NORMAN OLSON : a rant on the subject of poetry publishing
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He never said white horse, she heard the deep melodious South, felt the blue gaze piercing, was pierced lay down in the long, soft grass, opened her lips, let her body rise under his hands, gave up everything, fell into the dream where one, two, three, they crashed out the hole where his seed went in, she called out his name. In due time, the story goes, they grew accomplished, left. There really was a white horse … the father rode above the fray by day by night, lifted her out the casement they flew her blue nightgown billowing her thighs burning for him. Autumn came, as autumn does. The horse went lame, the man dismounted, tired and ill. She held his spotted hand, carried him over the sorrows, light as bone. She folded the blue night gown, shot the horse.
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a rant on the subject of poetry publishing
all of us who write poetry know that nobody reads it… poets publish poetry, get a free copy of the journal in the mail or more commonly nowadays, get to see their work blinking upon the flat screen of their computer… and that is publishing poetry in journals… the poets scan through the journals to see their own work in print and then get the next submission ready to go…

the submission process has gotten to be purely mechanical in that even the most prestigious journals now accept only electronic submissions so, you send an e-mail with your poems off into cyberspace and get a form letter back from cyberspace, usually rejecting but sometimes accepting your poems… either way, the process can be so entirely impersonal, that you feel that not only has nobody read the piece but that the whole process is communication with a robot… I suppose that some grad student someplace took a glance at the submission to Crazyhorse but it still is a really really impersonal process… but then in the greater sense, the whole thing is such a monumental exercise in futility that it leaves me beating my head against the wall… do people want or need poetry of any kind? hell no, they want Survivor on television or basketball… they want porn shots on the computer… (usually horribly unsexy photos of bored prostitutes with breasts inflated like basketballs being fucked by pistoning viagra cocks with about as much love and tenderness as a poetry submission…) and Kim Kardashian or some other Hollywood bimbo driving up to her mansion in a fancy car… people in America want political bullshit, junk food and gas guzzling cars… well, I am not sure what they want but they don’t want poetry… or if they do want it, they don’t want it enough to pay for it…

. the closest we come to poetry is the jingle fest of pop music, which is sort of “poetry light…” although some of the songs do have some intellectual substance, the majority are just catchy beats and courtship background noise, i. e. love songs… or country music which is mostly patriotic tripe about how the Iraqis caused 911 or how great it is to be a gomer in a pickup truck… well, in some degree, we, the poets, are responsible for this sad state of affairs… the poetry we write and publish tends to be obsessively introspective or painfully confessional and often enough precious and banal at the same time… the mode is prose broken into lines and in the best of the poetry, there are striking images and turns of phrase buried in the obscure prosy word run… so, in short, much of the poetry that I see published is so lame that it barely deserves to be read and the poet writing drivel can hardly complain that the audience is a bit sparse…

do I have a solution to the problem of poetry or a prescription of how poetry should be written so that it would appeal to a broader audience and become more than a cultural afterthought? well, no, not really… to me, my poetry seems great and compelling, and frankly, I can’t imagine why people are not flocking to the book store and demanding volume after volume of my verse… but, see artists of every kind are very self centered and concerned with their own art to the exclusion of almost everything else, a bunch of ego maniacs actually in my experience… but not in fact the best judges of the actual merit of their own work… but, dear poet, just because you think your shit does not stink, you should not be surprised when you get a complaint for making a pile in the middle of the living room… so, the journals limp on and a few of us who are amused by the stringing together of words in ways that we find interesting, call ourselves “poets” and keep the whole house of cards propped up… I guess we can do any kind of foolishness we have a mind to because writing poetry does not really hurt anybody and publishing it in some on line venue that receives 5 hits a year, is about as harmless as navel lint picking… but really, if you are a poet, please try to give your ego a reality check… your poetry is probably not all that great, and even if it is of a quality to rival Shakespeare, it will never make you either rich or famous… except in your own eyes… even if you do make it onto the pages of Crazyhorse or Poetry…

the other end of poetry publishing is book publishing… most poetry books are published by University presses and so, not surprisingly, the best way to get a poetry book published is to be on the faculty of the creative writing program at a university… the press may invite you to submit your book length poetry ms to them, knowing that your peers will assign your book to be read by their creative writing students, guaranteeing sales of a few hundred copies and maybe even making the press some money…

