The Argotist Online
(Editor, Poets’ Corner)
Anny Ballardini's poetry appears on many
online sites and was collected in Opening and Closing Numbers, published
by Moria Editions (2005). She is the curator/editor of the Poets' Corner on the
Fieralingue.it site. Among her many translations from and into English and
Italian is In RI by Henry Gould, (2006).
Q: How has publishing changed with the advent of short-run printing and print-on-demand possibilities? Does this negate any need to sell a specific number of a title? Is this a freedom from traditional print expectations/values?
A: Yes, this is a freedom. I
think I can easily state that print-on-demand & short-run printing will
undoubtedly create new powerful publishers, mainly supported by a specific
audience. At the moment the number of readers is still limited, poets of other
poets (within our specific field of interest), and there is no need to sell
great quantities of a title. Maybe the urgency now for a publisher is to collect
enough titles to make her/his books competitive on the market where quality but
also quantity is requested.
A: I think that in order to
answer this question we have to face immanence as seen by Deleuze. We are part
of this life and expression of it. The creative attitude should in theory
require a gap in-between what is and the new, in order to offer a passage for
the comprehension of what can be defined artistic, old tools have to be used. On
the other hand the means of creation have been the same since the start, in
music: notes, in painting: colors, in poetry: words. Some schools use meter,
others avoid it, some prefer specific forms others free verse. I would
concentrate my attention on the quality of the single, rather than on feuds. If
you speak of feuds you are talking of a way of organizing society, explicitly a
Medieval one, of interest, tout court of politics.
A: I know people will hate me if I speak up my mind here. Let’s not talk of corruption, or of the usual people who are selected by selected groups that give subsidies. Within another context, the one of good publishers who work thanks to their fondness for “the book”, I am often reminded of Wittgenstein’s example. He didn’t even want the inheritance of his father, made sure that not one penny reached him. He worked as an elementary teacher in a little village and was able to produce The Tractatus. As human beings we have to recognize pride and thanks to its energy forge our personality and strength. Governmental subsidies should go to those who were not as lucky as we are, handicapped or sick people, for example, or to found better schools, to improve education, to promote healing – and not a ghost of medicine.
And yes, also to the Arts. But before talking of subsidies to publishing houses, let’s see clearly who is the publisher and what kind of work s/he is doing.
Q: If poetry presses are concerned with cultivating a wider readership, could this not be done more effectively via the Internet (where there are thousands of potential readers) rather than worrying about sales of printed poetry?
A: I agree and disagree with this point, at least this is what my reality shows me. On one side I underline the importance of the Net, on the other I keep on buying books. Since the advent of the Net my life has changed, without books I would be lost. Poetry presses have specialized, I am thinking for example of Karl Young’s publications, small wonderful works of art. Holding one of these books in your hands is quite different than reading a set of poems on the screen. Or with Bob Grumman, when I interviewed him on Poetry Blogging, some visual poems are easier to publish on screen, when color is involved printing can become quite expensive. The discussion is open and many are the pros and cons on both sides.
copyright © Anny Ballardini