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Poem policy for 2010

Friday 15 January 2010

Here’s the dilemma for a writer.

You want your blog to showcase your work. But most places that publish poems and stories don’t like them to have been published anywhere before. And appearing on your blog does count.

For the prolific i expect this is not a problem, but for those of us who produce writing as squid smooch (= very, very slowly) it is. To put a decent amount of stuff up here would leave me little to submit anywhere else.

Ivory tower or catwalk, for your babies?

I could blog things i’m not quite happy with. Things that just ‘come to me’. Ordinary blogposts happen like that. But i am serious about my fiction and poems… and a sculptor doesn’t show the world her chunky, clunky, halfway pieces that do not yet meet the vision she has in her head, does she? So for me, i’m not making my first drafts public. (Nor the second drafts.)

It’s a question i’ve seen debated elsewhere: do you put your best stuff on your blog and ‘waste’ it for future sale, or preserve its virginity by blogging lesser works which then give the impression you’re a writer of lower quality than you really are? Remember, the blog is often a stranger’s FIRST impression (you know the weight they carry) and it’s one of the first places an editor looks to flesh out their opinion of you.

Up to now, i haven’t had to make the decision. I had a dozen or so poems stuck on ABCtales that i could no longer access. I posted them there before i thought of this snag, and after a change of email address i couldn’t get a reply from the website owner so i resigned myself to having them forever ‘out there’ (even though in many cases they were the cringeful earlier versions of work i’d since made better). Those i wasn’t terribly unhappy with are the ones i’ve used on this blog so far, reasoning they were deflowered already.

The new policy

I haven’t seen a 100% satisfactory solution to this question. But here’s what i’m going to do about it. I’ve been thinking for some time that i need to practise poetic forms. My default is free verse but i feel i ought to study formal structure – if only to improve my free verse. (Ironically, i began writing poems as an exercise to improve my prose style.) Since i don’t think of myself as a poet who ‘does forms’, i don’t expect i’ll want to submit these. Otoh i shall be making them as good as i can. So i’ll blog them.

I’ve always found rhyming and scanning brings out the prankster in me so we can look forward to light-hearted, not profound and contemplative, pieces. Tum-ti-tum-ti-tum simply doesn’t lend itself to profound. Having said that, just wait for me to eat those words when i’ve learnt a little more! One consequence i’m hoping will come out of this project: the ability to express deep emotions or concepts in poetic forms.

It doesn’t wholly solve the problem, as these will not be typical mmSeason poems (assuming any mmSeason poems follow a type.) But i can’t solve the whole problem. I’ll give it this year, and see how it works.

No promises, but i’ll try and explain the forms as well as showing you examples, as i added to my first ever pantoum a description of what a pantoum is. Doubtless i’ll only manage that sometimes, but i’ll do my best at least to include a brief note when having a go at a form you’re less likely to have heard of.

Here goes, then. I feel as if i’m at the beginning of a school year. Onward!

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