Friday, June 15, 2012
Turns out I'm writing about publishing a lot these days. Sorry, but I can't help it when my inbox in full of OPEN READING and CONTEST offers. "Send us your manuscript accompanied by a twenty five dollar fee!" Yeah, some of these are legit. That is, they're legit for me. But some of these reading period offers, or contest announcements are in fact a bit of ruse. You see, what they mean by "POETRY" is not what I mean when I think of "POETRY." My poetry family tree starts with Whitman, travels up to William Carlos Williams splits into Tomas Transtromer, Rilke, back to Simpson, Stafford, Gilbert, Kooser, Addonizio, some Olds, excetera...Their family tree starts with T.S. Elliot, then goes to, well, pretty much any new book of poems out today by any university press or major publishing label. There's a split somewhere. I don't know where it is, but it's there. I feel like saying that line from The Princess Bride when I read the word "poetry" on some of these publishing contest or reading period ads: "That word, I do not think it means what you think it means." That's why before shelling out thirty of my hard earned high school teacher dollars, I always check to see what kind of poets the place is publishing. If I check two or three, and they all sound like the same academic hogwash to me, then I don't send there. If I read even one poet on their site that even remotely sounds like what I like and what I like to write--then I roll the dice. Hey, it's better odds than the lottery, right? Well...I think.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I'm convinced of a certain formula regarding poetry publishing endeavors. The longer it takes to choose a poetry manuscript the more obsessed the editors or judges of the contest or reading period. The more obsession the less likely you are to get a legitimate, intriguing and fun poet. In other words, the longer it takes the more likely the poet is being selected in a long drawn out committee type selection process. Poetry biz people should do some self-analysis and realize that the longer you sit with a decision the more insecure you become, and therefore the more likely you are to pick the safe bet. And if you walk into any bookstore and pick up a random poetry title you'll immediately realize the results of this unfortunate phenomenon afflicting American poetry circles. That being said, it probably won't hinder my submitting to these places. What are you gonna do?