This is the ninth in a series of interviews with poets and remixers who have provided or worked with material from The Poetry Storehouse — a website which collects “great contemporary poems for creative remix.” Anyone who submits to the Storehouse has to think through the question of creative control — how important is it to you, what do you gain or lose by holding on to or releasing control? Our ninth interview is with Bill Yarrow.
1. Submitting to The Poetry Storehouse means taking a step back from a focus on oneself as individual creator and opening up one’s work to a new set of creative possibilities. Talk about your relationship to your work and how you view this sort of control relinquishment.
BY: I don’t believe in private property (alas, I live in a world which does), and neither do I believe in private intellectual property. As far as I’m concerned, anything I create belongs (excluding rights reserved to any and all publishers of the material) to anyone who wants it, and everyone can, with attribution (and respecting publishers’ rights where applicable), use it in basically any way he or she likes.* So when I found out about The Poetry Storehouse, I was delighted because its philosophy of sharing and collaborative creativity is my philosophy as well.
2. There is never any telling whether one will love or hate the remixes that result when a poet permits remixing of his or her work by others. Please describe the remixes that have resulted for your work at the Storehouse and your own reactions to them.
BY: When you send your work out into the world, you are releasing it, you are giving it away. It no longer belongs to you. You can’t control how people read it, react to it, interpret it, or, in the case of The Poetry Storehouse, reuse and remix it.
I am delighted that other artists found two of the poems I put in The Poetry Storehouse of enough interest and inspiration to fashion from them something of their own. Othniel Smith’s fashioned a literal rendition of my poem “Florid Psychosis.” I found his video remix an extremely witty and entertaining translation. Nic S. sought a poetic counterpart to my poem “Need” and created (adding her own brilliant reading of the poem as well as a beautifully haunting soundtrack) a mesmerizing video. I was enchanted by her remix. I especially liked that both creators found their material in the Internet Archive, Othniel using film clips from films in the Prelinger Archive, Nic using footage mostly from NASA archives.
3. Would you do this again? What is your advice to other poets who might be considering submitting to The Poetry Storehouse?
BY: In a heartbeat!
My advice to other poets? Submit your BEST work to The Poetry Storehouse in a heartbeat!
4. Is there anything about the Storehouse process or approach that you feel might with benefit be done differently?
BY: I just write poems. I don’t have imagination for much else.
5. Is there anything else you would like to say about your Poetry Storehouse experience?
BY: Yes, two things.
- The Poetry Storehouse accepts previously-published poems! Do you understand how important, how generous, and how amazing that is?
- Having your work available to further development and expression (personally, I see it as resurrection) is a great blessing. Being published on The Poetry Storehouse is a munificent opportunity. If you don’t take advantage of it, you have only yourself to blame.
*That is to say, a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial license.