I'm giving away a copy of Gravity Dancers, a collection of Washington women's writing, to whoever submits (wait for it) the most original knock-knock joke (in my judgment) over the next two or three days. Put it in the comments here or on the facebook version, all's good.
Some people, like like Ira Shapira in this Washington Post story, say when you give it away, you're messing up the whole structure. He said bloggers took his story. Well, first off, they didn't really take his story, they just made fun of it. I don't know if he gets that. That's what the blogs are for. I think he started to understand that in the chat. He isn't allowed make fun of people in the Post, whereas snark is Gawker's business model (and it has had its ups and downs). I've heard it said that Gawker media is quite the sweatshop and doesn't pay for crap, which would put it on a par with most newspapers through the past 30 years.
When I post a poem on this blog, it means I probably won't be able to submit it to get published anywhere, or enter it in a contest. I'm supposed to put all kinds of privacy settings and prohibitions on my blog so Facebook, where it's mirrored, won't be able to take my blog snark and my poems and give them away and reprint them. I'm imagining that scenario, or that of a blogger taking my poems and making fun of them. That's so pathetic, I'd actually feel sorry for the blogger. Besides, a poem I didn't post here or on Facebook or anywhere but which was sent with proper decorum to a contest, and won, got picked up by a newspaper and got made fun of, so what's left for me in terms of humiliation and lack of recompense? Butt, meet rock bottom.
If I give away poems on my blog, am I reducing the overall value of poetry? Mostly I have no idea whether anything I write is any good, so I might as well put it up here as spend the time trying to get it published. I send a lot of random bait into the cosmos, and sometimes good things come back my way. I don't mean to sound insulting, but I'm much too lazy and it's much too dull to worry about who has the rights and who has the copies and where it's all going, so I refuse to do that for my poems, at least. Let them be free!
The Harriet Tubman poem turned into a multi-part mess, but this portion is relevant to this rant...
Master Spy for the Union
Because I cannot bear to see your brilliance
Thus dimmed, I write you,
I have set my mind to the task
Of finding some way you might now be
Repaid for your heroic service.
In the new world, they say there is no need
Any longer to hide ourselves. In the new world,
You are a laundress. For a while, the work
Brought an odd peace, a return to the time
Before the weight, without the weight.
Days passed so. And then it brought your head low.
That is how I came upon you, nodding into the lye
Suds above the tub. Because I cannot bear
To see your brilliance thus dimmed, I pretend
This is another role you have hidden yourself
Within; she is listening, she will report all--
But there is no one here to hear.
I reach my hand across the table
To cover yours. Because I cannot bear to see
Your brilliance thus dimmed, I will write
Your story. You will tell them who you are.
There may be some repayment in it.
You do not want promises, and
I do not want to lie.
We will be free or we will die.
Photo: By the way? If you want to BUY the book, go nuts on Amazon.com or Politics & Prose! If you want it but you're really strapped for cash, I have some copies at cost that I am happy to sell.