Sunday, October 03, 2004

Paying The Math Tax:

(or why the lottery is more lucrative than literary pursuit.)

Everyday, millions of people spend a minimum of $1.00 on the off chance that they will choose exactly the right numbers and win a ten, fifty, a thousand or a sixteen million bucks. That’s a minimum of thirty bucks per month - or $360 dollars a year. They would most likely benefit from betting the local numbers runner that they:
wouldn’t die in a plane crash;
get struck by lightning;
die in an auto accident with a drunk driver;
or have a Cesarian section with fatal complications.

Yet, everyday, thousands of poets turn their noses up at the unwashed masses and spend $ 1.75 minimum on the off chance they have chosen the right combination of letters and may just “win” a chance to see their name next to a musing they wrote (one caffeinated or drunken afternoon) which is likely be seen by maybe 1,500 folks - of whom 1 may be a big shot and remember them. And this isn’t taking into consideration “reading fees.” That’s a minimum of $52.50 dollars a months or $630 per year!

It seems like lottery playing to me. I am assured it is not. I am assured it is as objective as something so subjective as poetry cane be. I am assured that no one knows or owes any one in this process.

But, why do I worry if I schmoozed enough at the last conference? If I “hooked up” enough “rising stars?” Did I stroke the “major literary divas and demigods” until they purred? Guess not.

Or maybe I’m not that good. But, then why am I almost sold out of self-produced creation I have made? Why, if it is not good, does my “maternity leave” drastically impact my family’s income? Why do people beg me to perform “that one poem lover...that one time in National Record Mart...the way I discovered I was beautiful?” (Buy the cd "in the image of angels" at: ""

I was under the illusion that merit superseded subjectivity. Long gone is anonymity. Long gone are fragile typewritten pages of genius. Flung back and relegated to obscurity are the humble, fragile souls who made sense regardless of economic status.

All of the journals who require:
two typewritten copies of the poem,
on CD or disk, (in MS format - - because even if Mac is cheaper we must pay our dues to the great empire of sameness.)
a cover letter,
bio page,
and reading fee,

I ask what about the voices of those whose hungry children ate the external/internal CD-ROM, or disk drive or groovy laser printer? Is it poetic that food was more meaningful than a sheet of Black history stamps? Do you even care?

Regardless, it seems the State Math Tax is more economical and realistic. But, then I love this thing called poetry. I only wish someone would teach me some magical formula for time management or give me the fiftieth book on how to figure this whole publishing puzzle out.

1 comment:

Treasure said...

Hey girl!

How's England treating you?