Why don’t we change the poetry book economy?

“Nobody except the handful of mega-poets sells many poetry books, regardless of how much effort they put into marketing/promoting (see one unscientific survey). In my view, our mistake as a poetry community is buying into the traditional commercial paradigm, within which poetry sits very uneasily. We lock our poems up in hard copies which are then only available for sale – how do we expect that to nurture and grow our product? Why don’t we change that paradigm – we are a small enough community that we probably could. How about running things on the lines of a gift economy? And based on multi-format publishing, not just print? My two cents.”

Just added my mad-haired-prophet-in-the-wilderness two cents to this interesting and much-commented-on FB thread on poetry book sales.

Wow, Poetry Storehouse!

I am blown away by what Poetry Storehouse contributors have pulled together during the three weeks or so since our last ‘new additions’ update. In addition to featuring poems from six new poets in this update, the Storehouse has collected 23 new video remixes, two new still image remixes, and 27 new audio recordings by seven volunteer readers in that time. And that doesn’t count the waves made by Storehouse remixes elsewhere on the web. Read the details in today’s ‘new additions’ update. There was so much material for this update, that for the first time the update post needed a user-friendly clickable table of contents up top.

I made a quick analysis of the diverse group of artists responsible for all this amazing collaborative work – that is, those specifically named in this update for having contributed in some capacity. There are 40 names in total – 23 poets, 11 video remixers and 6 volunteer readers. And some of those contribute to the Storehouse in double roles or more, as indicated below. How’s that for an amazing artistic community?

I am truly humbled and amazed at all the creative energy that is constantly changing hands and forms at the Poetry Storehouse and offer warmest thanks to our contributors, viewers and listeners for making it all possible.

Names in today’s update:

POETS
Maureen Tolman Flannery
Jim Murdoch
Gail Goepfert
Anton Yakovlev
Tom Roby
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Sally Bliumis-Dunn
James Reiss
Claudia Serea
Derek JG Williams
Janice Soderling
Eric Burke
David Coldwell
Anne Higgins
Kristine Ong Muslim
Amy MacLennan
Jessie Carty
Ivy Alvarez
Uma Gowrishankar
Kathleen Kirk
Janeen Rastall
Cynthia Atkins
Cheryl Snelling
Mary Lou Buschi

VIDEO REMIXERS
Lori Ersolmaz
Marie Craven (also featured reader)
Othniel Smith
Marc Neys
Jutta Pryor
Nigel Wells
Charles Musser (also previously featured poet)
Dustin Luke Nelson (also featured poet)
Bill Yarrow (also featured reader & previously featured poet)
Nic Sebastian (also featured poet & reader)

READERS
Amy Miller
Peg Duthie (also previously featured poet)
Ron Runeborg
Jenene Ravesloot (also previously featured poet)
James Brush (also previously featured poet)
DM (middle-schooler)

LINKS
Storehouse poets
Storehouse remixers
Storehouse readers
Video & still image remixes based on Poetry Storehouse poems
Storehouse poems selected for showcasing by ‘Moving Poems’
Interviews with Poetry Storehouse poets & remixers
New Additions archive

Storehouse video remix adventure

17 Days is a video series curated by Adriane Little, Associate Professor of Art at Western Michigan University. In the series, 17 consecutive days are paired with 17 different video artists. One artist’s video per day plays continuously and simultaneously for 24 hours in an exhibition hall on two 50” plasma screens, first at Alfred State College, then at Western Michigan University. So far, the 17 Day series has run six times.

Adriane Little asked if she might feature ‘Family Therapy’ (a Nic Sebastian video remix of a Poetry Storehouse poem by Cynthia Atkins) during Day 6 of the series’ seventh run, Vol. 7. We said yes, of course.

Click here to view the planned Vol. 7 videos, 1 thru 17 in ascending order – an awesome and frankly somewhat intimidating video art line-up.

Click here to view the Day 6 entry for ‘Family Therapy.’


Super excited by this opportunity! Warm thanks to Cynthia Atkins for being such a terrific collaboration partner, and here’s to many more such adventures for Storehouse remixes.

thanks for reading other people’s poems!

