Releasing 35 Poems Under a Creative Commons License


Once upon a time, I used to write poems.

From 1997 – 2000, I attended a great MFA program at OSU. During those three years I learned how to become a better writer, and got to meet some supremely talented folks I’m proud to call my friends.

Since my move to Chicago in 2000, I’ve written less and less. Technology has kind of taken the place of writing, and though I spend a lot of time hunched over a keyboard… not a lot of writing happens.

Recently, as I was looking over a lot of older work… I came across my folder of poetry. I keep all my poems in there, divided up into a variety of subfolders: some poems are more finished than others, with some files little more than a quotation or a frament of an idea.

As I looked over some of my favorite poems, I found myself thinking about a really great line from Tim O’Reilly:

Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.

This line, which I first heard when reading about Cory Doctorow, has stuck with me for a long while now. It’s made me re-think how I view my poems, and the value I’ve placed upon them.

Each poem took me a long time to compose. A lot of trial and error, a lot of rewriting. Some came faster than others, but a lot of effort and energy and time went into the creation of each one. As a result, I’m very guarded about them.

But then, taking a step back… I realize that I’m behaving just like the music industry: they’re being protective of their CD’s and MP3 files, despite continued technological developments that make copying easier and easier. And I’m doing the same thing with my poems, worried that… they’ll get copied from place to place?

For now, I doubt all that many people know my poems. So what am I losing if people copy and share them? Wouldn’t it be a benefit if people did share my work, and did pass it around? The poems I’ve written are doing little good, staying tucked away in a folder on my computer. It makes more sense to share them, and to make them easily available to as many people as possible.

With O’Reilly’s comment very much in mind, I’ve decided to release a large group of 35 poems under a Creative Commons License – specifically an Attribution-NonCommercial license. What this means is that anyone can copy and share each poem, and even remix or adapt it into a new work. But in order to do this, they need to attribute the original work to me and cannot use the work in a commercial way.

I’ve saved out each poem into a variety of different formats. Each one is available as a .pdf, .html, .txt, or Word .doc file. Additionally, there’s also a .zip file that has every poem in every format.

Honestly? This is a pretty scary thing for me to do. I’m incredibly fond of these poems, and there’s still a part of me that wants to be protective of them, that makes me want to guard them from other people. But the idea I’m moving towards is that these poems are not valuable because of their scarcity. De-coupling this notion from my brain is a difficult and frightening thing to do… but it feels like the right thing, the right way to go. Even if it freaks me out a little.

So here’s a favor I’d like to ask: take a look around. Even if you’re not super into poetry, my hope is that I’ve made some of these poems accessible enough that you’ll enjoy them. And if you do find one or two poems you like, I’d ask that you please share the URL with your friends. The more people that see it, the better.

These poems have collected dust on my hard drive for some time now, and I’ll be curious to see how they fare out in the wild.

I really like these poems. I hope you do too.

Related:
Felix Jung: Poetry
Felix Jung: Nonfiction

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