The Argotist Online

About        Articles       Interviews        Features       Ebooks       Submissions      Links


Terrie Leigh Relf

(Editor, FireWeed)

Terrie Leigh Relf  has a B.A. in Buddhist Studies/Buddhist and Western Psychology from Naropa Institute, and an M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Writing, from San Diego State University.  She has published four chapbooks: Lap Danced by the Muse (2002), Metro Madness (2003), The Ice Queen, an illustrated story book (2003), and Jupiter’s Eye (2004).




Q: How has publishing changed with the advent of short-run printing and print-on-demand possibilities? Does this negate any need to sell a specific number of a title?  Is this a freedom from traditional print expectations/values?


A: While I’m not an expert on the publishing business per se, I have been involved in a variety of capacities for twenty-plus years. Over the past five-to-ten years, I have noticed a variety of authors and small presses who have availed themselves of short-run and POD avenues.  When attending the Southern California Writers Conference, for example, I  noticed a few tables which held either POD services for authors or authors who had books available through POD.  I have also been in a few anthologies which utilized POD and short-run to attain their publishing goals. I believe that this empowers small presses and/or individual authors who aren’t in possession of vast sums of money to publish.  Depending on the author and/or publisher, though, quality may, and often does, vary.

Q: Why does poetry continue to create schools and movements who feud?


A: Poetry doesn’t create schools and movements who feud . . . The people who write, read, critique, teach, and publish poetry often do this due to their being human . . . Some of this starts off, I’ve noticed, as an open forum of discussion. It’s organic. It’s about evolution.  Change.  Exploration. What often happens, then, is people want to solidify their genre or category of poetics.  They often become dogmatic. Schools and movements can be incredibly exciting, inspirational, and so forth. Personally, I choose not to argue—or “feud”, as you call it—because I dabble in a variety of categories.

Q: With POD possibilities, including various organizations that will take on anything without a set-up fee and simply send royalties to the author, do poetry publishers need arts council subsidies any more?

A: Arts Councils (be they government-funded, privately-funded, or a combination of the two) aren’t only in the “business” of subsidizing poets . . . They also serve a vital role in the community by providing cultural events and opportunities for people of all ages. Furthermore, while I dislike using the phrase, “setting a standard”, they often do just that. I admit that I’ve occasionally encountered some “cliquishness”, and nepotism often reigns, but in general, bringing the arts to a particular community—or to a global community—is most often the case.  For some, it’s the  quality versus quantity debate.  What constitutes “good” poetry?  This harkens back to one of your earlier questions . . . People disagree on this, so the more opportunities the better. There is a place, and I contend, a need, for both.  I also believe that there is overlap. For example, the committee for the First Annual San Diego Poets Anthology (proceeds to benefit local libraries) is, if I understand correctly, a short run.

A: If poetry presses are concerned with cultivating a wider readership, could this not be done more effectively via the internet (where there are thousands of potential readers) rather than worrying about sales of printed poetry?


A: There’s nothing like holding a book in your hand . . . you can carry it everywhere!  One could argue that with laptops and other internet-accessible devices, not to mention campus computer labs, library computers, and internet cafes, that access to an entire library is just a click away. We need both—and for a variety of reasons.  One, not everyone has access to a computer.  Two, have you ever snuggled up in bed with your computer on a rainy day?  It’s just not the same as a book. As an editor for both, I’ve often wished the Internet-only zines were available in print, and vice versa for the print-only. 


As to “worrying about sales”, most of the poets I know (myself included), don’t write poetry to make a living. We’d still do it even if we never made a dime . . .





copyright © Terrie Leigh Relf