I did not see the original post Reb was referring to, but I too am a little troubled by the PW article, on a whole lot of levels, one of which was that. Now, yes, I applaud PW for it’s long time in coming in covering something so obviously a huge segment of the poetry world as we know it (or at least MY poetry world.), but it seems a little off somehow. And a little narrow as well.
Regardless of the lack of women mentioned in the article, which may be just oversight on the part of its author (tsk tsk), i find myself to worrying a bit about a discussion that starts in place--with vibrant, interesting journals like Octopus and Typo, La Petite Zine and Jacket and then degenerates to Slate (snore.) which appears to be continually pandering to the old guard publishers pocketbooks. Not the sort of publications that are indeed the lifeblood of internet poetry. But for the benefit of inclusion, I’ll bite, but then the article goes on to talk about (again) how established institutions like Poetry and Amer. Academy of Poets use the medium (USE being the operative term here.) All well and good, except there seems to SO much glossed over in getting there. Now, obviously, one can’t mention every e-zine, poetry blog, small press, etc. that use the internet as a primary means of distribution. But please, just SOMETHING, ANYTHING....
I was thinking last week about how pretty much, with the exception of actual readings, my poetry world revolves almost entirely around the screen in front of me, and pretty much has for the last 5 years or so. Even the physical books I read have usually found there way to me via the internet, whether its something I bought there, found there, or found reference to and went in search of it. I typically discover new writers online (whose books I then go looking for) far more than I ever do in print journals, and even if it is in a print publication, I’ve usually discovered said journal through online exploits. My own publication record is about %90 electronic journals, %10 print. Largely because Itend to submit to places more open to work by newer and emerging poets. Even now, when doors don't slam quite so quickly in the print world, I still tend to favor the online pubs since I think more people read them, even if I have to point them in that direction to do it.
It took me until 1997 to start spending any time at all on the internet, mostly doing research related things when in grad school the first time around. But I did happen to find the Poets and Writers Speakeasy around then, so became immersed, mesmerized in the sort of discussions going on there, mainly nuts and bolts sort of stuff on getting your work out there. I was a little more savvy then, and I was getting better as a poet and reading more, but my knowledge of the poetry world was opening up. By 2001, I’d discovered the blooming world of online journals in all shapes and sizes….another one every day it seemed….and in lieu of spending so much on postage getting submissions out, started submitting. At this point I had a couple tiny local print publications under my belt, but that was it. Suddenly I was writing more, sending out work more, publishing more. For the next couple of years, that was the end all be all of my literary efforts. I’d started wicked alice around then, wanting to put my two-cents in editorially into the e-journal world. Even so, I realize how narrow my own interpretation was at that time, limited to fairly traditional poems and poets I was encountering. Of course my own work was more traditional at this point as well. There were high marks, the golden rings,the uber-selective, places like Melic Review, Perihelion, Caffeine Destiny. (I’ll say Stirring here, but I’m biased, but hell it took me three tries to get and they still reject me every so often.) Others with just as high quality but not so hopeless: Blue Fifth Review, Pedestal Magazine, Eclectica, and lots of smaller places that seemed more open to new writers. (Why are none of these mentioned in the article?) Many have been around forever…..like Blue Moon Review, Small Spiral Notebook, Mudlark, Pierian Springs, Poems Niederngasse, Three Candles.
Again, we have a divide here I‘ve noticed, where one side never knows what’s going on with the other. Dependng on who you talk to, you’ll get a varying account on where things are happening. At some point I discovered the EPC and their list of journals, so very different from my little insulated corner of the online poetry world, and I was floored by the cool shit happening in publications like Drunken Boat, Tarpaulin Sky, Diagram, and then so many more over the last couple of years. Granted a lot of these (like Octopus) are newer ventures, but you’d be surprised I could name more than a dozen online poets who publish in Niederngasse or Stirring who’ve never heard of Octopus or Typo, and vice versa, though I love the poems I find in both. I try to bridge both worlds with wicked alice, and with the press, but no one on either side seems to know about us much.
And then the blogs, of what can I say about the blogs? I think I read way too many and spend way to much time doing it, but that’s that community that we all dream of…with a bunch of like minded smart people who love to talk about the same things we do. I, for one, only know a few poets in real life, and fewer still that engage in discussion at the level I’ve found in the blogosphere. And maybe it’s not the same as kicking back with a beer and a few poets, but I don’t have nearly enough time (or energy) to do that as often as I’d like. So where do find out about new poets and publications, and nasty scandals and such….right here. Initially my blog, back on Xanga in the early, was supposed to be just a personal journal, where I’d post poems and notes, but it soon became much more, a form of interraction, part promotional mailing list, part letter writing, part philosophy, part goofing off. And people use their blogs for so many different things--reviewing, serious critical discussion . Where else in the world do you have all that in such a concentrated form and so readily available. One or two reviews and essays in scattered print journals, or something reaching limitless audience on a blog or online jounal? Whose is going to reach a greater audience--some essay or review in Poetry (unless, of course it’s put on the internet) or something written on a well-known blog?
And the PW article doesn’t even mention the presses, micro and big that have sprouted up with the internet as a huge, huge part of how they reach an audience. The interesting trend I’ve noticed (and engaged in) of hi-tech with low tech, internet and handmade bookmaking. Subverting the traditional avenues of publishing and institutionalized po-biz.on my bookshelf right now I have a stack of chapbooks I've procured solely online that are waiting to be read, and I've certainly bought more of those in the last three months than I have books by traditional presses. And the print journals I read? Every single one purchased or subscribed to based on what I saw online...