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They tell me I should go to rehab, I say: no prose, no prose, no prose.

poets anonymous












there will be no poetry on the overland blog

we will not be able to haiku
or rhyme couplets
or upload audio

there will be no sonnets
or free verse
or fixed verse

we will not hip hop
or scatterbug
or freestyle
your ears will not be challenged by it
your minds will not be stretched by it
your heart will not be pierced by it

poetry will not be blogged here
will not be blogged here
will not be blogged here

we will not be able to slam up
or slam down
or slam around
poetry will not be whispered
spoken
or written

you will not be able to comment on it
criticise it
or download it

we will not reach you by webcam
or twitter note
or youtube post

we will not be able to howl in pentameter
iambicly amble
or laughingly limerick

poetry will not raise your spirit
check your conscience
or musically align your ears

there will be no poetry
there will be no poetry
there will be no poetry here

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

Subscribe | Renew | Donate November 9–16 to support progressive literary culture for another year – and for the chance to win magnificent prizes!

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

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Comments

  1. Well, I think all art and writing is political – poetry, non-fiction, all forms.

    It is sad that poetry is not currently being published on the blog. But the Overland blog is constantly evolving and this is the stage it is at. The print journal, on the other hand, is always accepting submissions for poetry.

    Overland is always looking for ways to give writers a voice.

  2. During the Overload Poetry Festival. Poets flocked to this blog, shocked and reassured that a literary journal which offers so little of it’s pages to publishing poetry could be so supportive. The amount of poetry posted during the festival was extraordinary. Poets from all over Australia were reviewed for the first time.

    And I was the sole, sleepless organiser of this collaboration, the person who asked poets to post their work here, who asked reviewers to attend events for free, who witnessed the reaction from the poets who had gathered from all over Australia to the ‘airplay’ Overland was offering. Pity the fool.

    During, Overload, the blog rating was the highest it had ever been within Australia. Since then, the Overland blog has fallen by more than 100 000 ranks.

  3. I’d also like to add to this that if it wasn’t for the Overland Overload poetry festival and Maxine’s support and belief in my poetry, my poetry would not have evolved to where it is today.

  4. Well, the Overland blog was never meant to be a poetry blog.

    I think there is a vacuum in the literary landscape for a political poetry blog or a journal dedicated to political poetry.

    If that space doesn’t evolve, maybe Overland should think about filling this vacuum by having a separate blog for poetry. Or perhaps the political poets should get together and create one.

  5. Turning Overland into a poetry-only blog is clearly not what I am suggesting, and your comments unfortunately don’t address my points at all.

    The disclaimer ‘…never meant to be a poetry blog’ and your singling out of ‘political poetry’ (as if it were somehow a separate category or genre??) just illustrates that you’re (a) missing the point entirely and (b) that you consider poetry as something distinct from literature as a whole, and then ‘political poetry’ distinct from ‘poetry’ as a whole…I suspect (but am happy to be proved wrong)with little understanding of the terrain you’re not-so-delicately treading.

    Overland is the blog of a literary magazine. That literary magazine contains poetry. This blog has always had poetry on it. I’m just wondering if you might explain why you feel the need to ban it from the blog now, that’s all.

    And perhaps you can let readers and previous poet contributors comment pubicly on that logic, in the interest of transparency.

  6. UUhhh. Clearly I meant comment ‘publicly’ not ‘pubicly’. Though if poets feel the need to drop their daks in protest, who am I to censor them? :)

  7. All poetry, like literature, is political. But that doesn’t mean that it’s left wing.

    As far as poetry on the blog goes, this is as far as I can take the debate as it wasn’t my decision to stop publishing poetry on the blog. I came to the role after that decision was made.

    However, all the research I’ve encountered about blogs and websites for organisations like journals suggest distinct sections for different forms or kinds of information. This makes publishing poetry on the main blog not appropriate for the time being, but doesn’t rule out having a separate section in the future.

