1. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    Poetry Has Value

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Krishan, Jan 26, 2015.

    This is a fairly young, but already very interesting blog about poetry and publishing. The author has decided to only submit her poetry to markets that pay for accepted works for the whole of 2015. The blog is already populated with a number of interesting views on being paid for poetry, ranging from those who think that attempting to monetise poetry might be damaging, to those who will not offer their poetry for publication without monetary reward. There's also some interesting dialogue on why fiction is better paid than poetry.

    So far the discussion seems refreshingly balanced and civil. It's been an interesting read for me, and I'm sure some of you will enjoy it as well. I'd be interested to know what people think about the subject.
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Writers sometimes have to start out giving away their work. The more popular it becomes the more you can charge for it. This is true for a lot of products: music, video games, a blogger who goes on to write a news column.

    If someone will pay for your poetry, great, charge money. But it seems rather self defeating to declare you only want to share it with people willing to pay.

    There's a whole other argument of course, when it comes to people sharing on the Net without compensating the artists. But that's a different argument.
     
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  3. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I don't care if people get paid for poetry. The simple reason that fiction gets paid for more than poetry is that songs are the modern version of poetry. If you can write something that flows you might as well be able to put a tune to it too since you can record it and people can hear it. Before writing was the extent to which something could be distributed. Yeah, songs could be written down but a written song just isn't marketable to a very wide audience. Anyone can read or listen to something, but not everyone can play a song. I honestly think poetry is becoming obsolete, but it can always be argued its not obsolete just like it can be argued the hand-written letter, radio, and the telegram aren't obsolete.
     
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  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    But the next step in that argument would surely be that novels are obsolete because of film?
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've always believed that it's best to start with prestigious/well-known paying markets and work your way down. There are still plenty of good poetry magazines that pay well. The only issue is that poetry is becoming less and less popular. There are way more non-paying poetry magazines than paying ones. As far as the link is concerned, she's submitting to way too many contests. It's better to go for an actual publication because it probably won't cost you anything and getting published is more important than winning a contest (in most cases).
     
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  6. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I think the difference there is that the creation of novels and films are completely different. One person can write a novel, a team of people have to write a movie not to mention film and edit it. One person can write a song in much the same way one person writes a poem. In olden times, didn't people go around reciting poems much in the same way people go around now performing songs? For a hand-written letter, an email is better, same process but different medium. Podcasts are better than radio, everything is better than the telegram.
     
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  7. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    One of her posts mentions that she intends to ensure that she supports the markets to which she submits as much as possible with subscriptions, donations, etc. Perhaps entering competitions is an extension of this.
     
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  8. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Most poetry is garbage. That's my first thought. Most poetry is worthless shit. But the good stuff, the stuff that really resonates, is powerful and important. So important that through history poets have been jailed or killed for their work. And to cause that kind of impact is hard. Poetry is no longer commercial because people care more about entertainment than ideas, and poetry in general isn't entertaining. It also has a reputation of being elitist and pretentious, whereas it originated as being for the masses, because poetry was easy to remember. But poets today do often tend to be pretentious wankers (and I've won the poetry comp 6 times!). Also it's because modern consumers are so sick of reading piles and piles of worthless crap that they don't bother to find the gold.
     
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  9. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Poetry does, indeed, have value, the kicker being the writer's definition of value. There is an inherent satisfaction in being able to complete a story in an odd, stylized format. (And yes, I rank among the pretentious wankers in the aforementioned post...:rolleyes:).
     
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  10. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    Radio, telegram etc. are mediums, poetry is a form of art.
     
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  11. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    I'd say that modern consumers are actually sick of thinking and involving, which is what good poetry requires.
     
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  12. MattyDean
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    MattyDean Active Member

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    I'd simply ask the person in question, 'Why do you write?'
    I've always considered writing to be a personal experience that can ultimately be shared. I've had pieces that I consider "only for myself" (too personal to have meaning to an audience, intrinsic babble if you will) and decided not to share them.
    Any other piece that I think any other human will enjoy, I share. Because, what else are those words doing? What good have I done, otherwise?
    The value in a poem is what it has to offer others. As was mentioned, people have been jailed for sentiments within their poetry, and so the ability to move and shake the events of history are the values in such a medium.


