As I was admiring my poems in those two latest issues below (yes, I like my poems, so shoot me), I started thinking about the whole online vs. print debate I’ve talked about before, riled about, bitched about. It’s coming down to this lately--I think I simply like submitting things to online journals, even when they’re rejected. The response time, and lead time to the issue, is much faster, more immediate. I can say, “hey, here’s my poem-read it.. (of course you can say “shut the hell up, you suck” and choose not to.) My point is that I’ve really gotten tired of six to sixteen month response times, and worse, increasing numbers on just non-responsive editors. But still I like chunky little journals, nice paper, perfect binding (or even lovely little DIY missives like Hot Whiskey). At some point I started shying away from that whole academic complex of journals...the ones I’m told I’m supposed to want to get into. The ones which wouldn’t publish me most likely given I’m not swimming with the right sharks, teaching/went to school in the right place, or writing the right sorts of poems, you know, like the ones they already publish. This may sound like bitter boo-whooing, but it’s more than that. I have stumbled somehow into a couple more academic journals over the last couple of years; CPR, of course, which always pretty good, and hardly exactly your status quo academic journal, and Spoon River, which feel a little more homegrown, but maybe only since it’s published in Illinois and things that seem local aren‘t quite so intimidating. I'v submitted to others like Kenyon Review, Jubilat, Field, Smartish Paceat least once, a couple years ago in an ambition fueled frenzy, not really because I’d read much of or liked the journals all that well, but because I was told that’s where I was supposed to be. But it wasn’t. I don’t read those journals. I can’t really afford to, nor inclined to. And I’m not sure I want to spend so much time combing through the drek to uncover the good stuff. I've gleaned that the publish-or-perish climate leads to alot of mediocrity and cronyism to sustain itself. Sort of like snake eating itself thing. I wonder how many people DO read them, regularly, religiously, not because they’re trying to get published but because they enjoy it. Eventually all those poems I submitted to those places wound up online (or in other, cool, indie publications, which I’ll touch on in a second). And I felt stupid for not having sent them to the editors who would have appreciated them first, the people who I’ve gotten a lot of support and encouragement from. Not some cool ivory tower bitch whose completely indifferent to my existence, just because that was what I was supposed to do. Fuck it.
And maybe this isn’t a print vs. online discussion at all, since in the last few years I’ve stumbled across a host of awesome, non-university tied/funded, publications--many of which can be found over there in the sidebar, and many of which I’m stoked to have work in, and oddly seem to be read by more people than the heavyweights. It might be just a blog thing..but that‘s cool. I definitely hear more people talking about the latest issue of The Tiny or Pebble Lake Review (I’m totally biased since I have poems forthcoming in both) than I ever do the so-called biggies. I wish there were more of these sorts of journals to satisfy my occasional lust for paper over pixels…
Then there’s the web.., where there’s a lot of good stuff being published, and better yet, it’s free, accessible, like a broadside handed out on every corner, everywhere in the world. I’m thinking especially as I start sending out all this newer work, the girl show poems mostly, I’m sticking to the web, mostly with a few exceptions of little mag print faves. But I’m not going to be clamoring for that bottom rung on the level to poetry stardom, whatever that is, if it exists at all. What matter is finding readers, and I really don’t think mine are there anywhere on that ladder.
When I used to publish more on the web, when that was pretty much the ONLY place I published since I couldn’t afford all those SASE’s , people were so nice. You’d get a lot of support for your work from editors, and even occasional fan mail. A certain instantaneousness of response. I myself am much quicker to offer feedback with an e-mail link than having to write a letter, address it, stamp it, etc. The web poetry world seemed smaller, though ironically, it was much bigger. I had a feeling people were reading my work, responding to it. (Maybe it was all in my head..) I like that. That’s what keeps me working--not sending things off into the abyss to maybe have them shoved into an SASE two years later with a generic “sorry“, when the poems so old and you've moved on to something else.