Rempress was berated in initial talks with the Eastern Arts Board for not
paying poets in our first reading series fees. (We needed to have the
series running in order to be seen as suitable candidates for funding in
the first place.) We were told that it was E.A.B. policy that all
poets reading should be paid scaled fees. That is a fine policy (apart
from the scale system) and we promised it would be our policy too if we
had the funding. But of course no word is ever breathed about the labour
time we put in as volunteers.
Some poets are what is known as 'hard work'.
Tracy Ryan's economic principles (those real bills to be paid) are not the
economic principles which these poets would immediately apply to their
appearances. Perhaps because no one has ever paid them for their time and
effort, or because they have other means of subsistence. Yet they extract
payment in kind. The price extracted by them takes the form of extra
labour time, and sometimes a lot of it too, which as a volunteer
organiser, one cannot put on the debit side of the financial accounts, nor
account for in terms of income generated from public attendance.
Poets with a predictable routine and a 'professional' reputation, like
Andrew Motion, may generate more income from public attendance (but in his
case I don't think it is all that much, which the fee reflects). But also,
as someone who is 'professional', he will not incur extra cost in
(non-accountable) labour time, so the largish fee (which is accountable)
should be seen as also including the value of that extra labour time which
value, as cris cheek puts it, represents 'a thanks'. So cris would rather
have £100 and a thanks, than £200. This is the equitable spirit. Many
poets are not 'hard work' and see why it is not possible to pay the fees
they deserve. That good faith makes it pleasing & fun for the organiser as
I suppose, Tracy, it is some of my business what fees are requested. I do
not get paid for my labour time organising readings, yet somehow I too
have to account for all that. Anyone who has organised readings or has
been a publisher on a voluntary basis, will start wondering about their
personal bills and the time they devote to all kinds of demands. The only
way to counter fatigue is to publish and invite poets exactly as one
pleases, because one likes their work. But when you quoted the reality
principle, all kinds of guilts surfaced. Horrid guilt washed over the net.
Big motion-sickness. It is so destructive to the spirit, because the only
way one can account for all one's own work is by saying it is fun and it
pleases me. But when the reality principle comes into it, that is not a
reason anymore and makes me feel ripped off, irresponsible and abject.
I suppose why Frank O'Hara is such an idol, is because he couldn't care
less about the reality principle & that is a deeply pleasing bardic dog