Saturday, February 19, 2005

po biz

Are you interested in the poetry business? As a writer of poems and one who would be happy to see a few of those in print it's my job to be, I guess. But reading about how many thousands of poems jostle in the slush that washes up on the desk of every harried poetry editor, especially when an editor says something like this, "I have 61 submissions [3-6 poems in each submission] I need to read, a combination of submissions that passed our initial readers, submissions from previous contributors, and submissions from very established poets. Although one can always dream big, it is unlikely I will find more than maybe 2 or 3 poems in this stack to publish."

[Full disclosure. *And, no, I haven't seen nearly so many poems.]

Then there are contests. I don't like contests. I don't think they are a good idea. I have entered contests -- yes, I wanted to be a Yale Younger Poet! I just think a publisher shouldn't publish the best but what he likes the most, what he loves, what he has fallen in love with, what he can't live without, what he has to show the whole goddamn world, what he is willing to sacrifice for, because with poetry publishers rarely break even let alone make bucks.

On his blog Steve Mueske posts correspondence with a suspicious poet on whether the new contest Steve is sponsoring is rigged. I know Steve a teeny tiny bit from an online workshop and from publishing one of his poems in the latest issue of Hogtown Creek Review. He's a very good writer and his three candles is worth reading. Now he's getting into the publishing of real books. The poet who wins his contest will be fortunate.

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