    If you want your sole profession to be writing, if you want your vocational identity to be a legitimate "writer", poetry is probably going to be a harsh field, simply because as was mentioned, our generation's poets are our musicians.
    Poetry that the masses consume generally have a musical quality to them, and if the words have said rhythm, they tend to get noise laid down as a backdrop.

    I've been in contact with two prominent slam poets, ones who compete in national contests and do quite well, and neither of them make money from their poetry. One wrote a fictional book and had it published around last Christmas. The other is working on it. Both bartend.

    If she's the most amazing poet that this generation has come across, however, I imagine getting paid for it won't be an issue. I, no offense, don't imagine this is the case. And I've seen some really amazing poetry shared, so under these conditions, this idea seems grandiose, almost arrogant. It also seems overly capitalistic in a field that doesn't treat such an energy so favorably. That isn't to say that one shouldn't be rewarded for good work, but consider the analogous labor of trying to be known as a musician (or an actor, or a general artist in today's landscape):
    You bust your ass off playing free shows day and night. (musician/comedian/actor)
    You put your photographs in cafes and little self-ran galleries. (artist/photog/etc)
    You crank out demos (actor/musician)
    You do everything within your power to share your materials with the public, to get recognition.
    You need to prove your worth to the masses before they want to lay down hard-earned cash for the entertainment you're providing. You may think this is a new dynamic, but it is assuredly not.
    Artists have, since their inception, always struggled to gain "patronage". A patron was a highly valuable and scarce commodity, and you used to have to debase yourself in much more drastic ways in, say, the Renaissance.

    So, I think the general answer, considering, is to love what you do and hope others will love it, too. Keep at it and be as savvy as you can, market yourself and your product well, and keep churning out quality work. Eventually, if it's worth it, things will click. Or maybe they won't, considering some artists never make it. But then, at least you would have had some eyes to appreciate your work along the way.

    Just my opinion, though!
     
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  13. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    The comparison with an actor or a musician is a good one - certainly poets need to build up their profile and the value of their work before they can expect to earn money from it. However, I think the poet is not the only one who is responsible for defining the value of a poem.

    People in general are much more willing to spend money on a song than a collection of poems. Songs are more valued. But why is this? Why can't we value poetry more as a culture? The Poetry Has Value blog, I think, takes monetary compensation for poetry as a starting point for doing so.
     
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  14. MattyDean
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    MattyDean Active Member

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    Certainly a poet is not the only one responsible for defining the value of a poem. I tend to think once the writer has 'spent their load' (not a sexual analogy, gutterbrains, it's an allusion to spending all your ammunition!) in writing the piece, it almost has no value anymore because the general ache to create has been satiated. The next hunger is for relation, to share, to have impact upon an audience.
    Getting paid is a nice byproduct. But it's AN end to a means, it is not THE end.
    Artists deserve to get paid for the work they create, and people who enjoy art should pay for it. But consider your acceptance that music gets monetarized with greater frequency, and with more opulence and with more prestige involved- and then consider how many of this generation flat out refuse to pay for their music, altogether.
    Or consider how few pay to watch TV or film-
    We're a demanding generation of little fuckers who expect their entertainment for free. Partially because we're poor and still knocking about in our parents homes, partially because we're an incredibly disenfranchised lot who've given up on ideals of solidarity and community and live in little pools of stagnant isolation.
    We can't truly connect- and we don't even really want to. Youtube and buzzfeed and google this and app that have our attentions contented, and each of these mediums have loads of free content to offer. If you're not head-and-shoulders above that said competition for attention, you're going to get left in the dust.

    So you have people who just flat out don't have the room in the economy of their cognitive capacities, so stuffed-to-the-gills we've become with vocational expectation and then the bells-and-whistles of the other available free or cheap-as-balls entertainments there are out there.
    We've also mentally exhausted ourselves to a degree that we never have before. To sit down and use your eyes after ten hours of paper-pushing or office work or whatnot and then challenge yourself to make sense of a poem and find out what it means to you is much more taxing. People want Hardcore Pawn Stars of Duck Dynasty or The Jersey Shore after the day they had. And we artists can sometimes be blind to that notion because we simply live different lifestyles.

