99-year-old sells 1.5 million poetry books

This morning I came across a story from Reuters that I wanted to share.  A 99-year-old woman in Japan, Toyo Shibata, published her first collection of poetry recently, and it’s sold about 1.5 million copies and has landed on bestseller lists in Japan! Even more surprising is the fact that she didn’t even start writing until she turned 92, when she could no longer practice her decade-long hobby of classical Japanese dance, according to the article. So her son suggested she try poetry.

It’s hard to say why the self-published book of 42 poems has sold over a million copies. Is it simply because of her interesting story? Is it because the Japanese people want to focus on something positive in light of their sagging economy, as the article suggests? While every other poet struggles to sell a mere few hundred copies of a first book and we crisscross different venues to read and get the work out there, this woman sold an outstanding number of books with very little initial promotion. I’d be telling a lie if I said I wasn’t a little jealous. : ) But kudos to her! I hope I’m that productive if I live to her age.

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