  8. During the last round of the great blog debate, there was a pretty strongly felt sentiment that blogging shouldn’t be treated as an optional add-on to the print journal and so needed to be taken more seriously. In the ideal world, that would mean we’d devote the same sorts of resources to it as we devote to what we publish on paper. As I’ve explained, at the moment, we simply can’t do that; we don’t have the money or the staff or the time.

    We can, however, make baby steps in that direction, one of which is the appointment of a blog editor so as to provide for bloggers and their posts at least something of the service that we provide for journal contributors (a degree of copyediting, stylistic consistency, working links, etc). As you can imagine, blog editing offers all kinds of new challenges, not least because the medium demands immediacy and so the blog editor needs to be able to copy edit more-or-less on the run.

    Editing poetry — or, indeed, fiction — is a quite different kettle of fish, as anyone who has done it knows. It demands a level of intensity that a quick newspaper-style copy edit does not, as well as a (often prolonged) process of communication with the author. It also involves aesthetic judgments that go beyond what you can realistically expect of a poorly paid blog editor working a very small number of hours.
    We can’t do that with the blog.

    So there are various options. We could simply go back to providing no editorial support whatsoever, an option that I don’t like at all, since, as someone pointed out during the last discussion, at the moment the blog is the first aspect of Overland most new people see. We spend a long, long time with writers for the print journal to present their work in its best possible light; it seems quite wrong to have entirely raw text on the front page of the site.

    (This needs to be stressed because some people have reacted as if copyediting is a largely superfluous process, a bit of frippery that neurotic control freaks impose upon free wheeling authors. That’s not the case at all: the job of an editor is to make the author’s work the best that it can be, which is why no reputable literary journal would publish unedited text in its pages.)

    Or perhaps we could edit the non-fiction but simply allow poetry or fiction to appear without any editorial input. Again, though, I would worry about the message that sends. We would never, ever simply present poems or stories in the print journal just in the state they’re sent to us: it’s not fair to the author and it’s not fair to the journal.

    The third option, and the one we’ve chosen, is a recognition that, at the moment, we can only deal with certain forms: basically, non-fiction. It’s a distinction that most similar publications make: if you look at comparable blogs (I guess Meanjin is the obvious Australian one but there’s plenty of overseas examples) almost none of them publish creative work for, I would imagine, similar reasons.

    It’s not a dis of poetry or anything like that, it’s simply a recognition of what we can and can’t do at the moment.

    Nor, as Jacinda says, does it preclude opening up a different section for online creative work in the future, if we could work out what an editorial policy might be and where the time to apply it would come from.

    I agree with Maxine that Overload was very successful and that her work on that was outstanding. But in some ways that ilustrates my point. Basically, she was acting as a (unpaid) editor at that time, devoting a huge amount of work to the blog, getting the posts together and making them as good as possible.

    I don’t see how we can do that on an ongoing basis. Hence the position above. I realise that it’s unpalatable for those for whom poetry is their preferred mode and I’m sorry about that. But working out the online stuff is difficult — it’s new to everyone — and we’re never going to come up with a solution that pleases everyone.

    Oh, and when I say, we — well, this was a decision I made. So don’t hate on Jacinda about it. I’m the one you want.

  9. Thanks Maxine, for taking up the fight. It is sad to see Overland take a business stance against the arts. I understand the uncomfortable position Jeff finds himself in and wish there was a fourth option. I’ve always seen Overland as being an edgy publication, one that I could turn to for fresh content when all other blogs associated with print magazines are merely reproducing summaries of their print editions. Jeff refers to other publications in his response, I’d hoped that Overland would stand aside from the other publications as it has in the past and show itself as the leader in contemporary issues that I’ve always perceived it to be. I guess only time will tell, I just wanted to enter my opinion, poets need Overland now more than ever, and Overland needs poets to retain its dangerous, in-your-face-iveness!

