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Welcome To Our First #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast With Orna Ross And Dalma Szentpály

Welcome to Our First #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast with Orna Ross and Dalma Szentpály

In another first for the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and as part of its 2019-2020 season of broadcasts, ALLi launches the first Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast.

For poets, this is a safe online space to read and perform, to get advice about online poetry publishing and creative enterprise, and to get more attention.

On the #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast, find:

  • advice on how to self-publish poetry books for pleasure and profit
  • discussion about writing and publishing options for poets
  • readings from self-publishing poets in a segment called Indie Poetry Please! 

Tune in for discussions on a different theme each month with a focus on developing prosperity for poets through community building and self-publishing.

If you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Listen to the #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast

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Watch the #AskALLi Self-Publishing Poetry Broadcast

Join @dalma_szentpaly and @OrnaRoss for the pilot episode of the new #AskALLi Self-Publishing poetry #podcast! Poetry is popular again and our hosts tell you how and why. Click To Tweet

About the Hosts

Orna Ross

Orna’s work for ALLi has seen her repeatedly named one of The Bookseller’s “Top 100 people in publishing.” She launched at the 2012 London Book Fair, after taking her rights back from Penguin in 2011 and republishing her books herself, with the titles and treatment she’d originally wanted. Orna writes award-winning poetry and fiction, runs a Patreon page for poets and poetry lovers as well as an active author website. She is on a mission to help eradicate creative poverty through digital publishing and enterprise. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @ornaross.

Dalma Szentpály

Dalma Szentpály co-hosts the Self-Publishing Poetry salon. She works at PublishDrive as a self-publishing professional and has been a lifelong lover of poetry. A native Hungarian, she started learning about lyricism from poetry giants like Attila József and János Pilinszky but also recited brooding lines of verse from international poets like Pablo Neruda or Anna Ahmatova. In university, she fell in love with W.B. Yeats and Emily Dickinson and wrote her thesis about the “villanelle” form in Sylvia Plath’s poetry. As a university lecturer and an event manager at an independent bookstore in Budapest Dalma encouraged readers to re-engage with poetry. Check out her blog post about contemporary poetry trends here: https://publishdrive.com/publishing-poetry-2018/. Find Dalma on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read the Transcript

Orna Ross: Hello everybody, and we are here for another first from the Alliance of Independent Authors. I’m here with Donna from PublishDrive. And we are launching this evening, our self-publishing poetry podcast. A first, as I said, we’ve always talked about self-publishing, of course, and included poetry in it, but this year, by year, I mean, the start of now, the academic year here in London, we always think of back to school as the start of our year. And this year, we are splitting out self-publishing fiction, self-publishing poetry, self-publishing non fiction, because of course, there’s lots that they share. But there’s also lots that’s different. Poetry, in particular, is having an amazing Renaissance through self-publishing at the moment. And we’re going to be talking about all of that. But first, let me introduce my new, brand new co-host for this program, Dalma. Hi, Dalma.

Dalma: Hi, Orna, thank you so much for including me, it’s such a pleasure to be here.

Orna Ross: It really is great to have you and Dalma is in Hungary. I’m coming to you from London. And tell us a little bit about yourself, Dalma, for those who haven’t met you before. I know that a number of our members have met you through your work for PublishDrive. And maybe in other capacities as well. But yeah, just tell the good folks all about you!

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: Introducing Dalma Szentpály

Dalma: Thanks. Sure. So, my name is Dalma Szentpály and I am working for PublishDrive, a self-publishing platform. It’s amazing. If you’re an indie writer, you definitely have to check us out. We are basically a bunch of book nerds who really, really want to give the best opportunity to indie authors who want to explore the exciting times that is happening right now in publishing, because a lot of barriers are coming down. And we’re just wanting to give you the best of a robust platform that you can explore and have your chances there. And aside from my work in publishing, why am I actually involved with poetry? So I’m a lifelong lover of the genre. It started when I was probably six years old, when I just finished, basically, kindergarten probably and my mom started to read me poems, and here in Hungary, it’s almost obligatory to learn poems and recite poems, you have a lot of poetry contest that you have to do.

