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MD Kerr @m_d_kerr
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I had another EPIPHANY at Hear the Word (Oxford's loveliest poetry evening) - it always reminds me what poetry is FOR, in different ways, always around the crux that this is just a normal thing that humans do, the same way we cook and sing, and that it's something to share.
I read early on, and in the first break, someone came up and asked me if there was anywhere she could find my poetry. Very apologetically, I explained that I'd taken it all off my website, as journals and competitions see that as "published", and so they won't accept it.
I gave her my card and offered to just email her the poems I'd read, instead. Then after the music, I had almost the identical conversation in reverse, with someone whose poetry I really wanted to see more of - and this time it was her apologising, and giving me *her* card.
The rest of the evening, my head was fizzing. Because even the poems that are in journals are pretty inaccessible. If someone wants to read *that* poem, are they going to hunt down the BFS Journal Spring 2012, assuming there are even any copies left? Or buy that 2016 journal?
Meanwhile, I'm hoarding my poems like some avaricious little paper dragon, not sharing *anything* "in case a journal accepts it" - and even sending them out religiously, that's slow work, when they want exclusive submissions and often take 3-6 months to reply. And for what?
All I want for my poetry is to share it and to be read. I don't ever expect to make money from it, & journals generally don't pay so I'm giving it away free anyway, and I'm perfectly happy with that, but... I suddenly realised I can give it away free on MY terms. Share it freely.
Put it here and on Facebook, make graphics for Instagram (I LOVE making graphics!), put recordings on SoundCloud - I record almost all of it anyway, while I'm writing it, and I love doing that! And put it back on my website.
Put it places ANYONE can read it, not just People Who Buy Poetry Journals, because that's one of the things I feel most strongly about, with poetry, that it *should* be democratic not elitist, inviting not exclusive. I think journals do an awesome job - don't get me wrong.
They work like crazy, in their spare time mostly, and I'm incredibly grateful they do, and grateful for the ones that have published my work. And many work hard to be democratic not elitist, inviting not exclusive, but that is still how they're often seen, from the outside.
That's not their fault. That's the image poetry has for many people. Most of the avid readers I know would never dream of subscribing to a journal–but they'll read poems if they come across them in their feed. So I don't want to just do journals anymore, and save it all for that.
So, back to Hear the Word, in a room full of people freely sharing their poetry, and remembering that's what it's FOR, this is as human as cooking a meal for friends, as singing along with someone else, and I want to do THAT again, I want to go back to THAT. A pub backroom, the ceiling covered in parachute silk and fairylights, people mingling.The same room, now with everyone's attention centered on a guitarist.The same room, with a man standing up reading poetry, while people gaze up at him, listening, or look down thoughtfully.
So, head fizzing all the way home through the beautiful freezing dark and the plum blossoms like white clouds, I decided I'm just going to SHARE IT ALL, gleefully and freely. Expect a deluge of poetry!
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