the other way that poetry book publishers make money is by contests that they have for first books of poetry… usually, you enter these contests by sending a manuscript and a “reading fee” of like $15 to $25…. they then pick out the “best” ms and publish it… again, it is best if you are a professor so that your peers will assign the book to their students etc. etc… but the press puts the $25 in their bank account whether they select your manuscript or not… most professors have money for professional development at their university, so they do not have to pay these fees out of their own pocket… and if you enter often enough, presumably sooner or later, you will get a book published… however, a hundred entries at $25 each is $2500 which is enough to self publish a few hundred copies of your ms on heavy stock paper with a nice embossed cover, so it is obviously the prestige of having an editor or jury select you that drives people to submit to these contests… well that and the fact that the professors have to publish books to keep their jobs and for them, self publishing does not count…

well, I never enter the poetry contests… I feel that being not affiliated with a university, I am a long shot to be accepted in the first place and in the second place, the money would have to come straight out of my not very deep pockets… thirdly, I don’t need to have a book published to keep my job (I am retired and do not have or want a job)… and fourthly, well, I just frankly caOoot stand the idea that my poetry is so bad that I have to pay somebody to read it… if it is that fucking lame, why on earth would I want it to be published in a book…

so, I publish poems in the journals when they will have one and self publish a few chapbooks that I give away to anybody who caOoot live without owning a collection of my poems… god knows why I keep writing poetry but, historically, I wrote and submitted poetry from 1967 to 1984 without a single acceptance, so I guess that I am a bit compulsive about writing and submitting poetry… which is better I guess than having a compulsive need to eat Big Macs, for example… which would have me by now weighing 500 pounds, or a compulsive taste for heroin which would have rendered me more or less dead, many years ago…. one does not o-d on poetry submissions or even on rejections… in fact, over all these many years of submitting and being rejected (with nowadays maybe one in 20 poems accepted) is that I am no longer hurt by rejection… my only reaction is an angry “fucking idiots” as I toss the rejection slip in among the orange peels and coffee grounds, or more commonly these days, hit “delete…” and well, actually, it has come to be my opinion that most of my fellow citizens and not just poetry editors, are fucking idiots -- take a look at the evening news if you don’t believe me, or read a newspaper -- quickly before the newspapers too like print books and journals are finally flushed down the sewer of illiteracy and televised computer ignorance that passes for rational discourse and/or art in contemporary America…

Poetry endangers the established order  of the soul - Plato

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01.04:039 Ask them to return, Cousins, children to one father are we Ask them to return, praying thinly Whispering the earthbound sounds, beg Them to come back. A day shall come when Words of prayer will be cherished, whispered Loudly called againe to come, Return to the mountains, houses, fields, Engulfing voices calling to return, And none but screams shall be their boundaries Nor shall the sea be their last hold, its Waves still silencing the voices shouting To return, shackled, chains of soldiers Marching into brithers' wars on fathers' Earth that swallow all. Beloved lands were called by men and women not to run, Do not run too fast, don't rush, the place id burning, And my mother's voice like tuOoels calling back her cubs Into her flameless earth, becoming Burning ashes, While winds go round themselves and silence's scepter Is upon us, and till we freeze where called upon Inside the circle And we die Encircled Like Philistines in temples Beloved lands to say.
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You Take Advantage of My Good Mood TOP  Feet ©  GAIL RUDD ENTREKIN  . Gail Rudd Entrekin has an M.A. in English Literature from Ohio State University and has taught poetry and English literature at California colleges for 25 years. JH-With detailed images an omniscient narrator supports two unknown 'figures' and gives them life. A lesser poet would fear such lifegiving force.
Roots] BTM  Roots ©  YEHIEL HAZAK  . Born 1936 in Kibbutz Afiqim, Jordan valley, near the town of Tiberia, on lake KiOoeret - Yehiel Hazak has published over a dozen volumes in Hebrew, poetry distinguishable with the "Israeli native" elements, and has been translated into English. He teaches Hebrew literature at a college in Tel Aviv area.