And my brother actually is a poet. So he was a great influence to what I should read. So not only Hungarian poets, but international ones. In university, I wrote my thesis about poetry and a particular form of poetry. And now I try to give advice on PublishDrive’s blog to self-publishing poets, and I did a very long post about it last year. And it just got me involved with Insta poetry, which is amazingly exciting, what’s happening there right now. And how a lot of readers are just starting to fall in love with poetry again, and classics are really getting re explored, like the Odyssey or Emily Dickinson. So not only new poets, new voices, but old voices are really, really interesting right now. And ORna, you are a poet as well. So what are you thinking about this new and exciting time that is coming into poetry?

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: Poets are Best-Sellers

Orna Ross: Yeah, I am indeed. And it’s kind of ironic. My very first ebook was a poetry book. I had self-published a print book some years ago, consignment print the old fashioned way, the books in the garage kind of thing, for a women’s group that I worked with then. It was actually was quite successful as a self-published books go. But my first digital self-publishing outing, before I got my rights back from my publisher, was actually a poetry pamphlet. And I learned my self-publishing craft and trade through poetry. And yet somehow, I always had this kind of almost like a blind spot around it, you know, the way we talk and creative work very often about challenging your own assumptions.

And what you don’t know you don’t know is kind of what kills you and I never really expected to sell my poetry, even though I was selling some pamphlets and having a very nice time and really loving the creative side. But I didn’t treat my publishing the same way as I treated my fiction and nonfiction. I, you know, I have various sorts of marketing things in place that I do automatically when I publish a new fiction or nonfiction book, but I wasn’t doing that with poetry. So I didn’t have a perma free, for example. I didn’t really have a dedicated poetry list, I had my poetry in with my fiction people. And about a year ago, I realized that I realized “What am I doing? You know, I haven’t really given my poetry, even though I take it very seriously, as an artist, as a creative, I haven’t given it the same sort of partial attention. And when I, it started with a conversation I had with Robin Ingram, who is the director of Ingram Spark, actually she’s the first person. Talk about spark, she was the person who kind of lit the spark, because she said to me that her poets, as she described it, “My poets are the best sellers on the platform.”

Dalma: Absolutely.

Orna Ross: And blew me away. I was really surprised to hear that.

Dalma: Absolutely.

Orna Ross: And then I read your post, and I thought about it another tick and then we had that great conversation London Book Fair.

Dalma: London Book Fair.

Orna Ross: But yeah, and we talked about “Wouldn’t it be great to have-” And here we are doing it. But I started then to take my own poetry more seriously in the last six months to a year or so. And with really amazing results, and then I find that people who like to buy poetry buy directly, much more from my own site. Generally, anyway, that’s my kind of story as to how I came to be here and then I realized, ALLidoesn’t have a poetry, how to publish poetry podcast and there are big differences between

Dalma: How you approach it. Yeah, yeah.

Orna Ross: How you get out there, what platforms you use, all that kind of stuff? So I thought, “No, this has to be fixed.” So here we are. That’s how all of that came about. Yeah. So yeah.

Dalma: Sure.

Orna Ross: To anybody who’s listening and who isn’t aware of what’s going on in poetry at the moment, fill us in.

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: Poets are Increasingly Popular

Dalma:  To be honest, and I completely understand why you had this different approach to poetry because I think we have this prejudice that poetry is not selling, because it’s an old form of literature and what you have to learn in school, at least some of it, and you have in mind, Byron and Shelley and all these very old stuffy guys, some of them, I’m not saying they’re not good, but you know, and I was very surprised when I started to look into it. So what’s happening right now in poetry, for example, that poets are invited to late night shows at Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, and they are asked about why they’re so successful. So some of these words, for example, Rupi Kaur, has 3.4 million followers on Instagram, which is by any celebrity standards a very, very high number.

