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Monday, March 24, 2008

Discussing Poetry Blogs (online or print publication, and all that)

The previous post has received no comments here so far. And even on MySpace where it was first aired, although readers awarded kudos for the post, they didn't immediately rush to express opinions. I guess that's because, as the first one who finally did so said, there are no right or wrong answers to my questions. Still, we did eventually get an interesting discussion happening, which I think is worth reposting here. (Just using my friends' initials; if curious, you can view the discussion in the original detail here.)

Me (Rosemary):

Well, thank you friends for all the kudos! Glad you approve; wish I was sure what you are approving of.

Ummm ... given that I have pretty much jumped in with online poetry posts despite some doubts, I guess that is what you are applauding.

OK then, I'll career on regardless. Ta!


CCC:

So most of your questions have no right answer, only personal answers. I had my time in print and much prefer the blogosphere. But my destiny rests elsewhere than my writing so my opinion is just that only my opinion on how I share my poetry. Selfishly I hope you share my view and place more of your poems here so I can read them, but then if being print published and read on into posterity is a goal of yours blog posting might be counter productive...


GG:

i'm going to re read and give it some more thought, rosemary... you raise an important point.

for me, the way i share my life is through poetry... and so, just want to give... it's like birds singing in the morning! :) just open your mouth and sing!

for me, myspace profile is set to friends only, and therefore it's like my sharing poems in emails, or in a letter... to friends, not the public.

also, i don't consider my own myspace page as a magazine, or myself as an editor, so therefore, for me, i don't consider my poems have been published, because i've chosen to share them with friends.

i'll drop by again and see what publishers/editors have to contribute to this discussion.


hugs

g


CM:

Hello there,

Interesting post!

I know that, for myself, I had rather keep my own blog than go everywhere and post in magazines. I found a couple of magazines who published me online, which gave me a great sense of achievement. I also went my own way, creating three self-published collections of poetry. But let's be honest for a minute. Where poetry was a queen of literature a few centuries ago, is now the spot of hip hop, novels, etc.

That's true, most magazines won't accept something that you published on your blog, as it is considered already published.

We have to come to the conclusion that poetry is very underrated. One day it will gain its rightful place once again. In the meantime, it's up to us to prove what it can arise in people.

Have a great day!


DM:

Hi Rosemary,

I find MySpace a great forum for posting new or 'problem' poems and getting some feedback from poets I respect. I have mixed feelings about posting 'finished' poems in blogs (although I have posted some in MySpace, in other poets' blogs and my work appears on a few websites.) I suppose I feel that this might be considered prior publication and perhaps my work won't be accepted for print journals, but like you I find that I haven't been sending much out anyway...and it's so easy to put them up online.

Maybe, because it is so easy, there's a feeling / perception that they haven't received 'validation' as 'quality' poems..by acceptance for a literary publication.

I think I'm still mulling this over.

D


B:

Hi Rosemary I must admit that I have no intention or ambition to end up in print. My blog is where I can write and find some encouragement and support from like minded people. As such I don’t care that by airing my work it loses the potential to make money for some one else. Love B


CK:

There is a big debate going on about this in America. Many online journals won't accept poems if they have been published in any other online medium -- blogs, MySpace, Facebook, etc. Even when I put up a rough draft, I'm sure it's still floating about in some cache where people can still see it. Once you put something online, it never really disappears is my thought.

I don't worry about it too much, frankly. I have had a lot of work in both print and online mags in the last couple of years and I'm delighted to say most of it has been solicited by editors. Most of those eds. know what they're getting into when they ask me for work. They know it might have appeared on a blog or in a different form elsewhere.

My advice is to research the mag/journal you want to submit to and see if they have hard and fast rules about posting poems on MySpace or blogs.


J:

Holding back your poems for people who want to read them, think on them, slurp 'em up.....one by one - for slim pickings of lit mags? Whats your honest experience of all that baloney? FREEDOM, TRUTH, BEAUTY, NOW!


