Happy Super Tuesday Everybody!
The Future Of Poetry/Poetry Of The Future: markets, contests, DIY, constraints, and Amino Acids
Just what do poets think their doing?
It seems to be two things.
(1) Poets get recognition and publication by propelling their manuscripts through a competitive arena. The manuscripts run a gauntlet of readers who test each manuscript’s mettle, discarding or selecting until one manuscript emerges triumphant, i.e., published. Sometimes more than one ms. is published, sometimes one wins and others are *considered* for publication. But within these parameters the general structure holds. You throw your work into the arena, it battles all other manuscripts, and either receives the pollice verso or a wreath of laurels.
We’ll call this the agonistic path to publication.
(2) The poet chooses to publish her own work or has her work published in a non-competitive fashion. Non-competitive selection operates in a number of ways, friends, admirers, favors owed, blackmail, etc.
This is known as, broadly speaking, Do It Yourself (DIY) publication.
As with all things in the bipolar poetry world, there are those virulently against the agonistic path to publication and those equally disdainful of DIY publication. Both sides usually hang their berets on either argumentum ad antiquitatem or argumentum ad verecundiam.
If I had to reduce the argument of DIYers against competitions, it would be that they enforce the status quo, homogenization, and are the dog shows and beauty pageants of the lit’r’y world.
As for arguments against DIY, they seem to be, well:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
But of course and mostly all writing about the poetrywelt trucks in one rhetorical practice or another, from argumentum ad novitatem in which someone claims that an idea or particular way of writing is superior because it is new and modern to the genetic fallacy, all because of the lack of a rigorous and empirical basis for assessing a poem’s quality (*sigh*).
Which brings us to amino acids.
In 2003, scientists from Icon Genetics, a German biotechnology company, engineered the plant Arabidopsis thaliana to contain a line from Virgil’s “Georgics,” with the meaning “Neither can every soil bear every fruit.”
And what does this portend? Tune in next Tuesday for the next installment of The Future Of Poetry/Poetry Of The Future.
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The accommodations this year were a bit less luxurious than previous conferences.
But the bustle of the surrounding area more than made up for that.
There were several groundbreaking papers presented, from recent sociometric techniques in identifying symptoms of Post Associated Writing Programs Conference Traumatic Syndrome (PAWPTS) to the results of clinical trials on the use of pseudo-lobotomological techniques in alleviating severe Conference Withdrawal. Because of the nature of Post-AWPC related illnesses, which combine the trauma of surviving an automatic weapon firefight with the brainwashing inculcations of a cult, they have been particularly resistant to normal methods of treatment and recovery. Bifurcated techniques that address each aspect of this dual nature separately have had only sporadic success. There is also the threat of “resistant” strains of AWPCosis arising from inadequate and inconsistent treatments discontinued before the full course of treatment has been given.
The Association of Associated Writing Programs Conference Deprogrammers will be setting up a hotline for this year's AWP Conference Attendees who return home to ridicule and misunderstanding feeling they've reached the end of their line. That number should be up in a few days.
We have done much, there is much yet left for us to do.