Sunday, July 23, 2006

Background Noise #9

Artist/Album: Sigur Rós /( )
Drink: 2003 Mad Fish Shiraz

The title of this installment of Background Noise could easily be Guerilla Poetics, or the Future of Publishing. Christopher Cunningham, the host of Upright Against The Savage Heavens, and a few of us have decided upon venturing into what we feel will be the future of publishing. An ambush attack upon the unsuspecting millions (alright, thousands) who are purchasing and reading the work of our predecessors.

We are hoping that this alternative type of publishing will land us new readers around the globe. If done correctly, honestly and with the right amount of luck, we could potentially start a phenomenon in the small press.

Of course, there is also the more likely scenario that nothing happens, or it seems like nothing happens, and we continue to labor at the typewriter, banging out immortal poems that no one will read. But, if we can just capture one new reader, it will have been a success.

I won't detail the exact nature of our plan. Suffice it to say we have foot-soldiers in all 50 states, and across the world, ready to ambush the world's bookstores.

What I do want to discuss is why it is necessary for us to take such drastic measures in the first place. The types of poetry we Guerilla Poets write (and most small press poets write) is accessible, easy to read and rife with meaning and revelation. We strive to gain a readership of non-writers, but most of us have failed miserably. Why is this? I have no idea.

I suppose it has something to do with the fact that our work CAN'T be found in Barnes & Noble, and most of the major literary magazines are stuffed with pretentious, academic poetry that means nothing to the world. These two things have given small press poets a double whammy: an inability to broaden our readership and a public closed off to poetry due to all the pedantic, bullshit poets out there.

Unless we want to continue to waste away in small, photocopied magazines for the rest of our lives, we must take action. All small press writers surely feel this way. But, what to do? Self-publish and sell on Possibly, but how many do you expect to sell, and how will you market yourself? Good luck with landing in any major publishing house, but don't quit your day job on that prospect.

The only thing left to do is attack the publishing houses with their own product. And this is what we, the Guerilla Poets, intend to do. There might be other alternative ways of publishing and disseminating poetry. I've been involved in a few with Shoshauna Shy's Poetry Jumps Off The Shelf, out of Wisconsin where coffee warmers had poems printed on them, and little tags with poems were attached to rental bikes. Both are great ideas, and The Guerilla Poets encourage more of that. Even something as simple as the 24th Street Irregular Press's matchbook size broadsides, called Poems-For-All, that can be left with a tip, or dropped off anywhere like bathrooms and public transit, can make a difference. Unfortunately, these forms of alternative publishing (like most) don't focus on the proper demographics: the reader amenable to poetry, and appreciative of our cause. The Guerilla Poets have found a way to target the right audience, and force them to notice.

Join me in discussing other ways we can disseminate our words, ways that aren't necessarily typical of what we'd call "conventional publishing" but are effective and creative.

And watch for future updates from the Guerilla Poetics Project. We plan to take the world by storm, one reader at a time!


Blogger christopher cunningham said...

haven't even read the post yet, but I love that Mad Fish shiraz...

that's a good 'un.

10:31 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

okay, read the post. this should be cross posted at GPP.

do it, baby.

fantastic j.b, really fucking great. you shoulda writ the goddamn manifesto. you really explicate the WHY of it all. and you elucidate many of my own reasons that I forgot to put down/didn't realize I thought.

great work, again.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Luis said...


Fine post, fine words, let the war for the word begin.

11:20 PM  
Blogger theeffects said...

nicely written, well said..........


12:34 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

okay I put a link to this post in the manifesto.

1:57 AM  
Blogger j.b said...

thanks, Chris..i'll cross-link it to my own blog, as well.

sorry i didn't get to it in time.

Thanks for the kind words, guys. i think we really need to make sure this happens. let's make this everything the small press ISN'T about. no plans that fall through. no grand schemes that sputter out.

this one HAS to happen.

also, that Mad Fish is divine isn't it? and affordable, even in Utah.

9:16 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

oh it's happening, my man. and the response already is strong. I am getting emails from all over the small press wanting to participate in this. sadly, the competition is gonna be keen initially. maybe later we can expand the printing to include others, offset printed broads, etc. as long as they conform to our guidelines (size, quality, manifesto on back, etc.), with our approval, poem-wise, and so on. it could be really really big.

GPP - using the bookstores against themselves since 2006...

4:50 PM  

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