What is Trubadour?
Glad you asked. :)
First, let me introduce myself. I’m Rebecca Roach!
Trubadour — beyond being my passion, what’s driven me for the past 10 months — is a crazy, radical belief in poetry: the power of good poems, the talent and potential of emerging, serious poets today, and the idea that poetry has subjective value, yes, but also objective, real cash value, for any & every reader of words.
Like Spotify for music, Trubadour is a discovery portal for vibrant, contemporary poems that blends community and curation to boost reads.
The longer “elevator pitch”: Today’s submit-and-sell model of traditional publishing keeps poets in the dark and readers at a distance. The system is costly and stressful for serious poets and prioritizes editors’ decisions, not diverse tastes and total talent. Trubadour restores the focus back to writing and places poets and readers in control. Our share-and-connect, mobile platform grows audiences by enabling personal networks built on quality poems — and by applying both human and algorithmic curation for poem discovery.
My grand hypothesis with Trubadour is this: if we can find a way to recommend poems based one’s unique tastes, and if we provide a bomb-awesome, social, mobile community for poets and readers, we can turn everyone into a reader and lover of the best poems being written today.
This is risky, obviously. I quit a 3-year, full-expenses-paid grad school MFA program in poetry to pursue this. This is my full-time (so far unpaid) job. This idea requires proving to investors and potential partners in the traditional worlds of business and entrepreneurship that there IS potential for “Return on Investment.” This requires convincing poets there IS a better way to have their voices heard. And, oh yeah, it requires taking on the current system of “submission” and the pervasive, several-decades-strong contest model for finding poetry talent. Taking those on by the dang horns.
Why would I, or anyone, do this? Why do I feel this can or should be done? (I mean, come on, Rebecca, why don’t you just be realistic and get a 9–5 job that would give you financial stability, a regular schedule, and a normal, happy adult life?)
Because I wouldn’t really be happy if I didn’t try my best to make this happen. I know in my core that it’s worth fighting for. Because something like Trubadour could get serious poets better results and make poetry easier for everyone to love.
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who happened to have a great teacher somewhere along the line, poetry right now is not easy to love. There’s lots of BAD poetry being written. And the good stuff is hidden behind separate paywalls, locked up in the slew of over 3,500 literary journals/ magazines today, which may or may not offer digital access. Unless you have a chapbook or manuscript that has been selected for publication (so competitive/ stupidly hard to accomplish!), these poems are often not linked with the poet’s name — as it should be — but they’re tied to the journal that gets to feature them first. Oftentimes the poet gets nothing in return but publication. “Publication is your payment.”
I could continue, but I won’t here; you get the idea. There are so many reasons why I feel we can and must do a better job to support poetry — and the practitioners and participants of the art form. I want it to be as weird for people to say, “No, I don’t like poetry” as it would be to say “No, I don’t like music.” But I think so many people don’t like poetry because they feel rejected by it! If you don’t like a certain song, you reject the song, not music altogether.
I think everyone can like poetry, if only there were a way to see what poems you’re ready for.
And I think there’s a brighter future for poets to be had. Something other than “starving artist.”
With a content-and-revenue-sharing model, based on reading subscriptions, Trubadour could grow the total poetry pie, not just a sliver of it, by partnering with serious poets and publications to boost overall visibility and reward.
Because I believe so strongly in this, Trubadour has led me to do sometimes embarrassing things. For instance, this video.
So that’s Trubadour, and this is me. I’m doing everything in my power, from my humble abode in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to make this poetry startup a reality, as is Linus Lee, Trubadour’s fabulous, fantastic designer/ developer, from Lafayette, Indiana. SO many thanks go out to him, for believing with me.
This is Linus! (Thank you, Linus!)
So, if Trubadour sounds like something you also want to be real, signing up for our mailing list at trubadour.com and spreading the word would help us (immensely!) in making that happen.
And when you receive our newsletters, you’ll be the first to know what we’re up to, where we are in development, and what poems by incredible emerging poets catch our attention, admiration, and awe.