Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The history of poets lamenting the publishing industry

I just started reading a book called "Harriet Monroe and the Poetry Renaissance- The First Ten Years of Poetry." It is interesting to see Harriet Monroe's complaints about poetry in the early 1900's. (She had a lot of trouble finding places to publish her work then.)

Here is Harriet Monroe's list:

"First. Leading publisher of England and America have told me that they "almost never" publish a book of verse unless the expense of publication is paid by the author when the book is issued.

Second. Editors of our most literary magazines state, in writing, that they can publish a poem of more than twenty or thirty lines, "no matter how meritorious," "more than once in a long time." Some of them say never, under any circumstances. And most editors are forced to accept verse from the standpoint of popularity rather than excellence.

Third. Prices paid for the few poems accepted are less than one-tenth, sometimes scarcely one-hundredth, what a painter or sculptor would receive for an equally successful work requiring an equal amount of ability and time.

Fourth. The poet who makes $200 a year through his art is fortunate. Thus he is forced to use up time and spirit in more remunerative occupations.

Fifth. If he or his friends raise money to publish a book of verse few buy it, the critics hardly notice it, and he rarely gets his money back.

Sixth. In short, the vast English-speaking world says to its poets: Silence."

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