And the reason why it’s such a different take on poetry right now is twofold. One of them is that people, usually in uncertain political times, when there is a lot of change happening are open to poetry, which is on the one level, it’s very lyrical, and very emotional, and very empowering. So if you think about old revolutions, most of the time poets were actually the revolutionaries taking part in revolts. And that’s one of the things why right now, it’s definitely a lot of political upheaval happening in every sort of Western or Eastern European country or in America even.

And the second part is that a lot of platforms, for example, Instagram, and our, the way we consume, literature changed a lot. So digitalization actually is good for sharing poetry, it’s instant, you get a very emotionally impactful text, which is very short, because poetry can be the shortest form of text in literature. And that’s why it’s very, very successful. So last year, I did kind of an overview of what is happening right now. And why is this change happening as well as suggestions on the platforms that you can share your poetry and how you can experiment with form, as well as your techniques for kind of what kind of themes are out there.

So these sort of issues were mentioned in it. And just additionally, because it’s, this is the last year post, but nothing’s changed. Actually, it’s getting bigger and bigger. So according to Nielsen, last year, about 12 million pounds were sold in poetry, and there were 12% growth in sales. So for two years now, it’s just growing and growing and growing. So I encourage everyone who ever had any inclination to publish poetry that this is the time to do it. This is exactly the time to do it.

Orna Ross: I think so I couldn’t agree more. And I’m just to say that those figures would be probably UK based only, does that take in the US as well, do you know?

Dalma: This only takes the UK but in the US as well, there is an 8% or 9% growth as well, from last year’s figures. So I’m not exactly sure about the sales figures, but growth is not stopping. So it’s a constant growth in sales figures. But I was not able to find from last year’s, any type of actual money, how many many volumes have been sold.

Orna Ross: But it’s it’s definitely an indication of the growth. And of course, it’s not taking in a huge number of indie poetry publications, because lots and lots of poets don’t put an ISBN on their books. And, in fact, some of the poets who are doing extremely well, are not actually publishing poetry books at all. They’re publishing individual poems, on different directions online, and so on.

And one of the things about this podcast is really to encourage people, to encourage poets to think about putting together collections. So be it themed collections or just selected and poetry or whatever. And it’s one of the things that we hope to do. And so yeah, just to fill in people a little bit about what we will be doing on this podcast specifically because it’s going to be because it is poetry is going to be a little bit different, and to the others.

So each month, Dalma and I will take a theme. So it might be something like that, you know, putting together a poetry chapbook. It might be a form kind of thing: sonnets, haiku. Or it might be a particular type of poetry that’s doing very well. You mentioned Rupi Kaur earlier and the Instagram poets, a lot of those poets write in the expressive poetry genre, so we might take a look, for example, at that specific genre or whatever. And oh, here’s Sasha, actually in with a question on that. Hello from Greece. “Been so excited to watch this podcast. I’m obsessed with Rupi Kaur style poetry, I think she calls it expressionist.” Yes, expressive, expressive poetry is that particular genre. I write in an inspirational poetry, which some people think of as Christian, but it’s not at all, it’s just poems that that aim to inspire.

Dalma: Motivational.

Orna Ross: Yeah, could be motivational, could be spiritual, that end of things. Motivational is huge, isn’t it?

Dalma: Absolutely.

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: New Trends in Poetry

Orna Ross: Empowerment, poetry around empowerment as well. So we’re seeing all sorts of new kinds of trends. We’re also seeing new forms, and micro poetry is huge. Haiku is gone from being an obscure Japanese form to everywhere, everyone’s writing Haiku.

Dalma: Yeah, yeah, actually, I wanted to share a little bit of an anecdote about that. I was spending a little bit of the summertime with my friends. And actually, two days ago, I was still with them having a vacation. And what we do together usually is write haikus together as a group. So it’s not even not only, you know, a form of literature that is only for writers, professional writers, but this is something that friends can explore together. So you know, it’s just everywhere, literature can be everywhere. And it can be fun. It can be, it can be serious, of course, but it’s definitely a communal thing. And poetry, especially right now is very communal. So it’s not a solitary expression, but you’re doing, you have a voice that you are using constantly for having a dialogue with your readers. And I think that definitely is something that’s for the 21st century, where you’re in constant dialogue with whoever you’re writing to.

