Friday, March 30, 2007

Move Over American Idol! Here Comes Poetry!

The next big thing in the Middle East are poetry talent contests, broadcast on TV a la American Idol-style, where audience members vote for their favorite poetry recitation. Read about it here.

How would this work in the United States? Which B- or C-list celebrity would host? Any suggestions? Maybe we should put together a pitch for Fox.


A Company Called Poet(TM)

If you're a dry mill ethanol producer that wanted to name your company "Poet," it's too late. The company formerly known as Broin trademarked that shit, so you're out of luck.

I thought some of you might get a kick out of this story about the company naming itself Poet. I didn't actually read much of the article, so if anyone finds the rationale behind the name-change, please eduate me.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Apparently, It's a Controversey

The Boston City Council is debating whether or not to have a Poet Laureate. It's an age-old story: Should money and resources be used to support poetry when crime, drugs, etc. are more pressing problems? The city responds by promising that only private funding will support the laureate. What do you think? Who's right? Is this a newsworthy issue? Click here to read the story, then give us your comments.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Alleged Murderer Identified in Poem

Someone who allegedly knows the identity of a killer in Somerset, England, has posted a poem on street lamps and bus shelters. Police are looking for the poet, whose verse already led them to what might be the murder weapon. The poetry is bad, but the story is good, so check it out here.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Contest Shenanigans

Ugh! We'll never have a contest, if for no other reason than to avoid the hassle of administering one. I don't care how much money they bring in, contests take too much energy to run.

Just reading this story in P&W tired me out. The spotlight is on Tupelo Press and its contest shenanigans. (I call them shenanigans, but read the story and decide for yourself.)


Final Jeopardy

I watched a re-run of Jeopardy during lunch today. The Final Jeopardy category was "Poets."

The clue was something like "In 2005, a Library of Congress exhibit on this poet included a display called 'Wound Dresser.'"

If you know the answer, be the first to put it in the comments below, and we'll send you a free copy of Sean, Jen or Ivy's book.


Poetry of the Middle East

PBS broadcast two segments last week--one on Israeli poetry and one on Palestinian poetry. Not sure if the archives are up yet, but here's a link to some additional content.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

There were no posts for awhile, because I just returned from four days in Las Vegas. A friend of mine got married there. Here's a recap of the weekend:

Mean time waiting for luggage at bag claim: 30 minutes
Gross earnings from gambling (poker): $75
Gross losses from gambling (slots): $30
Average margaritas per hour: 3.5
Number of poems read by me: 0

The wedding was nice, a blend of African and Japanese traditions to reflect the bride and groom's heritage. To make this relate somehow to poetry, I was going to include a blessing from Ghana that was part of the ceremony, but I forgot to get a copy of it. Instead, here's a poem by Lynn Emanuel called "Inventing Father in Las Vegas."


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Speaking of Trademarks (and Copyrights)

We decided early on with Red Morning Press that the copyrights of a work would remain with our authors. That's rarely (if ever) an option with the huge publishing conglomerates. We assume that if we do a good job of caring for our authors, they'll want to publish with us again. If they suddenly become famous and their books are in hyper-demand, they have the option to get another press to publish it. If you believe, as we do, that the copyrights are the most valuable asset an author owns, then it's hard to swallow that so many authors give them away for virtually nothing.

The relationship between copyright/trademark/patent laws and creativity is something that fascinates me. On one hand, the laws can be overly protective. On the other, they can be the only protection an artist has. One deviation from the often black-and-white discussions about copyright--especially as they pertain to music--can be found at the Creative Commons web site. The idea here is that you can share some of your rights without giving them all away.


Poetry: Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand(TM)

This new web site features a "game" where you can write poems using trademarked advertising slogans. Visitors can vote for their favorite ones. If anyone tries it, email us the result.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Did Poetry Win the Lottery: Part II

In an earlier post, I linked to the New Yorker article about the Poetry Foundation. A response to that article appeared recently in the New York Times. What are your thoughts?


[Edit -- I'm bored this morning and figured I'd weigh in... I’m embarrassed to admit I just read the first article Andy posted, so now at least I know what everybody at AWP was talking about. But frankly, I’m not sure I see what all the controversy is about. Poetry got a lot of money, and it now wants to spend lots of it in silly ways to try to make poetry more appealing to ordinary people. Let me look into my crystal ball for a second… oh, ok, it’s a spectacular failure.