  10. I find myself wondering about the Overland reader.

    Just recently we had a Subscriberthon here on the Overland blog and there were many of us who contributed to that push. We wanted to see Overland grow, both in readership and its literary scope. Those of us who helped in that Subscriberthon or have contributed for many months with our thoughts — be they poetic, political or philosophical -– did not get thanked for our time, our energy, or continued contributions to the Overland Blog. Not even a complimentary subscription to the magazine we were promoting, (though I’m lucky in that regard, I have a great store discount in the bookshop I work in).

    Writers like Alicia Sometimes wrote eloquently about political poetry during that Subscriberthon. Maxine Clarke has consistently brought the best of political poetry to this blog, either with her own work, or poets she’s profiled, promoted or given a voice to through the Overland microphone. I’ve done a little of that myself. Koraly has also contributed in that regard and Tara has written about nothing other than poetry in her time as an Overland blogger. But now there’s to be no poetry. I can’t help but feel all the work we’ve done as writers and poets has contributed to the growing profile of Overland and developed its readership on the material we’ve generated.

    So I find myself wondering about the Overland reader.

    Of course we are all share a political attitude. If we buy a copy of the magazine we are declaring that affiliation, and even more so if we consistently write for the magazine, whether it be online or in print. Primary to that political solidarity is this desire for literature –> inclusive of poetry. Overland is a literary journal, which means it’s not didactic or politically proscriptive. As writers and readers we want to be affirmed in our political beliefs and confirmed in our social understanding through the epiphanies or art and revelations of considered thought. We’d rather not be battered with brutal statistics and inflexible ultimatums which spell out only disaster and demise for the world at large.

    Because that’s the thing about poetry or prose –> They show us the same truths, derived from the same data, but they inspire us into action. They incite us with feeling and give us a sense of emotional reality rather than club us with ugly facts or paralyze us with visions of a marauding capitalist agenda recklessly destroying life and dignity everywhere. Does the Overland reader really want none of the prose and poetry they’ll find in the journal, here on the online aspect of the magazine? Does the Overland reader really want only the facts and figures, essays that are gauged by how effectively they communicate the same essential message?

    I really do find myself wondering.

  11. Oh, come on. Overland is ‘taking a business stance against the arts’!
    No, we’re establishing a more professional and systemic policy on blogging, at least in part in response to feedback received during the last discussion.
    No comparable publication provides an unedited, unmoderated forum for poetry self-publication on its front page. That alone should suggest this is not some sinister piece of censorship aimed at destroying the arts but a decision that, regardless of what you think about it, is based on something other than sheer perversity.

  12. OK, I won’t keep going on about this, since at some point we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    The poetry in the print journal is selected by a poetry editor, from a huge number of submissions. It is then worked on in various ways over the course of months, not because we are petty control freaks, but because we want it to be as good as possible. That’s what editing is about.

    During the last discussion, the consensus seemed to be that the blog should be treated much more like the rest of the journal. Hence the new editorial position. For all the reasons I’ve explained, it’s neither feasible nor fair to expect that position to also deal with poetry or fiction.

    To be honest, I’m not really sure what people are expecting. Should everyone be able to post poems on the site? If not, who decides who is eligible and on what basis do they do so? As many of you will know, the cast of existing bloggers evolved in an ad hoc fashion. Fortunately, some are talented poets. But there are lots of other talented poets out there, too. Should those poets be invited on board and then should every poem they compose, irrespective of its literary merits, be put online, with no editorial control, not even basic copyediting?

    If you think the scenario above might be problematic, well, then you can see the need for some kind of editorial post. But as soon as you start thinking it through, the whole thing becomes increasingly difficult, requiring, it seems to me, the kind of time commitment that Maxine put into organising the Overload intervention, at the very least.

    Some of the same problems do arise with prose, of course, and Jacinda will have to tackle them. But as I’ve tried to explain creative work poses much more ticklish aesthetic problems for editors, and one’s that we don’t have the resources to deal with at the moment.

