two good reasons for copyright protection
Here’s a new ad campaign by Home Depot. Scene opens on a suburban woman in khaki shorts and a summer hat, the sun hitting her muddy calves, making them sparkle as she walks through a manicured backyard: “I have done it again. One year in every ten I manage it-- A sort of walking miracle, my skin bright as a Home Depot lampshade.” Male Voice Over: “Come to Home Depot and get lampshades that will make you glow in the dark.”
Here’s a commercial idea for Victoria’s Secret. A woman walks down a crowded New York City street in her underwear, bare foot and black sunglasses, her footsteps literally smoldering in her wake, as all sorts of men watch her in awe, as a sexy female voiceover speaks: “Herr God, Herr Lucifer. Beware. Beware. Out of the ash. I rise with my red hair. And I eat men like air.” Then a handsome man in a business suit, with a freshly plucked rose, stands in her path, and she walks right through him, disintegrating him. Male voiceover comes in as the screen fills with smoke: “Victoria’s Secret—it will bring out the man eater in you.”
I know poets, such as Robert Desnos, have worked in advertising before, but that should be a choice that each poet makes.
Last year C.K. Williams was talking to a class of mine at Sarah Lawrence, and he lifted the galleys of his Collected Poems and said that he was “holding his life’s work”, as he gripped the five-hundred or so pages in his hands, almost like a baby. It was poignant—this smart, passionate, insightful human had focused his energy, had given the best parts of his life to a brick of paper. (I am reminded of Merwin’s line: “I who have always believed too much in words.”) Williams does not leave a skyscraper in his wake, rather 500-plus pages of poems, read by relatively few of his fellow citizens. Despite a small readership, he (and other poets) should be afforded the same copyright protections as musicians, film makers, fiction writers, painters, etc. We are not sub-artists.
Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...