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Models of Reproducing Your Poetry

There’s a few models of propagating in nature: have and nourish a few offspring or create many but don’t nourish any, spread by rhizomes, binary fission, etc.

The mammalian model of few offspring, nurtured intensely, is comparable to poets who narrowcast their book marketing. i.e They place poems only with prestigious, higher circulation paying markets and solicit higher profile readings to get maximum exposure for the energy spent. This may be with small press or large press. They may write (or release) fewer poems but they carefully place the poems and their books into a few select hands of connectors, and hope for the tipping point effect.

Then there’s the insect or spore model which makes a huge amount of poems which are broadcast widely and less discriminately, seeds to fertile or rocky ground. The same energy may be spent as they other model. Poems are sent to any market going, paid or unpaid, net or print. The goal is to get as many ears and readings as possible to maximize the chance of finding a fresh niche. The failure of spores to find suitable ground is higher in this method, but poetry drifts into places it wouldn’t have in a more planned and protected, proprietary marketing model.

Each strategy has an advantage in continuing genes so why not also be equally effective as memes? Does it matter what the content is as far as being compatible with a strategy?

If you are going to brood over a poem and fuss for years or decades and put much of your energies into its successful survival, do you make a different poem than if you value the need for quantity? If you make many, are you making near cloned variants? If you take a mammalian model, that doesn’t ensure each offspring is a radical development and departure. You work with what is within you and what you can pull from the outside in either case.

When we read, are we ant eaters or bear hunters?


A poem is a mix of how it reflects psychology, society, the values around the poet and within, the skill it is rendered with, the perceived value and the value it gets by how it is perceived by an individual and the cash value if sold.

What’s the value of your poem? How do you decide on a market/reproducing strategy?

Give your poems away for free and our commercially trained mind may assume the poems have less value than those who are targeted to paying markets (which have a 1% of less acceptance rate and a turnaround time for accepting of poems of 6-18 months).

What is the aim when we share a poem? To communicate in a community or build a CV? The dichotomy is not that simple nor are they mutually exclusive.

Which community does one want to communicate in? If you have hundreds of publications worldwide but no one has heard of any of them, and no one community recognizes them, then what is the gain? If you have select publications of the little that leaves the houses, but they pay well but only happen once a decade or every few years it may take a die-hard fan to follow the rare blips along a longitudinal career. It’s a different rhythm of communicating. Again, your work isn’t a widely recognized currency.


People seem to think there’s more validity and prestige with the mammal model whether one writes better or weaker poetry. In a consumer culture, availability, price and marketing for access are assumed to be filters of merit.

If one wants to reach ears that can hear and don’t care how many ears, either method can reach the ideal audience who the poem hadn’t met before.

Poems exist in economic systems and inside social systems and inside languages of form or shape or culture. Words or ideas can be said in “Standard English” or in jargon or in dialect or be extremely culturally embedded. To share a poem is to reach ears that can hear. If many can resonate with the subject, putting it in a place where many see makes sense. If it is a meaning that is targeted to resonsate with few, then niche marketing, hand-to-hand, face-to-face exchange makes sense. This would mean there are poems built for bear-hunters and poems built for ant-eaters.

The aesthetic/ideology of what you consume informs your appetite and your community. But then, do we not need a rounded diet? Are we not all opportunist omnivores? Or only if we have trained our digestion to be adaptable and change and mix diet gradually or else we give ourselves cramps?

Is there a difference in value, pretending for a moment that intrinsic exists?

Value can be had in different ways — game changer ideas that are large and shift culture on a wide scale and economic value. Economic value can come thru different routes.
A) A gatekeeper who lets few things through acts as a filter and people would rather back that person’s view than invest in searching the Klondike for their own nuggets.
B) Controlled access so forcing demand to be greater than supply. Keep distribution small, the access is small therefore the perceived prestige of the product of poems is higher. That may backfire if there is not enough awareness that the product exists so the demand peters out.

If you give access to your poems thru a collaborative model of projects, that may change the filter of the prestige/value factor. Instead of being affiliated with copyright culture, you’re more left. The social model of copyleft and collaborating on projects is a different economic and social model. It isn’t about valuing hierarchies who will filter for you, nor is it relying on the trust-system of word-of-mouth, but brokering in cooperative in a different way. It is more anti-commerce, sharing ideas, potentially releasing them for free, or for trades. As ideal as it sounds, to cut out middlemen and market, it is just another method of reproduction of ideas. Biologically would it be hermaphrodite?

Words are a special breed in that their method of reproduction can vary. Rhizomes or spores, hermaphrodite shifts or live birth, different poems may fit different means of reproduction.

A poet doesn’t have to intrinsically map to only one way. Collaboration and copyleft, or “top-tier” markets or small press. We all might think of ourselves as one “natural” fit but much of fit is habit of behavior. The choice for specialization and typecasting is open.

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2 Responses

  1. A lot of options. Mining these to make those
    is yet another scheme, if there are catchy bits.

    The volume people produce varies a lot.
    Some write one a month. Others (of us..)
    have trouble staying under one a day..

    One great thing about poems in your own
    printed media is you can re-use, edit, and
    improve without the things being condemned
    on publication. That seems like such an quaint
    concept these days, the virgin poem.
    I am sectoring types into types I put on the vast
    submission conveyor and types best used to
    spray paint the world.. Haven’t got the hang of it,
    but the shorts are a lot of fun to self-pub.

    It would be great to have a consigment book shop
    online I could leave curious designs with.
    I want to do some microprint w/magnifier.

  2. You raise some excellent questions/points in the post, Pearl, including some that have worried me, such as giving my poems away reducing their value. But as you say, I want to communicate in a community and reach a wider one. So I’ve had to weigh my options. We’ll see what that results in in the future.

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