I blink emerald.
I blink sea glass green.
Saeed Jones, via THE COLLAGIST.
One of the things I like about blogging here on wordpress.com (don’t worry, there are some things I don’t like too) is that sometimes I come across really cool blogs that I like to follow. Saeed Jones’ is one of them, and today, when checking the blogs I surf, I found this reference. Followed it, and ended up at The Collagist, a journal I’d never heard of before.
Worth reading. And while you’re at it, visit some of my online favourites too: Anti-, qarrtsiluni, and, of course, tongues of the ocean.
**edited to fix the man name.
This is what I’m “reading” in my spare time. Rather, I’m having it read to me as I drive around town — McCall Smith’s Corduroy Mansions, a serial novel in the Telegraph.
Having just discovered podcasts, I’ve been downloading it and listening to it in traffic.
And marvelling about the communications revolution we’re all probably taking for granted. But more on that later. Here’s a little quiet inspiration for all the writers out there, courtesy of AMS:
There’s a rocking going on in the poetry blogosphere (hate that word! Hate it! hate it!) that’s been caused by the unexpected and premature death of Reginald Shepherd, who was two weeks younger than me. PFFA poets have made their comments — here, and here, and here, and in this thread on PFFA, here. Like Rob, if it weren’t for the internet I may not have heard of him, but I may — he lived in Florida, and was a colleague of colleagues. The thing is, unlike my fellow poets, I hadn’t read his poems till the day he died.
I had read his essays, had looked at his blog, had been moved by his prose. Now that I read his poems, though, I’m struck by the lyrical nature of them. Lyric poetry is something I have fought for some time, landing strangely in the world of narrative and dramatic verse, not terribly moved by the lyric efforts of most of my contemporaries.
I’m not sure but I think I may be changing my mind. Will I be writing any lyrics in the near future? Unlikely, though who can tell. What goes on inside me is nobody’s business but mine, I’ve decided. Let me give you fragments instead and shore them against my ruins.
I’m reading (listening to) Ian McEwan’s Atonement, having watched the movie long after buying the book years ago, when I was recreating my home library after returning from eight years abroad. There are always differences between books and films, clearly, and what’s missing (what has to be telegraphed) is always the inner life, the thought, the meditation.
But more on that later.
Now that I’m halfway through the Africa Reading Challenge, including the works of young female writers alongside the spaces filled in my mind by Ngugi and Achebe and Soyinka, something else is growing clearer as well. It doesn’t seem to matter that the generations have changed and the gender is different. The stories we’re writing and publishing continue to be coming-of-age stories, by and large.
It’s becoming commonplace to observe that the internet and print-on-demand revolutions are changing the world of publishing, shaking the centrality of publishing houses and agents, and creating a more democratic relationship between reader and writer. But how is that supposed to work? The following article gives some ideas:
Reading and Writing with Ernest Scribbler: Escape POD.
Years ago when the world was young a writer who couldn’t get a book published turned to ‘vanity’ publishers who, for a fee, would set and publish your book for you. Vanity publishing has always been sneered at because the books so produced tend to be poor, and without a publisher’s imprimatur, it’s hard for purchasers to know if they’re buying a pup.
POD fulfils the same need, but uses modern technology to cut out virtually all the cost. Submit your files online to the POD provider’s conversion engines, design a cover, set a price, and you’re done. Send the link to all your friends, and you have a book.
The catch, as ever, is credibility. Why should POD books be any better than old-fashioned vanity products? They needn’t be, of course — except that the increasingly tough publishing market, in which publishers have been stung by paying unrealistic advances on books that weren’t going to be big sellers, means that many good books fail to reach the market, because it’s just not worth an agent’s while (or a publisher’s while) to publish a book that sells fewer than a certain number of copies. My agent tells me that publishers are increasingly “buying conservatively” which means that they will tend to do retreads of tried-and-tested formulae rather than risk anything new. That’s why all books these days are chick-lit or Dan-Brown clones.
Here the ‘long tail’ effect comes into play. There are many good books that would get some readers, if a publishing mechanism existed that allowed for them to be produced without incurring a thumping great loss.
Food for thought, at the very least.
The first of two poems is up at qarrtsiluni:
Sevenling: Life is a Drying.
(ai, it’s hard to post in the middle of the day from here … traffic is high and the connection gets very slow, and weird things happen. Where’s here? Why, Georgetown, Guyana, at CARIFESTA X, and you can follow the story of my/our experiences here, but anyway, we soldier on)
I wanted to say that in checking one of my email accounts the other day, I realized, belatedly, that two of my pieces had been accepted for publication in the Transformation issue of qarrtsiluni.
Sevenling: Life is a drying
The Granddaughter Sings Lily Home (1994)
They’ll even be accompanied by sound files. Fabulous!
Thanks, guys. Look for the first one soon.