    I’m sorry if people feel they’ve been hardly done by. Likewise, if we haven’t sufficiently acknowledged the contributions people have made, well, let me do so now. We’ve had some really good online content, including poetry, and I thank everyone for that. But the site, which began on a very small scale, and then evolved without sufficient thought as to how it might all work, needs to change as our understanding of the relationship between the print journal and the online environment develops. Doubtless, in the future, it will need to change more.

  13. I’ve always associated Overland with freedom of speech, be it fiction or non-fiction, and I belive both are important in a political debate. To me, the content online doesn’t need to be edited. In fact, I don’t think readers expect content to be edited in the same way the print journal is because they are read in completly different ways. Blogging is about being able to post a piece instantly, not wait for it to pass an editorial process. Print and Blogs can never be the same. We should embrace the internet for what it is and not try to mould it into something that it will never be. My question is why not pay your bloggers instead of pay the editor? It is, after all, the bloggers that are writing the pieces not the editor. Paying the bloggers therefore legitimises their writing, makes it ‘work’. If you have selected blogers to blog for Overland then they should have the ‘freedom’ to post whatever they like. Don’t make Overland like other journals. People like reading Overland because it’s different. Overland is radical, different, keep it that way.

  14. Hi Jeff (& everyone else too!)

    Just wanted to ask, if the idea of an having extra space for poetry/(short)fiction here, was to get up and running, could it not have a volunteer editor?

    Lots of valid points were raised re: paid/unpaid work in literature, and I’d like to try and sidestep that if possible, because I don’t want to re-open it here. My feeling is this: if you want something to happen, you have to put the work in.

    Therefore, if there are people willing to edit an online space for poetry etc attached to this blog, then can a role be created and filled? I understand it would create extra work for everyone, as a new editor would still be working under and within the Overland structure & ethos, but if everyone wants it bad enough, let’s try it.

    If Jeff & crew want a space for poetry online here, and if someone with the skills and time wants a space for poetry here too, and if they are willing to work at it, could we do it?

    (Just an aside, I do really enjoy the non-fiction postings here btw, thanks Alec for bringing the space to my attention!)

    Now that I’ve blurted all that out, I’ve got to do the uncomfortable thing and contradict myself. On one hand, I’m saying people stand up and put the work in for something you want – and on the other hand, I didn’t write this post because I secretly want to be the online poetry editor at Overland as I’m simply not that presumptuous.

    So even though it sounds like I’m saying, if you want poetry here do the work, as long as it’s not me! No, I just wanted to make the point. Great things can happen if people are willing to roll up sleeves etc. As has already been pointed out – Maxine & the Overload team did it. Is anyone else out there, who is qualified and willing, gonna put up a hand?

    And does Overland want poetry here enough to ask someone to do it?

    Thanks for the space to rant!

    Ash

  15. Sorry, not sure if the middle part of what I was saying made much sense.

    I’m trying to say that while I believe someone needs to step up and put in the work – I doubt that I’m qualified, otherwise I’d volunteer.

    Basically, I can’t put forward an argument for volunteerism without being willing to volunteer myself, can I?

    However, that still doesn’t mean I have the time or chops to do it – but I bet there’s someone out there who does…

  16. Hi Ashley,
    Yes, I was going to say something about that.
    There’s lots of fantastic stuff one could do online. For instance, Maxine and I talked at one stage (at least, I think we did: if it wasn’t her, it was someone else) about creating an archive of spoken word poetry: that is, recording various gigs, turning the best of them into soundfiles and uploading them to a special section.
    There’s no reason why that (to take an idea at random) couldn’t be done, except that it’s very labour intensive and there’s no money to pay for it. It would have to be a volunteer gig and it would require a lot of work.
    But there’s issues associated with that, too, as the debate about unpaid bloggers suggested. When does something like that become exploitative?
    Anyway, it’s definitely worth thinking about. Maintaining a separate online fiction and poetry section would be way cool.

