Sunday, November 18, 2012

What if there was a weekly New Volume of Poetry Day?

Crave Radiance (poetry), The Walking Dead (comic book), Leadbelly (poetry), and Chew (comic book)
 In the realm of comic books, Wednesday is known as "New Comic Book Day." Every Wednesday, new issues of various titles are released at comic book stores across the nation. An individual title typically appears once per month.

Can't make it to your local store on Wednesday, and you're worried that issues you want might run out? No sweat. Just have the title added to your "pull list," and employees will reserve the title(s) you select until you can make it in to the store.

I've sometimes wondered what the realm of American poetry would be like if there was a "New Poetry Book Day." What if on a certain day every week, new volumes of poetry were released? As it stands, new books (novels, non-fiction, poetry, etc.) are officially released on Tuesdays. However, there's no coordinated effort for new poetry releases, and there's certainly no system for the publication of a single poet once per month.

The development of a "poetry day" would fundamentally change the nature and format of volumes of poetry. People would not be unwilling to spend $15 each week for individual titles. But, perhaps they would pay $2 or $3 for smaller serialized books or pamphlets.       

Maybe the routine publishing would require poets to add more suspense to their works. The monthly appearances would also incline poets to think about and address the interests of their audiences a little more than the often extended time between when volumes of poems appear. Poets might also be inclined to develop more collaborations with fellow poets, editors, and illustrators.

Of course, it's unlikely we'll see the kinds of shifts I'm imagining in poetry take place. There are simply too many resources and practices invested in the current business model. Still, I guess it doesn't hurt to envision what different approaches to the production and distribution of poetry would look like. 

1 comment:

evie said...

Hey, Howard!

I'm late to this party, I know, but your speculative post on poetry distribution prompted me to ask you how chapbooks figure into your thinking on contemporary poetry. Chapbooks come much more cheaply (cheap --> chap) than perfect bound / full length books -- sometimes as free ebooks/PDFs, sometimes as much as $10-$12, and everything in between. I don't know the statistics on African American poets publishing chapbooks in the last 20 years, but if they are at all significant (I know I'm far from the only black poet to have a chaplet with Belladonna* Books, for example), it might be worth your keeping tabs on these books as part of your survey of our times. Or do you already do this?? Maybe I'm doubly late! : )