Later today (I hope) I'll write a little about my publishing philosophy -- behind my madness.
Last year Tony Tost
and I briefly chatted about online journals here
during the time I was secretly working on launching No Tell Motel
with Molly Arden and Tost was still one of the editors of Octopus
My initial comments were spurred by Tost complaining
how long it took to put an issue of Octopus
out because (like print journals) they were doing it in such a way that they had to recreate everything from scratch as if they were using paper. Lots of online journals are caught in this unnecessary situation. I have poems coming out in online journals that are nearly a year behind schedule. Nothing will get your online journal forgotten faster than by publishing infrequently and irregularly.
Fast forward to now, No Tell Motel
will be one year old next month and Tost is on the cusp of launching a new literary journal, Fascicle, with (nobody) Ken Rumble
and Chris Vitiello
(who doesn't know squat about Pittsburgh).
Tost has ideas about online journals
. Actually Tony has ideas about poetry too, but that's not what I'm discussing here. This morning I found this announcement in in my Lucipo mail folder: "Tony spouts off on editing journals. Does he think Can We Have Our Ball Back is more important to 'his current thinking' than No Tell Hotel? How about The Canary? The Poker? (Hardly knew her) Why privilege innovation over quality? Does he still have a man-crush on Jacket? All this and less and more."
I'm sure that was just a typo and Tost was not implying that Molly and I or the poets published within are hos. No, he was just trying to get my attention so I'd mention him on my famously popular blog.
In today's post Tost says "While I'm making friends . . ." and goes on to write that journals like No Tell Motel
and Unpleasant Event Schedule
are "closer to re-packaging current aesthetics/assumptions as opposed to re-conceptualizing or altering them."
Maybe Tost thinks I'll be offended at such statements. I am not. He also prefaces what he writes with what's "important to his current thinking" and "I don't think I'm speaking on the behalf of anyone other than myself here."
I don't believe anyone would think otherwise.
Tost wants to counter the sameness in journals
and (apparently) will be attempting to do so using the same publishing model that editors have been since the 19th century (18th?). The issue. Actually, I have a fondness for a lot of tradition, my father escorted me down the isle. Every year I put up a Christmas tree and sing O Tannenbaum
. Over my fireplace there's a quaint old-timey tin-type of my great great grandfather Jess Best and his little sister Dolly.
My point was (and still is) that we're using new publishing tools with still many untapped possibilities -- the ability to update "on the fly" (to use some annoying lingo I picked up in the 90's at AOL), the ability to reach a huge number of readers of diverse backgrounds and geography, the ease of reader interaction, and of course sound, video, smell-o-vision, etc. The opportunity to find new ways to collect and distribute poetry are all out there waiting to be discovered and utilized. I keep my eyes open for the buck(ette)s who do that.
What Tost is saying reminds me very much of another annoying corporate catch phrase that was shoved down our throats at AOL. This concept of thinking "out of the box". A lot of the folks I worked with back in the day had very little boxes, because the things that were "out" of their boxes . . .
I'm not implying anything about Tost's box. I'm sure he has a gigantic box. Maybe my comment has more to do with the way he's says what he says?
Tost also admits to skimming journals and I admit that when I'm tired (which seems like all the time) I skim too. When I skim I grasp very little and have to go back another time and re-read that journal if I have any intention of actually knowing/experiencing the poems within.
Tost is looking for an "issue-by-issue a context" to develop, argue with itself, expand itself in, etc. He says "Names, and styles and tendencies, change, but that's different than reading and engaging the back issues of LANGUAGE and accessing a distinct view on the art that one can then endorse, alter, reject, wrestle, mock, grope, etc. A distinct view that one can read come into being issue by issue."
How does one pick up on this if he is skimming, only reading poems by names he recognizes because he's decided the latest issue is only a variation of the same view of the journal?
Again, why issues? Can't the same goal be achieved (better) in a more continuous/regular flow? Why not build and grow within the "issue" -- add, extrapolate, revise, question on the same page as the original texts? Why not have the texts interact with other texts, old and new?
Thinking these goals can be met using issues is working under the assumption that readers won't be skimming your online issues for poems by names they recognize.
There's a reason e-Books haven't taken off yet. People read differently on computer screens than they do with physical books/magazines, newspapers.
I understand a lot of editors prefer issues and perhaps some have taken my comments about the pitfalls of online issues personally. I hope that is not the case. I only publish in journals that I love -- and many of them of do publish issues.
Tost has made it clear. Fascicle
is going to rock our world.
Whew, the last guy that said that to me . . .
I'm looking forward to reading (not skimming) the first issue, but right now I won't make any promises about the second and third.