We have added a new page to acknowledge our volunteer readers at The Poetry Storehouse. This is to gratefully acknowledge those who volunteer to provide audio for poems other than their own.

Every recording up there increases a poem’s chance of being remixed. More than one reading for a single poem is even better, in that it gives the remixer more material to choose from, since different voices and reading styles resonate differently with each remixer. And even where audio is not used in a remix, it plays a valuable role in adding depth to a remixer’s engagement with a piece.

If you would like to volunteer to read at The Poetry Storehouse, leave a comment below, email nic_sebastian at hotmail dot com, or just go ahead and pick a poem, make your recording and send it to Nic. Tips on getting started with audio recording here.

flavors of frabjous

I spend so much time working with other people’s poems that I’m always in a state of low-grade guilt over my own poems, which will very occasionally erupt in a spasm of submitting. Some happy results to report – there are Nic poems forthcoming in Blue Fifth Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Frostwriting</a>, and a chapbook manuscript of mine has made the first cut at the fabulous Hyacinth Girl Press. Woot!

Librivox – ‘acoustical liberation of books in the public domain’

Who says community service can’t be fun? After way too much procrastination, I have finally signed up to be a volunteer reader at Librivox, where the goal is to make audio versions of public domain books freely available. It’s quite a process. You have to make and upload a one-minute audio test which meets certain technical requirements and get it cleared by a Librivox administrator. Then they ask that before you try any solo reading you participate in some group readings to get a sense of how things work.

My brand-new Librivox page has two readings on it so far – one a ‘poem of the week’ contribution (they do a group read of one poem a week) and the other, a 1000-word segment of Giacomo Leopardi’s Complete Works, in translation. The latter is a small part of a much bigger group reading and won’t be available for general listening until the entire book is complete, in case you’re wondering. Both selections were totally random (although I do have a soft spot for Leopardi after making a videopoem based on one of his pieces way back when) and were based simply on what was up for grabs when I happened to be looking for something to read.

Now that my Helen in Egypt project is complete, I am looking for the next extended-reading poetry project, and will do it via Librivox. The question is, which public domain book of poetry should I go for? ‘Some Imagist Poets‘ caught my eye up at Project Gutenberg, mainly because it has Amy Lowell and H.D. in it. No idea who the others are, though, apart from Lawrence.

(cross-posted at Voice Alpha)

‘Metanoia Lost’ – process notes for a video remix


 
Poems on big metaphysical themes are some of the most rewarding to work as video remixes, because they leave the visual field wide open and give the remixer real opportunities to insert him or herself into a poem’s narrative and move it forward in complementary but different ways. This lovely poem by Risa Denenberg at The Poetry Storehouse was a case in point. I read it as beautifully capturing one of those devastating moments of big doubt we sometimes encounter.

Which is where it got personal. The belief I try to live by is that we are lying fallow during such bleak periods, and that, their awfulness notwithstanding, they are at the same time periods of underground preparation, restoration and growth. So I went with that approach. I thought rain, with its double connotation of weeping/mourning and of life-inspiring nature, was the perfect backdrop metaphor. I found two ‘rain’ clips that complemented each other once I gave them the same color filter and got a big thrill out of applying the ‘Ken Burns’ effect in my editing program to both. This handy capability makes it look as if a clip actually captured with a static camera was taken with a moving camera. As always, the gliding effect needs to be applied judiciously, but I felt it added just the right element of dynamism to the two background clips.

For the cross-fades, I chose images with very personal connotations for me, but which I thought added the right ‘universal’ overtones of the twin companions, loss and hope. All of them jumped out at me as being ‘right’ as I flipped through my clips library. Ending with the bear family at the end might perhaps be a more upbeat conclusion than originally intended in the piece, but the image was insistent, so I went with it. The soundtrack with its lonely piano and melancholy motif and underlying energy was by Mustafank and really felt like rain to me.

This was a lot of fun. Warm thanks once again to Risa for making her poems available for re-imagination by others at the Poetry Storehouse!