Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Strong Verse updated and serial query

There's a new poem up on Strong Verse (finally!). There's also a nice queue of work coming, so check it 2x a week or so for updates. For those of you submitting poems, I'll try to have responses for you by October or so.

So the serial poetry thing...

It's a given that if I publish a book of poetry, it won't sell. I think that narrative books of poetry sell better, but since Scholastic isn't returning my calls, the whole popular book thing looks dire, at best. We know this is true of American poetry in general though performance poetry seems to be able to pack in the folks.

So what to do?

I think that a partial solution may be found in a model that worked like the Dickens for Dickens. Serial publishing. Now, I can't think of any print rags that would actually touch a serial narrative poem (they rarely do serial novels any more) but I can think of (and create, honestly) online publications that would. Since I'm not vying for tenure, I'm not terribly concerned with "the shame" of publishing online. I mean, I like print and all -- books smell and feel great -- but since more people read poetry blogs than read print versions of poetry magazines (I mean, seriously, most quarterlies [even the "biggies"] have a circulation of 500 or so -- and this obscure little blog gets 300-500 unique hits a month) I have an inkling that online is the way to go (now making money, that's a question for later).

So what do you think? Who out there reads online poetry magazines? Would you come back to one weekly or twice a week if you knew a new section of a narrative poem would be up there? How long would you like the section to be?

Start the comments!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

swimming in a fishbowl, year after year

So I have poetry depression.

I need poetry Zoloft, I guess.

Instead of asking the cleeshayed and hackneyed "does anyone care about poetry?" crap, I've got a much more fundamental question:

Can you name 10 people whom you know personally (that is, in real life) and see on more than a weekly basis who have read a poem for pleasure in the last year?

Can you name five who know of at least one, living, contemporary, under-fifty, definately-not-Maya-Angelou-or-Billy-Collins poet?

Can you name two who have read a book of poetry? One?

I can't. Sure I can think of a bunch of poets I know who can do all this but I never see them. And hell, they don't count anyway. That's like being surprised when football players watch football games. Duh.

I don't know personally a single non-poet who enjoys poetry (or, rather, enjoys poetry that's not mine -- tee hee). Where are the poetry fans? Where are the crazed, helmet wearing, belly painting, tailgating poetry fans?

I would recommend we derail this pobiz of teaching people how to be poets and go back to writing poetry for the people but the sound of one hand clapping gets old.

And I'm already wearing the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

I'm thinking more on the serial poetry bit. How does a scandalous, drug-addled, tim dorsey/carl hiassen-worthy poetry romp sound? Hm?

Mags, Rags, and Blags

No links in today's post. Sunburns make me lazy.

Hey all,

Hope that the post-Ike gas price increase isn't hitting you too hard. I know you want some more mpgs in your browser. I recommend hydrogen.

So I need to get back up on the submissions ball. I hope that you've all got some nice narrative poems to work with. I know I do.

But where to submit? I've talked a bit about LochRav, OxfAm, and some houses -- but what other mags are ready to step out on a limb and publish poetry that doesn't suck?

Or, rather, poetry that people who aren't poets might actually want to read. I know that, in addition to OxfAm, the New Yorker, the Nation, the National Review, and the Christian Science Monitor all have poetry sections (i.e. poems for people who don't buy lit journals) but they generally only publish fairly short poems (I've never seen one run two pages). Anyone know of any others?

I mean, poetry journals are great and all -- but we know that no one reads them. A circulation of 1,000 -- when half of those are libraries and the other half are people who have already been (or want to be) published in the rag, what good is that? I suppose we can move toward web publishing, but (as far as I know) Strong Verse is the only online mag that actually is a paying market (and, though I could abuse my power as editor to throw up a bunch of work on Strong Verse, I think it might sully the rep a bit).

So we could try self-publishing.

I think the way to go may be what the online comics do (stop me if you've heard this):

publish regular/serial work
merch it up (woo hoo, t-sharts)
publish a book at the end

Just like the webcomix.

Think it would work?

Lemme know. That and good rags I don't know about.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A shot from the forum

Poetry Inc. is a great place.

a reply from me:

"There is no reason that a good poem cannot excite the brain as much or more than Halo 3. But the poem must engage the audience first. Audience hostile poetry (like much of the Avant Garde) cannot do this. There is nothing wrong with AG poetry per se -- what is wrong is when its cheerleaders pretend that it is the future or the Alpha and Omega of poetry.

They do themselves and their students a grave injustice (not to mention poetry and its audience) because they imagine poetry as a mystical set of Elusinian verbiage, enjoyed by the folks who "get it." They never imagine that a vast swath of humanity is waiting for their words and they the poets are the ones who don't understand."

To continue:

I understand that poets are a sensitive lot. And that we do not like to be told we are in the wrong. But we, as poets -- especially if we are not involved in popular poetry, must take a look at the most popular form of poetry (black urban/slam poetry) and ask ourselves "what does it do right?"

And the answer is:

It connects with as broad an audience as possible. It does not combat them. It engages them. It draws the audience in. It is the friend of the audience. Now, the best slam poetry also comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable -- but not before enveloping its patient victims in sounds, forms, and images they can consume, digest, and understand.

All poetry must do this. Before you can have an agenda, before you can create language, before you can pull down the walls of vanity, you must engage your audience.

You must have listeners before you can be heard.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

An Interview and a smattering of politics

Granted, it was in response to an open call I found on World Class Poetry, but Bekki Bedow found it in her heart to post my interview.

Have fun!

If you are new here, check out the important posts on the right and, if you came to read my poems, I suggest that you go here, here, here (halfway down the page), here, and here. Thanks for reading!

In other news, because I support baby-wearing and breastfeeding, the slippery devil that is John McCain may, if and only if Florida looks to be a blowout, have gotten my vote because of Sarah Palin. Dangit. I was hoping to extend my perfect record of voting for the third party.

Before Obamanations and Raising McCains attack, though, I have to remind you that my politics are just shy of being a monarchical restorationist and I'm fairly certain that the presidency is one of the least important jobs ever. Also, I'm not voting for either of those crazies if my vote might put one of them in office.

Also -- post 42! w00t!