Guest Column: The Promise of Poetry in a Digital Age
So like “Poetry Speaks” (the book), you wind your way through and discover different poems through whatever means you like. It’s not a poetry class, and it’s not static—it’s ever-changing. It’s more like play.
We’ve taken many of the most successful ideas on the Web and applied them uniquely to poetry. So, for example, our YourMic section is a cross between YouTube and MySpace—but for poetry. It’s a space open to all to upload their own video, audio and text, all for free. Burgeoning poets will be able to participate in contests and join online poetry communities to further their craft. For the unpublished and the up-and-comers, we hope it will be a home.
Addressing the Napster Problem
Amidst all the worry about e-book piracy, as an industry we seem to have ignored that poetry also has a Napster problem. Go ahead, drop a line from your favorite poem into a search engine—almost assuredly you’ll find the entire poem on a Web site, in most cases without permission. If you ask a musician how long it takes them to complete and perfect a song, the answer is usually anywhere from days to months. For a poem and a poet, the timing often is about the same. And yet our poets’ work has bled online unfettered. It is infringement run rampant. Is a poem just a little text or is it, in fact, an individual work of art? We’re in the latter camp—and poets should be compensated for their craft.
So the question becomes, “How do you create a revenue stream for poets and poetry publishers?” Again, we’ve looked at successful sites; this time, iTunes was a great inspiration. The idea is to allow people to purchase different forms of the poem—text, audio, video or some combination thereof, depending on what the poet or publisher has available—on a poem-by-poem basis. Not only does this allow poets to be compensated for their work, but we also hope that it will encourage other poets and publishers to create audio and video recordings of poetry, which should help make poetry more accessible.