  17. Hi Koraly,
    You write: ‘In fact, I don’t think readers expect content to be edited in the same way the print journal is because they are read in completly different ways. Blogging is about being able to post a piece instantly, not wait for it to pass an editorial process. Print and Blogs can never be the same.’
    That was originally my position, too — but, if you remember, it was heavily criticised in the fracas around the blogger call out. And I was convinced. I mean, for better or for worse, the blog is the first thing people see if they search for Overland online. That means, I think, that for a literary journal maintaining a certain professionalism is important.
    Editing is not about curtailing freedom of speech. It’s a process that takes place on almost every publication because it makes writing better; it’s done on almost every blog attached to a professional magazine.
    The reason why we’re employing an editor rather than paying bloggers is simple: we can (just) find money for a few editorial hours (on top of the huge amount of volunteer time Jacinda is putting in). We cannot find enough money to pay all the people who are writing for the blog.
    I’m sorry about that but there’s nothing we can do. As I’ve said before, we’re constrained by the resources we have, and we can’t be all things to all people.

  18. Hi Jeff! That does sound cool, the archive of spoken material. I love hearing the author’s voice, and hear their reading rhythms for specific poems.

    I do understand the huge amount of work for everyone – you guys too, not just the volunteer editor, and the potential exploitation issue is there.

    Perhaps, it is only exploitation if the people entering into the roles don’t understand exactly what is involved before they say ‘i do’ as it were?

    Also, and this will sound mean, but I think an opportunity is an opportunity so people should take it and suck it up, you know? We don’t get that many oppurtinities for ‘hands on’ experience in the writing world.

    And sure it’s tough to work in unpaid fields – but the job itself can be amazing. I’ve edited 3 small publications over the years, 1 is tiny actually, (1 print & 2 online) and the best parts were the reading & meeting of poets through their work. It made up for all the rest of it (for me anyway!)

    Thanks again for the ranting space!

    Ash

  19. Thankyou to everyone who’s taken the time to comment on this thread.

    Yeah, we did talk about the spoken word thing, but the labour intensiveness shot the idea in the rear.

    This blog cannot be compared to the poetry section of Overland magazine. It’s like comparing The Last Poets to Plath (and I like both, so don’t take that as an insult anyone).

    One of the key issues for me is that poetry is being seen as separate from all else posted on this blog.

    Leaving aside the fact that I’d already given in my decision to scale down my poetry blogging on this site when all this kerfuffle happened, the poetry I’ve posted on this site in the past has been political commentary…on swine flu, on the earthquake in haiti, on australia day, on the miss california beauty pageant, the blackface saga, protests in Iran. Now the view is that simply because the FORM my political commentary takes is poetry, I am no longer welcome to post here. That seems absurd at best. I had really hoped Overland would let other poets emerge to pick up the poetry on the blog where I left off.

    Why not put a call-out for Overland Poet Laureates: people who are free to post ONLY POETRY at Overland within specific guidelines for a term of say, six months (it must be political/world view commentary, it must be on current events, the poetry must be left-leaning and fit within Overland’s broad world view etc). This way you encourage the creation of new work, and give other poets the opportunity I’ve been so privileged and am so grateful to have had (I mean, I got a book deal partly out of what I produced here, imagine if other poets could do that) and it’s something that will help their career and writing resume etc.

    If the field of contributors was selective and rotational (ie you served a 6-12 month term as a poet laureate), then I guess you could also have a poetry editor that those three or four people send work through. Like Ashley, I’m not sure I’m putting my hand up here…maybe…I don’t know. but I can definitely think of 3 amazing poets who I guarantee would blow Overland readers away.

    As for the posting of other stuff here: the quality has always varied, fiction or non fiction. There has always been some ‘dubious’ content aesthetically (including, at times, my own).