I mean, it’s no secret that poetry ain’t popular. It was once, sure, but that was when people who were educated were actually taught how to engage with a poem. I think back to my K-12 education, and I remember only one class in which we were taught to read and write poems: It was in first or second grade, in a “gifted and talented” class, and I was encouraged to write little poems about things like dinosaurs and ghosts.

And there was one day when we were taught about simile. I wrote a poem called “Winter,” in which I said something like “it tastes like chocolate cake, sounds [or looks?] like the ocean.” The cake thing was because my birthday is in December (I guess I should have known my audience and said “tastes like candy canes”); I don’t remember what was going on with the ocean part, but I know I was mocked mercilessly by a neighbor kid, who was not in said GT class. Even years later, when I bumped into the guy, he said something like, “Hey, remember when you wrote a poem about how winter tasted like cake? That was so gay.”

So there you have it. I was given an introduction on how to read and write poems by a teacher who knew how to read and write poems. He was not. I stayed interested in poetry. I think it’s safe to say he’s not a fan. Getting a poem or an essay on poetry placed in Maxim isn’t going to change his mind, unless maybe it’s tattooed on Fergie, who is fergalicious.

You know, that's not a bad idea. Note to self: draft grant proposal and perform legal research on avoiding restraining orders.

This (the poetry thing, not Fergie) is something I was talking about with some folks at AWP. If they want to make poetry more popular, they should spend the money paying me a salary in the low six figures (I’ve got law school loans, you know) to travel the country and teach first and second graders how to read and write little poems. Or hire someone else to do it and pay them less; I know plenty of good writers cheaper than me who would probably do a great job teaching the kiddies (that is, not opening with, “Do you like iambs, Jimmy?” or otherwise turning poems into the literary equivalent of brussel sprouts).

But that’s, as far as I can tell, not what they’re doing, and I’m not too upset about it. Based on what I’ve now read, the Poetry Foundation is a little like Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions, in which Pryor’s character inherits millions and has to spend it all in a week without accumulating any assets. So he buys icebergs that are going to melt and million-dollar stamps, which he then uses to mail postcards. In the end, it’s their money. If they want to spend it giving awards for funny poems, I guess that’s fine by me. I'm way more annoyed by the New Yorker's process for selecting its poems, though I guess I really shouldn't be.

Now I’d better get back to my latest poetry manuscript, A Polack Walks Into a Bar // (ouch).

- Chris]

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Poetry Series on PBS

It's a rainy, gray day in Washington, DC. I'm trying to keep motivated at work, so like everyone else, I take mini-breaks here and there and check out all the Web sites and blogs that I like to read.

Today I finally visited PBS' Online News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Our good friend Tom works for the show, and one of his responsibilities is to generate content for the program's Poetry Series web site.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Email Submissions--Good and Bad (But Mostly Good)

When we started, we didn't accept email submissions. I don't know why. Most other presses didn't, so we just adopted the practice.

Then someone sent an email and scolded us for being behind the times. The arguments for having email submissions made sense--less paper, easier to handle, etc.--so we made it happen.

It wasn't too long after that we realized what a hassle it was for us to accept paper submissions at all. With CP in a different state, transferring manuscripts cost us time and money. So we formally eliminated mail submissions, and overall it has been a good thing.

One side benefit that I didn't think about at the time is that it expands our pool of potential writers. For example, I wonder if Ivy would have sent us her manuscript if she had to mail a hard copy. We get manuscripts from people all over the world now, because emailing a manuscript from overseas cost the same as emailing it from the United States.

One downside to email is that it when you send an email from our server, you're never sure it's going to reach its destination. I guess that's true of a mailed letter also. Anyway, I'm sharing all this because I am still getting inquiries about manuscripts that we rejected months ago. The short answer to all these inquiries: If you submitted your manuscript before November 2006, then we won't be publishing it at this time. If you submitted it after November 2006, then expect to hear from us soon, one way or another.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mayhem Poets

The group that proposed a Slam poetry venue/restaurant as part of Microsoft's Ultimate Challenge small business idea contest actually won. The award is $100,000 in startup capital and a rent-free property for a year.


Friday, March 9, 2007

Reading at Ada Books

If you're in Providence next weekend, check out "The Publicly Complex Reading Series," featuring Kate Schapira and Jen Tynes.

The reading is on Friday, March 16th at Ada Books (2 Dean Street, Providence, RI). It starts at 6:00 p.m.

