Monday, June 04, 2007

Should we only publish Virgins?

Should online poetry magazines publish poems that have previously appeared on personal websites, blogs, or even in other e-zines? Poems with a history? Well, how easy a question is that? Shit Creekers think the answer is obvious: it all depends on the size of the attached bribe or the degree of kinship to the editor. What other considerations could there possibly be?

Oddly, apparently there are. Apparently other editors and persons of interest actually have different opinions. Weird but true. Check it all out over at Nic Sebastian's Very Like a Whale where editors of various poetry zines hold forth on their philosophies and policies vis a vis the old previous pubs. Even SCR grabs the mic for a bit of a rant: predictably, advocating Cash and Kinship (C&K as we call it in the trade) as the only relevant criteria.

While you're out and about, also check out Nic reading at The Adroitly Placed Word.


Blogger RHE said...

The question has been discussed thus far as if it's the bloggers who need the editors--"Oh, please don't deprive us of `real' publication, just because we posted our poems on our blogs." I understand that, sharing as I do the prejudice in favor of print and nourishing a belief that the last infirmity of noble minds may best be served by things with covers and turnable pages. But there's another side to the discussion. I suspect (though I cannot prove or verify) that when I post a poem on my blog, it's read by more people than read the little--sometimes the very little--magazines wherein my poems often appear. If "publication" means "finding readers," I am better served by my blog than by yet another appearance in Galileo's Tuna. Editor might consider whether poets aren't helping them out, rather than the other way around.


11:19 pm  
Blogger Caratacus said...

Galileo's Tuna eh? Not a bad title. And a strong point you're making. A quick re-read of what I wrote at Very Like a Whale verifies that I did - albeit somewhat briefly - partly address the issue, thus:

"Previous publication in one of the 97 gazillion poetry ezines out there does not mean that a poem is likely to have been read in our particular pool of readers - and if it has, well, if it’s a good poem it will stand a re-read."

Of course it's entirely correct to say that the editors need the poets far more than the other way round. No poems, no poetry zine; crap poems, crap poetry zine; and so forth. And I'll add that readership of my own Domus Carataci blog is now approaching 50,000, which even if you subtract the googlebots and those seeking pictures of Sarah Beeny's breasts, still leaves a fairly large readership for the verse I post there.

I encourage you to leave a comment to this effect in the discussion over at VLAW, where a lot more editors and other interested parties are likely to read it.


6:39 am  
Blogger C. E. Chaffin said...

When I edited Melic I would publish poems previously published in print but not on the Net. Now I agree with you; why not just publish the best you can find? Every mag wants "unpublished" poems. Virgins, as you say. Aside from "Practical Cats," Eliot published 41 poems in his life, according to his "Collected," notcounting his few "unfinished" poems. Admittedly, many were long; still, he would have run out of virgins very quickly with that amount. Louise Bogan wrote about 100. I'm way over both figures, but I don't compare in quality. Yet the need to create "virgins" has sometimes driven me to dress up old poems I should have let fail. Except for my recent submission to you, I've been submitting only to paying magazines. But that doesn't make them more read than non-paying magazines. I've had four accepted so far. It's at least one more line in the illusory sand, since Samuel Johnson said "Anyone who writes for anything but money is a blockhead." BTW, amazing total for your blog.r


5:19 am  
Blogger Caratacus said...

Sorry about the delay replying to this. I've been off trying (and failing) to get to New Zealand, and having renewed bouts of heart failure. All very distracting. Ah yes, "dressing up" old poems: there's a PhD thesis in itself. But the more I think about it, the more I agree with me (and you): obsessive demands for virginity are unrealistic. What tips the trolley for me is the issue of readership: namely, I feel that there are separate (if overlapping) tribes of readers, and what one tribe reads isn't necessarily the same as what another does: good poems deserve to be exposed to as many tribes as possible. Ephemera such as electronic and print magazines give a poem only a relatively brief and limited circulation: when the poem is set into a book it begins to take on a more stable and durable married life (though even then it may have a bit of a fling occasionally in an anthology). But prior to that, the poem should be able to hang out a bit in such venues as The Shit Creek Review or Melic as was or whatever and strut its stuff without being pressured into celibacy checks. Is this extended metaphor taking on a life of its own?

I really take on board what you say about venues that pay. It makes sense. There should be a poetic economy at work if possible. I look at it this way: If I get paid for a poem I can use the proceeds to buy a book that will help me write better poetry: a complete works of William McGonagall or some such. I've only been rewarded four times for published poems. The Sydney Morning Herald paid me $AUD90.00 back in the '90s for 'Down'; I was awarded an Amazon voucher for $US25.00 for winning the Journalspace poetry competition in '05 with 'Insomnia'; I was sent a free copy of 'Verbatim' for winning Edmund Conti's Clerihew competition on Gazebo; and I received two free copies of the printed version of issue one of 'Contemporary Sonnet' because I had two sonnets included. The SMH and Journalspace booty was all splurged on poetry books, and the other items were poetry/linguistic in nature: so all rewards contributed (hopefully) to the propagation of future immortal verse by your humble & obedient. Good old Samuel Johnson!

Why do you find the blog total amazing? Do you mean this one or Domus Carataci? If the latter, bear in mind that it's been going since late '03. A lot of hits come from people searching for one item of the wide variety I've written about: the history/historiography seems to get lots in. Also, mentioning Sarah Beeny pulled in a few as this link shows:


10:46 am  
Blogger Didi Menendez said...

Bribes!! I just had a V8 moment. Why didn't I think of that!

Didi Menendez


10:01 pm  

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