Friday, December 29, 2006

Over (and under) production

Katy at Baroque in Hackney has an interesting post on the New Yorker cartoonists and compares it with the lot of poets and poetry. It got me thinking about under and over production of work - poetry in particular - but other stuff as well. Whichever way it falls I write about 20-30 decent (i.e. finished) poems a year. And "decent" is a difficult one. My quality control's better these days; I don't write nearly so many pointless poems - in the past I guess I'd sometimes try and write poetry even when the muse (or the idea) wasn't there. There's a lot of this overproduction goes on these days of course - a friend who is recently finishing an MA in poetry has to submit something like 30-50 poems; in other words two years of my work, and that would be in a good two years. I don't think there's many current poets we'll be looking forward to the "complete" as opposed to the "selected". Yet, what is a "good haul" these days? Katy says she manages about 10 "publishable" a year - a New Yorker cartoonist can submit 700 and get 5 accepted. Obviously some poets get in a verbal groove, which appears to lead to book after book, poem after poem, all equally good or bad depending on your viewpoint, but for the rest of us each poem is a struggle, each page is blank, and - though I'm fairly sure that in 2007 I might manage oh, between 20 and 30 okay poems - there's always the possibility that I may not.

1 comment:

Ms Baroque said...

It's tough, ain't it. On the other hand, I can write ever so many blog posts, and simply innumerable comments like this one. GB Shaw wrote about five letters to the Times a week.

I do think it's important to flex the muscles - to write and write until you've "written out" a given idea, so you may have three poems on it but only one might be working.