Have a drink. Buy a book.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Poetry Paper Towel Dispenser and Other News

Click here to read an interesting story about a woman who invented a poetry paper towel dispenser as a public art project.

Click here to read about Slamchops, a restaurant/slam poetry venue concept that three Rutgers' students entered in Microsoft's ideaWins contest (registration required).

Click here to read about a teacher who is on administrative leave for teaching a poem that some parents deemed offensive. The poem is unidentified in the story.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

AWP Recap

I didn’t go to any sessions, seminars, presentations, panels--whatever you call them. So if that's what you want to hear about, you’ll have to ask someone else. I spent the entire time at the bookfair--at our table or looking at other tables. Dennis went to a reading by George Mason University’s MFA poetry faculty. All of them were teachers of ours, except one who replaced Carolyn Forche after we left. Chris went to a session that featured a panel of literary agents. Most of the audience consisted of fiction writers, I guess, so I don't know if he found it worthwhile or not. Maybe he and Dennis will report to you in a post (hint, hint).

Bookfair (and Books I Bought)
The bookfair was pretty solid. Last year, the convention center in Austin was too big. The booths were too spread out, and our booth was in a shitty spot along the edge of the room, far away from the entrance, so fewer people made it over to us. This year was better. The room was smaller, so the aisles were more densely packed with people. As with every year, the room is usually full before, between and after sessions. We were positioned next to Richard Peabody's booth and across from The Chattahoochee Review. Thanks to their crew for letting us eat their brownies (the regular kind).

I spent more money buying books than buying booze this year. That's obviously not true, but you get the idea. Books I bought:

  1. Bone Pagoda by Susan Tichy (Ahsahta Press)
  2. Reliquaries by Eric Pankey (Ausable Press)
  3. Talk Shows by Monica de la Torre (Switchback Books)
  4. A bunch of chapbooks (Ocutpus Books)

I've read about half of Bone Pagoda so far. Susan was a teacher of ours at George Mason U, so I've been looking forward to her book coming out. Eric also was a teacher of ours, so that's another one I'm looking forward to reading.

I'm really interested in Talk Shows, because I'm excited about Switchback Books. When we met Brandi Homan in Austin last year, she was an attendee. Now Brandi and friends are exhibitors at the bookfair with their very own press.

The last thing I wanted to buy before I left was a chapbook by Jen and co-author Erika Howsare published by Octupus Books. I went to their table to buy it and came away with eight chapbooks instead. They all looked so good that I had to have them. Something I noticed at AWP (let’s call it a trend) is that a lot of people bought chapbooks. We had some of horse less press’ chapbooks on our table, and a few of Ivy’s and one of Jason’s—people were consistently drawn to them. I started seeing them everywhere. It made me wonder whether we should have been a chapbook publisher :)

More to come...


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

AWP Reading with Jen and Jason

Jen and Jason both read at Django Cafe in Atlanta during at an event hosted by the women at Switchback Books.

The off-site readings are one of my favorite things about AWP. They're always more social and energetic than the keynote readings at the actual conference center. (Probably because you're within easy reach of a beer.) I'm glad that Switchback invited Jen and Jason to be part of their reading.



Here's something to look at until we start posting some actual comments about AWP:

Except for the talented Miss Ivy Alvarez, (who lives in Wales), here's the entire RMP crew at AWP in Atlanta. Clockwise, from Jen, are Jason, Chris, Dennis, Sean and me.


Monday, March 5, 2007

Bad With Hasselhoff

As promised.

If we ever release BWF in Germany, I think we'll have to go with this one. I'm pretty sure we can get the Hoff to give us permission in exchange for a warm bowl of soup or an enthusiastic compliment ("You should totally be in the Checkpoint Charlie museum, Hoff! Your voice helped bring down that wall!").

Actually, I really do like this cover. Really.

-- Chris

Back from AWP

Over the next few days, we'll post some photos and thoughts on AWP. I'd start with the photos today, but I left my camera at home. Besides, the downside of being on the road so long is that we all have to play catch up. I returned to an inbox with 180 unread emails (but only 1 voicemail--what's that tell you about how people communicate these days?) and a few fires to put out at work.

Speaking of fires, on the drive back from Atlanta, we saw a car burst into flames. It was parked on the side of the road, and someone was still in the car! A bunch of cars pulled over, and we called 911, but I'm not sure what happened after that.