We’ve always struggled a little with how to make the anthology work. When there were fewer Poetry Marathoners, it was a hard but sustainable effort. As the marathon grew, we realized we’d have to change our strategic approach to it. That’s why we started to pay guest editors. This helped a little bit, but with Amazon’s continual shifts in terms of how they were running their print on demand operations, things were still fairly complicated. With increasing participants and submissions the anthology become even more unwieldy and increasingly expensive for us to publish and for any of the contributors to get their hands on.
Last year, Jacob and I discussed stopping the Anthology entirely, but decided instead to try and see if hiring two editors made the job more manageable. It very much did help, but it wasn’t enough in the end, and even after hiring others to help with layout the project took much longer than expected, with many things going wrong and the whole process was very expensive. For reasons that Amazon has never disclosed, they still haven’t distributed it properly this year and it is only available on the UK version of the website. Although if you are in Canada, Indigo has it available for order, finally.
It hasn’t helped that we’ve been running a time consuming business (which has made funding all this possible), and have had to face a wide range of personal issues this year.
The anthology was not part of my original vision for the Poetry Marathon, but I have always been grateful for Jacob coming up with the idea, because it is many individual’s first experience with submission and publication and because I love the range and creativity of work in the anthologies.
We’ve put a lot of thoughts into next steps, and we’ve also gotten some very thoughtful feedback from the community on this.
This year is going to be the last time (for the foreseeable future) that we officially put out a Poetry Marathon Anthology, and it’s going to be a little different.
Blessing Omeiza Ojo, a gifted poet and a long time participant in the marathon, will be the editor of this anthology and he will pick between 80-100 poems to publish in the anthology. This means that for the first time submissions will have to be rejected, which is something we were reluctant to do, because our priority with the marathon is to be as open as possible to all.
That being said, based on community feedback, and hopefully with community support, we are asking anyone who is interested in helping edit/produce/publish a digital/online version of the anthology, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our greatest hope is that someone will put together a board of sorts to support the Poetry Marathon Anthology in the future. This year their focus will only be on curating a digital anthology that hopefully reflects the voices of all poetry marathoners, but going forward they might end up running the Poetry Marathon Anthology as a separate but related entity.
We are very grateful for the insight the community has already provided into this shift, and while we know this change hasn’t been ideal or perfect for anyone (ourselves included), we know that it has to be made. It’s more than the cost for us, but the time and effort we put into the Marathon is already great – and that’s where our focus really needs to be moving forward. The event itself is very much our priority and focus.
We welcome feedback and thoughts on these developments, and we are grateful as always for the community that makes the marathon possible.