Thursday, 30 July 2020

Ten poetry trends in the pandemic


1)      If new online mags appeared regularly prior to lockdown, there’s now a veritable plethora, often created and curated by well-known poets/editors, and technically adroit. Will this be a watershed moment? How many of these outlets will stay the course? Does this daily bombardment of new work mean that poems disappear into a temporal vortex even more quickly than in the past?

2)      Zoom fatigue. When people were cooped up at home in full lockdown, Zoom readings and workshops immediately became popular. However, now lives are gradually opening up beyond the boundaries of the home, is a Zoom fatigue setting in?

3)      If everyone’s anxious, that means poets are probably more so! First and foremost, this seems to be expressed in their work itself, even if it’s not consciously Covid-related.

4)      And the same anxiety for poets is also reflected in an attitude to submissions that feels even more awkward than pre-Covid. Waiting for a reply to a sub is always tough, but it’s made easier if you’ve got a busy daily routine. If you’re furloughed or stuck at home, time weighs more heavily and those subs start to stress you out.

5)      Rejections consequently seem harder to take. People are more sensitised. Or is it simply that they have more time to express/act out these feelings on social media?

6)      And poets are thus subbing more and more of those new webzines (see point 1) with a quicker turnaround and a faster adrenaline hit from acceptances.

7)      Editors are being squeezed even more than normal, especially those who run print-based mags or book publishers. Not only do poets have more time to send them manuscripts, but they also have fewer opportunities to sell existing books. A large chunk of contemporary poetry is sold at readings and festivals, and online stuff can’t replace the ease and physical pleasure of handing over a tenner, having a chat with the poet in question and getting your new copy signed, all in one hit.

8)      Schedules. On the back of the above, publishers are desperately juggling schedules. It’s one thing to bring out a book in lockdown because you’d already committed to doing so. It’s another to print a new one four months later while most of your distribution channels are still out of action.

9)      Poets are having to become more inventive in their marketing ploys. Some are fun, some are annoying, others are plain barking, but they all make for interesting reading on social media.

10)  Weddings, funerals…and now pandemics! Poetry actually becomes a bit more relevant to the general public when there’s a major event in their lives. The key issue, of course, is whether this interest will be sustained in the long term…

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