A recent flurry of my poems being carried by The High Window (issue 15), The Ekphrastic Review (August 2019) and Celebrating Change (September 2019) has made me ponder the pros and cons of online publishing.
You write a poem, you re-write a poem, you workshop it, you work on it again, eventually you submit, sometimes it’s accepted for publication. So far, so normal. Appearing in a magazine or anthology enables us to share our craft, our vision, our voice. Being published doffs its cap to posterity.
So what can online publication offer that printed books and magazines can’t? Well, for a start, online magazines are usually free to read. This, together with the fact that content can be shared more easily via social media, means you potentially reach more readers. There can be greater immediacy too when you by-pass the laborious processes of printing and posting out. This is particularly relevant for political poems. Online is so handy for journeys – no more lugging heavy books around. Stuck in a jam? Pull out your mobile and get reading. Online magazines allow you to search for individual poet’s work, often across many issues. At magazines like The Ekphrastic Review, you also get to see the painting or artwork that inspired the poem – a delight that books can usually only dream of. Online creative collaborations such as Celebrating Change can use film, music, written word or spoken word in ways that printed form simply can’t deliver. Not least of all, online poetry saves trees!
For many writers (and readers) however, the printed book or magazine simply can’t be beaten. There’s something about the quietness of paper that conduces to contemplation and absorption. Bad habits of dipping and diving on-screen can be left behind and poems given the space (literal and metaphorical) they deserve. Many online magazines can’t take unusual formats because line breaks get easily mangled. Goodbye concrete poetry! In terms of longevity, a book can be retrieved from your shelves and re-read in years to come, whereas online work tends to plunge into oblivion remarkably quickly (unless it’s a bad review or embarrassing photo!)
There are no right or wrongs, of course. Clearly, online and print both have a place in our reading lives. It’s fun to embrace them both. As far as I’m concerned, thank you for taking my work, and vive la difference!
The Ekphrastic Review, edited in Canada by Lorette C Luzajic, publishes poems on a daily basis and accepts reprints: “We’re an online journal devoted entirely to writing inspired by visual art. Our objective is to promote ekphrastic writing, promote art appreciation, and experience how the two strengthen each other and bring enrichment to every facet of life. We want to inspire more ekphrastic writing and promote the best in ekphrasis far and wide.” Check it out here at: The Ekphrastic Review
The High Window is published quarterly by David Cooke and includes reviews, guest poets, poems in translation, occasional articles, and new poems by established and up and coming poets. He has recently started releasing it in instalments to allow for less pressured reading. By clicking names on the contributors’ list, you get taken straight to that person’s poems. Poets in the autumn 2019 issue include Claire Booker, Rebecca Gethin, Rosie Jackson, Maitreyabandhu, Angela Topping and Gareth Writer Davis. The High Window (issue 15)
Celebrating Change is an ACE funded story-telling project based in Middlesbrough led by Laura Degnan and Kirsten Luckins, which combines film, poetry and writing workshops around social change. It releases a poem every ten days, and accepts reprints. Guest editors have included Amy Kinsman and Jess Green. Some of the poets published so far are Claire Booker, Rachel Burns, Sarah L Dixon, Catherine Fulkner, Moira Garland, Ye Min and Marka Rifat. Check it out here at: Celebrating Change