NewPoetry Officially Postponed

3 Apr

Well, it’s been nearly a year since we pulled together the editorial collective for NewPoetry.ca, and while you’ve seen nothing here, there’s been quite a backstory, some of which I’ll give you here.

The people who signed on as editors did a great job of sending in material from exciting and excited writers across the aesthetic spectrum, but at the back end of the site — where things like design, administration, and other grunt work gets done — things have fallen apart.

When I announced NewPoetry last year, I was genuinely surprised by the pickup — Facebook, newspapers, magazines, and blogs went crazy for the concept. Hey, all those people who normally fight with each other can be in the same magazine! I hadn’t really expected it to be so crazy-public an endeavour. But I was reasonably certain at the time we could get it together and make something really interesting.

And, for the record, the editorial collective was genuinely jazzed and on board with the concept, pulling in interesting work from around the spectrum of available poetries. And remember, this was all done out of goodwill — no money exchanging hands. People were contributing because they believed in the project. The only money spent on this was by me, for hosting and domain names, etc. Otherwise, this was a community effort. I bring this up because there were naysayers out there who said the group could never work together and things would fall apart. Not true. At least not for those reasons. It’s been great and supportive. But these people were never brought on board to do the grunt-work of making a magazine function. They agreed to participate as contributing editors, and they’ve fulfilled that role amicably and admirably. The backchannel discussion was great, and everyone was professional and helpful.

Yet, behind the scenes, the people had volunteered their time and expertise to help me do things like design the site, sift through the submissions, arrange the many pages with audio, video, image, and text — essentially all the things it was beyond my skillset to do with any accuracy or class — were, for one reason or another, unable to show up for work. In essence, I’ve been left to do all the grunt work myself, and I just can’t. I don’t have the skills, and I don’t have the time. I’m not a designer. I’m not even really a proper editor. I have some good ideas, and some energy for getting people together, but if I can’t get help, there’s not much I can do. At least not in a timely fashion.

Last April, I had envisioned NewPoetry launching in June or July. Then I put it off to the fall. Then to the winter. The editors and the writers who so generously donated their work have been wondering: what happened?

So, now I think the only responsible thing to do is postpone it indefinitely until I can get the work of a couple issues done on my own.

I’ve been slowly working on a design (this means learning to code in PHP, which is new for me, but interesting… It just takes time) and when I can get it together, slot in all the pieces, and have it ready to go, I’ll announce the same day as I post. That way there’ll be no hype and/or, given the vagaries of volunteer work schedules, disappointment.

I hope you all understand. It’s not that the project is dead, it’s that I can’t do it alone in short order. The key to this sort of endeavour is the love and investment of a good group of like-minded people who can afford the time and resources to bring it together. Take away any element of that and it all falls apart.

It feels weird to be the one left holding the bag on this, when it was meant to be a community effort, but it was my idea and so someone has to say something. I still believe in the project and hope to get it up and running when I find the time. So, until I can get things together, I beg your patience.

Imagine

13 Jun

A friend sent me this quote which they picked up from a TLS article quoting James Fenton’s “Manifesto Against Manifestos”, and I thought this was an ideal place to share it:

“Imagine a poem that was so intrinsically interesting that it never occurred to people, when discussing it, to mention treatment, method, tradition, influence, form or any of the usual critical categories. The only thing people wanted to talk about was the subject. Would that not be, in its way, revolutionary.”
Indeed! Work continues on the first issue of NewPoetry. A great issue full of varied, interesting poetic investigation.

“When I am most no one”

30 May

The deadline for submissions to issue number 1, Beginning, is June 1.

First call for submissions

26 Apr

Please forward to your networks! NewPoetry.ca is finally accepting submissions.

NewPoetry.ca seeks poetry for its premier gathering of work. The theme is “Beginning” and text, image, audio, video, and web-capable multi-media interpretations are welcome. Visual, lyrical, dub, sound, flarf, narrative, aural, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, formal, sculptural, hip-hop, slam, recitation, etc., and whatever unnamed hybrids may exist between are welcome and encouraged. Work in both French and English is welcome. NewPoetry is a new multi-aesthetic venture that encourages cross-form collaboration and seeks to bring together as many poetic attempts as possible under one banner. Our goal is simply to showcase interesting work in a variety of styles. Please send work and/or proposal abstracts to newpoetry.ca@gmail.com, by June 1, 2011.

