13 thoughts on “Should poetry be open-source?

  1. Matt, you’re obsessed with open source 😛

    Coming back to “open source poetry”. I am a poet (not nearly as good as a lot of others, I should probably add), but I know how much effort a poet sometimes puts into writing a poem. It really sucks to have someone rip off your poem in part or in totality, and not even bother to let you know or give you credit.

    I like the idea of open source. I also make it a point to link back or mention every website/software/person whose help I have used on my website/other. I wouldn’t mind people copying portions/entire texts of my poetry/blog posts, as long as they have the decency not to claim it to be their own entirely, and perhaps to link back.

  2. I don’t see why not. True poetry lies beyond words, and words are public, anyway. Which goes to say… I don’t think you can really *steal* someone’s poetry, just the words – and copying those makes you a lousy poet in any terms… people who do such a thing are merely hollow scriveners.

    On the other hand, genuine poetry is something that nurtures and stirs and sprouts, so It’s intrinsically, genuinely as open-sourced as an open source gets.

  3. Matt,

    I draw everyone’s attention to the word “source” in the phrase “open source.” Hmmm. What is the “source” of poetry?

    There’s a certain sense in which any true poet or gifted author is happy to share the source of their inspiration and working methods with anyone who wants to follow in their footsteps … that’s what I think pertains to the discussion of open source poetry.

    Anyone engaged in a creative endeavor is entitled to payment for their work … it just so happens that with software, creating an open source code base and giving it away has financial rewards that are often commensurate with the risks. If there was no financial reward or potential to be had from open source collaboration, no business would undertake it. Personal and organizational partnerships would still form.

    I said all that to say this: Poetry has no clear code base on which a poet can build economic value by giving it away. Like music, all the poet gains from giving it away is exposure for public events.

    The world feels they are entitled to free creative works. They (we) are not!

    Wow! Why did I type all this? 🙂

  4. Love all your comments. I liked them so much, in fact, that I reprinted them on my blog, which I recently created for a college course of mine.

    Here’s a question for you all: If someone were to actually attempt an open source poem, how would it physically be set up? There’s this (http://osp.bbkstudio.com/) of course, but it’s rather oldish. What are some other ideas?

  5. Beckie,
    That’s a question I spent a good deal of time on about 8 years ago when I built http://opensourcepoetry.org. At the time, I think what I wanted was somewhere between an exquisite corpse and the sort of collaborative poetry that I recalled from SUNY-Buffalo mailing lists in the mid-90s. The mailing list closed the box enough for people to get rampantly creative without getting hung up on authorship.

    I thought OSP might loosen people up a bit and provide some interesting fodder for the more algorithmic conjunctions of words I was interested in at the time. It has succeeded in entertaining me with the periodic random poem in the time since its launch.

    I love wordplay. I think the internet is the perfect forum for wordplay. What I hate though is the sense of copyright and identity that muddies the play. Thus Open Source Poetry.

    1. Beckie, I think github would be a good platform for OSP, because it allows for branching (forking) of a work and tracks attribution and changes.

      and Scott, thanks for your OSP platform, I just discovered it myself and am still looking into it.