Sunday, May 21, 2006

This is an interesting article.

The term “online poetry” seems somehow a misnomer, though. I think, at least in my case, and probably most other folks, the poems they write aren’t particularly geared toward online venues anymore than they are toward print. The poem is just a poem when it's hatched, barring of course things that depend on the internet specifically as a medium---hypertext, new media, certain types of vispo. And yet in the last year or so, I have to admit I publish and submit work, probably in a ratio of about 5 to 1 in favor of online publications. At one time I did so almost exclusively, though this was a financial thing at the time (I couldn’t afford all those SASE’s.)

Your everyday poem could probably appear in either medium. I think it’s a question of how you want to distribute the work. While I like a nice little sexy and slick print journal as much as the next girl, there are a few hard facts I have to face when seeking publication in them, mostly circulation limitations (even with something as big as Poetry or The Paris Review) and the cost. If someone is interested in getting a copy a.) they have to find it (though the internet makes this much easier these days than fifteen or so years ago.) and b.) they have to be willing to pay to play. With electronic journals, there may still be the problem of getting the word out, but your readership is unlimited and free once you do. Though, I do like to ideally hold things in my hand to read them, something solid and not in need of electricity, I still read much more poetry online simply because I spend a lot of time in front of computers both at work and at home. Sometimes I think the age of the literary periodical as we know it, as a way to distribute individual poems, may be transforming, and perhaps we’re moving toward something else, not simply magazines as a way to distribute poems, since that can be done via the internet much more cheaply and effectively, but maybe moving in the direction of more journals as book arts—unusual publications like Cannibal and Forklift, OH.

I’ve also found in most cases, with a few print exceptions with unusually fast turn-around rates, publishing poems online is much more efficient, both in terms of the ease of e-mail submissions, fast acceptances/rejections, smaller slushpiles (at least at Wicked Alice this is the case), shorter lead time on issues, greater immediacy. When I send something to an online journal, I can probably safely feel that at least one editor will at least open the message and probably read it(which at some big print journals with screeners, that may never happen.)

Since when I submit, I tend to think of poems in journals as little ways of getting my name out there and leading people back to my work as a whole, the website, the chapbooks, etc, I feel I get a little more bang for my buck. I mean it’s cool to be a part of something among other poets, but it mostly boils down to the entirely selfish and publicity-whorish reasons.** I’m not so much interested in the glory of landing fancy publication credits anymore and winning prizes for their own sake , although I am aware those fancy credits and prizes are sadly part of the equation, too. Generating interest in your work. The more interest=more readers.

Since I don't really simultaneously submit as a rule, I do find myself becoming a bit more selective about which print journals I submit to, ones that I can’t help but try to be a part of because of what they publish is exactly what I’m trying to do, or the design of the journal, (I’m a whore for nice cover art). Or local publications that are more community oriented. Of course they’re still apt to reject me just as readily, but at least my SASE, or having work tied up for months in limbo, seems worth it.

**Of course, I'm aware that I make poetry sound like selling used cars or insurance, though it's more like getting radio play, I imagine. It doesn't have much to do with the actual art, this business side of things, what I create or how I create it, but what happens afterwards with the finished product. I suppose it's a necessary evil depending on how you see it.

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