Thursday, March 18, 2010

Poetry Market Crash

I have a lot of sadness regarding the internets lately. And because of it I am going to write a cranky post that is actually about writing and not about celebrities, which I will probably later regret.

Today I would like to blame the internets for everything mentioned in the article, "The New Math of Poetry," which everyone has probably already read except for me because I have been trying to avoid the internets as much as possible, out of sadness.

This article basically says how everyone on the planet, including my cats, can now a) have their work published in journals and b) have a book out because there are so many journals and presses. It also says that way more people are writing and publishing books than are actually reading them. It's sort of like the credit market crash: every writer gets offered a book just like every financially defunct human (including myself) could get a credit card in 2005. The result being that there's a glut of sucky books out there, and an excess of writers who think they're famous even though no one is actually reading their books - there are just all of these books floating around out there unread! And allegedly good books aren't being read either, because there's so much clutter that nobody even knows what's good anymore - because they can't find it.

I have wondered about this for a long time - especially lately with the excess of online "journals." Do we really need more journals? And why does every writer feel entitled to start one? Well, now someone else has said it, in this unnecessarily long and overwhelming article that has confirmed my suspicions that the internet is just a gross place where people create press for themselves, regardless of the quality of their work. Then we "network" by telling other people about our press (which we actually created ourselves) and they publish our books, even though really our press (and maybe our work) is bullshit.

Of course I'm all for there being more good books in the world, and that's why I like little presses, which is not what this article talks about at all - all the little presses that create books that are beautiful and strange and that I love. So of course there's this cuter and fluffier and more positive flipside.

Really this is just another example of me being cranky about living now instead of in the woods near Walden Pond...


Anonymous said...

i'm with you. it's totally depressing.

just yesterday i saw a resume from someone who had this huge list of creative writing credits on a press i'd never heard of. turns out it was his own press. but i had to, like, research to find that out.

the internet is stupid.

Megan said...

glad i could start your day off on a positive note! hail the internets! i almost took this post down last night because it's so complain-y. i can't wait to start my garden and be outside all day like a pioneer and write among the vegetables!

Anonymous said...

if you can't complain on the internets, then where can you complain?

Kathryn said...

i guess there are more "terrible" books flying around, but there are also "strange, good" books that would never have been published if it hadn't been for small presses and the internet, yes? democracy has its flaws but isn't it better than authoritarianism? am i completely wrong.

i don't know, whatever, i'm going to take a nap.

i am excited for you to write among your vegetables.

Megan said...

yes, democracy is better, of course. so many books couldn't exist without tiny presses. i love small presses.

i just hate all the fake press that's so easily created because of the internet, and how everyone is constantly marketing themselves (and also the feeling that you have to market yourself). all the schmoozing that used to happen at literary cocktail parties is so public, now, when i want it to be invisible and not know about it so i can remain in denial about how so many (but of course not all!) books come to exist.

one of my colleagues (ha, i hate that word) said it best the other day: "if my chapbook is the only thing i ever publish, at least it was published on its own merit."

Anonymous said...

marketing is the worst. i feel sick every day because i think about things i should be doing and then i don't do them.

G. F said...

We shall use the books of the unworthy to make fish tank stands out of, stacking them with the titles showing we photograph them and send them to the authors from which they came as christmas cards.

G. F said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matthew savoca said...

i'm happy i read this post
i hate the internet so much. i say so at least once every day. i want to live in the woods near walden pond too. i like gardens. want to start an ecovillage with me?