The Anthology

All the submissions to the Anthology are in and sorted, and it’s a weird feeling, because now the passive work is over. The majority of submissions were accepted. It was strange for me– I’m very critical– to sit back and let the poetry of a generation wash over me, to “decide” as little as possible what was good and what was bad, in order to let almost everything be represented. It gave me a headache. On the rare occassion it gave me joy to see and wonder at poetry from amazing poets in our peer group that I haven’t heard of before. But mostly it was a pain. (Luckily, I didn’t also have to advertize and recruit. The Editorial Board did a great job of that.)

The anthology currently has 250 authors. 250, and that’s not counting the incoming soundpo and vispo which had separate deadlines. If you’ve ever edited anything, you can imagine how I feel now, looking at this list. How am I going to organize these poems? How will I ever approve the proofs? Who are all these people anyway? It’s a more massive undertaking than I imagined, when it was all imaginary.

I am still debating: what the anthology will be called; what the cover will look like; how the authors will be organized; where the bios will appear; how many critical components there will be (there are 4 essayists currently working to critically define this massive, pluralistic generation: good luck!); the size and layout of the thing. The problem with being a control freak is that one doesn’t want anyone else to make these kinds of design and organizational decisions, esp. when one is trying to do something like “redefine the anthology as such” (which will inevitably fail, cannot help but fail, must fail… but must be tried), so I am not sure when and where to get help in managing the tasks that lie before me.

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16 Responses to The Anthology

  1. Tao Lin says:

    did you solicit anyone? you should solicit people now, or else you’d only have an anthology of ‘ambitious’ people, people who found the site, clicked whatever link, or whatever, then copy and pasted their poems there

    you should solicit people now, there are a lot of people not yet in there

  2. Jessica Smith says:

    shut the fuck up, tao! don’t give me any more work to do. i can’t handle it! i’m not soliciting anyone. i don’t care if people don’t submit. the damn thing has been up for a year. and many (of the ironically, most ambitious) people are all like, “we’re too cool for an anthology” even though it’s like the anti-anthology. and then there are all the people who plain don’t like me, and don’t want to be part of anything i’m doing. which is fine, less work for me. i’m not soliciting anyone. people can kiss my ass.

    anyway, it’s not just ambitious people, have you seen the list? and many people were sent there by editors. it’s not like, bogus poetry.com bullshit. everyone is connected in one way or another.

  3. Jessica Smith says:

    plus, the thing has to have limits. at this points the limits are chronological (birthdates and submission period) and self-imposed (i think many of the people to whom you refer are well aware of the anthology’s existence but have chosen not to submit work). granted, limits are one way the anthology that would include everything Fails. but as I said, it must fail, at the same time that it must be attempted.

    Cf. Tom Johnson.

  4. Jessica Smith says:

    (also, you know i’m just ribbing you, right? but seriously, no soliciting, it’s been 9 mos., people can submit or not in that time frame.)

  5. Ryan Downey says:

    tao, when you say ‘ambitious’ people i feel like you are speaking directly about people like me in this list.

    when my parents say ‘ambitious’ i feel like i am making them proud which is ok even though the feeling will not correspond to anything good in the real world that will make them live easier.

    when you say ‘ambitious’ i think of it as meaning without much talent, but oppurtunistic.

    this saddens me.

    i feel insulted.

    which is to say that i feel very much unchanged from how i felt five minutes ago and will feel five minutes from now so i apologize for ranting on a blog that is not my own.

  6. Eliel says:

    Nice you blog jessica, I done my blog just today. If you have a time please http://bluetoothdog.blogspot.com/

  7. Tao says:

    some people are afraid of rejection, that might be another reason they wouldn’t submit

    i know everyone is connected, but what about the people who aren’t connected but are alone, but still aren’t poetry.com people, don’t you want them in there also?

  8. Jessica Smith says:

    TAO! Grrr!

    Ryan, don’t be insulted. It’s just Tao. And it can be good to be ambitious. And as I said, submitting to the anthology has little correspondence to ambition, as many of the most ambitious young poets I know did not submit. It is just a gathering place for those of us who want community and archive and to rethink the politics of those things (ie anthologizing); I don’t think it necessarily reflects “ambition” in a bad way. And it’s fine to rant here as long as you agree with my POV :)

  9. Ryan Downey says:

    i like tao. i read his books. i pre-ordered his new books. he recognizes the depth of my beard.

    i think tao has a point about people that are not connected but still are good writers, but i feel most people could have found this open call.

    tao found it and could have told any of his friends it existed.

    i did the same thing.

    250 people did the same thing.

    i doubt my connectedness but i still found this.

    tao, i no longer feel insulted because that it is a pointless way to feel.

    i am going to go drink a gallon of sweet tea and read books.

  10. marwal says:

    There’s only so much one can do to find people when people are not making any effort to be found. After all, even though Jessica would like to control everything (I’m kidding, of course), any anthology is always by definition a hugely complex group endeavor that, as she notes, is significantly out of her control already. Responsibility gets spread around.

    I’m sure no one was suggesting this, but it’s hardly an editor’s responsibility to take care of the writing of people who aren’t willing to take care of their own writing. I mean, I understand that writers can be shy, but it can’t quite be an editor’s job to counsel people on how to get their work out in the world. If you individually know someone who needs this counseling, though, by all means counsel them, if you think their writing is worth it.

    Also, if there are particular people that Tao knows who should have submitted to the anthology but didn’t, perhaps he should be the one to tell them to send their work to Jessica.

    And if he isn’t thinking about anyone in particular, then to say that there are people out there who “are alone” is not only a generalization, but may also be a very poor representation of why anyone chose (or didn’t even know to choose) to participate in the anthology. After all, maybe they weren’t alone. Maybe they were just doing something else that they cared about more.

  11. Jessica Smith says:

    You’ve now reminded me of something, too, Mark: the anthology wasn’t intended to be a portrait of everyone writing poetry in a certain generation, but of everyone writing within a certain community, after which chronological markers are relatively random demarcations.

    A certain language (English), a certain time (now), a certain age group (20-40), a certain experience level (no more than 2 books), a certain pedigree (the word spread almost entirely by word-of-mouth, meaning that all the authors are connected in some way).

    So if people are working alone then they are already not a part of what the anthology was intended to represent.

    Not that the anthology will be a perfect representation, anyway, but….

  12. Jessica Smith says:

    Tao. Go back to your own blog. You are Trouble.

  13. Tao Lin says:

    no one cares about my blog anymore, i need to comment here more

  14. Jessica Smith says:

    damn, i need a bouncer for Your Kind. you renegade commentator.

  15. Amish Trivedi says:

    Aren’t you your own comment bouncer?

  16. Jessica Smith says:

    i’m just joshin’ ‘im. tao is one of my favorites.

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