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May 31, 2013

Poetry Friday--"Poetry Is Not Drowning"

"Poetry is not drowning, but swimming into new territory," is a post by Billy Mills on a blog run by the British newspaper, The Guardian. The gist of the article is this: the amount of poetry currently being published in book form may be diminishing, but, poetry will continue to live online. Here is what Mills had to say,
So, where some see poetry as a dying art, I see it as an early and enthusiastic adopter of new technologies, partly because it has to be. Why? Well, if selling what you're making isn't going to make anyone rich, but you want to share it with those people who are interested, then you have to work out the cheapest way to do so. And right now it looks like that way is a mix of online, performance and print, with each supporting the other in a new model of publishing, one in which the printed collection is no longer the only accepted mode of publishing but remains a key part of the package.

I have to agree with Mr. Mills. I would have liked to have sold my Kids of the Homefront Army: Poems of World War II America manuscript to a regular print publisher, but after a few unsuccessful attempts, I decided that it wasn't all that important to me to make money. The important thing was to share my work, especially with those who were so generous in sharing their memories of WW II. Several of these people had passed away, and I didn't feel I had the luxury of shopping the manuscript around any longer.

The cheapest and easiest way for me to publish the poems was on a blog, HomefrontArmy.com. I posted poems several times a week from June 2011 to May 2012. I have recently changed the posting dates so that the entire manuscript can now be read from top to bottom in roughly the order in which the war occurred.

I thought I would share one of the poems today to encourage you to visit Kids of the Homefront Army if you haven't been there before.



Things have always
been rough, after all,
there are eight kids
in the family. Father
worked days while
mother worked nights,
and we barely got by.
Now mother is working
at the railroad station.
She cleans out the cars
that carry the troops
on their way to the war.
I never would have thought
that a war could be good,
but for us, it has been.
Mother brings home
sandwiches and candy
bars left behind by
the soldiers, and now
even she gets to eat.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Union Station, Chicago, photo by Jack Delano, courtesy Library of Congress.

I like this one because we get to see that for some, the war had a beneficial side to it. Those who barely made it through the depression were able to find jobs once the war began. One of the individuals who sent me his memories of the war years told me that when people were out celebrating the end of the war in 1945, the only thing he, a teen, could think of was that he'd soon be out of a job.

I'm thinking that I would like to turn Kids of the Homefront Army into an ebook, but that's a project for another time...

Stop by Teaching Young Writers where Betsy is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up AND a Chalk-A-Bration!


  1. Great poem, Diane. Turning "Kids of the Homefront Army" into an ebook is a splendid idea. I have had a good experience with Lulu, which has my Mae West book. (I wrote it under contract, but then the print publisher said Mae was too sexy for YA librarians to buy and cancelled it.) Anyway, Lulu pays me regularly through PayPal, and you can't argue with that.

    1. Thanks for the info, Tabatha! I also found out, at a conference today, that Overdrive (an ebook provider to many public libraries) deals with Smashwords exclusively.

  2. I agree with T -- an ebook is a great idea. I've visited your Homefront Army site in the past and always enjoyed the poems. I like this one -- as you say, it presents a different POV about the war.

    1. Thanks, Jama! I suppose if I made it a priority, I could eventually get it into ebook format with pictures and all.

      I found a free program that turns a blog into an ebook, www.ebookglue.com. The problem is, the pictures don't come through (the links do, though, and you can click on them to see the picture if your reader also connects to the internet), and it doesn't convert the whole blog, just the posts on one page (eg, if you have your blog set up to display 10 posts at a time, then your conversion is only going to show 10 posts. I have it set up to display 150 posts, but blogger cuts it off way before that number, so there's only part of the book in the ebook. The ebookglue ebook for Kids of the Homefront Army can be found here http://blogs.ebookglue.com/share/ag9zfmJsb2dib29rc2dsdWVyDAsSBEJsb2cY2YYQDA

  3. Yes, I completely agree with Mr. Mills and you. Poetry is alive and well online. I love people's generosity in sharing their work - it's inspiring and beautiful.

    1. If people are willing to share, then it's great that there are ways to go that aren't the vanity press route.

  4. What an interesting post, Diane. I have been mulling over my own practice in regard to publishing online or holding back. I like Billy Mills' perspective.

    And thanks for this poem and the link to your collection. I am saving it for more reading.

    1. If you decide to publish online, I'd be interesting in learning how you do it. Have a great weekend. I hope it's not as warm where you are--it's in the mid-90s right now.

  5. This community helps poetry to stay alive!

    1. Yep! In our own little corner of the blogosphere, poetry is ALIVE!

  6. Inspiring post, Diane! Poetry is not going anywhere...thank goodness! =)

  7. I have to agree with Bridget. Humans seem to need poetry, music, art, etc. Thanks for sharing your poem and your blog. I'll be sure to check it out.

  8. I heard someone once say that art is what's left after the ruins have been cleared away. Think about it--there's cave art, but not much else left of prehistoric people. When we're gone, maybe our poetry will remain.