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Slush pile blues

The slush pile has now grown to the height of Son No.2. CDs and shrink-wrapped books topple from the edges of the paper mountain. Letters to “Deer editor” explain “i am grate poet, plese read my works and publish it, i pay good money, please send books to . . .” Fresh moments of despair in recognition that “good money” is in excess of legitimate monthly income from sales. Mild panic sets in. Time for coffee.

Postie comes with another sack load of manuscripts and we realise that China’s tourist population (cited this week at 100M heading for a beach near you) has got nothing on poets with manuscripts. What exactly is a poet? These days it?s anyone wielding a blog, or text dumping in ad-splashed portals called “Verses Galore!” or ?Poets?R?Us? or some other black page horror with manifesto in red font stating ?We will smash the corrupt regime. We will uncover the back-slapping back-scratchers in the stinking mainstream.? Images fill the morning void of black-suited corporate moguls, pockets stuffed with greenbacks, slavering over P&L and balance sheets, laughing at poetic riches in their grasp. I see darkened room with fat poets belching over latest publications, passing out wads of twenties along with Montecristo Edmundos from the humidor.

Meanwhile, the sagging mountain increases height by two inches, bolstered by semi-literate revolutionaries and other literary potentates. Memo: change autobiography title to ?Dyspeptic Verse.? Time for another two litres of coffee.

Latest calculations show that it will take two and a half years to read everything in the slush pile. We need a new box. Need to move to plastic bin with wheels. How long do eyes last when reading 80,000 pages a day? Memo: change title of autobiography to ?Eyes to Burn: A Short History of the Slush Pile.? Coffee kicks in as the paper shredder wantonly smiles up. Must dash to loo.

Why do some people seek publication when they so obviously haven?t read any books? Especially poetry books. Begin to ponder on the maths of production versus consumption, imagine modest ratios of 10,000:1 before pressure of twenty sales calls, new brochures, posters, postcards, festival calls engenders heavy sulphurous cloud in the office. Volcanic mood alleviates business pity and the phone rings with bank-enhancing order. Mood may be black but bank account is firmly in the red. Another day dawns.


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