M:

I've been pondering this lately myself. I tend to put most of the poems I write in my MySpace blogs, just so more people can read them. I've never been paid a penny by a publisher for them having one of my poems in their magazine, though I've had a couple of promises of cash that didn't materialise! And if having a poem posted here went against me when it came time to choose whether someone should publish, I've no idea.

Only a couple of editors have asked I remove poems from MySpace before publication and I've been happy to - no real idea how many people actually stop by anyway but I'm guessing most view stuff in the first couple of days after posting.

I had a quite dry period lately, maybe only 3 poems in 4 months, then about 15 came at once, and I was so out of the habit of submitting I suddenly realised I had quite a few to send off. This latest batch, as it's mainly magazines I've never sent to before, I've removed from MySpace, just cos I felt like they could be a surprise for folks when and if they turn up in print or online. Was even thinking about having a single blog entry listing all online poems, make it easier for people. It's ultimately about getting it read and "out there".

In the end, it's your poetry, so do what you want with it. Let petty editors be petty editors, there's plenty of good ones still around.


DP:

this a great post, and an interesting question rosemary. sorry i missed it a few days ago:) do you mind sharing which publications consider previous posting in an online blog or website prior publication? i had no idea that that sharing things on a personal, non- commercial (for the author), but never-the-less, public website might be considered publication. i rarely submit anything for publication, and if i do, it's a regional print magazine. i think of my online blogs as more of a public journal, and i have always thought of sharing my writing in this format as simply sharing my work with friends, especially since i often revise my work based on the feedback i receive. i think of it more as an online writer's group or support community.


Me again:

Oh, thank you all so much for joining the discussion so generously! I admire as well as enjoy your work, and (dear CCC!) it was your valued opinions I was after. They have helped me regain a sense of perspective on all this. I've always said that with any art form, and certainly for me with poetry, the first impulse is to express oneself, closely followed by the second, which is to communicate. Not that that's all – there is also the desire to create art – but in this company that is of course understood. But yes, it's really about reaching people and sharing oneself, isn't it?

I think it matters that we take our craft seriously. I also think I was probably taking mySELF a bit too seriously there for a minute!

I too have had my time in print, and have even been paid for it (sometimes) but even in my heyday I don't know that I reached more people than I do by posting online. These things we never really know for certain, anyway.

I should have proved to myself sufficiently by now that there are people – poets and public – who like what I do and are sometimes moved by it. As for fame, I have it on good authority that the only living Australian poet that most people overseas have heard of is Les Murray – deservedly so, but there are many others equally deserving! And when it comes to the wider public, really, as CM indicates, how many people have heard of ANY contemporary poet (except for a few of those who are songwriters too)?

As a little girl I longed to be a world-famous poet, but no-one these days is really that (except Bob Dylan and the like). But here on MySpace I have an international audience, which is the next-best thing. :) Even my Blogger poetry blog, with few readers so far, has that.

DM, let's be honest, there's some crap poetry online, and it all has hordes of slavering fans telling the perpetrators what great talents they are! But I know you have enough poetic discernment to pick the real quality here – and if they like your work too, trust their say-so. We don't necessarily need publication in the print media to validate our work. And if we've already had some of that too, all the less cause for doubt. It just comes down to what we ourselves want to do with our poetry, as M says.

GG, I created a Yahoo group to share new poems with friends without it counting as publication. I'm sure a MySpace that's private except to friends serves the same purpose. Blogs that are open to anyone and everyone are more problematical.

DP, I was mainly thinking of Australian (print) publications which you're unlikely to be interested in. I don't know a lot about online publications, but I know that on MySpace The Smoking Poet and Unquiet Desperation specify no previous publication/posting, equating the two, and I think rorschach failure is the same. As CK suggests, we'd have to research any publications we might think of submitting to. I understand it's a matter of a niche market. The major fiction publishers don't mind if a novel has been aired on the net, if they think it's worth printing – I know this, as a friend did the research – because that is not going to interfere with their sales. But the market for poetry is considered so small, at least in Australia, that exclusivity is prized.

