Friday, August 01, 2008

Dropped Gideon off at his last day of speech camp. He can say "animal" and now usually doesn't pee his pants and that's good enough for me. Chris is coming home from Dublin, he's been away for two weeks and I've fallen so far behind that giant ferocious dust bunnies nearly ate my baby.

I still have 20 or so No Tell subs to consider for the last few spots. Been working on that a lot this week and will get all that done by this weekend. It's been a really slow process this time around, a lot of good work submitted.

People often suggest that I get "help" -- but this isn't really something I can pawn off on someone else. Or at the very least not something I'm willing to pawn off. If I'm going to spend all this time and effort publishing other people's work, it has to be work I feel strongly about -- not work somebody else recommended that I didn't give careful consideration too. If somebody else was making those decisions, No Tell would be a totally different magazine. I'm not saying it wouldn't be good, it would just be different, it would cease to become my project. Having somebody else read submissions doesn't save any work -- I still have to put the same time into it -- if I had another editor in the mix I'd have to discuss and defend choices. I don't have time for that!

I'm really selective about who I work with because I have particular ideas and a certain way of doing things. It's not that I want somebody who thinks like me, I need somebody who works well with me -- and that's not a common occurrence. Co-editing is a serious and intense relationship. Molly and I worked well together because while our aesthetics are pretty different, we understood the place where the other was coming from -- because we had an intimate poetry relationship beforehand. I don't shack up with any charming poet who's interested in my submissions. I'm not that kind of editor.

My favorite magazines are the ones with 1 or 2 editors -- because those magazines have a distinct vision. I find most magazines with a large committee of editors to be a muddled mess, rarely publishing work I find interesting, never consistently. They're like poetry orgies, which hey, is OK if that's your bag, but it sure isn't mine.

Aside from a few times a year when I have to address a bunch of envelops, I don't have work for interns or assistants. Unless they'd be willing to clean my house, do laundry and sit next to the toilet for 2-3 hours a day reading Gideon nursery rhymes while he decides if he's gonna grace the world with tinkle. I could use help with those tasks. I guess if somebody wanted to do the accounting for No Tell Books -- which is mostly hassling bookstores who don't pay their invoices or keep track of books on consignment, I'd be happy to pass that off on somebody. I hate dealing with that shit.

What "help" does is create a new and different type of work, a managerial type of work. If I wanted to manage people, I'd get one of those "real" jobs that paid me to deal with that shit. Cause I'd really have to be paid a lot of money to want to do that. I already have a son and husband to manage.

Truth be told, I prefer doing the work myself. When it's at a reasonable level, I love doing it. It's important for me to love what I'm doing. I do not love checking up, delegating and overlording. So when too much piles up the answer for me is to cut back. That means publishing fewer books and having shorter reading periods. It means no longer running Burlesque (but that may be handed off to others in the near future, I hope so). Those are very good solutions. My goal is to contribute to the poetry community, not to become the great poetry servant girl. When Gideon is older, maybe I'll ramp things up more or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll keep the pace I'm going and use the extra time for my own work (yeah, you know I write poems too!). Or maybe I'll take a sabbatical. Gideon and I can tour the countryside writing poems about cornstalks and cow patties. We'll carry our poems around in our AWP hobo bags and rely on the kindness of strangers.

But thank you for your input -- since you have so many great ideas about how to run a poetry magazine and press, maybe you should implement them. It would be a shame for them to languish in that wonderfully perceptive mind.


At 1:06 PM, Blogger shanna said...

ha ha. except for the bits about gideon, it's like i wrote this post. :)

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

I'm totally with you on this. You can LOVE what you choose rather than compromise with someone (whose opinion you might even respect) on a set of poems you like well enough, OK. It's part of what makes me dislike contests. If you're going to the effort to publish someone else (with the iffy financial rewards of poetry) you ought to choose what to put all that work into by choosing something that feels totally worth all the work. With a contest, especially one with a guest judge, the publisher is committing to a project that might not really be a fit.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger kristy bowen said...

Your reasons sound much better and more legitimate than my recent admission to be being a control freak..


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