Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Now They Have a Name for It

On the wonderful CR WRT OPPS site there's a posting announcing a reading series by

"Post-MFA / Pre-Book Poets."

Finally we have a category! See, we M.F.A.s who had no books thought that we were merely losers, when in fact we were "pre-book."

I spent 16 years pre-book. It was like spending 16 years pre-root-canal. I'd been warned that self-publishing could destroy my career. What career? Poetry is a career? For what percentage of the population? I decided to risk the said career and get it over with.

And -- surprising me endlessly -- the results have been all to the good: much satisfaction, a small monetary return. A "legitimate" poet turned green when I flaunted my $54 check from a bookstore that sold my books on consignment; she never got a check that big for her book! She actually grabbed the check from me to ascertain that it was what I said it was! Plus, I learned that I could have kept to myself that my book was self-published because it's got an ISBN, looks professional, and has another publisher's name on it. In some quarters my baby could pass as "legitimate"!

Now, poets M.F.A. and pre-M.F.A. are beginning to routinely self-publish, saving themselves 16 years of wasted time. While some of their efforts are a bit tentative, they haven't been consigned to career hell or even been burnt. BTW, the last 12 or so poetry books I've bought have all been chapbooks. Do you think I'm going to chase down and order some $22 hardback from the Press at the University of Squat, written by somebody I don't know? LOL!

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