Sunday, April 26, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog For A Very Important News Item

I have managed to avoid Excuse Notes for a few days running (and there's one day in particular that I want to write an entry about) but I have to get this out first.

I am delighted to discover that the domain poetry.com has a new owner.

Poetry.com was previously owned by the International Library of Poetry, a literary scam outfit that had been kicking around for decades. Originally, they solicited poems for their "poetry contest" in newspaper ads (I remember seeing them when I was a kid) and with the advent of the Internet, it became easier than ever for them to solicit submissions.

The trick of it was this--every single poem was a 'finalist' in the contest and they would offer to sell you an overpriced hardbound book of 'finalists' that included your poem. So, excited poets (or their proud parents) would pay a chunk of change for an 'anthology' of, well, twenty-line attempts at poetry and look, there's yours on page 187, crammed on a page with five or six other contest entries.

Many a writer tried and tried to write a poem that was just awful enough to get rejected. I even made my own attempt with an obscenity-laden spew of invective that I'd written in my more bitter days on the poetry scene, when I was trying to prove that any pile of crap could be presented as a poem. I submitted it via the site, provided my Mail Boxes Etc. address as a mailing address, and got hit with loads of junk mail about how marvelous my poem was and offering me awards that I could purchase, er, pay the rather considerable "shipping costs" for and inviting me to a poetry convention. (Read here for an account of how the convention held in August 2000 went.)

Surprisingly enough, I did later succeed in writing a poem that was rejected. (They didn't formally reject it, as such, but I received no acceptance notice whatsoever for it.)

Test

This is a test.
Had it been an actual poem
it would have said something.
This is only a test.

I thought it was a nice little bit of popcultural meta, but apparently the notion was lost on them. But it allowed me to succeed where so many other poets had failed. (I know of one other individual who managed the same feat by cutting and pasting twenty lines from a Nigerian scam letter.)

At any rate, it is a distinction that no other poet can claim. While the domain poetry.com still exists, it is no longer run by the International Library of Poetry, but, instead by LuLu.com.

So, yes, it's still owned by a vanity press, but at least it's a vanity press that is run by folks who are open about their business model. They make no false claims to exclusivity--they'll print anything as long as it's legal and somebody pays for it. (As I've mentioned here before, my mom used them to print her clinical instruction book.)

They're even running a poetry contest, but from what I can tell the entries will be judged by popular vote. Whether this results in better poems winning, well, that's yet to be determined, but it's certainly encouraging that they're crowdsourcing the judging instead of leaving it to some shadowy cabal of 'poetry experts.'

So, raise a glass to the demise of the International Library of Poetry. Now, if we can just get rid of PublishAmerica . . .

1 comment:

Collin Kelley said...

I'm interested to see what Lulu will do with the site.