Monday, March 1, 2010

"Blue Guitar" cancelled

"The Man With the Blue Guitar" by Wallace Stevens, which I'd planned to post on TBB during March and onto usenet during National Poetry Month in April, will not be appearing as planned. TMWtBG was slated to begin appearing on the blog March 1, immediately following Stevens's "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction," which I'd begun posting here Feb. 1, that in turn following posting of a dozen of his shorter poems in January. I'd chosen Stevens for the first major poet to showcase here, as being the most famous 20th century poet whose works are in the public domain in Canada. (As Stevens died in 1955, his poetry entered the public domain here on January 1, 2006.)

I'd previously posted "Notes" on usenet during April, 2009, without controversy. Shortly after I began blogging it, though, I began receiving posts on one of the same usenet groups claiming Stevens' poems were still under copyright. So I checked and rechecked, and found that in the U.S. his poetry is still copyrighted until 2026.

I decided to finish posting "Notes", and leave the January poems on as well, while adding "Do not copy" notices for American (and European) readers. It is the position of this blog that, being administered in Canada, it is subject to Canadian law, and therefore has a right to print Stevens's poetry. I realize that position may be wrong in law, and that eventually these poems may have to be removed from the blog; but that was no reason to concede defeat without a fight and remove them all immediately.

At the same time, I have no desire to provoke a confrontation, so I'm foregoing posting any more Stevens for the nonce. "Blue Guitar" (unlike "Notes" and the shorter poems) can already be found and read on the Web, so there's no real value in archiving it here as well:

For now I'm reserving the right to publish more of Stevens, as well as other modern poets (such as Weldon Kees) who are in the public domain in Canada. However, my priority will be on finding pieces that are inarguably public domain in the U.S. and Britain as well. That means authors who died on or before 1939; the obvious name that date suggests is Yeats, and you can expect to see some of his poetry here this month.

I'll also be posting, over March, the five public-domain poems -- by Heine, Rimbaud, and Saint-Denys Garneau -- that I've translated to date.

UPDATE, June 2012: I have  noticed a spike in traffic this month to this page (though not to TMWTBG itself), so I figured it would be a good idea to add a link here to the poem (which I eventually did post, a year later, in July 2011):

The Man With the Blue Guitar (complete and unabridged): 

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