4.06 / June 2009


Emilie Jacobs was an unconscionable fucktard. “Literary journals,” she said, winking at me, “surely have a vested (if not semantic) interest in demanding so-called First North American Rights. It’s their prerogative we question. Here, as elsewhere, the rules of the self-anointed are troubling: should the fact that eight people’ve read a poem of ours in say, Baltimore, preclude six more in Modesto, California from ever seeing the thing? Out of respect for Their Rule, that must be the extent of the poem’s exposure? Have we really, then, saturated the market? This system dictates that we consider our published work to’ve been de-activated and that we continue to write in such oft-invisible ink. Is that what’s been decided in regards to our intellectual property? Really? Well, we were not, it’s worth noting, not in the room that day for the official show-of-hands. Cui bono? Not us,” she said, clearing her throat. “We do not sanction your trespass and neither will we continue to be complicit in the willful abridgement of our own inalienable artistic rights.” Emilie Jacobs continued: “As it’s already the case that most bookstores do not carry literary magazines, we cannot afford to allow the scope of our print-readership to be even further limited. If you — literary journals, that is — are something of an at-risk forum, then we are among your few and most loyal supporters. Bilaterally, no less: as un-paid contributors and as paying subscribers. And if you are still relevant in 2009, 2010, 2011, it’s because we think of you daily and with no small amount of longing. We’ll ask you to remember, too,” she added, parenthetically, I think, “that you did not ‘discover’ our work. We sent it to you. Far, then, from imposing illogical constraints, you might for a moment consider our very real needs.” Emilie cleared her throat. “The Writer — too-long the self-effacing proletarian of the literary world, now begins the process of reclaiming a dignified and meaningful co-ownership of the means of production — broadly defined. We appeal to you as fellow lovers of literature,” she said, then coughing violently into her sleeve, “and as fellow-writers in many cases, to be reasonable: no amount of reprinting of one of our impenetrable little poems will, we’re afraid, succeed in throwing Planet Earth from its axis. In an environment in which it is safe for us to credit the previous publisher of a given work, we will certainly do so. Until then, we’ll continue to quietly submit previously published work. Think of it as civil disobedience if you’d like for that same spirit is, we believe, the essence of all worthwhile art.”