Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Someone Else with Hope

The posts may be a bit light if at all existant for the rest of this week given the holiday, but we're posting them fast and furious in the run up...

This is a quickie.

I wanted to post a link to Daniel Pritchard's post over at The Wooden Spoon about poetry. We of course did our small, small part - with Dan Gordinier's help - to encourage the reading of poetry, but Pritchard is must more knowledgeable than me and perhaps more invested.

In this post, Pritchard refers to comments by Ron Silliman on a year-end round-up at the Poetry Foundation blog, in which Silliman expresses his thoughts on where poetry stands in the current publishing landscape. Silliman is hopeful because small publishers can reach readers directly, but Pritchard in response complicates that sentiment in a useful way:

Poetry publishing has always been pretty niche. The changes are not so huge as to remove cultural authority altogether and make it so any random DIY-er chapbook publisher will thrive — someone with authority still needs to sign off on most things to convince readers to pick it up (hence, for instance, blurbs). And, as I've written here before, the fact of (almost) universal availability is not a sign of utopian egalitarianism; it's just a now-irrelevant a holdover from print. The internet is an amazing tool for making poetry available. Everything is equally available; that in itself is unremarkable.

But Pritchard, too, has hope:

Readers are getting savvier about the internet. Critics are beginning to engage more, to quote more, to take advantage of the resources of internet publishing instead of bemoaning the end of print. Authority can be re-constructed, with patience, over time, by helping readers make their own decisions through reasonable argument and justification. There is a new model emerging based on the quality of the writing and the criticism rather than monied interests. (I think of Reginald Shepherd, whose blogging introduced him to a whole audience.) That is what gives me hope for poetry.

So as we head into a whole new year, let's see if we can shore up some optimism, ignore endless Q&A's with Jeff Bezos about the wonders of the friggin' Kindle, and get good writing in front of eager readers.... preferably on a page rather than a screen.

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