And now, to state the obvious: poetry is not a big business. I don’t have any statistics or fancy info graphics (ah, I love a good info graphic) to back up my assertions, but I’d say that the vast majority of poetry is published by VERY small print and electronic journals (there are hundreds of them). Before I go any further, please give these people a round of applause. The kind of publication I’m talking about is usually run by a tiny team, if not just one passionate person. They squeeze in their editing duties between full-time jobs and…well, the rest of the daily grind. They generally make little or no money from these ventures. In fact, I’m sure plenty of them fork over a fair amount of their own cash just to keep their web sites and magazines going, especially if you consider the hours they put into it (time=$ after all). Some of the largest ‘small’ publications do manage to get government funding, but it’s often cancelled when they need it most. Without these dedicated individuals, none of my work would be published. Anywhere. And I want to thank them wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, getting published by smaller journals does have some draw backs. For example: they can fold without warning. I’ve lost count of the little presses that I’ve found in database listings, though they have already ceased to exist, sometimes after decades, sometimes after just one or two issues. When you consider the adverse conditions I mentioned above, it’s totally understandable why people would throw in the towel. Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to keep a press going. I don’t fault these people at all. Unfortunately, this tends to turn a writer’s CV into Swiss Cheese. You find yourself saying, ‘I’ve been published by 20 different journals…but half of them don’t exist anymore’.
That’s why I’ve decided to start posting some of my older poems here, ones that’ve become unmoored from the sites and journals that originally published them. Why not pay tribute to these lost poetry outlets and salvage my poems at the same time.
This week, I’m commemorating Write From Wrong. When they accepted my poem for their website back in 2011, it was my first publication and it gave me the confidence I needed to continue submitting. Though they have a Facebook page with posts as recent as October, 2014, their website seems to have morphed into something dedicated to Final Fantasy video games. RIP Write From Wrong. I’ve included the poem, Surabaya, below.
On busy side street humid nights,
roaring by on motor bikes
through the street lamps’ yellow glow,
we’re passed by souls we’ll never know.
Entire lives are summarized
by the red of blurred tail lights
and the buzzing engine noise,
fading quickly as it goes.
And so we all are boiled down
to a flash of light and passing sound.