No, that’s not the title of a poem, it’s the truth. I had something I was going to post this week, an original found poem, but it’s out for submission to an online journal and can’t have been previously published, not even on the old blog. Good thing I caught that before I uploaded it!
But it does bring up an interesting question, which is whether to continue posting original work on the blog. Original unpublished new work I should say. Initially when I started putting up original work my wife (the lawyer) wondered about copyright and worried I could be easily plagiarised, but I didn’t think that was an issue. Well, not an issue for me at least, not at the time. Maybe down the road, I thought, it would be a good idea to make sure there’s a copyright notice somewhere. It’s just never been a pressing issue.
Recently though I’ve come back around to another way of thinking, one that has to do with the idea of valuing the work I do. Years ago — decades now — I was part of the burgeoning zine culture. I did some mini comics, some one-offs, and eventually put together a movie review zine that got picked up for distribution by Tower. The rule of the DIY zine community was to put a value on the work, charge people for it, even if only a quarter for a simple mini comic, because if you as the creator don’t put a value on it no one else will. It makes sense, a thing you get handed for free is that much easier to throw away than the thing you gave up some money for.
The internet has changed that esthetic and thinking. Forgetting that we pay for the computers and the internet access, we see content as something that is free without amortizing what each little bit and flit costs us. We add content freely because we don’t have to take the time it used to take compiling, cutting and pasting, photocopying, and mailing our missives to the world. We don’t physically pay for these digital jobs and so we don’t think about collecting on them. The poems and cartoon mash-up we would have spent time compiling and distributing we now throw onto blogs and websites with barely a second thought. What we’ve gained by distribution and a potentially wider audience we’ve traded our sense of creative worth like Jack trading a cow for a sack of beans. Maybe they will grow into a magical financial beanstalk down the road, and then again maybe they won’t.
For 15 months now, almost every week, I’ve been posting an original poem as part of Poetry Friday. I’ve done it to participate in the predominantly (though not exclusively) kidlit community of poetry. I’ve done it because I wanted to stretch my wings in an area I long considered to be outside my abilities. It’s a thing I picked up as a kid, this thinking that I wasn’t a poet, as if poets are born and not self-created. But as a pre-teen poetry grave me a love for language and the potential of words and storytelling that has stuck hard and fast all these years. I wanted to find my way back to that and its taken me all these months of sharing with the world to think that maybe I’m good enough to go a step further. Submitting a poem to a journal was that first step.
So on the even of April’s National Poetry Month I find myself in an odd space. Do I continue to post weekly poems to the blog while also looking to get published in more traditional venues? If I’m “saving” my better work for publication, does that mean I devalue the “free” work I post to the blog, or worse, am I devaluing the blog reader by sharing factory seconds? Or am I over-thinking the whole enterprise the way I do with practically everything.
April is when I have, for the last three years at least, tweeted upwards of three haiku daily and posted the collected week’s worth on the blog. I haven’t decided if twitter haiku isn’t overplayed or if I don’t want to try something different. I do think that The coming month may be the last month where I feature original poems here at fomagrams. At least for a while. Long enough for me to take stock, refocus my energy, and figure out what the hell I’m doing here.
You know, the usual.
For those looking for the usual Poetry Friday fare, head on over to my juicy little universe where Heidi is hosting the roundup this week.