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Author Topic: Charging for POETIC Editorial Advice  (Read 23442 times)
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alan
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« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2006, 05:11:31 PM »

Quote from: "Tweety"

These are blind submissions, but for some reason (which has never been explained to me and which every year I protest that this is too much information/too much influence for first readers) they allow the publishing credits page to be included. [Disclosure: I don't protest so much that I do not accept pay!] Ever since the first year when I noticed a few mss. with super-impressive publishing credits (Poetry, New Yorker, Atlantic, etc. etc. etc.), I've started setting that page aside unread. But then, of course, after I've made my selections and go back through, I always wonder what I missed in those with these super-impressive credits, and must re-read, re-read, but as it turns out that has never changed my mind.


Thanks for noting that those credits pages could affect readers and I'm proud of you for setting your own, better standards than the contest's.  I am VERY opposed to the credits page being included, although I think it would be nice to tell people that if they don't have individual poem credits in journals that they should start there, rather than expecting to win a book contest without prior pubs.  Look for a private message from me Smiley
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Alan Cordle
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« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2006, 09:48:12 AM »

There should NOT be a credits page included with the manuscripts!  That and the bio page, the cover letter, and the cover page with the author information are all supposed to be sorted and stored before the manuscript goes to the readers.  If it is not being sorted, then your contest is not fair and someone IS being influenced.  

Anytime you open most winning books that bother to list which poems where published by whom, you will notice how boring the ones published in Poetry, the New Yorker, etc., etc. ARE!  It is not as good a gage of a manuscript is one might think.
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Wils
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« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2006, 09:50:37 AM »

The McDonaldization of writing is nothing new.  It occurs everywhere and most every time.  It is what helps us see those artists who stand out and away from the rest when they create something new and unique.  The BigMac artist is only catering to the current desire of the public.
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« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2006, 02:38:43 PM »

Leaving the credits page in is wrong for first readers, and I will mention it AGAIN if I am asked to be a first reader for this contest. Even though I am not, some of the other first readers will surely be influenced by publishing credits. In some cases, the credits page includes acknowledgements to Breadload, Yaddo, other prizes, etc. If you read a whollotta periodicals, which I do not, you could almost figure out who the author is.

To me it's irritating more than anything else, because it always makes me second-guess my instincts. The prestigious credits scream LOOK HOW GOOD I AM, STUPID! But that doesn't always cut it in a book ms. (see my previous comments). My "winners" show imagination, innovation, are surprising and leave me wanting more.

And of course I agree that poems published in what I am labeling "prestigious" publications is not always the most imaginative, innovative or even interesting. Okay, I'll admit it, I wouldn't mind having them listed on my bio. But then, that would mean I would have to submit my stuff there--I haven't, and probably will not anytime soon--why bother? More punishment?

--T
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Monday Love
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2006, 04:00:32 PM »

Quote from: "Tweety"
I'm a published local writer outside the academy--one of 15-25 first readers for this contest (dep. on # entries)--and they asked me.

That kind of power is actually sort of scary when you think about it.. My point here is that so much depends on the opinions/tastes/preferences of the first reader, whoever (whomever?) he/she may be. From what I can tell, this is true for most lit mag submissions, too.

I don't consider myself to be a poetry "expert"! Certainly I believe my judgments to be sound, I am honest, and I have no reason so far to question the honesty of this contest. When I select my "winners" I must explain why, briefly; one of my selections was a finalist, but I only learned that by chance in talking to the editor.

The other thing I've learned from reading contest mss. is that right now I could never win a contest. Why? Because I write poems, not books. With so many good individual poems in ms. after ms., you start to realize that there must be something else that must happen for you to distinguish between all of those mss., and for me it's usually because there is some sort of loose-knit unity to the body of work. In addition to a factor I can only explain as: WOW. But that's just my opinion, and if there are 19 other readers, I'm sure you would find that many reasons for their judgment. It's not a perfect system by any means.

These are blind submissions, but for some reason (which has never been explained to me and which every year I protest that this is too much information/too much influence for first readers) they allow the publishing credits page to be included. [Disclosure: I don't protest so much that I do not accept pay!] Ever since the first year when I noticed a few mss. with super-impressive publishing credits (Poetry, New Yorker, Atlantic, etc. etc. etc.), I've started setting that page aside unread. But then, of course, after I've made my selections and go back through, I always wonder what I missed in those with these super-impressive credits, and must re-read, re-read, but as it turns out that has never changed my mind.

So, that's probably more than you wanted to know, but I just thought it should be pointed out: contests are a gamble, for any number of reasons. Good luck!

--T


Tweety,

Thanks for expanding.  I really appreciate it.

"I write poems, not books."

So do I.

Much seems to be made of 'books' these days.  

I guess that's why one sees so many published books of poems with titles like "Lotus Petals: Last Summer When I left my Spouse and Explored Three-some Sex."

Call me a simpleton, but I'm nostalgic for books entitled "Poems."

I always assumed (perhaps wrongly) that poems grouped by any sort of 'theme' cheapened the art.

Most poets have a 'fingerprint;' their poems could not help but seem like 'a book' simply by being in the same place; a 'unity' of sorts exists simply by default.   The genius would be the collection of poems which did not feel like a book.

Anyway, that's my eccentric take on it.