Orna Ross: Exactly. And just to say there, for those who are wondering what hhaiku is, just got a private message on that. It’s a short, very stylistically formal poem that normally, often based in nature, but that really kind of tries to capture a creative moment. And you can follow on Instagram, on the hashtag #creative moments, or on the hashtag #haiku. And see other people what they are doing with the form. It’s a really very interesting that originated from Japan which traditionally had very strict rules, three syllables, seven syllables, three syllables, 3-7-3. Or 5-7-5. People are breaking the form in the west while honoring the tradition and spirit of this form of micro-poetry.

So we’ll be talking about all these things. But I just love what you said there about your friends, you know, playing haiku games. Absolutely. And you weren’t kidding when you said you were a word nerds. *laughs* We’re poetry nerds, which is fantastic.

I think people can be a bit afraid of poetry. So when we’re, you know, in our teens, and emotion and angst is overflowing, we find ourselves spontaneously writing poetry, but then it stops. We become almost ashamed of it. We definitely don’t want to put it out there. That was the way it was. But, now, people are putting it out there. And they’re rediscovering that love of poetry. And I would really say that every author should be writing poems behind the scenes, it’s a great way to practice your word craft. Poetry forces you to really think a word choice about form, about, you know, it just improves your craft as a writer to attempt to write poetry, even if you were to never publish those poems.

We have Joyce, who’s here from *Inaudible* in Ireland, I know it very well, I was born to *inaudible*. And yeah, she says, “This is very exciting”, meaning the self-publishing poetry podcast, I have lots of poems written throughout the year and would love to self publish a selection of poems. So I think that’s what we’re actually going to talk about next month is we will just talk about the simple act of putting together what’s called poetry chapbook, which is very short, my first one that I did was just 10 poems. And if you haven’t self-published at all before, it’s a great way to start. Because again, it makes you think about interior design, the layout of the words on the page headings, and so on, all of these things get done, but in a very short form. So it makes it kind of comfortable.

And in fact, I’ve gone on to do that repeatedly. When I write 10, that I’m happy to put out into the world, I just put a book with 10 together, and Poetry 1 and Poetry 2, 3, 4 and then gather a number of them together into themed collections that are longer, more costly, and you can sell those chapbooks very cheaply, and people really liked them. So we might we might talk about that in more detail next time. Next time out.

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: Importance of Illustrations

Dalma: Yeah. And I love what you mentioned that in chapbooks, one of the things and I think right now that’s also a very important issue that next to your poetry, if you have design skills, or if you have illustrations gear, or any kind of drawings, or a collaboration with someone who is a great illustrator, that goes really hand in hand with writing. So I would definitely, I would think that we will talk about this at large or multiple times during our podcasts that collaborating with someone or just exploring your artistic streak, I mean, your drawings, that’s definitely addition to your words.

Orna Ross: Absolutely. I think you really can get creative with poetry books, photography is another thing on Instagram and @ornaros for any of you Insta people out there. And please do follow and I’ll follow back. And what I do is take a picture and then write a poem underneath it, or do a haiku around the picture and I find that interspersed with different kinds of poems, or sorry, quotes for poets, quotes for creatives, I find that really interesting. And I would love, eventually, to actually do a high quality book that would both the poetry and the photos together would be a really kind of nice thing to do. But it definitely you can get loose with this form, you can really let your creativity run wild here, perhaps more than you can in a nonfiction or fiction environment, perhaps and it can also loosen your creativity for other writing. And without a doubt.

