Small Press Poetry Rant
To all you starry eyed poet dreamers out there wake the fuck up...just for a few minutes. The RC man has a reality injection he needs to tap into your spinal chord.
The MAJOR PUBLISHERS AND PRESSES
do not give a damn about your poetry.!! It isn't profitable. Why isn't it profitable? When was the last damn time you laid down your hard earned cash for a poetry book that wasn't part of some limp dicked college course?
Everybody is a fucking poet! Everybody wants to be a published poet. Oh how special! We have these damn egos that tell us we need an audience. But we sure as hell don't want to be anyone elses audience. So we have billions of poets wanting to publish, and like 10 people actually buying poetry books and journals. My hand goes out to those 10 people.
Bottom line is...YOUR CHANCES ARE ZERO MAKING IT TO A MAJOR PUBLISHER
. But hey, screw the Major publishers. Walt Whitman didn't need them. Hell, Walt Whitman is a perfect example of self small press publishing. Can you tell me of ANY poet of ANY merit that had to depend solely on the Major publishers? Sorry there are none.
Why? Because through out the history of poetry the SMALL PRESS
has always been and always will be the refuge for poets. The small press breaks new poets and provides the poet with support...be it financial or emotional...and provides an audience.
So who the hell is the SMALL PRESS
? The SMALL PRESS
is a handful of dedicated people who actually value poetry more than paying their bills. These are people who stay up into the wee hours of the morning cutting and pasting and typing your WORDS
. These are people who actually believe poetry does matter and does have a place in our culture. Without people like this YOU HAVE NO AUDIENCE
! Your poetry sits in a drawer and collects dust. Without people like this there are no Whitman's...no Blake's...no Eliot's... no Ginsberg's...no Bukowski's...no one period!
publishers are not in it for the money. If they were, they would be better off working as waitresses and busboys at Denny's...and some of them do!! These folks rarely see a dime of profit...and god forbid they do...they dump it right back into their journal or maybe publish YOUR
Now the reality check! Who is going to read small press poetry if you don't. If you are not interested enough to read poetry why the hell should anyone be interested in reading you? Why should a small press publisher putting out a journal with their own money even consider publishing you if you are too cheap or lazy to even read the journal you are submitting too? THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD COULD GIVE FUCK ONE ABOUT POETRY!
And why should they? Most poets sit around in cliques stroking their egos.
As a poet you have a responsibility to yourself to stay up on the latest poetry. If you don't enjoy reading other poets then why the hell do you enjoy writing it? Do you live in a vaccuum? If you do then chances are high your poetry sucks! Hell I didn't even begin to resemble a poet until I started reading what current poets were up to. Small press poets and journals gave me a context for my words!
So what is all this ranting about? Well maybe I have drunk too much Yukon Jack. Maybe I am a bitter poet. Or maybe I am pissed off at seeing small presses continually fold because the poets they publish and support refuse to return the favor. I am not asking you to support every small press journal out there. But damn...support a few you like by subscribing to them! It will not only improve your writing, but it will insure poets will have an audience. There are hundreds of small press publishers and journals out there. Find one you like and subscribe. It's simple. It's cheap. And it supports a long long poetical tradition that has fought to keep poetry alive.RC Edrington
(c) 2002 Spent Angel Press
Reprinted with permission in Babel Magazine March 2003