Monday
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Ed Dupree
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« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2006, 05:03:25 PM »

Chalk me up as well in the poems-not-books column. The idea that a book of fifty poems should itself be the fifty-first has always struck me as overly "aesthetic". If I ever have another book ready, it'll simply be when I have a book-sized stack of poems I'm not embarrassed by. Some kind of pattern in their arrangement is nice, but then so is a mixed-up bag of surprises a la Bishop or Larkin.

Ed
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Matt
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« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2006, 09:28:05 AM »

I don't have anything against poetry books that have themes in general.  I think the problem with this practice is that too many poets are concentrating too much on their thematic arcs and not enough on creating powerful individual poems that can stand on their own.

But I have to admit, I think this is a very poet-specific issue at either polarity.  I came to poetry after cutting my teeth with various fiction writing techniques.  In fiction "arcs" (plot, character, etc.) are important.  You can't ignore them or have at them sloppily.  The poets I met in universities didn't grasp this (students or professors).  They had no idea how to employ fiction techniques (of which theme, arguable, is one).

When I used my fiction writer's wiles, it baffled the poets.  It was as if they had never read a novel before.  What's an unreliable narrator?  What's character development?  What's narrative voice?  I was pretty amazed at this.  I mean, we go through our lives surrounded by story.  We watch TV and go to movies.  We tell stories from our lives to others . . . and some people (even some poets) read fiction.  We have myths and religion and urban legends, fairytales, children's stories, conventionalized and/or interpreted history.  We live through stories of self.  We define ourselves with fictions (beliefs, codes, aesthetics, taste, etc.).

That is, it's absurd to write poetry without understanding how important story (and therefore, the act and art of telling) is to the human animal.

On the other hand, it's not easy to construct and control narrative and character/voice expertly.  I can understand that poetry (especially as a major in college) appeals to many would-be writers, because they think you only have to belch out some feeling into words to be a poet.  And it was certainly the case in the poetry programs I attended that narrative techniques were ignored if not completely frowned upon.

So I see the books vs. poems debate as more complex.  Could it be that the era of "great (individual) poems" was also largely an era in which narrative techniques were incorporated into the poems?  That is, poems posed a problem, developed the situation, and presented a resolution.  That requires a bit of narrative thinking . . . and also, often, philosophy.  Not only philosophy, but mythos and a connection to symbol systems (conventionally ancient Greek mythology's) infused and gave a backbone to poetry of previous eras.

But it would seem that much of today's poetry is not only vaguely lyric, but lyric in a watered-down, somewhat petty way.  And poets can matriculate without ever learning (or feeling they should learn) how to write using narrative techniques.

So, all I'm saying is that I'm hesitant to congratulate a poet for writing a book of poems rather than a thematic poetry book.  9 times out of 10, it's just because said poet is an academically-trained, stunted, and mediocre writer.  They don't get my vote of approval for that.

But many of the poets delving into thematic books are doing it with talent just as stunted . . . and probably convincing themselves that it's a new "experimental" technique they just invented.  But of course, it's the oldest form of writing know to humanity.  What makes it novel is the incredibly low quality of academic education in poetry writing.

-Matt
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Krede_the_Mighty
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« Reply #37 on: December 12, 2006, 03:52:35 PM »

And then there is, of course, my favorite of poetic devices - the sequence. A series of lyrical poems which can be taken individually and stand on their own, but create an (more or less) implicit narrative arc, wherein the connections between and among poems augments the power of the entirety.

I think in particular of Eliot's Wasteland, some of Anne Carson's work in Plainwater, some of Walt Whitman's work (recently debated this with a colleague) in Leaves of Grass, and, to add something really disjointed but beautiful, Arthur Sze's work in The Redshifting Web. Not a complete list by any means, and short-shrifting anything prior to the modern era.

TGWWK

p.s. Did I actually just chime in on a thread and take a stand on something aesthetic? I must be tired.
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alan
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« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2007, 11:19:49 AM »

Ed sent me a mention of a series of current ebay auctions.  The wealthiest writers can bid on manuscript critiques from the likes of Maxine Kumin, Major Jackson, etc.  Hunger Mountain gets all the proceeds.  I would have put this in the ads section, but I think we could have some interesting commentary here.
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Alan Cordle
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« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2007, 12:02:47 AM »

An interesting concept, and, perhaps, worthy, but I'd be checking that organization out thoroughly before bidding on such services.

Anyone tempted to bid on those services should ask, through eBay's ASQ feature (via one's "My eBay" account), hard questions about the exact services offered. That way, if the winner is unhappy and must file a SNAD (Significiantly Not as Described) complaint, she/he has proper documentation.

If the non-profit checks out to the bidder's satisfaction, then the winner should use a credit card through Paypal.

I know eBay fairly well, enough to know that it tends to favor the buyer, but only if the auction is paid with a credit card through Paypal. If the seller doesn't accept Paypal, then it's caveat emptor, and bidders should probably head for the hills. The eBay forums are filled with BOO HOOS from buyers who have been scammed, and eBay won't do squat if bidders don't follow certain procedures and rules. First and foremost, eBay is a profit-making business venture and purports to be nothing more than a marketplace venue.

I'm not commenting on the validity of these auctions, but I don't take much of anything on faith anymore.

Bugz
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« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2007, 08:51:05 PM »

A few writers at Vermont, and a couple of those guys on e-Bay, already offer well-respected, full-time editorial services...

In fiction, anyway. I know a YA author who still uses them...

I think they're called Green Mountain Prose.
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