Monday, February 25, 2008

Online is the future of poetry?

This excerpt from Ron Silliman's blog post today caught my eye:

[...] We are moving, faster than I think any of us (or me anyway) are conscious of, toward a day on which poetry is something that exists primarily on the web, having made the migration away from print & bookstores to a degree that right now seems unfathomable. Those older poets who currently refuse to publish on the web – they do exist – will discover soon enough that they have painted themselves into the proverbial corner. Far from being a "debased" terrain where works commingle without being presorted by "value," the web simply is becoming the commons for such work. [...]

As you can imagine, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of poets I come into contact with (online, strangely enough, as I hardly ever venture out into the real world wearing my floppy lilac poet's cap) seem unable to see the future of poetry as I see it. They're all still tied into the tried-and-tested 20th century equation of poet = platform where platform is a wierd agglomeration of how many books you've convinced others to publish for you, how many of the right sort of magazines you've appeared in, how many other poets you're on first name terms with, how many poetry residencies you've undertaken, how many smaller magazines solicit your work, how many reviews and blurbs of other poets' work you get to write and - this one's quite important, I think - how good your poems are.

It's not much fun being a shill for internet poetry when everyone points and laughs at your efforts. Sometimes I wonder whether I'd be better off exchanging my double-extra-thick-rhino-quality skin for that rather attractive rivet-reinforced tinfoil sombrero to go over my floppy lilac poet's cap ...

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you and Ron, Rik. Poetry has taken an entirely new lease of life now that it's on the web. It doesn't take a genius to see where it's going (sorry! But you are a genius, really, truly ...)

    On the other hand, for people who have set themselves up professionally on the basis of poetry, the platform is everything. The academy still wants publishing credentials, and by "publishing" they mean papuh, dahlink, papuh.

    They'll come round. Eventually.