    Overland Poet Laureate. I’m liking the sound of that.

  20. Me too! There’s a title worth jumping at. And Maxine’s idea of rotating poets is fascinating too.

    (Really impressed that Overland is actually open to debate and suggestion in general too, especially about the form/medium of the publication itself. That’s pretty rare I’d wager – though I have seen Island & Cordite do it to varying degrees too)

  21. For reference, an archive of spoken word recordings already exists at http://www.wordplay.org.au. We’re posting our whole Wordplay back-catalogue bit by bit, and looking at posting other gigs in future. But Jeff is quite right that it’s immensely labour intensive.

    Also, it’s poetry AND fiction in question, no? Before the poets get too defensive…

    As for the rest…you’re all right. But not all at the same time.

    Jeff is right that the site is the first thing most people see, and so the quality should be checked. I spent two years apiece as poetry editor at Voiceworks and Harvest, and I used to get very hands-on with the editing, not just act as a selector. I can back him up that poetry is much harder to edit. You don’t have month-long email debates with non-fiction writers over the placement of a comma. I’m right behind the need for rigorous editing of all work – it’s only fair to the author to make sure they’re work is presented at its best. And I agree that you shouldn’t have open posting because frankly, painfully bad poetry outweighs good poetry by about nine to one.

    Maxine is right, though, that poetry should still make it onto the blog. There are ways and means. It’s frustrating to always have poetry treated separately, not as part of literature as a whole. Poetry and fiction are important parts of the magazine, and should be represented adequately on the site. A simple answer would be to treat poetry submissions like Salt did when it was alive: no feedback, no correspondence, no extra work for the editors. If they liked your poem they published it. If you didn’t hear back, you hadn’t been accepted. That way an Overland blog editor could post only those poems that were good quality and polished, ready to be published. If that editor feels unqualified to make decisions on poetry, I’m sure someone can. Structured that way, it would take minimal hours, more of a screening process than an editorial role.
    I appreciate that what goes into the magazine gets carefully edited, because I always took pains to do the same for my magazines. But the site could feature only finished work, not work that needs editorial input.

    Ashley is right that getting a volunteer is the practical solution. Volunteer work isn’t exploitative because by definition it’s by choice. The vast majority of work done in the Australian arts is voluntary. Even the modest amount that Overland staff get paid puts them in the extreme and fortunate minority. Most of the independent press sector are more than unpaid; rather, they spend lots of their own money on their product. Gig organisers make squat. They’re not in it for dollars. The difficulty is finding someone qualified to do the role, but prepared to do it for free. But if it were just a matter of selecting content, the workload shouldn’t be too onerous. Plus it would be a quotable job title and a boost to their own skillset.

    I don’t like the idea of a separate poetry section, because that effectively quarantines poetry (again, that distinction being made). If you wanted to have nominated poets (Laureates or whatever you want to call them) who contribute regularly, then fine. Though if you had a regular poetry selector, they would soon get to know who they could rely on for quality without the need for official titles.

    The Overland staff clearly know the huge amount of work and correspondence needed to get a selection of poetry edited for print publication. So, a job that just involved picking the occasional blog-ready poem sounds like a piece of piss.

  22. Dear Maxine, Jeff, Overland and contributors,

    Firstly a huge thanks to Maxine for the Overload partnership – it really was one of the high-lights of the 2009 festival! The reviews and debate were simply brilliant.

    There seems to be a conflation of issues here, a cross-wiring of objectives and an ambition-beyond-means.

    Maxine’s position/proposal as poet-blog-commentator seems very different to that of poetry editor. The two are obviously very different things with different resource requirements. The ‘poet laureate’sounds like an excellent compromise – it would be a shame for Overland to lose such energy, talent and enthusiasm simply in the name of streamlining genres. It would also be a unique position – a point of difference for Overland, and a way of keeping alive a flame of writing which has been so dedicated to this journal. To lose it all-together seems like it would waste much hard-earned momentum.

