Poetry Thrives Online: Check Out Free Poetry Sites for National Poetry Month (April)
Poet T. S. Eliot may have called April "the cruelest month," but for today's poets, it's National Poetry Month in the US. Bookstores seem to be doing well in this economic crisis, and poetry thrives online. So readers should be able to find all of the poetry they want--and they can, for free, online, including free poetry e-books, like Michael Dickel's The World Behind It, Chaos.
Eric Pfanner, writing for the International Herald Tribune, examines how bookstores and the publishing industry have continued doing well, despite the world-wide recession (http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/15/business/books16.php). Apparently, this is especially true for Continental Europe’s bookstores, but also true for bookstores in the US. People still want to read—whether for pleasure and escape or for better understanding of what’s happening with the economy. So, they turn to books.
What about poetry? While the death knell for poetry has been rung many times, especially recently, poetry in particular also thrives today, despite the economy. The blossoming of online publishing, documented by the online site Poetry Archive, amongst others (see Stephen Adams, writing for the Daily Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3560735/Poetrys-popularity-soars-online.html). Literally hundreds of thousands of unique viewers look at poetry. According to Adams, they look at more than a million pages of poetry per month just at the Poetry Archive site (http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/home.do).
And that’s just the Brits and Europeans. In the U.S., The Poetry Foundation has a similar site that allows viewers access to well-known and well-respected poets and poems (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poetrytool.html).
And Web-based literary magazines know no geo-political boundaries. New ones spring up regularly (for example, see West Goes South http://www.westgoessouth.com/West_Goes_South_Literary_Journal_Charlott_and_Los_Angeles_Poetry,_
Short_Fiction_and_Art/Issue_01.html). Some are offered as Adobe PDF downloads, such as Poetry Midwest (http://www.poetrymidwest.org). Some online journals periodically print the best from their sites, as does Abramelin: The Journal of Poetry and Magick (http://e-n-v.org/abramelin/). Zeek offers another model growing in popularity, an online accompaniment to a print journal (http://www.jewcy.com/zeek). Many other print journals, including long-established journals, now also offer free online samples of from the print issue or, especially for the online journal, poetry.
While many companies, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, are trying to capitalize on e-books through sales of e-book readers and licensed books, other publishers are choosing a route more reminiscent of the indie music labels: they provide free publication to promote the poetry and poets. why vandalism? (no capitals) is a literary and arts journal that also publishes e-books (http://www.whyvandalism.com). The journal and the books are both free for the viewing. Currently, why vandalism?, which has been publishing for only two years, offers five e-books. Its sixth book, The World Behind It, Chaos, by Michael Dickel, is due by the end of March, which just happens to be Small Press Month.
Dickel’s book demonstrates another principle of electronic publishing related to economics. His book contains photographs and digital art, most of it in full-color, the cost of publishing which would have driven the book’s price out of reach for consumers. This way, his artwork will be seen, his poetry will be read, and an audience will grow to know his work. Dickel says that he’d “like to make money, I don’t expect to do so as a poet. If people become familiar with my work, perhaps then they will also buy books from publishers—and be willing to pay the higher price to include art with the poetry.”
All you have to do is search on the word “poetry” in Google or Yahoo to see that, indeed, poetry is alive and well on the internet. And, largely, available for free. Poetry not only thrives in the online community, it thrives in ways that are affordable to any who have access to a computer and the internet.