Poets reflect on the value of NFTs to writers
Thank you for this clear description of how poets can use NFTs. I’m not sure that I want to use them immediately as I’m still wary of cryptocurrency. But you have given me plenty to think about and a new magazine to explore.
First, wonderful article. I think it articulates your case and the principles of NFT poetry thoroughly. I am going to pick at one line to work out on where we may differ on the enterprise. (I say “may” because I *know* I dont know and cant conceive the future of this). You write:
“ To illustrate this, if you print a copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, do you feel that you own that painting? Of course not. Your printed copy has none of the value of the original.”
My point of departure here is that Van Gogh’s original has the brush strokes, his hot breath, the oils from his hands. It is a physical object with an embodied connection. It is like listening to a poet read when we are in the same space. Sure, some folks want it because it is a “collectible” with exchange value and scarcity. But I would want it because I can see layers and layers of Van Gogh (and his paints). The print has “none of the value” because there is no physical connection.
Tim’s two collections do get at part of this - by his opening up the feeling of how a particular poem comes together. But I dont think any of mine do that. I loved creating them, but I am under no illusion that a screen grab or a free download gets the reader any closer to my embodied experience.
ONe more thing. I am reading a collection now (and writing a blurb) of a person who’s been on RC. I can physically “see” her and hear her voice as I read the work. I am not averse to technological enhancement of our experience of poets and readers. I am just skeptical about adding layers of separation from our bodies to the experiencing of a fundamentally embodied art form.
I was somewhat dissappointed that this post didn’t address the common elephant in the NFT serverroom, the need for paywalls. Most for-pay popular/mass entertainment isn’t freely accessible. While jumping the wall is always possible, the walls are high enough so most just pay.
Getting most users of each piece of media to pay has always been how this is funded.
While some may pay for NFT art, the market has mostly been speculative, and investment based - seemingly.
Usually you don’t pay because you want the collectible. Rather, you want the experience.
Or you want a good file, as with Bandcamp. Or you want the digital equivelent to a hard copy, in your posession.
There’s a creative middle-class gone missing.
Car-boot music records, niche magazines, all the versions of low-run hardcopies.
You bought it because that’s the only way to consume the art, or media.
These created low but reliable income.
And for the social aspect, I suspect someone is building a MySpace but with NFTs, and I hope we get there, but in the interim, I don’t know how NFTs can become something as common as walking past a bookstore. Or how it gets every viewer/listener to chip in. Without that, its a system driven by those with more money, not representative of what all the different groups, rich or poor, value and would pay 3 bucks for.
So... I have a lot of questions.
But your optimism is heartening.
Thank you for this article! I'm glad we can have a positive conversation about this technology despite the Wild West that is cryptocurrency. People should be skeptical and cautious as there is a lot of toxicity and are a lot of scams in that space but you've shared the true, artistic potential and value buried underneath.
I've been thinking about incorporating NFTs into an upcoming literary journal, giving writers and artists the option to mint and sell their work individually. The key word there being "option" -- I think, with a hybrid approach of NFTs and good ol' PDFs, as long as writers maintain the agency to decide if they want to explore these new markets for themselves, hopefully it then doesn't come across as a scam and deter submissions. Cryptocurrencies have a pretty steep learning curve but I do hope more writers get involved with NFTs if they're interested. (If anyone does, definitely start with Tezos, as mentioned in this piece. They have a wonderful foundation and genuine interest in supporting artists.)
I too am wary of cryptocurrency. But thanks for the explanation of how NTFs are supposed to work.
Thanks for this clear and very comprehensive explanation! I was familiar with the concepts of NFTs as related to digital visual art, but honestly hadn't thought much about them in relation to writing.
Like all new things there will be suspicion and bugs. I can overcome my suspicions and will wait for the brave to work out the bugs. :-) But I am not against new things despite my inherent decrepitude.
Fantastic information. Thank you
Wow! I almost understand all this now! Great explanation.