Monday, October 23, 2006

Publishing Blues

It is a curious fact that my own poetry will see print in Russia, and possibly Argentina, before it will in America. Of course, the reasons for this are obvious --I haven't submitted anything in the states. When asked why I don't submit I kind of mumble around the question. I think the question "Does anyone need pay for my writing?" has something to do with it.

Also, when I worked as a stacks jockey at a university library I had my favorite, and least, favorite sections. One of my least favorite was the PR section. Sure it started innocent enough with some Chaucer and Shakespeare criticism, moving smoothly onto Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, but it ended in the Canadian literature section --a stacker’s worst nightmare. There was no free space on the shelves. This created a disarray of small paperbacks, which were placed horizontally on top of other books, strewn on the ground, or simply put on adjacent shelves. There was a lack of space, and every time I shelved the end of the PR's there were always new books that were magically supposed to fit on the crowded shelves. And what were these books? Many of them were poetry collection put out by small presses. Conceptual poetry with clever covers, books dedicated to Egon Schiele paintings, a Sahara village's struggle against the encroaching desert, a hip coming of age story that bridged the gap between...

The experience of the PR's made me think twice about publishing. Now this isn't to say that I'm a potential Kafka keeping his talents from the world because of post-library stress syndrome, but I wonder if there are great writers out there not publishing for this reason. Maybe a 23 year old Joyce is pushing americanos thinking "better this than the stacks."

Here is a novel about the workshop:

And Richard Foreman's blog: