Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Blogging is dead. Can we go back to real thinking and reading now?"

To which Gary Sullivan responds: "You mean the kind of thinking and reading that led us to blogging in the first place?

:-) [as we used to say!]

Has the blogging moment, in other words, passed? I raised the subject - where else but on Facebook! - and was pleased to get these responses from Gary and Seth Abramson, with a late appearance by Jennifer Lowe:

Near as I can tell, the blogs are just about the only thing keeping the thinkers honest -- at least in the poetry blogosphere. I've got a bunch of doctoral students over here in Madison who I think would _love_ to engage Christian B. on the notion that the new unit of measure in poetry is the database (or archive). They might want to ask him, for instance, how using the archive as the fundamental unit of measure erases the critical questions we have traditionally asked about how individual archives are constituted, and replicates not just the degraded language but degraded enterprise of the traditional archive; they might want to ask whether these and other critical inquiries push back against blithely stacking archives vertically (What's closest to hand? The degraded language of journalism, cf. The New York Times! Let's "write" "The Day"!) in some benighted, masculinist Babel-project which (paradoxically) is entirely deductive in its conception, making impossible the sort of radically inductive ethical paradigm-shift *most* of the best thinkers of our generation have been advising since the late 1970s.

Alas, that sort of interaction will never happen -- but for blogs.

What think you all of this quote from Robert Darnton? - "Blogging brings out the hit-and-run element in communication. Bloggers tend to be punchy. They often hit below the belt; and when they land a blow, they dash off to another target. Pow! The idea is to provoke, to score points, to vent opinions, and frequently to gossip."

Has this person read Swift? Pope? Butler? Jeez -- I think a sense of history is needed. Some of our greatest writers not only _hit below the belt repeatedly_ as a means of agitating the Powers That Be but also did so at great and _careful_ length in prose and a couple hundred years (or more) before the Internet. The notion that critical inquiry has been _fundamentally_ changed by the advent of the blog is not entirely implausible, but certainly has to be approached with more care than Darnton shows in that one-off -- there _is_ a history to provocative literature. And that history illustrates that quite often there is significant substance beneath and behind the provocations, and that the forms of such provocations may change but the need for them does _not_.

I would suggest Robert Darnton read blogs by Ron Silliman, Nada Gordon, Nick Piombino, Josh Corey, Rodney Koeneke, Juliana Spahr, Peter Culley, Heriberto Yepez, Lemon Hound, Johannes Göransson, Brian Kim Stefans, Brandon Brown, Linh Dinh, Anne Boyer, Laura Moriarty, or any of the other genuinely engaged poet bloggers out there and see if this idea holds up.

It may be generally true of blogs. But I've also noticed that people who make their living in print tend to "be suspicious" of the medium, more suspicious than is probably warranted.

Provocations aren't quite the same as "critical inquiry" are they?

No, definitely not -- I meant intellectual provocations, the agitation of critical inquiry. My reading of history is that institutions and those empowered by them always "read" critical inquiry as a "provocation."

In fact I just found the full Darnton article, and (to his credit) it looks like his inclination is the same one as mine, above -- to go right to 18th c. England:

I adore almost all the folks Gary mentions, but am struck by how what they write wouldn't stand up very well in print. Just my 2 cents, and it's no put-down of what they do so very well, or of blogging. I'd say, still, that these things are different. And I bet if RD read those blogs, he'd come away feeling justified in his opinion. One look at the pigeonholing, and at the stuff in the comment boxes (on the blogs of those courageous enough, that is, to have them enabled)... Me, I love blogging, but find it different in kind from written forms of crit inq. Empirically, however, one could ask whether blogging is exhausting and as a form: exhausted.

"Institutions" = shorthand for... what, exactly??!!

Don, we could take The New York Times as an example. It turns out -- this is just coincidence, I just noticed it -- that the subtitle of Darnton's own blog is "Roving thoughts and provocations from our writers." The Times is a journalistic institution -- it seeks to provoke, through thinking and inquiry, reaction by and discussion of larger institutions, like the White House, the United Nations, the CIA, and so on. But who's going to think through, and provoke discussion consequent to, the "thoughts and provocations" of Times journos [sic] like Darnton? There must always be a smaller fish -- just as we commonly say there must always be a larger one. If Darnton decries blogs I wonder if it isn't because he doesn't like having to look behind himself for a smaller fish, though as a member in good standing of The Grey Lady I can hardly see him being surprised that the ocean of criticism is vast and his reef is one of many. Don, we measure the depth of our belief in principles by setting them against the most trying examples -- like free speech for neo-Nazis. But we measure the depth of our commitment to an _Art_, like the Art of criticism, in the opposite way, by looking to our _best_ exemplars. Satire has both Pope and MAD Magazine; we look to Pope for value in the sub-genre, not Alfred E. Neuman. Likewise, as to blogging it would be fallacious to consider primarily or even largely those who comment in comment boxes -- which is not, actually, blogging -- instead of those, like Silliman, who have (however unevenly) kept discussions alive which weren't and aren't being had with sufficient regularity in the larger educational (wait for it!) institutions. :-)

P.S. And I think the "smallest" fora for critique always end up being those which are the most generally accessible -- printing a libel in 1710 was much easier than finding a bookseller. And yes, many of those libels were, well, libelous -- but as a form (and merely thinking of the form) they were also necessary to the operation of British culture and society during the Restoration, the Georgian Era and after. Without blogs print would be our only recourse, but there's the rub -- it would only be a recourse for a very small and select few, as print (like most mass media) is run in large part by conglomerates-cum-institutions.

I think it's a complex situation and difficult to answer. For me, blogging is not exhausted as a form, but it has mutated into writing specifically for the format:

But Nick Piombino, for instance, published the first three months or so of his blog, Fait Accompli, which turns out to be a pretty great read in print. Some adjustments had to be made for print, but it holds up well.

He also just published Contradicta, which was a series that he originally was doing on his blog, and which I don't think he necessarily thought of as a print publication. It's actually better in print, I think.

I think as video, sound, picture, and other links become a regular feature of blogging--a phenomenon of the last few years--the writing has warped more towards writing-for-the-web. Which is of course very different from writing for print.

I don't think as a form it has exhausted itself; but I do see it evolving. As a form of social media, it does seem be getting outpaced, though.

I can think of lots of other web-to-print projects that were successful, not all of them originating as blogs (e.g., Aleksandar Zograf's Bulletins from Serbia, which were email blasts, but had they been written a few years later, probably would have been a blog--a great book, btw.)

Nada has put together a really terrific manuscript from her blog posts and I have always thought Ron would have put out a book of essays built from his blog by now.

Oh I forgot to mention Mike Kelleher's blog. He's doing a brilliant project on it, going through all of his books one at a time in alpha order and writing a memoir through that process. It's usually hilarious and very moving. I would totally buy the book version, should it ever be published.

Sina Queryas has also published a print version of her blog - on which she herself recently asked the very question of whether the blogging moment has passed: her answer is here.

J.S.A. Lowe:
Late to the party, don't add this in any event, but, my two pixels: when the medium is so fundamentally different, so is the artifact of its use—the trace left behind by its creation. I refer you to the idea of "online disinhibition," AKA why some of us behave so badly on comment threads (

Then there's my own agenda-free personal experience that writing and reading online are nothing like writing and reading print. Writing a blogpost isn't the same experience as writing a nonfiction essay; and I would even argue that different brain receptors are involved in its production—much in the same way that "Internet porn" bears no relation to having to leave one's home and interact with another human being in order to procure an actual magazine or for that matter even video (however much free-speech liberals would like to think all these instantiations of "porn" are the same). In other words, we're using "writing" to mean two fundamentally different activities (in terms of process/brain function) which happen to look very similar (perhaps because they both result in some accrual of text).

Not only would I not buy the book version of most blogs, I don't even read most blog posts completely and neither do most of you, because the hand-eye experience of reading online is qualitatively different, and forces us into a particular kind of skimming. It's just like any other superstimuli—we assume based on prior experiences that we have free choice in our consumption of it and participation in it, but it's like nothing we've ever encountered before, and we are ill-prepared to interrogate (much less combat) its pushes and pulls. Poetry blogging = giant painted cardboard female butterfly = bacon double-cheeseburger. And with that happy metaphor I hush up.

I have to say I find that view hard to credit, as I, like many poets whose work some have read in print, write my poems on the same computer and using the same application and under the same environmental conditions that I write my blog-posts. Nor would I say that I read printed texts all the way through; what stands for blogs stands also for how most people read the printed word. In an age where, in fact, everything I've ever written that appeared in print--including prose journalism--was written in the same general manner as I write blog entries, I think it's an illusion to believe that when you read something in print you are somehow escaping the nefarious influence of online composition and arrangement of thought. The medium is different; to say it is "fundamentally" different is an impossibility so long as we are discussing transcendent language using as-ever perishable semantic marks, and a reading process that involves both the eyes and hands and human qualities like attention and patience.

I'll say again: comment threads are not blog-posts; analyzing comment threads through sociology is indeed wise, but to use flame-wars as a rhetorical fetish for analysis of online journalism, critique, and editorials (many of which appear on blogs and in a blog format) is a straw man at best.

I really think we're having multiple conversations here -- if the question is, is a blog-thread the same as a bar conversation, well obviously no; if the question is as I've stated it above, and as I think it was intended given the original quote Don offered, matters stand very differently I think. "Writing" as two different activities? -- well, it's been a long time since the majority of writers, or any class of persons, spent the _greater_ part of their writing time holding a pencil. Distinctions are being made here which simply don't withstand much scrutiny, unless we imagine ourselves in a different time and place, like 1978.

I think, Jennifer, that there is some truth in what you say, particularly regarding the difference around the two media (print/web), but Seth is right, we have all (except for Clark Coolidge, perhaps) been writing on computer since the 80s.

Which greatly complicates your conclusions.

Also, my own agenda-free experience :) is that if I read someone's blog, I read it. I don't tend to visit blogs that I would just skim, unless it's because the person is foaming at the mouth about flarf, in which case I am there to grab the foam flecks to add it to future versions of this:


Are people completely unaware of Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book?

Of course, we're aware of the Pillow Book, thanks to, um, Orientalism!

Further reading: José Saramago's blog - and Toby Lichtig's review, in the TLS of April 16, 2010, of the book derived from it, e.g., "This does does... prompt a wider question about the 'book of the blog' phenomenon, which risks forcing coherence on a body of writing that was never intended to be digested in this way."

See also: My previous post on "angry scatological" bloggolalia here and here.

Additional puny irony: my inclination to cut/paste this back/forth into my blog.

Pictured: drawings of the dodo.


Henry Gould said...

Gary writes : "I don't think as a form it has exhausted itself; but I do see it evolving. As a form of social media, it does seem be getting outpaced, though."

- which I agree with, but I'm sorry to see. This particular conversation took place on a Facebook page originally visible to "friends" only. One of the things I like about blogging is that the medium offers access to public thinking & public debate - instantly available to everybody - antagonists, critics, as well as friends & allies. You need that objectivity for "critical inquiry" of any kind.

Unknown said...

I would suggest Robert Darnton read blogs by Ron Silliman, Nada Gordon, Nick Piombino, Josh Corey, Rodney Koeneke, Juliana Spahr, Peter Culley, Heriberto Yepez, Lemon Hound, Johannes Göransson, Brian Kim Stefans, Brandon Brown, Linh Dinh, Anne Boyer, Laura Moriarty

of course he only lists the bloggers on his team; us SOQ bloggers don't count——

Coirí Filíochta said...

One agrees most blog-writing doesn't stand up in print.

Some would: the stuff written with the intent of being published it print, will - of course.

Elided from the Blogosphere, a Caoimhín Deasún text struck out from this, stands detached and, as Gary points out; even better in the secondary medium of appearance - sometimes; as in the case of the writers Fitzgerald meantioned.


There's a transparent sense, (isn't there?) that this post is obviously implled by Travis and Cath's decision to call it a day at the Poetry Foundation of America's blog, that bravely asks questions with their claim 'the blog as a form has begun to be overtaken by social media like Twitter and Facebook?

Well, as revolutionary philosophy goes, if Trav 'n Cath say so. Tho there are a few less intellectual types who'd counter this with a bemused, respectful silence, perhaps not following as keenly, and less committed to the purported belief of the two poets premise, staying abreast and au fait with a 'revolution' they claim anyone involved in the more dynamic discussions of poetry, poetics, or politics in the past year knows: That more and more of the most vibrant interactions have been found on Facebook.


Yeah, why not? Tho this premise, that, is it fair to say, states one line grunts and limited tweets between competing bores trying to sell books on Facebook, by 'face-price'; what in Irish is log-enech, a bardic term that also means honor-price, is the wiergeld price set for every individual rank of poet in the aul seven grade tradition of yore islands?

From the half a milch cow for a begining 'word-weaver' or foclo, who'd a rentinue of two other students; through Macfuirmid Cano Dos Clí and grade six Anruth (reached around year eight/nine/ten), that entitled one to a retinue of fifteen poets and ten milch cows: Right up to the top level seven (it's a magic number) poetry-professor or ullav (ollamh) who when they circuited abroad, took a retinue of thirty poets of all grades along, because the log-enech face-price, didn't advertize itself on Facebook walls, because they weren't in play to make debate. Tho one coulda argue the exchange is more loquacious off the FB wall, than is the norm@harriet_poetry Twitter feed, say - perhaps, possibly, probably?

Who knows?

I dunno, tho it's fabulous Trav's there in the front rank, tweeting in the AmPo revolution.

Kevin Desmond's words@thicker dán

Unknown said...

actually Robert Darnton would only have to read one of those bloggers recommended by Gary,

since they all have the same esthetic

and they all parrot each other's opinions


Lemon Hound said...

Mr. Knott,
I am not on any team thanks. Is there someone you would suggest?

Is this a hit and run? I'm not sure hit and run is a fair assessment though. Not everyone has the time, or the inclination to craft such long responses.

Jordan said...

Darnton's A Case for Books is a must read.

Don Share said...

Makes you miss Harriet, eh? Pow! Some of this proves Darnton's point.

Actually, Seth is right that in spite of this, Darnton is in favor of the provocative.

So... how about a quote, this time from Anthony Grafton, which I originally blogged here over a year ago, in which he predicts the adverse effect of the internet on intellectual work:

"..journals will become something like blogs with footnotes: unedited texts, glittering with insights, but also blemished with errors that no informed eye has picked up, and succeeded by angry, scatological discussion threads." - Worlds Made by Words

Unknown said...

if Robert Darnton were to waste his time investigating the blogs on Gary's list,

he'd soon see that most of their content consists of posts promoting the other bloggers on Gary's list—

you scratch my back I'll scratch yours is their game—

Unknown said...

it's a bunt, limedog—

not one of your team's

I know...

Nada Gordon: 2 ludic 4 U said...

It occurs to me that most of what's in print doesn't stand up very well in print.

Don Share said...

So why, then, turn blogs into print, is my question?

Henry Gould said...

I don't think we would ever want to lose the standards & intellectual discipline involved in scholarship, research, & "critical inquiry", which are tangled up with the struggle to achieve print publication (some would argue we already have lost them). There are standards of logic & evidence, there is a tradition of accumulating & progressively confirming the truth of shared knowledge... this is obviously part of the basic structure of civilization. & the products of these disciplines has & deserves a special kind of authority.

On the other hand, there are other kinds of authority (often "unauthorized") that come with literary & artistic talent... the sheer capacity to write well (which of course also takes training) is an independent power... & the "arts & humanities" form a larger sphere around formal scholarship...

So blogging falls somewhere in this area of the wider arena - of journalism, diaries, commentary, criticism, gossip, freelance writing... & for all that it seems to be a powerful new tool.

I guess I ended up blogging so much, in part because I identify poetry with that wing of independent scribblers... & also I came of age in the powerfully anti-intellectual & anti-authoritarian late 1960s...

Lemon Hound said...

Again, I am not on a team, don't appreciate the ease with which someone feels comfortable to insist on my status publicly.

I'll assume that's just how you roll though.

Why turn blogs in print is a good question, Don. Doesn't happen that much does it?

Lemon Hound said...

Oh, never mind. Converse away. I realize no word from me is needed or probably wanted, in this exchange.

Henry Gould said...

LH, I (for one, anyway) wasn't trying to skip over or ignore your comment. I didn't see it before I posted my own. Also I didn't feel your original comment was addressed to me - I thought it was aimed at Bill Knott. Anyway... I don't think you need to feel excluded. That's my 2 cents.

Don Share said...

And here, in the comment boxes, we have an illustration of the diff between blogs and print, right?

Jordan said...

Comments killed blogs.

Facebook is evil.

Twitter is dopey, but not evil; leave it to the comedians.

Older poets who are angry at younger poets for being younger hurt my heart.

(Full disclosure: I am an older poet angry at younger poets for being younger.)

Henry Gould said...

Yeah, Don. In print you can't talk back. This is more like Plato, without the wine & grapes & Parthenon & slaves. This is where the Academy begins.

Jordan... are you sure it's about age? & not anxiety?

I serve Alpha waves on my blog. There's also a comfortable couch in the comment section.

Lemon Hound said...

I'm with you, Jordan, on all points.

The other thing that hurts my heart is all these poets writing endless commentary instead of poems.

Or perhaps it's a good thing all the commenting? Keeps bad poems from happening?

Keeps the SoQ vs. everyone else, or everyone else vs. langpo myths alive?

Facebook truly is evil.

Lemon Hound said...

No worry, Henry. It wasn't aimed at you, or anyone really, it was aimed at what I read as a faux gesture of engagement.

But perhaps I misread it.

There's still room, I see, for a bit of discussion Don.

Seth Abramson said...

The other thing that hurts my heart is all these poets writing endless commentary instead of poems.


I'm not looking for a reason to be indignant, but honestly, why would you assume these poets (and in context I have to assume you're including me in this) are writing commentary instead of poems? You asked that no one presume to know your opinions or blithely put you on a team -- I suppose I'd ask that you not presume to know how much or how frequently I write. The past three years I've written more (and in my own sense of things, admittedly biased) better than I did in the preceding decade -- and I commented online all the time during that period, an activity I find keeps my headspace where it needs to be. Namely: thinking about poetry and poetics.

In these past three years I've frequently heard comments like the one you made, which implicitly (whether they mean to or not) questions others' dedication to poetry. Well, I hope it won't surprise you or anyone if I say that I don't need pointers from anyone on dedication to this art-form. And I'm sure the others caught up in the net of your comments feel the same way.


Coirí Filíochta said...

HG's Apologia struck me as the most memorable out of the many here squawking our poetic:

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded sea -

'falls somewhere in this area of the wider arena - of journalism, diaries, commentary, criticism, gossip, freelance writing... & for all that it seems to be a powerful new tool.


