Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I was wondering what folk thought about poems on blogs and whether they consider it to be 'publication'. As readers of this blog know when I write a poem I put it on the blog for a few days and then take it down. For me it acts as a kind of workshop, it helps me see my work more objectively when it's been put out to public view. As far as I'm aware most poetry editors accept this and don't consider it to be publication. In fact there are certain on-line workshops that still have in their archives the early drafts of many poems that are now published in some very good collections and chapbooks. I was just wondering what others thought about this.

11 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

I'm probably the worst person to comment on this! I put everything on my website no matter how this will affect my 'chances' with magazines (print or online). Why? Because I'm tapped? Possibly but mainly because it's my site, because they're my poems, because the internet IS different to print publishing, because I'm not much of a fan of this whole exclusivity thing (so because your poem has been in one little magazine that 3 relatives have seen or an online bathmat it's considered published).

There is so much in poetry about playing by rules (each magazine's rules, each editor's rules...). It's like being in school all over again!

See - told you I was the worst person to comment. I'll leave now and the rest of you can have a grown-up conversation. Sorry.

Sorlil said...

I think webzine publishing is still seen as inferior to print publishing but I also think this is changing or has to change.
It seems reasonable that an editor won't want to publish a poem that's freely available on a website, who'd bother to buy the magazine?

Rachel Fox said...

I know that is part of the argument but it just doesn't seem accurate. There are SO many websites...you could sit surfing all day for the rest of your life and you wouldn't get near seeing a tiny fraction of it all. Is the fact that a poem is out there somewhere on the web (along with millions of others) going to put someone off buying a magazine that they are interested in? Really? It wouldn't put me off, for sure. People buy poetry magazines...why? Because they like the magazine/what it represents/what it chooses/how it looks, because their friends run it, because they (or their friends) are in it, because they might want to send a poem to it at some point, because they're browsing. For me none of these buyers/readers would be upset by a pre-published-online poem. Who among them would throw down the magazine appalled and cry 'but that's outrageous...I saw that poem last year on the poet's own website...I've been had!'

I think it's just a self-perpetuating myth type thing and it makes editors (of quite small fry) feel grand ('we're exclusive, we are'). They've every right to enjoy the grandeur but I'm afraid...I should have left this post alone!

Sorlil said...

I agree with you when it comes to poetry collections, as you said all of your poems are available on your website but I still bought the book.

When I buy a magazine I want to read the latest poems available by poets I admire, if all the poems were all available on websites I wouldn't buy the magazine, I find poetry magazines generally pretty expensive.

Though I sense your problem is more to do with poetry magazines per se?!

Rachel Fox said...

No...you'd be surprised! I do buy some magazines (print and in other formats) and I do have ones I like. It's just that I also like being able to have all my poems on my site for folk to read (especially as quite a lot of the people who read my stuff on the site are people who are very unlikely to be in the market for a poetry magazine...for many reasons). I don't like having to choose (a) or (b) and I find that there are magazines who won't make you choose and who are quite happy to publish poems that are also available to read on a website. It seems the way forward to me. And anyway what's the alternative...? Each magazine employing a private eye to check up poets' websites and beyond ('we can't possibly publish this - it was copied out onto a toilet wall in Arbroath last year'). And now I'm being silly again and the bathroom won't clean itself. Sorry again.
x

Sorlil said...

lol, fair enough! I've got to clean the bathroom as well, bah! is it just me or are other poetry writers crap at keeping up with the housework?

swiss said...

i agree with almost everything rachel says to the point i think i may have to go and copy out one of her poems onto a toilet wall in arbroath!

as for poetry magazines. do people really buy them? of course not, just like they don't buy poetry! at least in scotland. when i was in helsinki the english language poetry section was better than any bookstore i've seen here in years. and that's before i got to the translation section....

An Honest Man said...

Swiss - the only problem might be finding an open toilet in Arbroath!!!

swiss said...

now we're talking a challenge! i'm visualising a befuddled squaddie lurching in and finding something rather differnt as reading material!

Jim Murdoch said...

My main thought on publication is whether a) there's a charge for the end product and/or b) has there been a third-party involved, i.e. an editor? On a blog there is neither. I can post any old tripe I like. However the poems and stories I have had appear in magazines have had to get by a selection process. And the same goes for my novels, my wife is my editor and she doesn't miss me and hit the wall when she gets stuck into my writing. The piece she has just finished for me came back with the rejoinder: sloppy writing - tighten it up.

Now, if someone sets up a website where you can download electronic chapbooks for free then that is published. I think it's all to do with the format. I have a handful of poems on my webiste and three stories but they're examples of my writing, they're not published. There are people who use the mechanics of the blog to publish a magazine, e.g. Ink, Sweat and Tears but then all you have to look at presentation. Your blog is a journal where you present your work to the world for feedback as do many. It is has not been published.

Ultimately if a magazine says they won't accept anything that has appeared on a blog then that's their prerogative and there's no point arguing with them.

Sorlil said...

I pretty much agree with what you say here, jim.