recently a writer talked about limitations of the web in publishing poetry and it irked me. first of all any good web designer can properly reproduce a writer’s layout. of course, some writers don’t know how to lay out their work. if you want non standard alignment, don’t use spaces, use tabs or if it’s that wonky, don’t use a word processing program, use something like photoshop and create a jpg. and if an online journal doesn’t accept jpgs, that should tell you something. likely they don’t have the time to fiddle with your wonky layout.
these days a lot of online poetry publishers are choosing to publish poetry via pdf. i’ll point you to experiment-o.com for some good examples of variety in style as a pdf. or for non pdf stuff nationalpoetrymonth.ca. both of these are published by my own small press, AngelHousePress, so i suppose i’m biased, but we’re not the only ones who can handle difficult formats on line. Online magazines offer an exciting flexibility and possibilities with format that a print magazine can’t often afford to do, such as colour…Take a look at these wonderful online lit mags.
not that layout can’t be fucked up. we all make mistakes: writers, editors, publishers. recently i had a couple of poems published in an anthology, was given the proof, approved the proof and when i received the book, my couplets had been ruined. and before that a title of mine in a literary journal was messed up, and before that another literary journal had the wrong page listed for my poems in the table of contents, and then another small magazine wrecked my line breaks too. the point is the web doesn’t have any kind of exclusivity on fucking things up. and it bugs me that people use that excuse not to publish on line. a handy rule of thumb: before you send your work to any publisher, take a look at their design and layout and see if you can live with it.
there’s a reason i publish some of my own work. i enjoy having control over the design and layout of my stuff. on the other hand, it’s good to give my work to others and see what comes out.