Thursday, September 06, 2007

Print vs Pixels

I have a very high regard for the poetry of Mark Allinson, and remarked to him in an email that I believe his poetry should be more widely circulated. His reply included the following observations, which raise an issue that I know is of concern to some poets who have expressed a reluctance to submit work to internet poetry magazines, maintaining their own preference for print venues.
Paul, as you know, the present poetry world is very small. Compared with the world of prose, it is in the nanosphere.

So when you say "more widely circulated", that seems to me to mean that I should be trying to get my stuff into paper mags with circulations of 1500 or less!

Even the great POETRY (where I don't submit) has a circulation of only 30,000.

Whereas, in an e-mag, like our beloved SCR, my work has the potential to be read online by BILLIONS—yes, I know that is only potential—but still!

If we want to interest readers in poetry, especially formal poetry, why not use the most readable, accessible medium the world has yet seen?

Publishing in the small "prestigious" mags is merely parading before one's peers (and their immediate families)—if ordinary readers read them, their print-runs would be 10 times their present size.

(Poetry by Mark here, here, here, here, here and here.)


Blogger RHE said...

We all know who reads little magazines: the poets whose work appears in them, their closest friends, their mothers, and, if they are professors, their students, who know they will profit by making it known that they've read Teacher's poems. Whatever the potential of online publications (and, after all, Vladimir Putin and Justin Timberlake could be reading The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh Literary Gallimaufry), is there any reason to believe it's different for them? If so, I haven't seen the evidence. Must be one of those faith in the evidence of things unseen thingies.


9:46 am  
Blogger Caratacus said...

Mark did say 'an e-mag, like our beloved SCR... has the potential to be read online by BILLIONS—yes, I know that is only potential—but still!' I think there is a specific point there about difference between the potential circulation of a physical print magazine compared to the potential circulation of an ezine: for which latter there is in theory at least possibly billions.


9:59 am  
Blogger RHE said...

In theory the Ghost of Samuel Johnson waits by his spectral mailbox for each issue of the Tucumcari Tattler, desperate to see if I have a new poem in it.


10:15 am  
Blogger Caratacus said...

The Tucumcari Tattler has a subscription list of billions?

Richard, we are talking relative potentials here: theoretical, yes—but perhaps apropos when addressing the dismissal by some of electronic publication as a valid or viable alternative to print. The reality is that neither medium is currently more than a tiny puddle compared to the ocean of prose.


10:42 am  

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