NewPoetry Facebook Page

15 Apr

Here is the Facebook page for NewPoetry.ca, if you’re so inclined to follow us that way! Might be an interesting place to start discussions, etc, until we get things a little more functional here.

Protein 13

14 Apr

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicChristian Bök’s PROTEIN 13 on display at the Text Festival. Read more about the Xenotext project here.

Idea flow

11 Apr

NewPoetry seems to have caused some excitement and some dismay in the poetry world. By far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. But this site and those interested in it are not serving the cause by refusing to engage. As things get ramped up here, hopefully the other editors will be able to chime in, in a much more educated fashion than me, but for now, I’m the only one with posting access!

Three criticisms leveled at the site to this point are (hoping I’m getting the gist of each right):

  1. that my “rant” in the first post used the word “best”, which implies a devaluing of experiment and failure…
  2. the project itself does not duly recognize the efforts of those on the web and IRL who have already attempted synergistic projects…
  3. that the list of contributing editors from the first post and about page seems to form a sort of inadvertant canon, devaluing and excluding those not on the list…

Interesting and pertinent observations, all. And I agree with each of them, in some sense. Though I would offer the following in, if not defence then, explanation:

  1. My rant was written quickly, in a burst of energy, and used a style closer to journalism and/or communications flack than criticism. These are two forms I am intimate with and can default to at a moment’s notice. In short, I would in retrospect replace the word “best” with “most interesting”. That’s really more in the spirit of what we’re attempting here…
  2. There have been many, many sites and authors in the last few years who have attempted to build community and collaborative projects. Too many to name. Bookninja itself started out as such, a small community, but one that quickly grew beyond our control into a larger group of many thousands of readers. But it didn’t generate a sense of collaborative energy and cooperative endeavour. It wasn’t designed as such. Other sites have tried to bridge this gap, and in the real world there are several poets and writers and reading series who have tried to act as bridge-builders for a variety of styles and aesthetics. I hope that these people and sites don’t feel in anyway excluded and/or threatened by this one. But if I were to name a few, I would invariably leave others out. An exhaustive list can be made in our links as things get going. So for now: thanks to those who have laid the groundwork for this by seeding our minds with the idea that this can be done…
  3. The contributing editors were invited to start this project because I realized that to have (what the business and communications folk call) “early adoption” or “buy-in” from the “stakeholders”, NewPoetry.ca needed recognizable names from many different communities to be seen as both leaders and peers. It needed readers to see people like Christian and Carmine on the same editorial board, two people who have actually had their critical disagreements and talks billed as “Cage Matches”. It needed to have Afua Cooper, a dub poet who 25 years ago would have had trouble having her art recognized as poetry. It needed Michael Lista, who only weeks ago was pilloried for seeming to say that little magazines maybe needed a culling. It needed a wide variety of people acting as both individuals and a single organism, one that can  stretch its poetic pseudopods into the nooks and crannies of poetry that no single editor could find alone. There was no intention to canonize (would that I had that power!), but there was an intention to have some name recognition, so that the largest possible of people might see something akin to their own aesthetic represented. Obviously, many more were not invited than were—in part to move quickly, in part in an attempt to focus the list, and in part because we just can’t have a committee of EVERYONE. Many of my closest literary friends and colleagues were not invited. They didn’t even know about the project until it was announced. Why? Because that’s incidental. What was best for the project was to see possibilities generated by fields of production bumping up against one another. So a few were invited to create a space quickly for the collaborations to come…

Anyway, I hope some of what I’ve said makes sense. I almost hestiate to write, because I know that on the web the slightest slip in language or logic can unleash a firestorm of criticism. But I’d feel worse if I were to let these criticisms sit with their authors and not be aired here. As I said, I’d like to get the others in here so that this doesn’t seem to be a community led by one. It’s a community led by a community. Would love to hear what you think.

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