Monday, September 5, 2011

Being a Lemming: BlazeVOX Rant

Being the spineless follower I have always been, I will now say a few things about the whole BlazeVOX controversy.

Disclosure:  I have submitted a manuscript to BlazeVOX.  That is the extent of my relationship.

I have been saying this for a long time, but I think it needs to be said again.  And I quote:

What I would like to see happen is poets entering contests at presses with which they can see themselves creating a real working relationship. I think poets should find other ways to support the small press than rationalizing their contest reading fee as support. Poets should support presses without the ulterior motive of submitting to them. We all should buy more books just to buy and read them. More presses would survive that way. I think poets should seek out presses more actively and take the time to learn about them. Because of Facebook, I rarely go a week without looking at some new press and exploring their mission. Do I submit to every press I come across? No. I query, I ask myself questions, and I weigh my options. But having heard of presses I can suggest them to poets I know, and I hope other poets might do the same for me.

It doesn't happen on its own, dear reader.  The world of poetry is not a perpetual motion engine, and I don't think anyone should fool themselves into thinking that.  Could BlazeVOX have done a better job communicating that they depend on authors to subsidize their work?  Of course.  But having had some experience with editors who lack communications skills (three different editors for two different manuscripts) I can tell you there is a lot of information which gets lost in the airwaves and garbled in transmission.  

Oh, the utter offense at being faced with the realities of the poetry business with one's first poetry manuscript!  Oh, the Horror!  The Horror!  Well, Mr Kurtz?  He dead.  Strangely enough the world still marches on and you either buck up, little camper, or you fall by the wayside.  I read the blog in question and I read the e-mail in question (and of course I did not really notice the typos) and there in plain English was the option to back out of the deal with no hurt feelings or end to any working relationship in the future.  Take it or leave it, Opie, but you don't live in the skewed world of Mayberry, MFA, any more.

When I found out my book was being published by Foothills, I immediately committed the sum of $300 to buy more books.  Why?  That's how Michael Czarnecki makes his living.  This isn't amateur hour any more.  It's what we call patronage.  When I had to back out of my previous contract because I was unwilling to go with an e-book only format I was heartbroken, and my editor was certainly disappointed, but you know what?  We both go over it.  You make choices you can live with because one way or another you will be doing exactly that.  

Shut yer whining.  You've got your MFA and now it's time to put on your big boy pants and get a fucking JOB.  One hint:  Your job is not Town Crier.  Go teach freshman comp until you decide you need your PhD. so you can teach a few lit courses every year to break things up.  Why?  Because after 25 years of trying to be a better poet I really don't have time to hear about how the big nasty press asked you for $250 to help out with the costs of publication---and at one helluva discount towards future book purchases. 

I'm gonna go listen to the mutherfuckin' Clash.


  1. The saddest part of this is even as Gatza makes his mea culpa, he's continued to be called a scam artist, grifter and worse. It's as if BlazeVOX's impressive list of poets and fine books is now null. Poets can be a bunch of bitches.

  2. Laws, sausage, and now poetry books are the things nobody wants to know how each is made.

  3. Thank you. It's $250. You can come up with the money, and if you can't then get a job so you can.

  4. Gatza did exactly the right thing in his apologetic - and spell-checked - e-mail this afternoon, I think.

    Justin - You know, I think you should start a press! Me too...Someday...I have a dream...