Wednesday, October 15, 2008

P & W's take on Cider House vs. Stacey Lynn Brown

I post this link not because I have an opinion either way regarding who is right in this situation but rather because it is an interesting (and somewhat rare) look inside the poetry publishing world. To be quite honest, when I came out of my MA program in English, I still had no idea how contemporary poetry gets published. After my MFA program, I had a slightly less nebulous idea, but no real details. I knew that there were contests and reading fees. I knew that some contests were more prestigious than others. I asked around and found some poets to be unexpectedly tight-lipped about the process. Luckily I have met a few poets who have been forthcoming, even generous, with such information. From them I've learned that the poetry world is just as small as we think it is and because of this it is possible to develop personal relationships with presses. There are even presses that have open reading periods with no fees or that accept queries as prose publishers do.

And I've learned a lot from Stacey Lynn Brown's blog and the ensuing firestorm in the blogosphere about the other alternatives that exist for poets who would like to publish. So, regardless of who is right or wrong, I applaud Ms. Brown for posting her story and kickstarting what continues to be an educational and vital discussion.


windy city girl said...

Thanks for this post. I'm not a poet, but it helps to know the ins and outs of publishing post-MA/MFA.

On a similar topic, I'm struggling with what to do when I finish my MA in June. I'm not even sure where to begin. Did you all go through this? How did you cope?And more importantly, what did you do when you graduated?


Trina said...

WCG--not sure that I have a coherent answer for you, as I'm still in the maelstrom of coping. I applied to two MFA programs and two Ph.D. programs in poetry while I was finishing the Fall quarter of my MA program. It was a total crapshoot--if I got into a program with funding, great. If not, I'd move back to Seattle and get a job. I got accepted to and funded by UM and the rest is history. So my best advice is to try and make sure you have multiple equally attractive options open to you if you can.

OK, scratch that. My best advice is to live it up while you're still in school. Spend all the time you can with your colleagues and professors because you'll miss that cameraderie and community when it's gone (no matter how you feel about it now). And write a shit-ton of words. I was so shell-shocked and spent after the MA graduation (and am currently so shell-shocked and spent after the MFA) that I haven't really been able to shake off my old habits of writing or find new objectives for my writing. So it's nice to have a big heaping pile of work to go through, revising and rethinking, which keeps my mind in the game even though I'm not producing much new work.

Beyond that, I'm just trying to find a job that will pay the bills and leave me with the time and mental space to continue writing on a daily basis.

Diana Manister said...

You write: "I applaud Ms. Brown for posting her story and kickstarting what continues to be an educational and vital discussion. "

KICKSTARTING? Where have you been?
Exposing dodgy poetry contests has been around at least as long as, in other words, for years and years.

Many poetry online poetry forums and workshops regularly post their members' bad experiences with contests, which are numerous.