    Having said this, as Overload Poetry develops so will our website. I would be more than happy to invite Maxine and any poetry bloggers to help us conceive a dedicated, year-round spoken word review. This will certainly be part of our funding strategy for the coming years.

    After the Overload festival some people suggested that we should have had our own blog-team. This will happen, I’m sure. But the interest in a partnership goes beyond resources – it is a linking of otherwise disparate modes in literary culture – which is itself exciting and beneficial to all.

    So I would really encourage Overland to find a compromise that will allow it to retain the energy it has harnessed – and to stay connected to a large online poetry community.

  23. Thanks James and Geoff for weighing in on this.

    James – the evolution of Overload sounds exciting and I look forward to contributing in any way I can.

    You’re right Geoff, posting the occasional publication-ready poem would be by far the easiest option (assuming, of course, there was any movement on the issue).

    But I guess it’s not really in the spirit of what I think Overland is trying to do with this blog project thing. That is: this method would probably mean more accomplished poets, rather than emerging or under-published poets would have their work posted here.

    in my view, there is a consensus that ‘bad’ poetry is fatal to a blog, and that it’s not what ‘other journals do’. The list of suggestions and depth of debate on this post indicates that there are ways and means…and I sincerely hope this isn’t the last poem that ever appears on this site.

    Oh and Geoff well done with the Wordplay site!…given mine and Ashley’s weasling around the issue of putting our hand up for a volunteer editing job, and your poetry editing history…and if Overland were to suddenly change their mind for some reason and decide poetry was welcome here…

  24. I agree with Maxine, if people want to read ‘ready to be published’ poems they can pick up a print journal and pay for the privilege. If people want to read a well researched thorough article, read the journal. I am sticking to my view that blogging is about quick articles, refreshing content, not about replacing print. Yes, Jeff, the blog is the first thing readers see of Overland but the blog should be a ‘taste’ of what is in the journal, not the journal itself. It should entice the reader to want to buy the journal. I, for, one, don’t have the attention span to read a long article on a blog, but if I sit down with the journal on the couch, I’ll read it. The way we read online is different. The Overland blog has always been about political debate, freedom of expression, and poetry should be part of that debate, whether or not it is at a ‘publishable print standard’ doesn’t matter.

  25. I remember my introduction to the Overland website was a poem called “the Deputy Prime Minister Is a Racist Pig” or something along those lines, and I tell you what – it was an awesome introduction.

    I am disapointed that there will be no more poetry, but at the same time I confident that this won’t last long. I appreciate the fact that if you can’t do it you can’t do it. I understand the necessity of editing. Editing should not be seen as ‘censoring a writers work’ it should be seen as an ‘enhancement of what the writer’s work’.

    Personally, I see the Overland blog as something akin to a ‘receptionist’ where the receptionist is the face of the company and as such needs to be presented in a positive and pleasant fashion. The major problem with that comparison is of course that Overland is not a business, but the blog is still the face of Overland and as such must arrive clean shaved and well dressed with hair reaching below the collar tied back in a neat pony-tail.

    This can pose a problem, however, as outlined by Jeff – not every receptionist can afford their uniform or even a razor to shave with for that matter and as such, they are fired and rely on the generosity of others for survival.

    I desperately hope a compromise can be reached so poetry can become as central to the blog as everything else.

  26. Oh dear, Maxine, what have I done? It’s true that my medical records indicate a strong susceptibility to unpaid poetry editing positions. Though I’ve been trying hard to kick the habit. It’s Overland who first has to decide what they want to do, though.

    I agree with Koraly that content online can have a fresher and more constantly changing feel. Care is taken with the journal because it takes three months to emerge. The blog ideally changes every day. But if the blog is to be a taste of what’s in the journal, as she says, it needs to reflect the quality of what’s in the journal. It can’t do this if it’s unedited or unmoderated. Like Marc said, editing is enhancement, not control. As an editor I never said “You need to change this.” I said, “Why have you chosen to do it this way?” It’s to make the writer interrogate their work. Perhaps it remains unchanged. But at least their choices are then deliberate.

