“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”
– Robert Graves
I really hate that most poetry is free because it is so powerful and meaningful. Writing and reading poetry are spiritual acts. Poems have the potential for turning us inside out, letting us understand ourselves, and helping us see others. Poems push us deeper into love and pain.
I really believe that poets should get paid when their poems get published, but very few literary journals pay. Of course, poets get a small amount of money from books they publish, but nobody makes a living just from writing poems. Still, I find myself wanting to publish in free online magazines just so my friends and family can read my poems. Because I know none of them are going to buy a literary magazine just to read my poem in it. (And I don’t blame them.)
It’s a conundrum. I think poetry needs to be out there, making its way into more lives, into more psyches, and that happens when it’s free. But I also think artists should be paid. I can spend hours, days, months even writing one poem! Read more about the worth of poetry at the Poetry Has Value site, where poets check in monthly on how much they’ve spent and earned on poetry.
All that said, the least I can do is share poetry, and I have several great things to share today!
In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, a haunting poem titled “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith started making rounds on social media. Here’s a snippet:
This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
Read the entire poem (and purchase a broadside of it) here.
Also, two poets I know recently published online chapbooks, both of which are free and absolutely lovely!
A Door With a Voice by Katie Manning is an exceptional collection of poems whose words come from chapters in the Bible. Manning’s idea was to take the final chapter of different books of the Bible and use them as word banks to create poems. I love how Manning deconstructs the language and reconstructs it to create her own powerful narratives.
Sight Lines by Sandra Marchetti is a moving hybrid chapbook that includes essay and poems. Marchetti places us in nature, giving the reader a feast of image and wordplay. She gives you the sight lines, the visible, and also, the invisible thread of connection between all life. I’ve entrusted Sandy to critique some poems from what I hope will be my next chapbook, so you know how highly I regard her work!
Please read this poetry, enjoy it, and let it seep into you. And remember how hard these poets worked to create these chapbooks. They are both on Twitter; if you feel so inclined, drop them a Tweet thanking them for their work.