Wednesday, November 01, 2006

responses to anny

anny ballardini sent the following questions (in bold) around to a few dozen bloggers, which i post along with my responses...

- To blog or not to blog, this is the question...

haha, a chacun son gout i think...

- How would you characterize your blog you should describe it to one of us, i.e. another blogger?

well i wanted to make a point of including discussions of more than just poetry on my blog. (poetryworld can be very insular, sometimes stiflingly so.) in fact, sometimes my other main concerns, music and politics, end up taking far much more of my blog space. i originally started a blog after the 2004 elections as a way to help myself sort out my thinking about how our country continued to find itself in such a mess, but it went nowhere so i deleted it. when i restarted it, the occasion was again political: i posted a letter to the editor i wrote that the washington post ran, regarding the NSA's domestic eavesdropping program.

for all the talk that occurs in poetryworld from time to time about politics and politically engaged poetry, much of that talk is simply preaching to the converted. poets frequently seem to overlook george oppen's advice (i think?) that if you want to do something political that last thing in the world you should spend your time with is writing a poem. write a letter to the editor, volunteer, hand out flyers, do some campaign work or grass roots organizing, anything! but don't just write a poem and think that's doing something. some of the most frequently visited posts on my blog are the ones that do political work: debunking the conservative myth of a "ginsburg standard" for example ( i.e. that ruth bader ginsburg was a flaming liberal whom conservatives gave a pass in confirmation hearings -- it's simply not true, she was widely understood to be a moderate at the time).

- I sometimes regard my blog as a safe place where I can meet my chosen people, is this the same for you?

well, yes and no. a safe place for other people who think like me, perhaps. but i wanna reach people who think differently too and give them some unsafe thinking. i don't choose them, they unwittingly choose themselves. (or the search engine algorithms do.)

there's no doubt that whatever audience i have is pretty ecclectic because that's where my inclinations lead me. i write about whatever happens to be on my mind or catching my attention at a given moment, and that i think might be of some interest to someone out there. (you know who you are, xoxo!) but i don't imagine anyone really being there with me all the time. i'm quite happy to pull in the random google or technorati searcher who has typed in, i dunno, "jimmy guiffre night dance" and finds out what they want -- or better still, "sonnets about christmas" and they get me talking about alice notley's 165 meeting house lane, or "carrying liquids on airplanes" and they find out what a bunch of fear hype all that shit was.

- I am wondering do we sometimes forget that personal remarks, notes, poems are there for everybody to be seens?

not me, i'm very conscious of the dividing line between personal and public in blogworld and try to walk the middle ground. some bloggers are super conscious of this, only referring to people by their initials for example; while bloggers are quite happy to tell the whole world about their morning's indigestion or who they sexually fantasize about, etc. i think it's fine and can be interesting -- tho not inherently -- to push those lines.

- Do you post many poems on your blog? Is there an actual difference in-between publishing online, mainly through a blog, or printed publishing?

sometimes i do, just something i've read that i'll post w/o commentary. i'd like to see more of this on blogs actually. i did one post on rae armantrout, for example, that was just a list of titles of her poems that i liked. i'd like to start a series of blog anthologies actually, you know, something like where different people could post lists of titles, or better yet, the actual poems themselves! what a great resource that would be.

i don't feel that blogging is publishing really. so for me the difference is not between blogging and print publishing but blogging and other forms of online publishing (online poetry mags and anthologies for example). i'm not entirely sure why i feel there's a difference except that it might have to do with peer reviewing, which blogging as most practiced presently lacks altogether.

- What kind of actual or immaterial feedback do you receive from publishing online through a blog?

immaterial feedback? i'm not sure what that means. i do get occasional comments from readers, some of which go on to generate further discussion. but i generally hate comments boxes: they are super linear and super not conducive to open and free debate.

frankly the most interesting feedback i get comes from my statcounter, which tells me who is hitting what posts and from where, what terms they're searching to arrive at my blog, etc.

- What do you think of the Blogosphere when related to blogs that deal with poetry?

not sure i follow this question. if you mean to ask what impact blogworld has had on poetryworld, i think like most things both for the better and worse. for the better: the polyphony of voices and interests is great, but this polyphony does not immediately translate into actual dialogue. (and when it does the best of it happens not on blogs or comment boxes themselves but privately and backchannel.) the possibilities for collaboration are great too, tho as yet underexplored. in this sense poetry blogs are no different from other blogs in that they tend to be highly egocentric.

for the worse: again, like the egocentrism, poetryworld only reflects the larger culture as much as we might like it not to. thus you have concerns with accumulating and dispersing power, in the form of literal and symbolic capital: blogs that are little more than promotional vehicles for selling and enhancing product, awarding distinction, etc.

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