Friday, April 15, 2011

To Post Poetry or Not to Post Poetry--THAT is the Question! ( & Happy Poetry Friday!)

Happy Poetry Friday,
hosted today by Diane at 
Random Noodling.  Thanks, Diane!
My own poem and a Writing Workout poetry prompt is 

Hello, Campers!  Today's question--Do I dare post an original poem?--is red hot, as I am 15 days into my second year of posting an original poem a day for Poetry Month.  What's a poet to do?
There are poets on both sides of this question: some wonder whether a publisher will want to buy a poem or a series of poems if they have already been published on the net. They might post a poetry exercise but not their own poems.  Others, including author Jane Yolen, comfortably post original poems on their websites or blogs.  Yolen always attaches a copyright at the end: © 2011 Your Name Here, All Rights Reserved.  I now do the same.

My own instinct is to come to the world with open hands. 


Actually, that's not true. At first I was nervous about exposing my words to the world.  But then Greg Pincus told me that he's only had good things come back to him as he's shared his words with the world.  And man, does Greg share--in great, big, generous doses--on listservs, on his Gottabook blog, at schools, at conferences, and person-to-person.   Here's what Greg says:
"I post lots of original poetry for free on my blog based on the idea that I wanted to (and still want to) create an audience for me and my work. I know there's risk that people can copy the poems, though that's also true of poems in books. And while it's true that folks could put their name on my poem, posting the work online creates a pretty clear "paper trail," so I don't lose much sleep about that, either. I've also always felt that if someone finds a way to make a lot of money by using my poetry, I'd write more and follow their method! 
I also don't think that posting work for free devalues it or poetry in general. The idea that there's free poetry online, so people are saying "why buy books?" doesn't follow for me. Instead, I think it creates fans who will support poetry and poets. It can create new readers. I've also sold poems off my blog after initially publishing them there, so I can say that free has been valuable to me that way, too. At a different point in my career, I might not see that same value. I can't say. I think, though, that having the ability to connect with my readers directly has more than made up for any potential downsides I can see now.
By the way, this is not to say that there isn't piracy online. I've seen poems reprinted without permission (both with and without attribution). However, for me, being unknown is a bigger concern than having a poem out there in the ether."

Greg's latest venture is called Poetry: Spread The Word.  You've got to watch the short video to get his clever idea for making author school visits affordable.

Author and poet Janet Wong, a remarkable human being and writer, says: "At two of my websites, and, you can find the full text of some of my poems (published and unpublished). I take the "Costco sample" approach to poem-sharing: if you like the little taste that I give you for free, maybe you'll buy a whole book--and, if you don't like it, thank you for at least giving it a try!"
Don't you love that Costco metaphor?  Among Janet's lastest adventures are two ebooks: Once Upon A Tiger: New Beginnings for Endangered Animals and PoetryTagTime , (an anthology of 30 children's poems for just 99 cents!)x

Author and poet Liz Scanlon Garton says, “My creative worldview is that there’s an abundance of poetry out there — more than enough ideas and pretty words for all of us to write a poem every day until we die. So, I don’t worry that someone will steal my work or that I will wear out my muse if I put original poems up on my blogs or elsewhere. In fact, the opposite. I’m pretty sure creative energy begets more creative energy.”
Liz's latest is a picture book illustrated by Arthur Howard about friendship in "couplets with an unfaltering rhythm and gentle good humor" (~ Publishers Weekly) called Noodle and Lou.

Here's my tribute (from among the poems on my Poetry Month Challengeto all poets (including fellow blogmate and poet, JoAnn Early Macken!) who share their words with an open hand:

by April Halprin Wayland
I step onto this rickety bamboo bridge
high over wild water
as winds sways rope
as I totter
as my heart stops
as I lose hope.
You reach across
stretching out
to me
All is not lost.
Your hand is all
I need.
(c) 2011  April Halprin Wayland, all rights reservedx
For the story behind the poem, click here and scroll down to the poem for April 10th.

Writing Workout:

Think of a big concept like generosity or peace or hatred or anger…you get the picture.  Now close your eyes and think about how this concept feels.  What image presents itself?  

It’s the old “Show, Don’t Tell.” Write a poem showing us this concept in concrete terms, as I tried to do with generosity. On your mark, get set, go!

P.S. from Carmela: Don't forget to enter our giveaway for a chance to win an autographed copy of Gretchen Woelfle's brand new middle-grade novel,  All the World's a Stage (Holiday House)


Carmela Martino said...

I'm so glad you share your poems with us here, April. They enrich our lives. :-)

Author Amok said...

Hi, April. Great post! So many interesting opinions about posting your own work. I agree -- sharing your work with an open heart leads to good things.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your comments, Toby, Carmela and Laura. Lots to think about.

And, of course, it's what YOU are comfortable with. Kind of like choosing how to give birth--doesn't matter if it's in super sterile hospital or at home or in the underwater birthing center (my choice)--the point is that you thought about it and made a deliberate choice.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I've been think about this topic lately, too, April. Thanks for the additional perspectives! It seems to me that the more I share my own ideas & words, the less nervous I am getting. Of course, it helps to be part of such a supportive community!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I agree with the poets here; more poetry posted online encourages more poetry. I don't worry about what happens once I've posted an original poem, I'm just really glad to be part of the conversation & community! I have learned so much from other poets who post and gotten nothing but encouragement. Blogging poetry has been a wonderful experience for me all around!

Mary Lee said...

You gathered lots of great advice here! As Laura Salas said on my blog, "Poem ON!"

Greg Pincus said...

April, I think you really make the right point when you say it depends what you're comfortable with. It's not like there's one right and one wrong answer with this type of stuff.

Thanks for bringing this convo out into the open with this post, and thanks for the added shout-out, too!

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

Lovely poem with the image/metaphor of the swaying bamboo bridge. Great discussion, too. I've shared this dilemma, even though I rarely post original poems on my blog, and then usually poetry I wrote as a kid. I tend to agree with Greg that it's worth the risk.