All this talk of ethics and contests. I see how a judge could pick someone they knew (given MFA programs and reading circuits and the like) but with money involved I feel more frustrated. The entrance fees supporting the first book of a friend of the judge or press.

I like that Foetry is out there. We need some good watchdogs.

So how can we really know if a contest is unfair?


talks about all the people she knows and has published at Soft Skull, but there’s no entrance fee right?

I realize money is not the only issue, but for some reason I feel less uncomfortable if places like Graywolf and Wesleyan publish poets via recommendation, friendship etc.

Building you own boat seems like a good way to go (and there are many great boats out there). Why should we have to play the Jorie Graham, Charles Wright, Mark Strand games? Why should we be interested in the Paris Review first book prize? Or the Colorado prize? Or again, in publishing in the New Yorker, Paris Review, Atlantic Monthly etc.

Somehow, I think a lot of the glut and unfair processes are tied to university and tenure.

The apparent prestige of the New Yorker and Paris Review. The legitimate sounding university press. Scratch a back get a scratched back in return.

Fuck the prestige.

I am much more thrilled by the new poetry presses. Although, I feel a little left out when I look a little closer at Verse press and Fence press and notice just how many of those poets went to Iowa. Not that attending Iowa means the poetry is not good (not at all). Or even that it is all the same (but maybe that will be more apparent in the near future). But moreso I feel like the kid with the wrong uniform (or no uni form).

So, it’s exciting and daunting. Distribution being another aspect. Small small presses are often more willing to take chances than the larger small presses, but the work is not distributed well. Or maybe just distrubuted differently. Maybe the way books of poetry are distributed will change via blogging.

Even if Graywolf, Copper Canyon etc. get into Barnes and Nobles, how many people purchase poetry by brousing in the poetry section versus word of mouth and online purchasing? I rarely buy poetry books from Barnes and Nobles because I prefer recommendations and then searching for the recommendations online.

Another comment I hear a lot is that experimental works lead to only poets reading poets. If it’s not accessible you’re narrowing your audience to other poets and thus, when you die, you will be known as a poets poet.


Well, there are examples of friends reading each others work and then the passion (that damn movie has ruined the word “passion” for me) spreads outward. NY school, beats etc.

Enough. Back to My Life (lyn Hejinian)





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