Dalma: Definitely the context shifts when you bring in the visual as well as the audio that is really a poem. I mean, what you mentioned before that, if you are a writer, any type of writer, you should explore the practical side of how you create a poem because you make word choices much more consciously when you are trying to fit into a form. And if you bring in the visual as well, then that’s a whole other type of creative practice. So I think, and especially now that there are a lot of different aside from Instagram, there are a lot of different platforms that are actually about exploring how you can put together a text and pictures or photos or drawings or any type of visual aid, you should experiment with that.

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: Indie Poetry Please

Orna Ross: Definitely. And we will be talking lots about that. And the other thing that’s going to be unique to this podcast is that we are inviting poets to submit to the podcast in a segment called Indie Poetry Please. So if you want to know more about this particular aspect, each podcast on a Wednesday, so we will be here on Facebook live on the last Monday of every month, at this time, from September onwards. So but in this segment will be doing the advice stuff, talking about how to publish the poems, how to put the books together, the themes, the formats, all the stuff that we were talking about just there. But then we are also inviting you to submit an audio poem, your best work essentially, or your favorite poems that you’ve writing, and to record yourself reading or performing your poetry on to send it through to us.

And we will choose each month some poets to feature their work.

And we also invite you to send in background history to the poem and more about you and your own history about when did you start writing poetry? What you love, what tradition are you in, who are the comparable poets to you, really important, an important thing for you to know and understand as you publish your work so that you can put it out there in a way that you can market it by with the also-boughts and the comparable poets.

So yeah, that’s going to be a unique feature of the Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast. And then we’re also as well as having that poetry spilling over in the podcast, Dalma is going to do an interview each month with a featured poet, you want to tell us a bit about that?

Self-Publishing Poetry Podcast: Interviews with Featured Poets

Dalma: Yeah, absolutely. I’m setting out to interview, do 10 or 15 minute interviews with poets who are the most inspirational right now or who are trending right now, what are their inspirations, what are their influencers? Basically, who influenced them to go into this particular genre? What are the tricks and tips that they can give young poets or just starting out poets out there, who are their readers, so basically, everything that they can tell about their craft, so that this is what I’m going to be looking out for. So I hope to give you the best poets out there, or most inspirational poets out there.

Orna Ross: Fantastic. So that’s it folks, that’s what you can look forward to, those three kinds of aspects: the advice about how to do it, the featured poets who are doing it in an inspirational sort of way so you can learn from them and their craft, their techniques and, you know, their publishing methods, and our Indie Poetry *Please, where we actually bring poetry to you and bring your poetry to the listening world. So if you’d like to submit to that part of the show, the Indie Poetry, Please, it’s on ornaross.com/poetrypodcast, you’ll find everything you need to know what to do there. And so we will, we expect to get quite a few submissions. And we will be choosing poetry based on all sorts of different reasons. You know, but if you keep submitting I’m pretty sure that we will be able to find a space for you at some point over the coming weeks and months.

And I am really looking forward to to this podcast and watching how it develops over the months because it is very much going to be about you, you guys and what you need and want feeding back to us so that we know what to bring you because this is, I think, just the start, I think we really are going to experience an enormous Renaissance in poetry. And that really excites and delights me infinitely.

Dalma: Definitely. Me too. I mean, just for the last two months, when we started to talk about this, I never actually thought in my life that I’m going to speak about poetry and people are going to be listening into it. So I’m just very excited to be part of this. So thank you so much for the opportunity.

Orna Ross: It’s fantastic to have you here, Dalma, you are the person to do it, there is no doubt about that. We will see you on the last Monday of next month, September and do submit your poems if you’d like us to include it. It’s ornaross.com/poetrypodcast and if you have any questions or comments, suggestions, leave them here in the comment box on Facebook Live and we will be reading that and taking them up. So thank you, Dhalma, so much. And thank you everybody. May your lives be full of poetry between now and the next time.

Dalma: Thank you so much, Orna, and bye guys. I will look forward to getting to know more of you.

Orna Ross: See you next month. Bye bye.

Dalma: Bye bye.

 

 

 

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Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

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