave in to that innate drive to create my own little personal cave scribbling – a collection of poems and really short stories which I titled “Ode To Mustard.” Now, I’ll admit, sales over the past years haven’t been great. I haven’t checked in a while, but I’m pretty sure I’ve still got, ahem, a few boxes of unsold books in the attic. This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed some level of success. I’ll have you know that a copy of my book exists in the Library of Congress! Seriously. You can check online if you don’t believe me. This is an accomplishment that I’m rather proud of, because in order to get your book in the Library of Congress you need to fill out a form and mail them TWO copies of your book. Along with, I seem to recall, a check. I’m not sure what they do with the extra copy of the book, but I’d like to think mine found its way to the Library of Congress employee restroom.So yeah, sales have been pretty average. And that’s exaggerating quite a bit.BUT, since it’s the “Ode To Mustard” 10th Anniversary, I’m thinking that THIS is the year that things are really gonna take off for my humble and actually somewhat entertaining little book. These things take time, you know. And my online research tells me that something, somewhere is a-brewin’. In fact, it looks to be the early stages of an all-out poetry book feeding frenzy. Check it is offering a copy for $4.95! Now, I suppose this should be disheartening, right? And it was, at first, until I read the “Seller’s Comments.” It says, “Shows wear but is still completely readable. No missing pages but may have some highlighting/underlining of text.””Completely readable!” Notice they didn’t say “completely legible?” No, this isn’t a comment on the condition of the print, but the very contents of the page itself. My work, my art, my heart and soul … completely readable. Ahhhh. Oh, and apparently there may have been some underlining going on! That’s intense. People are (or may be) underlining! Only the most readable of literature gets underlined. Don’t even get me started on highlighting. And as if that wasn’t enough good news, over at they have several “used” options from second-hand book dealers that are actually more than the listed price! Here’s one for $19, plus four bucks shipping. Under “description” they’ve put, “Very clean, tight and bright.” Yes, yes, YES! This is EXACTLY what I’d hoped the critics would say.One second-hand seller is describing their copy of “Ode To Mustard” as “Excellent condition original out of print paperback copy, very nice.” Out of print! I never thought of that. Of course it’s out of print. I mean, I’m not currently printing any more, not unless I want to install a Tuff Shed in the back yard.A used book store in Georgia has a copy they’ll let you have for $26! Description: “Fair. Ready to read.” Yes! I knew that “ready to read” factor would eventually work to my advantage. Back when I was having it printed, I remember the guy asking if I’d like to go with the standard “Nerve-gas-released-in-your-face-upon-opening-to-the-first-page” binding option.”What are my choices?” I asked.”Well, I suppose you could go with something a little more ready to read,” he said.I coughed up the extra cash to have the nerve gas feature deactivated, specifically so my book would be read-ready. And the world is finally catching on to this!So what are you waiting for? I’ve got boxes and boxes of completely readable, tight, bright, clean, underlinable, out of print, first edition, 10th anniversary, ready to read poetry books for sale!By-the-pound discounts available for the serious poetry lover.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays. Get your copy of “Ode To Mustard” at or from the Thrift Shop.

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