Monday, June 06, 2011

Non-contest poetry book publishers and the paradigm

Sparked by the Poets and Writers article on contests, and Anis Shivani's article in the Huffington Post, the debate about whether contests are good for poetry flares up high again. We seem to be locked into the contest paradigm, and yet the natives are restless, at least some of them are. Marginalization, as always, creates resistance, rebellion, and ultimately revolution. I am speaking metaphorically, of course, but I do think the anti-contest sentiment is building, even among poets who have supported it in the past. Just a quick look at the numbers reveals why: those who need to publish poetry books are too numerous for the number of contest wins available -- by far.

So what new model of poetry publishing can be developed, given the cultural marginalization of the art? I've felt for a long time that e-publishing, which is changing the landscape of prose publishing very quickly, will exert a similar transformative effect on po-biz. Perhaps a little more emphasis on biz -- on how to attract audiences and book buyers -- would help.