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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Why I stopped publishing poems on this blog

For the past two months I have been publishing poems I have written, here on the blog. Most commonly, I would take each poem down after a day or so. I put the poems up on the blog so that I could share them using social media. The problem is that there are magazines that publish poetry but they will not do so if a poem has been published, including on the internet. So if I want to get my poetry published in a magazine I have to think about how the poem reaches the public.

I have taken all poems written over the past two months down, with the exception of one. That poem is about Aaron Swartz and I left it up because it fits in with a series of blog posts I did about this man who tragically took his own life last month.

There's a pressing reason, also, impelling me to remove poems from the blog, which is that I received a request from the National Library of Australia, located in Canberra, to archive and publish my blog's contents in perpetuity. If I leave poems up here then they will be scraped, along with all the other posts, and published where I have no control over the display of them. I was glad to have the NLA make their request because what happens to my blog after I die is definitely something that I have thought often about. But I think that if people want to read my poems then they should buy a book, and not get them for free on the internet.

The reason I have been writing so much poetry is because I was at a bit of a loose end. In July I stopped pitching story ideas to magazines because journalism was taking up too much time and I am looking after my elderly mother. That was in wintertime, and she was having to go to the doctor every two days or so due to a serious bout of flu. As she isn't driving much I had to take her each time. So that was taking up more and more time. As she gets older there are more things for me to think about and look after. Unlike journalism, poetry is remarkably liberating. You do not need anyone else to do it. You do not need to set up interviews, make phone calls, or deal with other people in the world. All I need to write poetry is word processing software and a keyboard and screen, I do not need to talk with another person at all. So I had been writing poetry for about six years, on and off. It was something that I had some capability in and something that I enjoyed doing. But with no magazine stories to pitch I started getting a bit antsy, so I went back to writing poems with a bit more application. I have completed over 30 poems so far this year.

Some days I might write one poem, other days I might write two. I did five in one day not so long ago. Some days I write none at all. I have also been reading more poetry, and also reading studies by specialists in the work of other poets. This is all interesting and, I think, useful. Reading how a specialist analyses a poet's work, in fine detail, along with their recounting the major components of the poet's life, enables you to make assessments about the type of poetry you also would like to write. This is a fulfilling passtime, and one which I plan to continue.

For readers of this blog who have been interested by the poems that I've been publishing here, if you want to provide encouragement, please leave a comment with your views on the poems. Readers will notice that the poems I write are formalist works, and they may have a view on the relative merits of reading such rhymed, metrical verse as opposed to the more commonly-found free verse that you see in quality magazines nowadays. I am interested in your views.

I should add that I will be upgrading my personal website so that it can accommodate my poetry, so some poems will in future be published on the internet. Those who are interested should keep an eye out here for news of that happening, as I will blog about the new site pages when they are complete.

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