Sunday, September 2, 2012

Anthology FAIL - When You Wish You Could Unpublish Certain Poems

 Have you ever wished you could take back, reverse, or hide certain publishing "credits"?

It's always risky to send poems to new projects (presses or anthologies), because you won't find out how it turns out, until it turns out.

Most of the time, everything is fine and you end up happy to have a poem making new friends in a new neighborhood. But every once in awhile, you discover (once it's too late) that your poem has been incarcerated in an embarrassingly horrible fail of an idea gone wrong.

The only time I remember this happening was earlier this year, when another poet passed along an anthology call to my email. I'd never heard of the editor, but I couldn't imagine anyone undertaking such a project, unless their care and attention to detail matched their enthusiasm and ambition. Oops. Besides, I've always admired and respected the poet who brought this prospective anthology to my attention, so that was good enough for me.

But the worst part was that I also passed the info along to some of the other poets I knew, so I felt extra guilty as the debacle unfolded.

The idea was to commemorate Arizona's first century of statehood with a centennial anthology. But I first became worried when we began getting mass emails from the editor asking if anyone recognized certain poem titles, so he could figure out who wrote them.

Or if anyone knew how to contact poets whose email addresses, he could no longer find. Stuff that it's difficult to imagine misplacing in this Copy & Paste digital world.

Finally, when copies of the 100 poems from 100 Arizona poets for 100 years of Arizona arrived in contributor's mailboxes, it had ballooned to 183 poems from 126 poets which obviously ruins that snazzy centennial ring. Somehow, the anthology's title still remained "Arizona: 100 Years, 100 Poems, 100 Poets" much to the chagrin of Arizona's centennial mathematicians.

There were also plenty of typos, poems attributed to the wrong poet, poets in the contributor notes whose poems were left out of the book, bizarre formatting and line spacing, etc. Longer poems were forced into baffling line breaks, by being split into side-by-side columns that were so close together that you couldn't tell if you were meant to read the line straight across or skip down at the center of the page. Did I mention that this includes a handful of translations (Greek, Russian, etc) for one of the editor's own poems?


  1. Oh no! Hate when this happens, but I sure enjoyed your entertaining overview (and hilarious photos). : )

  2. When the world gives me lemonade,
    I try to make squished lemons.

  3. How do things like this happen?? And is that beaver dead?

  4. I try to be a glass half full kind of person, but that beaver sure looks half-dead to me.

    That horse that you mentioned is baffle-worthy. It almost seems like he must have backed into that, somehow.