Saturday, 16 June 2012

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Meme by Dan Holloway

OK, first and very briefly the pluggy thing - I have a new book out. Last Man Out of Eden is a collection of lyrical poetry. The paperback and audio download will be out later this month - the ebook is out now.

With a lyrical confessional style that takes in equal amounts from Ferlinghetti, Tracey Emin, and Patti Smith’s Just Kids. These poems celebrate the healing powers of time, non-violence, and remembrance but above all carry a simple message:

Celebrate the lives of those you love because one day they won’t be with you any longer and you’ll be left writing poetry about how you wish you’d loved them more.

To get an idea, this is a video of me performing one of them, Hungerford Bridge, at the Hammer and Tongue Oxford poetry slam grand final a couple of days ago.



And this is my poem Mentalist, about the effect of welfare reforms on those with mental health issues - I was truly honoured that of the 16 poems in the first round this was the one that scored second highest. If it's an issue you care about, I'd love it if you pointed people to the video (the review site Sabotage were kind enough to say it was "a poem everyone in the country should hear"!) - better still any MPs - the URL is here.

And back to the subject at hand. Since I was last here, I've launched a new blog, The Cynical Self-publisher. It's the blog I've been getting around to for over three years now, which I hope means I won't be short of material and opinions.

I finally found myself rolling my eyes once too often at most regular self-publishing blogs and media coverage, with the endless focus on sales and marketing and the desire to make money, to go viral, to have one's work become a meme. For me self-publishing is the opposite of that, and the blog's manifesto sums that up. It is

"devoted to making sure that when people talk about self-publishing they remember it's not just a home for the entrepreneurial but for those who care so deeply about literature they want to explore it free from all strictures and share their passion with the world, a home for those who want the freedom to experiment and fail, to be unpopular, awkward, uncommercial, and downright demonised."

I very much hope you'll join me on the road. so far we have been looking at the role of writers' collectives, at building communities, at examples of excellence, and at our relation as writers to reviewers.

Meanwhile, over at the Alliance of Independent  Authors' self-publishing advice blog, I have been asking a central question that brings us back to the question of our distinctiveness and identity as writers: who are you and what do you stand for? Forget becoming a meme, going viral, being mass produced. What is it that makes you unique?

8 comments:

CallyPhillips said...

Have already written on one of your blogs this morning and about to add to your other one... so there's not a lot more to add on this one except a big THANK YOU for keeping my brain engaged with a discourse/dialogue about writing hows and whys. I used to dream of being a meme. And I think what may make me 'unique' is that who I am and what I stand for are inextricably interlinked. I may no longer wear my heart on my sleeve all the time but I think I share my brain in my books. When you read them, you read me.

CallyPhillips said...

CallyPhillips said...
Have already written on one of your blogs this morning and about to add to your other one... so there's not a lot more to add on this one except a big THANK YOU for keeping my brain engaged with a discourse/dialogue about writing hows and whys. I used to dream of being a meme. And I think what may make me 'unique' is that who I am and what I stand for are inextricably interlinked. I may no longer wear my heart on my sleeve all the time but I think I share my brain in my books. When you read them, you read me.

CallyPhillips said...

I only said it twice because usually I say something once, can't prove I'm not a robot and its lost forever. Sorry.

Dan Holloway said...

There's something deply postmodern about ouble posting on a thread about memes :)

CallyPhillips said...

I know... why worry about the odd typo eh when you can double post and give many more meanings to meaning than you meant to mean. HA. Time to quit being a writer and watch some tennis! Brain needs to rest and watching ball back and forth seems to do it.

John A. A. Logan said...

I think THE CYNICAL SELF-PUBLISHER has made a timely entrance Dan. Before I ever started writing, I was influenced by Robert Pirsig's ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE and the pursuit of Quality, or arete as those Ancient Greeks would have it. A turning inward towards what's unique, but then, as your post the other day had it, a moving outwards towards others from that place, to transmit the ideas. In a culture that's taken the path of valuing the external at the expense of the internal, we have to try to redress that balance I think. Neil Gunn had a story, THE MAN WHO CAME BACK...most (old) cultures have this concept...turning inwards to hear the inner voice...then later speaking from that place. Guys like Hemingway did this, and wrote about people who did this...but of course, it was always "bad form to talk about it!" And in the Tibetan scriptures, these journeys inward and outward are examined and even systematised to the extreme of having a BOOK OF THE DEAD...a map of the regions of the afterlife...I suppose they would say the worst fate would be to take a wrong turn and end up as an eternal meme, running up and down a corridor of the universe, burping out the same message for all time. Instead of listening to the inner wellspring, renewing its stories each moment, water music spiralling Heavenward.

Dan Holloway said...

John, even your comments are beautifully turned. Yes, that's a very good point about the Greeks - the concept of emanation and return seems rather apt to the notion of that journeying inward then outward - and of course that Neoplatonist idea trails from the ancient world through the mystics and via negativa of the middle ages (through notions like ecstasy - a deep inward journey that occurs by standing apart from oneself) to the Beats and beyond.

Jan Needle said...

bit late to the feast, dan - but fascinating stuff, and i loved the poem clips. thanks.