These are cool, but I am using them to think (as usual)
Thomas Sayers Ellis

Change the Game Rule #1. Poetry is unique. A book of poetry is not a novel, so please resist the current trend of making books of poetry about one subject, Series writing. A book-length poem is different but most (not all) Series depend heavily on fiction with line breaks, as well as the enemy of the line, the sentence, so get thee beneath the wreckage, Story, and be thee drowned.

Obviously, there are many threads here. A book-length poem is not necessarily a story or narrative; nor is a series or sequence necessarily a story or narrative. However, there is a trend to have "super unified" or exhaustive or complete books, projects, etc. rather than collections or overviews. But I do think that poets must participate in the making, showing, telling, whatever, of ideas and yes stories, but also -- what-have-you -- in a way that they seem to have ceded to filmmakers, programmers, etc.

Change the Game Rule #2. No former student of a judge of a literary contest will be eligible for the prize. Judges must either remove themselves or the manuscript. Young poets should practice integrity when acquiring blurbs, requesting them from writers who are new to their work. Say, “I cannot accept this prize because the judge was my teacher.” Interrupt the lit-inbreeding, the first step toward verse diversity!

It would be nice if all presses disclosed who their readers/judges are in advance. Additionally, a call for blurbers who are not familiar with the work or writer is unrealistic, since too many people don't like to blurb.

Change the Game Rule #3. I am not telling writers what to write but I am telling them to write Now, about Today, to engage Society, all of the designs of Nature. We take too long, crafting our cries for permanence when nothing is meant to last. We’ve allowed the immediacy of ignorance to out advertise us and advertisers to out cinema us. Cinema owes poetry. Our lines don’t have enough current mouths in them.

Good point!

Change the Game Rule #4. Susan Sontag told me, “There are Only Two Places to Publish Poetry, the New Yorker and the Paris Review.” O, the Traceable Hierarchy of Literary Publishing and the Predictable Schema of Most Rewarded Work: Witness, Experience, Simile, Fade-out with a Metaphor. How to Land at FSG, Get Noticed by Knopf? Don’t Start, Be Already Started, Pre-Page, in the Hand, in the Approach, in the Worry.

Uh, huh? It would be nice to rise to somebody's attention. I think we'll figure this out again.

Change the Game Rule #5. Choose to Continue Language and Culture not to Leave it as You Have Inherited it. Every Time Writing Tries to Write You, Re-write It or Revise You. This Also Applies to Lines and Stanzas which are Governed by Breathing More so than Music or Meaning. I Take that Back. Music plus Meaning are Flowers in the pot of Dirt Known as Breathing!

I like the plea for growth and change, but I also feel, very strongly, too, that language and culture comes to us full of air pockets with stuff missing -- generally it is important stuff that I think was in the peanut gallery of the earlier answer that is missing. Soooo, continue to pick up crumbs. New doesn't always not involve the old; new isn't always good -- new isn't always new in an important way....

Change the Game Rule #6. The Workshop Model Must Become Mobile. Time for the Literary Socratic Table to Spin. The (Living) Creative Process not the (Dead) Poem Must be Present. Time to Back to the Future to Iowa 1936 and add some moonwalking. The Workshop Model is Broke and Does Not Serve Wholeness.

I concede this. I do think that part of it is that there are workshops and there are workshops... and participants often need more outside info than they have...

Change the Game Rule #7. Share Your Resources. Journals and Anthologies Need Writers More than Writers Need Them. For Black Writers this Means Share Your White Folks. For White Folks this Means Syllabi More Black Writers. An Editor is not A Tastemaker––the Writing Is!

I agree. An USAmericans: look beyond your borders!

Change the Game Rule #8. Younger Writers With One, Two, Three Books (Flavors of the Month), Write Notes to the Editors Who Love You Suggesting That They Also Publish the Writers Who Have Made A Path for You. Too Often (As a Short-sighted Control Move), Older Editors Will Replace the Cultural Foundation with Young Writers Who are Simply Reinventing the ‘Fro-Wheel. Beware, Inkslingers, of Such Advancement-Standstill.

I dunno. Is this for real?

Change the Game Rule #9. Don’t Publish for Publication’s Sake. Only Send to Journals You Really Like. A Table of Contents is a Community, A Conversation. If You Can’t Find A Decent Place for Exchange or to Change the Exchange, Start Your Own. Don’t Over Publish Or You Will End Up Like…

What's wrong with getting the stuff out again? I mean, don't fling it like poo, and a TOC is a tribe, and a writing is an exchange, but... is Lyn Lifshin BAD? Heck no.

Change the Game Rule #10. Let the work Network.

That would be nice if poems were a little bit more sticky and squeaky and sneaky than they are, but they aren't, and so I think they need to be more persistent, obtrusive, and ubiquitous -- and how to make them so, authors?


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