Punjab Notes: Poets galore but poetry doesn't sell.

'Poets are shameless with their experience: they exploit them,' says Friedrich Nietzsche in his 'Beyond Good and Evil'.

He himself was a poet but his philosophy overshadowed his poetry. Strangely, poets in our part of the world are far more shameless. They are the pits not for exploiting their experiences as most of them have none but for what they tend to do with their published stuff. Firstly, there are no buyers of poetry these days. Short messages, signs and marks are what constitutes the hallmark of contemporary world of communication in an age of globalisation. Poets usually try to use language with gay abandon because that has been the practice with the poets of the past ages, now a part of poetic tradition.

Contemporary reader is neither interested in the creative ambiguities of language nor in its decorative frills the poets are so fond of. If there are no takers for poetry, it won't find publishers in the market. Publishing is an organised commercial activity driven by profit like any other commercial enterprise.

Poets are also shameless because while singing of trees and woods they insist to be printed on what felling of them yields; pulp that creates paper. In order to be published poets have to cough out money for publishers to bring out their books of verses as publishing cost. Publishers seem ruthless in exploiting the vanity of the poets who are made to pay not only the publishing cost but are discreetly coerced to also pay the so-called service charges over and above it for being kind enough to manage the printing of manuscripts. Interestingly, after the book is published, the bulk remains with the publishers dumped somewhere in their warehouses. Books rarely sell and if and when they do, the poet is never notified or paid anything by way of proceeds. The poet takes a few dozen copies. Then starts the real show for all to see and have a good chuckle. He breaks the news on social media platforms about his new publication and gets congratulatory messages from friends and well-wishers and also from rivals. The number of messages depends on his social networking and public relations. It can a flood or a trickle. Usually it's a trickle to his dismay. Now he goes around in search of people, he thinks, are worthy enough to be gifted his book. Free of charge and of course signed. A sort of mini ceremony, a bit farcical, of presenting the publication is arranged with what may look mock seriousness. The poet and the recipient of the...

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