The Argotist Online
(Editor, Exultations & Difficulties)
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
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?
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.
Why does poetry continue to create schools and movements who feud?
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
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?
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.
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?
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.
copyright © Martin Stannard