Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

So what about poetry blogs?

One of my great joys in life is to catch up on MySpace with the work of poets I admire ... poets whose writing moves and thrills me. And there are some others who post their work out here in what I call the wider blogosphere, too – like Rachel Phillips at Outlasting Moths or the pseudonymous H R Wyld at Wyld Poetry. Amanda Joy of Little Glass Pen is in both places, as are Jenny Adamthwaite and Dave Pickering of Window and the poet/artist Savvyology. And I’m sort of in both places too, posting the occasional poem on my personal MySpace blog, plus weekly haiku at Haiku on Friday, and creating poetry blogs (one for haiku, one for everything else) here at my Blogger profile.

I am always in a dilemma about this. Early on I read that many literary magazines consider blog posts 'prior publication' and won’t take anything that has been so aired. Fair enough too, it seems to me. But until recently it inhibited me from sharing a lot of stuff. One of my MySpace friends, when I asked him about this, told me not to worry – there were reputable online lit mags that didn’t mind first drafts having appeared in blogs. Not quite what I meant, but a point worth thinking about. I was referring to print mags and finished works – inasmuch as a poem is ever 'finished', of course. I have tended to use already-published pieces in blogs for the most part ... until lately.

Plenty of MySpace poets don’t seem too worried, for which I am grateful as I get to read the wonderful stuff they post!

And then, I notice that I’m not actively pursuing publication in print mags any more anyway. I have friends who are somewhat militant about bypassing mainstream media in order to reach 'the people'. I’m not so ideological about it, but I do find online publication more interesting these days. Well, it tends to be where I spend my time; and now that I live in a coastal village rather than a city, even the prominent lit mags are hard to come by and aren’t in my life any more.

And, having done a 'New & Selected' not so long ago, I’m thinking chapbooks for forthcoming ventures into printed books – in which case I won’t need a new record of prestigious print mag publication to convince a book publisher I’m worth it.

So what am I saying here?

That I’m very much engaged with online publication these days, and any ventures into print in the near future are liable be rather different from earlier forays.

That I wonder about the truth of this rumour that lit mags – online or off – won’t take material that has appeared in websites or blogs. I actually know it is true of at least a few online mags and also some print mags - so where do I find the others?

That I have actually started some poetry blogs now. Couldn’t restrain myself any longer, despite wondering about the wisdom of it. Mind you, they have about 5 readers so far, so I could choose to abort them without seriously jeopardising my chances of getting the poems published elsewhere. Is it more important to just get them out there? If I have so few readers, am I really getting them out there anyway? (The same applies to some above-mentioned poets whose gorgeous work seems largely unknown.)

What do other poets think? What do the magazine editors say? Tell us, please!

And yes, I know I am ignoring the whole question of spoken word poetry. Is it that performance poets regard that as their main focus and aren’t so concerned about where or how they back it up on the page/screen?

Where do I go from here?

Do please weigh in with some opinions!


  1. I've wondered this myself. Often. And I've come across a couple of publications that don't like you to have posted your work even on personal blogs prior to publication. I figure you can always take that particular poem down though, if need be.

    I've found posting my poetry online to be both useful and reassuring. I don't have a lot of readers, but I like to know that one or two people are reading things that would otherwise have no audience, and the occasional positive comment can do wonders for confidence in your ability (which for me is a huge motivation to continue writing). Constructive feedback from fresh eyes is also valuable.

    In a time when contemporary poetry is increasingly hard to publish, when it has such a limited market, I think blogging is a brilliant tool. Part of me thinks I should 'save' things for actual publications. On the other hand, I could be sitting on my work forever that way; there is never any guarantee of publication. By posting it in my personal corners of the web, I live in hope that people will read and like my work, and that someday, maybe someone who has the power to publish it will find it want to do so. Perhaps that's wishful thinking, but it makes me happy!

  2. Well, I doubt if I'd have found your work without blogging, and I'm glad I did!

    MySpace poets do seem to get lots more readers than those "out here" though - but I guess that's just the thing about social networks, and applies to all blog posts there, not only the poetic ones.

  3. Yes, I think that's true. Actually, I was talking to my brother about this very thing the other day, and he thought that the best way to increase my blog traffic would be to set up a myspace and post it on there. Maybe I'll get round to it one day!

  4. Eh? But you DO have a MySpace, shared with Dave. I have just been visiting it, and realise I have neglected it and missed out on some poetic treats by looking only at your Blogger blogs.

    Or was your brother meaning your journal-type blog could be duplicated on MySpace? I now publish mine in both places.

    The thing about social networking, though, is that you do have to network, and it can take up a lot of time reading and commenting on others' offerings, particularly in the case of prolific poets who post something new at last once a day! But then, I only subscribe to people whose work I enjoy, and as poetry is one of my favourite things in life, it's hardly a chore. :)

  5. Yes, he meant setting up a whole new myspace (a personal one, I guess) for my bloggy blog. And since the blog aspect is the only thing I'd really be doing it for, it's never really appealed.

    The other way to use myspace though, would be to post bulletins from Window whenever I posted something new over here. But we do a lot of bulletins for Dave's music projects anyway, so perhaps it would be an overload!

    Thank you for all your comments on Window, by the way! It was rather lovely finding them all waiting like parcels to be opened!

    We've been neglecting the myspace ourselves, to be honest. It really could do with updating and tidying up a bit... maybe in the next school holiday...

  6. Bulletins can get missed, I find, on MySpace. They do come through so thick and fast!

    I have found it easiest to duplicate my MySpace posts here; writing separate ones would take up too much time and would be a bit pointless anyway. I am here because not everyone finds it easy to access MySpace. But it becomes a different experience because of different readership.

    Also I have a separate MySpace blog for the more esoteric stuff, and occasionally share that here too.

    I'm not going to make a separate poetry blog on MySpace; will post it in amongst the journally things. But here, will keep the poetry in its own blog.

    I guess we all find the most practical ways to be wherever we are - but also, different blog "homes" have a different feel to them and one responds to that as well.

  7. Yes, the distinction is interesting. There are definitely two different worlds going on here. Somehow, I feel safer in the blogger world, which is silly because I expose more of myself over here. Maybe it's just because it's simpler!

  8. Yes, I admit to a preference for posting here these days, just because it's that little bit simpler.

    But I love MySpace because of the warm friendships. I'm sure it's easy to make fake friendships there too, as many people have complained, but I'm choosy and have been blessed. (Not to mention that many of my friends there are people I already knew in real life but don't get to see every day - particularly if they live overseas!)

    It's funny that you and I talk here instead, when we're both there as well - but don't stop! I enjoy our exchanges here. :)

  9. That's probably because I tend to neglect myspace a lot! We have rather a slow computer and navigating myspace pages can be tiresome. Also, I prefer the look of blogger - I just feel more at home here. Commenting on a blogger blog feels more like standing on someone's doorstep, whereas going to a myspace blog feels somehow less friendly to me.

  10. Ah yes. My husband Andrew's laptop is much slower than my machine, so he is seldom on MySpace - and when he is it's because I've brought it up on my computer for him. He's using Blogger more.

    It's funny our perceptions, though. I had such positive MySpace experiences when I first started there, and for a long time afterwards - and still, really - that I regard it as a very friendly place, even cosy! It may be also because I found there so many people I already knew in other circumstances. My friend CerebralMum thinks MySpace is "noisy" whereas out here she feels like she's inviting people into her (ahem!) living room. :)

  11. That's an excellent analogy and exactly how I feel about both places.

    It's funny how experiences of the same thing can differ so much.