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Michael Rothenberg

(Editor, Big Bridge)


Michael Rothenberg is a poet, songwriter, and editor and publisher of Big Bridge magazine. His poems have been published widely in small press publications, including Berkeley Poetry Review, Exquisite Corpse, Milk, Golden Handcuffs Review, Jacket, Prague Literary Review, Tricycle, and Zen Monster. His poetry books include Man/Woman, a collaboration with Joanne Kyger, The Paris Journals (Fish Drum Press), Monk Daddy (Blue Press), Unhurried Vision (La Alameda/University of New Mexico Press), and most recently CHOOSE, Selected Poems (Big Bridge Press). He is also author of the novel Punk Rockwell (Tropical Press). He has also edited the selected works of Philip Whalen, Joanne Kyger, David Meltzer and Ed Dorn (Penguin Books) and the Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan University Press). His newest book of poems, My Youth As A Train, will be published in Fall 2010 by Foothills Publishing. 

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: Of course the less books created to make a print run then the less books that need to be sold to recover costs. This could be a positive change for Poetry projects since poetry books don't sell very well.

Q: Why does poetry continue to create schools and movements who feud? 
A: As long as poetry creates schools and movements the more likely there will be change and creativity. Unfortunately people act badly on behalf of their particular school or movement and are not as embracing of individual expression as they should be. I like both representational and abstract art and don't see that having diverse tastes shows a lack of commitment on my part. 

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: Poetry publishers always need assistance, even low cost production has to be managed by an organization, there are many more costs than actually production costs if a publisher is going to keep up the good work.

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: The Internet is not a replacement for print. Any more than a cyber-mate is a replacement for a real lover. At least that is how I feel about love ...