THE EZINE AND THE FUTURE OF POETRY PUBLISHING
In this May 2003 issue of Sentinel Poetry, I have included a link to an article that looks at the suggestions that the Internet has been nemetic to the small press publication. It is indeed a view held by quite a lot of people that come the middle of the 21st century, the traditional small press might afterall belong to the loft of history. Fortunately for the small press--a fan of which I am too, some ezinephobes disagree, which is a relief. The truth is that there is no reason why the two media--print and electronic cannot co-exist and complement each other. I still send materials to print magazines but the confidence I have in ezines is the reason I tend to send more to them. I believe that the potentials of electronic publications in developing the art of poetry and promoting poets to all corners of the world are limitless and that as we fearlessly embrace the frontiers of our technological achievements on earth, the future of poetry publication is written in the stars for the ezine.
Many "Little Magazines" as they are sometimes called, a joke on the big ones, have been plagued over the years by a frightening high mortality rate. It is not unusual to send materials to a magazine that shut down the week after you saw their advert on the back of another little magazine. Even the strong ones hang on by the teeth of their lives. Some never make it past the second or third issues, due to the high cost of production and the reluctance of targeted buyers to part with their money. The problem can of course be traced back to the now over-flogged and boring issue of the inaccessibility of most poetry which seriously restricts the market to those who have the brains to get it. This exclusive club of clever creatures are at the same time the suppliers of the materials as well as the market. It is nearly intriguingly incestuous. To play these unique roles, poets are always encouraged to buy and read a magazine to ensure they know exactly what kind of poems a magazine publishes before sending their materials for consideration - a standard which reinforces cobwebbed models of expression whilst violating and suppressing freedom of experimentation. But the sweetest shame of it all is that unless they have something more financially rewarding they do, poets are a generally a skint lot who cannot afford to buy all the magazines to read just so that they can panel-beat their poems to fit into the styles the editors favour. There is even a poetry magazine called Reach. Now to reach Reach with your submissions, you must buy a current issue for a measly £2.50 a go, and use the submission form included (only two poems per form). Photocopies of these forms are not acceptable, and if you want to play smart by obtaining a back issue or 2 x UK 1st Class Stamps, forget it because back issues don't contain these submission forms. After you have spent your money to reach Reach and submit your work--believing it to be the kind of poem the editor will like, she may not like it and you get your poem back (if you sent it in with a stamped return envelope), if she likes it, she will publish it but you don't get paid for the poem either, and I quote, "There is no payment for work except the pleasure of seeing it in print and the praise of your peers." -- unless your poem happens to be the one voted for by readers and you get paid a prize of £50.00.
All of these result in a lot of poets simply buying loads of second class stamps and sending their poems blind anyway (which they can't do with Reach), and getting them rejected in their hundreds. There is a belief that editors know straightaway the poems of a poet who has never read their magazines.
In effect, little magazines and some big ones suffer the same long distance admiration poetry collections suffer. In a way, the Internet has done for the little magazines what the pamphlet has done for the printed collection.
Enter the ezine! Own a computer with Internet access, or pop down to your local Cyber Café, for about £1 for 30 minutes of surfing (it works out cheaper to pay somebody a flat rate and surf as much as you like at home), open Explorer or Navigator, type in www.somepoetrymagazine.SomeExtension, read the magazine for free. If you like it, send your work by e-mail. No cost to you (if your don't count the £1.00 you paid at the Cyber Café or the renal to your ISP).