Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stevens' "Esthetique du Mal" coming in October

A unique feature of The Betty Blog is its long, multi-part poems each posted in installments over a month, readable as one piece (via that month's archive) or as individual pieces. Since we debuted last December, three such have appeared: the original Betty (now officially "Betty or Betty's Hat"), Betty's OS (in both text-only and the new Enhanced Edition), both by me; and Wallace Stevens' magnum opus, Notes on a Supreme Fiction. October is reserved for one more long poem, and Betty and I have finally picked one.

What decided us was the recent breakout success of Stevens' Notes. In August the Notes archive hit 34 reads. Adding readers who viewed individual pages increases that number to 63; more than two reads a day, enough to make it the #2 most-read feature that month. Several other Stevens poems enjoy consistent double-digit readership and top-ten placement every month.

Why the boom? I suspect a big factor is the copyright status of  this poet in Canada, one of the few remaining  English-speaking countries in which the copyright term for literary works expires 51 years after the author's death. Stevens' poetry is public domain here, but (because it is still copyrighted in the U.S. and Europe) is not already available all over the web. The Betty Blog may have the only complete version of Notes on the web.

The October entry also may be a Betty Blog exclusive: Stevens' "Esthétique du Mal". We decided to go with a second Stevens to give the new Stevens readers something extra, and to attract more if possible by offering something else not widely available (if at all).

Since Esthétique has only 15 parts, the Blog may publish only on alternate days next month; or we may publishd half-stanzas daily. No decision has yet been made. (If you have a preference, you can tell us in the Comments section.) In whichever form it appears, we hope you will enjoy the poem as much as we have.

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