Boing Boing 

Fair use for poets, demystified

Pat from American University's Center for Social Media sez, "We're excited to announce the launch of a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry, cofacilitated by WCL-AU's Peter Jaszi, UCB's Jennifer Urban, Kate Coles from the Poetry Foundation, and Center for Social Media's Pat Aufderheide. The hashtag is #fairusepoetry"
Why would poets need fair use? Consider:

Mark Taylor has been asked by a major press to assemble a collection of the essays on poetry he has written over the years and add several more to make a book. He can't decide what selections he needs to license, and which ones he can use under fair use. If he licensed everything, he would be paying thousands of dollars more than he would ever see in royalties.

Julie Blake decides to do erasures--taking words out of existing poems, and so making new ones--of the poems from her own collection of sonnets. She thinks the new work is both an evolution from and a critique of her earlier work. When she places the collection with a new publisher, the publisher of the sonnets claims copyright infringement. Does she have a fair use claim to do what she did?

Kurt Flanagan is a collage poet, making poems out of bits and pieces of existing work. His new work addresses war in the first decade of the 21st century. His book-length collage poem draws on news sources and also on literary sources, including but not limited to poetry. One of the poets whose work has been used in fragments sues for copyright infringement. Does he have a fair use argument?

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry (Thanks, Pat!)

Weird Tales-inspired poetry from a 73-year-old retired civil servant

Tavie writes,
Fred Phillips is a Fan. A lifelong lover of gothic horror and weird verse, his favorite author is H.P. Lovecraft. He grew up in the Bronx with parents who were suspicious of his Fandom, his obsessive book-collecting, his poetry. They frequently disposed of his comic books and told him he was wasting his life.

He didn't waste his life. He took up with science fiction Fans, and joined up with the Society for Creative Anachronisms. To most of the world he was an oddball, kind of a loser. He talked too much. He probably had Asperger's. A Lehman College dropout, he worked at a bookstore. In 1968 he met Dorothea Nissen, and they married and eventually had twin daughters.

He got a low-level civil service job clerking at the NY Dept of Labor. It was drudgery, but he had his poetry and he had his girls and he fancied himself happy. He clerked for 30 years. He wasn't what you would call successful, and but he worked hard for his family and lived largely in his head. His Fandom kept him sane.

And then he retired, and he still wrote his poetry and discovered e-mail and then something marvelous happened. He met a man called Derrick who ran a publishing house specializing in scholarly criticism of HP Lovecraft, and Derrick really liked Fred. So at the age of 73 Fred Phillips' poetry was published.

And his daughter Tavie is very, very proud of him.

From the Cauldron by Fred Phillips (Thanks, Tavie!)

Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children: gross poetry from MST3K's Trace Beaulieu

Mystery Science Theater 3000's Trace Beaulieu and Geek-a-Week's Len Peralta have teamed up to produce a delightfully grody book of nasty children's poetry, called Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children.Read the rest

How to Be Alone: a poem with music and video

"How To Be Alone," a beautiful poem by Tanya Davis, turned into a video by Andrea Dorfman. I spend an awful lot of time alone -- alone at the office, writing; alone in a hotel, catching up on email on tour (greetings from beautiful Braunschweig!). I like being on my own mostly, though there are times in groups when there's that amazing wonderful nigh-telepathic connection to a big conversation when I am mildly poleaxed by the realization that there's something to this "other people" stuff.

When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You're no less intriguing a person when you're eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.

Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.

And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one's watching...because, they're probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you're sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.

How To Be Alone (via Kottke)

Dr Seuss in Yiddish -- vey iz mir!

Yiddish House press has translated several classic kids' books into Yiddish, a curious and wonderfully expressive language spoken mostly by Jews of Eastern European descent. I just picked up their Eyn Fish Tsvey Fish Royter Fish Bloyer Fish, a translation of Dr Seuss's classic One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Sholem Berger.

Dr Seuss works improbably well in Yiddish. Yiddish's strength is its onomatopoeic expressiveness; and it contains a lot of Germanic words that are cognates for their English equivalents (such as "bloyer," which means "blue;" and "fish," which means "fish!"), but they're pitch-bent enough to make them sound a little off-kilter, which makes them perfect for a Seussian rhyme.

Berger's translation is funny and tight, his rhymes are as sweet as Seuss's originals. The text is written in both Hebrew script and Latin-alphabet transliterations (which is good, since I read Hebrew at the rate of about three words per hour).

I grew up speaking Yiddish, having learned it at the Workman's Circle center in Toronto in after-school classes. It was my father's first language, and the language spoken by my grandparents and their friends. I love its eye-rolling irony and humor, and can't think of a better text to appear in Yiddish translation. You don't have to speak Yiddish to enjoy the sheer poetry of Seuss rendered in it, either. I read bits out to my wife (who speaks some Welsh, but no Yiddish), and she concurred.

Eyn Fish Tsvey Fish Royter Fish Bloyer Fish