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.
6 thoughts on “2023 Poetry Marathon Anthology Updates”
It is understandable that you have to cut back somewhere. I don’t envy the one who chooses the poems!
That being said, I appreciate the effort that goes into this marathon each year and feel special to know I have had contributions included in the anthologies. Thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to going out with a bang!
This marathon is truly an exceptional opportunity to just sit down and write ‘together’ with an impressive and inspiring community. Being accepted into the anthology is like a cherry to top the whole experience off: it’s a small (delicious & flattering) piece of the bigger sundae. Thank you for the many, many, many opportunities you provide us with the marathon.
I think those of us who love the Poetry Marathon completely understand the stress and difficulties involved in trying to manage a constantly expanding event. Anthology or not, the marathon is a fun and exciting way for us writers to stretch our muscles, connect with a community, and walk away with a slew of new work we can dedicate to personal publications. Please let us know in the future if there’s any way we can take stress off of your shoulders!
Hear, hear! To all that has been expressed. The Poetry Marathon and its community are a gift, and the anthology is definitely an added cherry on top. I can only imagine the blood, sweat, tears and funds that go into producing the anthology every year. At the end of the day, we want this to remain a joy-filled enterprise for you and Jacob as well! Whatever you need to do, please do it! You’re not obligated to explain but thank you for your transparency. I know little to nothing about producing an online anthology but I’m willing to learn. 🙋🏽♀️
I echo the previous comments. The Poetry Marathon is a unique gift to all of us who work to share our thoughts and feelings with the world. And having been involved in collecting, organizing submissions and preparing the layout for an anthology of mixed works from a local writing group, I TOTALLY understand the hours spent, the tears and frustration involved. I would even consider volunteering to help but I have so much on my plate at any time that I simply cannot add one more thing. However, I will definitely continue to participate, to comment on other poets writing and to support you in any way I can.
You need to do what is best for you and your family. THANK YOU both for everything!
The anthology is just the cherry on the cake. The time consuming, expensive, and almost gargantuan in size cherry, but it is not why we come here year after year. We’re here for the cake! The community, the networking and above all else, the poetry!
You have to make the decisions that are right for you, and we’ll always support you when you do.