The Argotist Online

About        Articles       Interviews        Features       Ebooks       Submissions      Links



Martin Stannard


(Editor, Exultations & Difficulties)



Martin Stannard has published several collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Coral (Leafe Press, 2004). He is also a regular reviewer, and Stride published a collection of his reviews and essays, Conversations With Myself, in 2001. He runs the website Exultations & Difficulties, which is a cross between a blog and a poetry magazine but much better than either of those things.


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: I don't really have first-hand experience of this, because I'm not involved in book publishing. But of course I know people who are and it seems that rather than change the values or expectations you mention it has simply made book production easier. I don't think that means the publisher is going to do any less in the way of promoting their titles; if anything, it's going to free them to do more.


Q: Why does poetry continue to create schools and movements who feud?


A: Perhaps the presence of a bunch of people with big egos who want to be seen as having more intellectual prowess than the next poet with an ego has something to do with it. I don't know.  I'm not averse to schools, as such, and you'll not be surprised to hear that as a result of reviewing regularly Iíve come in for my fair share of abuse and got mixed up in the occasional pathetic little feud. And that's what they are, really, pathetic little feuds. You have to be careful, poets are such sensitive souls, and I know lots who if you have an opinion different from theirs you're probably wrong.


Q: With POD possibilities, including various organisations that will take on anything without a set-up fee and simply send royalties to the author, do poetry publishers need arts council subsidies any more?


A: I actually don't know the answer to this because I don't really know the economies of publishing now. I have no idea what a POD book costs to produce.


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: Surely the Internet is just one more tool in the armoury, if you like. A pretty big one, admittedly, but also probably in some ways a very difficult one to manage. There is so much information out there that someone looking for poetry and not knowing exactly what they are looking for risks being buried under an avalanche of information and misinformation. But I suspect most people know what they are looking for. It's not like you sit around and think, Oh I'd like to read some new and exciting contemporary poetry, and so then you go and look on the Internet for it by keying "some new and exciting contemporary poetry" into Google. If I were publishing books I'd be happy to take whatever opportunities presented themselves to promote my titles, and that would include a reading where we sold half a dozen books, as much as a fancy website that had 1500 hits a week and sold half a dozen books.