Thursday, March 24, 2011

why do we post poetry on our blog?

When Stacey and I started writing this blog together we would pick topics and write (anything, in any form) about them. From writing about different topics, we have progressed to the stage where we probably each post anywhere from 1-3 poems per week. Before, when only our friends read our blog, I think the idea behind this was so we could give each other feedback and feel like we had a reason to write. Stacey has always been a seeker of poetry online, and through this somehow we cottoned on to this scene of poetry - I don't know whether you would call it the 'Pop Serial' scene or if you could generalise enough to say that the poets basically just publish their own writing on their blogs and a lot of them live in America (though there are a few bros in the UK - sup Liam & Crispin).

Probably around this time we started getting a lot of people reading our blog in NZ. This was probably due, in part, to Joseph Ernest Harper and David Klein putting a link to our blog on their blogs. These relationships were fostered by a series of commenting and, arguably, interest in what the other parties were posting. We started to really like this attention on our blog, and began to expand our commenting spectrum.

One of the most important characteristics of the American poetry scene I referred to before is that it is a really strong and supportive community. Through both Steve Roggenbuck's chapbook 'I am like October When I am Dead', available online and in print, and Poncho Peligroso's 'the Romantic', we were introduced to this really enthusiastic, exciting bunch of poets who, most comfortingly, are real people who reply to comments. Another noteable characteristic is their zeal for tweeting. I have noticed that (even Australian) writers seem to be the biggest users of twitter. @ing people, I feel, is similar to commenting on blogs - enables engagement with writers, breaks down typical hierarchies between author/reader etc. Twitter is great for cross promotion and conversing with people relevant to your practice. By following poets/writers whose work we read, we are able to implant ourselves into the community by consistently retweeting and @ing. Probably pertinent to mention at this stage that consistency or reliability (with both tweeting and blogging) is key.

I realise if you don't know anything about this scene I refer to it might seem a little bit vague. A bunch of them are mentioned in a post Stacey wrote earlier this year called 'Enormous Boon' and more can be found by perusing Pop Serial's website and also the online literary journal New Wave VomitThe moment I was really excited by this bunch of writers was when I listened to  Ear Eater Audio where people read out their own poetry and other people's poetry in an apartment, with attendees reading via skype or in person. Other similarly exciting things I have witnessed have been live poetry readings by Stephen Tully Dierks, Steve R and Brett Gallagher on ustream where you can totally chat with them as they read cool poetry and be really awesome. There is another one of when Poncho went to Chicago to visit them. At the particular reading I watched, the boys read poetry written by their contemporaries and other poets who have inspired them. Both the Ear Eater Audio series and the ustream readings show the strength of this community and their eagerness to support one another - probably they wouldn't put it that way themselves, but I guess that's what it is really. I don't think any of this could have begun without blogging.

Anyway seeing this as an opportunity to make people aware of us down in the southern hemisphere, me and Stacey last week recorded a poetry podcast via skype with a similar idea in mind. We wanted to show how much we dig the poetry we read online and in doing so, increase our blog's readership. And, hypothetically, after all this, more people are reading our poetry.

Stacey has been submitting to online literary journals/publications far and wide, both of us (I believe) starting with New Wave Vomit. For me, this was a most validating experience. Felt like I could submit my poetry elsewhere. Recently, I was solicited, through the blog, to write a piece for a Mexican zine called me gusta, no me gusta. From where we began, posting our thoughts about different topics, to Mexico? It's so crazy. I have been searching for something like this scene I badly outlined above in Melbourne and I cannot find it. I know that it is not just native to America, because of the large number of kiwi writers who read our blog. We get a lot of hits from Melbourne, which confuses me, because I don't feel I have convinced many of my friends to read my blog regularly, and there's only so many times I can hit refresh.

I have attempted to research a similar scene (as outlined above) in Australia, but have come up with nothing. For now, I can only conclude that the literary scene here is about traditional pathways to publishing, and more concerned with poetry as a commodity than sharing it with the world or people who might actually feel something after reading it. Incidentally, poetry that I read online is for me more emotionally valid than poetry I read published in some local publications - which isn't usually the case when I read stuff on a screen**. This is one of the reasons that we (or at least something I want to get out of it) are making our poetry anthology/zine/whatever - to try and give poetry bloggers in Australia/NZ some 'credibility', or kinda as a fuck you to the literary heirarchies going round.

We haven't actually discussed whether we want to 'make a living' from this or what we really want to do with our writing. We get excited about projects or things we can do via our blog, things that we could only do with the help of people who we know through the poetry/lit scene that we have become a part of. I reckon part of the reason we started posting poetry here was because we wanted to share our 'feelings' and basically get some sort of catharsis and potentially connect with people who read and who feel the same. Ultimately I am trying to say that I think sharing poetry online isn't thankless, it opens you up to a new bunch of readers and real sweet ass community of bros.

*I realise, though, that there probably aren't enough literary journals to accommodate all the writing going on - an email from Going Down Swinging said they got close to 3000 submissions from around 1000 individuals.