    And re Maxine’s point, maybe less-published poets, some of them at least, aren’t published because they’re not good enough. And should they be published if they’re not up to it? That’s what personal blogs and more community-based writing groups are for. Is that what Overland is for? Up to you.

    Perhaps there need to be two sections to the blog: a front page, managed by Jacinda as per current policy, and an Off the Cuff section which is open slater, or only given basic moderation. It could then be made clear that this was an open forum, not representing the magazine per se, and it could be an avenue for new writers to get feedback and so on.

    Or the critera for publication online could be a bit more relaxed than for the magazine. At least online you never have to leave anything out for want of space. There would always be more opportunity to get something published there – if it was good enough.

  27. Gah. Please read “open slather”. I don’t know what an open slater is. Maybe something to do with the batting stance of a 1990s Australian opening batsman? (Is it a sign that my Captcha word for this post is “slugged”?)

  28. I’m reading all of this with interest. Seems to me that there are a few discussions being had here at once?

    I can understand Jeff’s reasoning behind putting limits on the Overland blog, but it doesn’t appear to me to be a decision to BAN anything relating to poetry – just a decision to not publish actual poetry here? Correct me if I’m wrong?

    The question of opening up the blog of a literary journal to unedited text poetry is a curly one. I can tell you that Going Down Swinging, as a journal publishing text poetry, wouldn’t so it. And I don’t know one poetry editor who wouldn’t feel anxious about it. There are plenty of blogs in the virtual world where you can post your poetry..?

    As to review, and debate, I’d heartily encourage Overland, and all the other journals that review, to open up their reviewers to commenting on live performance poetry and spoken word gigs as well as published – both in the print journal, and blogs. That’s an issue about whether spoken word and performance poetry are considered “literary” – that old chestnut. It is a valid form of cultural expression, art, politics, all of the above. It should be reviewed, and often, by people who know how
    : )

    To me it’s obvious that there being a hole in the review /comment around performance poetry / spoken word, people got well excited during the Overland / Overload collab. (me included) and saw the demand for such a thing. But it’s a journal’s own decision surely as to whether they take up that mantle? It’s never been Overland’s brief far as I know to publish spoken word.

    Yes, Overland should be reviewing performance poetry – no question. And hopefully, a blog about performance poetry wouldn’t NOT be considered if submitted, Jeff? But people have started talking about something else entirely, with spoken word archives and such. …

    James I think your idea is brilliant, and I, and GDS, would lend energies to help an Overload blog come about. It’s something that GDS – as Australia’s only journal actually releasing CDs of spoken word regularly – has talked about, but it always comes back to the one thing – resources. Archiving of live spoken word performance – well, speaking from the experience of recording Overload last year, that’s huge. But, it’s not hard to record and post gigs you yourself do, as Geoff and Wordplay have proven….

    Cordite is also now posting spoken word, Mongo does a fine job of it with his Indiefeed Performance Poetry podcasts, we’re talking about it too. There’s an audience there, and the technology! Obviously, timely for interested parties to connect about this?

    I love the sense of energy that’s here. I’d venture to suggest that picking on Overland to make it happen is a little misdirected – if all that Overland did was incite this discussion, catalyze interested parties into action, then thanks to Jeff and co. for that,,,

  29. So many good ideas beuing thrashed around here… I just want to weigh in and add that I think the most important thing, whichever way things move forward, is what Geoff said with regards to the segregation of poetry. Poetry will not benefit from being cordoned off in a separate section… Looking forward to seeing the Overload site evolve too james and I am more than happy to help contribute to things from the sunny north. And indeed, congrats on the WordPlay site Geoff. A brilliant archive.

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