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January 08, 2013

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"It's good to shake things up once in a while." Just what I needed (wanted?) to hear. Thanks for the post, Don Share.

In the debate about poem numbers what next to no commentators that I am aware of have focused on discussing is the fundamental Caxtonian paradigm responsible for all this talk in the first place. The contemporary Submit-Reject-Accept model in which literary and authorial validation is skewed towards arriving not with the writing of the poem itself but with an editorial acceptance slip of it by someone other than the person who wrote it.

Perfectly natural of course. But in this post-Noughties’ age where anyone with a PC and internet connection can launch ourselves into a social network micro-celebrity culture where popularity will often, it can seem, take precedence over any precise appraisal of what poetic properties are in our spoken song – what’s the alternative/s to this centuries old Submit-Reject-Accept model of publishing? Are there any?

Now there are numerous and wholly new publishing processes open to writers due to the technological quantum leap that occurred over the course of the Noughties; it is possible to envision a radically different publishing paradigm for those more suited to progress in solitude, and who eschew the group therapy element inherent in the current model where networking and niceness are important qualities one must practice and exhibit to be accepted and published by the editorial intelligentsia – rejecting far more than are ushered onto the page.

After 600 years of the printed page and 200 years of a literary model in which the sole editorial power and control lay in the hands and heads of a few aristocratic gate-keepers with unquestionable taste; only now is it possible for any of the perennially rejected and unchosen to compose, create and put out into the open market, and on a level playing field, poetry publications which, as physical objects and artifacts, are, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same, and with the same global reach, as those sold by Faber and Faber.

What twenty years ago would cost many thousands of pounds to execute, now a multiplicity of innovative online publishing companies will make happen for what is, effectively, nothing. For a couple of hundred dollars an author can be in print, distributed and purchasable at all online marts and bookshops the world over.

For those buying a hard copy or e-book of Joe or Josephine Blogs, s/he today has the same commercial reach as Stephen King. There is a parity that did not exist until this moment because the revolutionary advances in information technology have only just effected it.

The writer today has full editorial control because you can choose how to present and sell anything from one poem to your entire oeuvre. The only difficult bit in creating this future poetic paradise where all are judged on the merit of your poems alone, is writing stuff the public wishes to buy. A different debate all together.

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