    This is why music is more popular nowadays- not only do you get poetry, but you get it delivered with musical accompaniment that illicits the emotion of the lyrics if done properly. It's digestible. It's enjoyable.
    (It is hard to monetize, though, take it from a guy who has been in about a dozen or so different types of bands)
    Art is hard to monetize. It always has been. The payoff can be huge, mediocre, or nonexistent.
    If you're simply an "equity actor", you're going to be giving away a lot of performances for "free" just hoping to get an awesome company (OSF/USF/East Coast shenanigans)
    I have a photographer friend who does sessions ("TFP" they call it) for free. You and the model both get *something* out of it, both model and photographer working for free, but the hope is the work is good enough to book paying gigs.
    Slam poets generally perform in coffee houses to dozens of half-attentive crowds (sometimes to only three people) in hopes to be considered one of the "greats", to be amazing, and to be recognized as such.

    The other thing you'll be missing is a connection to an audience. Feedback. What does and does not work. What people do and do not like. What resonates with the human character. Audience feedback is a poets best friend.
    You may not get paid for a poem right away, but you'll get better. And maybe one day great, amazing even.
    And people will know it.
    And that's, ladies and gents, when you get the denero.

    I'd imagine. I'm still trying to get some.
     
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  15. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Am i pretentious wanker then? I'm not saying my work is gold or anything but it's not about being smarter than other people. I would sure hate to have written almost 1,500 poems to just be considered a worthless writer.
     
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  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like it or not 99% of writers out there are, for all intents and purposes, considered worthless. Getting your knickers in a twist about it won't change anything.
     
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  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Not necessarily. It's not a blanket accusation. I think creating poetry for personal enjoyment is fine. But there are many who swan about playing the poet and all the romantic idealism of the creative artist that comes with it despite a severe lack in talent or merit. It's those people I mean.
     
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  18. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    You're getting more upset about this than i am. I'm not throwing a temper tantrum, just talking like an adult. I implemented my viewpoint and that was all.
     
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  19. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Personally I think we're all worthless writers until the world gives our work some value. But that's my own deeply cynical view on the merit of creating yet more poetry and books. Like we don't have enough good stuff already. I find my own writing to be so pointless in the grand scheme of the world, which doesn't need it or has asked for it, that I can reduce it to nothing more than personal enjoyment and satisfaction.
     
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  20. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I have bigger hopes for my work but i don't except it to be overnight if it ever does happen. Sometimes i hate my work but i come back to it and improve it,thus not hating it as much. I'm no Hemingway or Angelou, but it would be nice to be noticed like them some day.
     
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  21. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    There are a few who write for the sheer need to give voice to an idea. I rank among the talentless hacks, but am possessed of that screaming need to give my projects form. Poetry is one of the unfortunate mediums I've found to convey my ideas.

    I will never make a dime off a single word, I never intend to, but knowing that I was able to complete my project that is priceless beyond measure. The screaming stills and for a moment there is silence, a deep peace. The words are a waste of time and space, unfit for utterance, but they are no longer howling for a physical incarnation.

    It is a footprint left in the sand, warped and fading, laughable in its futility, but it has the merit of having been tried. It is about the soul, the fire in the gut and heart. It is winning the battle of the words and within one's self, of seeing something through to completion. That counts for a lot.

    The value of a poem is, and should be, determined by the poet not the masses. They were not in the head of the writer as they sought to create their piece. How can they know of the emotions elicted, the struggles, or lack thereof, the writer experienced during the writing process. How can they determine the visceral imagery that was flashing through the writer's mind? How will a reader's journey compare to that of the writer's? This is the legacy of imagination, the one thing that makes us so very human. How can any one put a price on that?
     
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  22. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    You? A talentless hack? I've read your work and it puts mine to shame. Nothing wrong with that of course, but you've won so many for a very good reason. Poetry is priceless but it would be grand to earn a living off of it since it's so fun. But i know i must enter other forms of literature and publish it before that possibility becomes relevant.
     
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