As/Is







3.05.2017


Bite the Bullet, Junk the Junket


For those of us who lived through the Aughts, writing and publishing on high levels, it must be clear: times is tough. The book junket routine many of us perfected in the Aughts involved a multi-pronged attack on literature dissemination, from any individual artist's manuscript on out: composition of manuscript, interspersed with submissions to print or online journals; readings and/or social appearances to create interest; publication of book, in print and/or online; and then reinforcement cycles of the same activities. The junket then was very rich: lots of flourishing journals and presses, lots of social action from scene to scene, city to city. In 2017, we notice that what was called The Great Recession five or six years ago never left, and, in fact, is continuing to plummet downwards, what with the outrageous cost of food, health insurance, and other living expenses (Obama did what to counter or even mention this?), so that book junkets, and the book writing process in general, have to suffer just like everything else. Capiche?

Here, I am, writing a manuscript of sonnets tentatively entitled Something Solid. I've had some new material appear in Otoliths 44 and in The Argotist Online, more to come in Helios Mss, maybe a few other places, but it stands to reason that I can't not notice another simple, irritating factoid: all the new poetry journals that have sprung up in the Teens (Ray Farr's I still count as Aughts, because it's Ray's) are formatted in the most revolting, most tacky possible taste, so that I can't even consider the idea of submitting to them. The imaginatively titled Posit is a key example, and there are dozens of others. The new journal scene is mostly paltry now. Which means that the bum's rush effect, whereby new material which passes muster is instantly passed on into submission land, is no longer in adherence at all. Now, if you have forty new poems, and if you place, say, fifteen of them, and then are stuck, there's really nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If you're going to write the rest of your f-cking manuscript, you're going to have to bite the bullet and junk the junket.

So, you have recourse, possibly, to a more workmanlike approach. I place new sonnets here, on Art Recess 2, and make due with a lack of glamour and a surfeit of grit. Over a long period of time, waiting for the pot to boil again, poets have to decide what they're in this game for, why they're playing it. Without wanting to appear unduly sanctimonious, the more dedicated individuals, with the more passionate devotion to creative activity, are the ones most likely to survive the right way now, even as the recession continues to clear deck after deck and the idiots of the world offer up more red herrings. And I am, it turns out, forty poems into the new manuscript, and I am ready to be workmanlike when I need to be.