Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Big Heart You

Hi, everyone.

I just wanted to thank you all again for your supportive and insightful comments on these posts. I'm glad that this situation has prompted futher discussions about the ethics of contests and the viability of alternatives--starting your own press, publishing collectives, publishing on demand, micro presses, etc. It's a rich and necessary dialogue, and while it's a conversation that has been happening on different channels for a while, the fact that it is happening so passionately here and now indicates to me that more and more poets need to examine the alternatives and to question their own belief systems about what constitutes "real poetry" and how we as poets get validated. (If I knew how to link to these discussions, I would, but Reb Livingston, Collin Kelley, and Barbara Jane Reyes are having very interesting conversations on their blogs, to name just a few that I've found.)

That said, I also wanted to thank the poets who actually contacted the press itself to ask for their side of the story. It's only fair that we each have our turn, and an audience for that turn, which is why I posted Robert Wynne's rebuttal on my blog. At this point, I realize that it is what it is. They have their version, and I guess they feel justified in breaking a contract over what they acknowledge was just a layout disagreement. And they seem to think there's nothing wrong in breaking that contract and then maintaining that they still own the rights to that work. Or in trying to get the author to pay them off to get those rights back. They're going to say I was "unreasonable and abusive," just like they told me last year's winner was "crazy." They're not going to apologize or try to remedy the situation. And I don't need for them to.

Given what I now know about that press, I'm relieved that my manuscript is out from under them and that it won't be associated with them when it gets released. And whatever you, as new readers of this blog, choose to do with the information that I've given you, and the story I have told, is entirely up to you. Small press, large press, contests or open submission periods, avenues that are conventional or innovative--I wish you luck in finding a space for your poems and in finding the respect that you and your work deserve.

8 comments:

poetwithadayjob said...

Thank you for writing this story. I think the contest idea - to gather potentially great manuscripts from unknown poets - might have been a good one back in 1993, but I'm not sure it fits with today's rapidly changing shape of the poetry community.

Half the problem is anyone who has never had their work published, or who hates everything that's ever been published, goes and founds a press. These kinds of presses have about as much business and editorial savvy as I would have have experience running for president. Just because you write poetry doesn't mean you can run an organization.

The multitude of poets chomping at the bit for publication plus the ubiquitousness of presses popping up like Stinging Nettle on the California hillside is surely a recipe for disaster. As is evidenced by your experience. In the case of Wynne: no management experience whatsoever.

I wish you luck in your search for a home for your book.

Collin said...

Thanks for the shout out, Stacey.

Back channel email me (if you like) and I'll give you some pointers on how to add links and other stuff to your blog. It should be easy, but blogger often makes it hard to figure out for newcomers.

collinkelley@hotmail.com

DeadMule said...

Hi Stacey, You may or may not appreciate my contribution to the discussion. I have mixed feelings.
http://helenl.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/more-about-stacey-lynn-brown/
Best, Helen Losse

Zach said...

For your enjoyment, haiku in the style of Basho...

Poetry prize won
A book to be published, but
Publishers are jerks

Curtis Faville said...

Stacey: Your case sounds like the screenplay for a bad sitcom about a struggling housewife who learned about getting published from the back of a cereal box. You've sent your manuscript out to twenty contests???

Why on earth?

The poetasting culture which you've been seduced into believing is the only validation of your sense of self as an artist/writer, is an illusion! Contests are bullshit! Editors and boards of editors and...I'm hearing Old Man Larrabee [the one who looks like the cartoon character on the 'Chance Cards' for Monopoly] blustering at the end of Sabrina "Chauffeurs! Chauffeurs' daughters!"

Could anything be more absurd than attempting to please these crew-cutted wolverines who run and judge poetry book contests?

If you've learned anything from your experience, I would hope it would be that the poetry world which these contests represent has nothing to do with the writing, or the reading, or the appreciation, of poetry at all. It's all about promotion, the kind of promotion that isn't worth the trouble it takes to submit to it in the first place. Serious writers should AVOID these contests! They're worse than a publishers' sweepstakes packet. Their publications are like Watchtower and Awake pamphlets.

Publish your work yourself. Get together with your closest literary allies and start your own press.

Forget these toads at Cider Press Review. The book world they represent is bogus! Forget the blurbs, forget the picture, forget the cliches of dignified validated proper format they aspire to! It's fake!

And dull!

Don't be dull. Or predictable. Or typical. Be different. For God's sake, be yourself, and don't try to squeeze into their pathetic mold concept of what being a poetry writer means. They don't have a clue.

kristy bowen said...

I'd actually have to argue that maybe the ubiquitousness of presses is a good thing, though...that the more presses there are, the less power the asshole ones have...

Stacy, this sounds like a nightmare..so sorry it happened to you...

Joseph said...

Curtis took the words, and then some, right out of my hands...

Joe Massey

Poet Hound said...

My heart goes out to you as well, I'll be linking this in my post tomorrow. I wish you the best in the future for publication of your work that is obviously well received, keep sending and keep the faith--there are solid and decent presses out there.