Saturday, September 10, 2005

Website housework

I've had a productive morning: I've reviewed the poems in my workshop, tampered with a couple of titles and decided that 3 poems are completed enough to move out. One I've added to my showcase, while the other two will languish in the archives.

If the above meant nothing to you (dear reader), then I suppose I'd better do some explaining.

I don't play the publishing game. I have no time, inclination or interest in submitting poems to magazines or doing all the networking on the local scene that's associated with trying to get a chapbook publication deal. I don't enter competitions. I have become an internet poet, and I use my website as my showcase to the world. On my website, the casual visitor can find all the poems I've written over the years that are fit for public consumption (no barracking from the back row!) and also the poems I'm currently working on.

The website is divided into a workshop page and a showcase page, with links to poems I'm working on and poems I'm particularly proud of respectively. I also include links pages to the poems in my 2 collections - 22 Facets of my Father and Play Time - which are also available for download as formatted .pdf files. (Yep, that's right, I'm one of those oiks who chooses to self-publish). Behind all of this is an archive page, with links to all the poems on the website. A poem that doesn't make it onto one of the other links pages is left to fester in the darkness, with only the archive page link connecting it to fame and fortune.

Internet publishing has advantages and disadvantages. On the negative side, the chances of qualifying for prestigious awards (for best book, best first book, best poem, etc) are zero. There's no reviewers fighting to heap praise on my latest .pdf chapbook, and PR and promotions is entirely left up to me. On the positive side I am my own boss. I retain all copyrights to all my poems, and there's no chance of some bastard trying to anthologise my work against my wishes. Especially important, I don't have to do the networking stuff: attending dreary poetry readings, pretending to be nice to people who have bored the living shit out of me for the previous 2 hours with their monotone drone; playing publication house politics; dealing with all that crap which seems to go with "minor celebrity". I'm also free to write whatever I bloody well like, with no need to craft my work to current fashions and tastes - if I fancy doing 2,000 lines of Alliterative Verse, I do it.

Anyways, some links to the recently completed poems, for those of you who are interested:

» She Forgets and Remembers by Touch
» The Office as a Form of Inspiration
» After eating strawberries, I ask my father for two bullets



  1. Navigated to you from QED, where I just read your long discussion of "The Intelligent Designer". I really like #4 of that poem, by the way; burning's fun.

    But I wanted to say just one thing. You don't do the chapbook dance, fair enough, but, hello, where does that leave the rest of us who, y'know, want something papery to carry around your Facets or other poemgloms in?

    Just thought I'd ask.


  2. Visitors to the website are permitted - encouraged even - to print off a copy of the "chapbooks". You can choose to print the pdf file off on very nice quality paper, then you can handstitch the spine (or staple it if you're being cheap) and voila! your very own, personalised copy of a Rik Roots publication.

    I might self-publish a hardcopy volume in 06 or 07. I'm saving up my pennies for the vanity.

    Thanks for passing by and commenting. Much appreciated!

  3. Rik

    I like the idea of Internet- and self-publishing allowing you to do whatever you want, fashionable or not. In addition to my highly commercial, forthcoming, best-seller chapbook, I am contemplating producing a series of 15-25 sestinas in chapbook form and no one would want to publish (or perhaps even read) that, other than me.

    I can also see the point about boring readings and networking with people you'd rather not have to meet. I don't do much of either, but the little I've done has shown me how futile it can be.

    On the other hand I have met some editors and poets-in-the-flesh who were good readers and genuinely likeable people, so I wouldn't be 100 percent cynical.

    Are you sure no one wants to review a .pdf chapbook? Do you know about Sphinx magazine ( They don't say they won't review online material. They have good reviewers too (including me - heh - although I'd have to pass on your one.) I could alert them to your site's existence though, if you want.


  4. I also wanted to ask - when you write about 'dealing with all that crap which seems to go with "minor celebrity"', what do you mean. I have never experienced what it's like to be a minor celebrity, but other than being sent to an island for 6 weeks with Abi Titmuss (Tittmus?) and half the cast of Hollyoaks and previous Big Brothers, it doesn't sound too bad - free entry to events, £50 for opening the church garden fete, that sort of thing...

  5. Hi, Rob.

    Reviewing: I know it goes on, and it's something the poet has to put up with, but I'm not comfortable with the idea of my work being "judged" or "graded" - hell, I despised my school reports, even though they were generally bland.

    Minor celebrity: when people become the object of other people's frenzied attempts at networking. I don't like networking - makes me feel as if I'm being "collected". I have to put up with it at work; I don't see the need for it to spread into other areas of my life.

    I can feel the cancer of curmudgeon-ness spreading through my bones as I type ...