Well, if I decide I want to get into a print mag in future and they don't take stuff posted online, I'll just have to write something wonderful for that exclusive market, won't I?

Meantime, I particularly like what J and B say! So you may expect to see more poems here [MySpace] in future. I'll continue with the Yahoo group and the Blogger blog also, so people can choose what's the easiest access for them.

Thank you all for restoring me to good sense and clarity.

On with the dance!

8 comments:

  1. I suppose it comes down to what you're aiming for with your poetry. So many people have blogs these days, that it may be that the publications who don't like it will eventually change their restrictions. Or maybe blogging will become the new home of poetry: perhaps it is the key to making poetry relevant again.

    In both blogging and poetry terms, this is an interesting time. We're in the middle of an Internet hurricane and we've yet to see how things will look when it's finished.

    This is an interesting discussion.

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  2. Yes, you're right; we are in a state of flux, a time of paradigm change, and that's the very reason so many of us are wondering about this question.

    I think, in any such great change, it's self-defeating not to go with the new. And at this time, still straddling both worlds, we can dip into the old also if we feel like it.

    About 16 years ago, many of us including me were saying fiercely that computers were no good for writing poetry – one needed that connection of heart and hand that came with using pen and paper. Then I got together with Andrew, to whom I've now been married for 15 years, and he had a home computer (pre-Windows - imagine!) and even on that early machine I discovered that computers are WONDERFUL for writing poetry. Oh, the ease of playing with the different elements to get "the best words in the best order"!

    Since then, I am inclined to go forwards.

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  3. Do you actually write your poetry on the computer or do you get it down on paper first? I'm still a paper person for a first draft (actually, I think of it as more of a pre-draft) but I do all my editing on the computer, and I agree, it's brilliant. I copy and paste all the babies I'm not sure I want to sacrifice and write dozens of versions of the same line before I decide where I want to go. But I digress...

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  4. Ha ha, good digression! Besides, I think I started it.

    It depends entirely where I am. If I'm down by the river or in my favourite cafe, then obviously I have my pen and my trusty notebook (the non-digital kind) with me, and use them. If I'm sitting in front of my computer and get an idea, I do now compose straight on to the screen. I didn't for ages, when it came to poetry - then realised that with prose I always just typed on to the screen, so why not verse too? It works.

    Natalie Goldberg suggests that tapping on the keyboard is still a connection of heart and hand - just expressed a bit differently. And maybe what we produce by one method will be different from what we might have produced by the other - but we'll never know, and in any case it's still ME tapping on the keys or scrawling on the paper. So I think it's a case of "whatever turns you on." Or, being strictly practical, "whatever works for you."

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  5. Yes, you're probably right. I suppose I write poetry differently to prose anyway - I deliberately write prose; poetry just happens to me(and rarely when I'm on the computer). Perhaps I just use paper more because I tend to be on a train, or in the kitchen, or somewhere else equally impractical!

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  6. Very true, prose is more deliberate for me also, and so it almost never happens anywhere but on computer.

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  7. I use my Australian blog mostly for posting poetry. Currently, I am participating in the National April Poetry Month, writing a poem a day. So far, I have averaged 2 poems a day. Love the challenge!

    Constantly, I try to find other Australian poet bloggers, but that seems to prove quite difficult.

    Gemma

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  8. Hi Gemma!

    I am doing the April Challenge too. Click on "Poems" top right. Have fallen behind the last coupla days but will catch up shortly.

    Most of the Aussie poets I know are on MySpace, but out here in the broader blogosphere you can click on my links to Helen Patrice, jennie-fraine, Little Glass Pen, The Cerebral Mum, and Wyld Poetry.

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