Death to the Anthology

I am giving up on the Anthology for the following reasons:

  • I don’t have the money to do it like I’d like to do it.
  • Receiving daily emails from people who want to know when the Anthology will be out or other silly emails from people who have nothing better to do than hound me about it stresses me out
  • I can’t get 400 people to proof a book. I can’t even get 400 people to give me bios in a reasonable time frame. For that matter, there were submissions flowing in two months after the submissions deadline. I don’t know if such problems derive from the number of people, their youth and inexperience with professional projects, the fact that they’re poets, or my own errors, but looking down the line at the number of details that must still be dealt with irritates me. Getting 400 people to do anything is insanely difficult, who would have thought?
  • It takes away time from my life and my work. Rather than improving my quality of life in any way, it is a stress factor. I thought I could do it when I was bored in grad school, but now I’m not bored in grad school and I have enough problems with my own life without inventing new (publishing) problems. I need a job– I need this not to be a stress factor once I get a job. I need to write– I am a poet in my own right and the stress of this project kills my ability to write my own poetry.

I have help– offering to help isn’t going to make the project happen.

If your press would like to take over the project, I will send you all the files I have. Outside Voices will still be around as a sometimes-publisher. I am not an editor– or, I don’t want to be an editor, and in many respects I’m a bad editor. I feel an obligation to the community to edit– I often find myself resenting people who don’t either run a press or give significant sums of time or money to those who do, since publishing doesn’t just “happen” and living off the fat of the land without contributing to the process seems selfish– but I will continue to edit Foursquare, so I will still be doing my part.

If you have pre-ordered the Anthology, your payment will be refunded within 90 days.

Tomorrow night’s reading will go on as scheduled. Even as a ghost, the Anthology is a unifying element. Although the commercialism of poetry readings seems almost pervasive, I think we don’t need to have a book to promote in order to have a good reading.


About Jessica Smith
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11 Responses to Death to the Anthology

  1. Adam says:

    much that you’ve said on your blog recently has made a whole lot of sense to me, this latest included. tho I was discussing the virtues of your anthology (with jennifer karmin) just the other night (at India Gate!), I would rather see you write and more than that, I’d rather you be happy. not that you need anyone to encourage you, but I thot I’d offer my encouragement.

    reread bird-book. fine, fine work. perhaps worth including in your next book.

  2. Susana says:

    hey jessica,

    i think the fact that you have released the project into the world in a different way is alright…the fact that you’re willing to give it up and reallocate the files for another press which is in want of a project, etc is a stellar way to enable the project to live…another possibility would be to release it as an e-book…just leave out the bios and have it as a poetical anthology…for free even, just to get it out there…and come round, full circle in way for project sake.

    I am glad you have a great weekend!!!


  3. hey susana,
    i’ve thought about doing it as an ebook… but i don’t want to think about it any more right now. maybe later in the year if i can get Ubu or Duration or someone to host it. just to get the work out there.

  4. and thanks Adam. I certainly do need encouragement 😉 … i like bird-book too. i’ve long been planning to make an elongated and illustrated version with my friend chelsea, to whom it’s dedicated. maybe we will get around to doing something with it this summer.

  5. Amelia says:

    Considering that you seem to be very relieved to have this weight off your shoulders, as opposed to feeling guilty about disappointing (yourself, contributors, etc), I’d say it was the right move. I too suffer from over-achiever’s syndrome, and when something stressful suddenly disappears from the to-do list, it’s like the sun has suddenly come out.

  6. hey Jessica, this makes me sad but I’m glad that you feel like you’ve gotten this weight off your shoulders. I’m talking to my partner at WetAsphalt to see if he’d be willing to take this on as part of what we’re working on for the press we’re launching. If you don’t get any offers from more established places, shoot me an email and maybe we can work something out.

  7. I do feel guilty, but I also know that if someone else *really* wants it to come out, they will make it happen. Two other presses have already expressed interest.

  8. Oh– I hadn’t seen Jason’s comment yet. Make that 3 presses! It would make me very happy if someone else took it over. My original co-editor was smart to get out at the beginning 😉

    Also, there’s a sound component (a cd of sound poetry edited by Max MIddle) which should attend the book but could also be published as a separate entity. CDs are much cheaper to put out than books.

  9. Jessica, I think my sentiments are pretty much everyone else’s. I’m sad to see it go. But I understand the stress/pressure & hope this helps w/ things in your life. Time for happy thoughts! Or, happier anyway 🙂

  10. Thanks Shannon.

    I learned tonight at the poetry reading (the first in what would have been– might still be?– a series of readings to celebrate the Anthology, the now ghost-Anthology) that the soundponent will be taken up by another publisher and might be out by the end of April.

    So yay! People care!

  11. you’re welcome! & i’m glad that other publishers are interested in the project. & yes, people care! isn’t it wonderful to be reminded of that? i know i need that reminder regularly.

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