MonumentS of unageing Intellect

Succinctly defining a liminal space blogosphere represents. Chapbook days in Philosophical debate between top bores of the pre-Rational Romantic 17-18C School. Rank the names:

Goldsmith Paine and Swift,
global poetry stalwart stars, celebrities today, still - batting back and forth Ideas in Things, not in a truly democractic New and improved Lancashababru truism in sound currently doing squirt on the lampost of rival faces in the media neogolostic bliss, hibernating pre-new in Dán dons positing Noam 'n Hitch all over again - whetted wheel whip spins whistling bells of yore own one two three force of pushing extra-past some inward, unique-2U Kaye fourth wall, and into extra-dimensional habitat within the human brain, in an area of deep cognotive interest to only the cleverest amongst us many mobs of Thuatha De Dán, 'people of the goddess Muse poetry at home within, Segais Well', c'mon, for example, and sing J.E.F

From Heaven's gate
to Hampstead Heath
Young Bacchus and his crew
Came tumbling down

and o'er the town

Their bursting trumpets blew.
The silver night was wildly

And madly shone the moon,
To hear a song so clear
and strong,

With such a lovely tune.
From London's houses, huts,
and flats

Came busmen, snobs, and Earls,
And ugly men in bowler hats

With charming little girls.
Sir Kenneth came, with eyes
of flame,

Todd, who is like a bloater,
The brave Mayor America, in coach and pair,
King Liam, in his motor.

Far in a rosy mist withdrawn

The God, and all his crew,
Silenus pulled by nymphs, a faun,

A satyr drenched in dew,

Smiled as they wept those shining
Only Immortals know,
Whose feet are set among the stars,

Above the shifting snow.

And one spake out into the night

Before they left for ever,
Rejoice, rejoice! and this
great voice

Rolled like a splendid river.
it spoke in Greek, which
Britons speak

Seldom, and circumspectly;
But Mr. Todd, that man of mud,

Translated it correctly.
And when they heard that happy word

Policemen leapt and ambled:
The busmen pranced, the maidens danced,

The men in bowlers gambolled.

An Echo walked the town till late,
And found the long streets lonely :
At last she found a small brass plate


And so she went to Parliament;
But those ungainly men
Woke up from sleep, and turned about,

And fell asleep again.

James Elroy Flecker: in the right hands, another Keats, because he reminds one of Marvel, Crabbe, Gascoigne and metaphysical dabblers reclaimed by Thom:

When all my gentle friends
had gone

I wandered in the night alone:
Beneath the green electric glare
I saw men pass with hearts
of stone;

Yet still I heard them everywhere,
The golden voices of the air:

Lemon Hound said...

Hi Seth,
No pointers intended, though an observer might suggest the man doth protest too much.

I have been blogging regularly for 6. Should I go whip myself?


Coirí Filíochta said...

I found James Elroy Flecker recently, for the first time, and got very excited by this relatively undiscovered poet; in the sense of him being, at present, a marginal, minor poet one can hitch to as a vehicle whose vehicles of verse naturally facilitate one to praise.

Gentle Poet, only friend,
Lover of the stars and sun,
Since our days are at an end,
Since the older days are done;

Since it seems that nevermore
May I hope to trail my gown
Rapturously, as before,
With my friend in Oxford Town;

Since I so regret a time
So unprofitably spent,
Let me send a little rhyme
From a king in banishment.

bradán feasa

O Master of the Multiverse! I cry,

Dorothy open your sweet eyes,
Give me your mouth to kiss:

Tell me how women get so wise,
And what their secret is.

Yours is the beauty of the moon,

The wisdom of the sea,
Since first you tasted, sweet
and soon,

Of God's forbidden tree.

A sudden fear, a secret flame:
I am on fire with the soft sound

You make, in uttering my name.

Forgive a young and boastful man

Whom dreams delight and passions

And love me as great women can,
Who have no children at their


I guess I ended up blogging so much, in part because I identify poetry with that wing of independent scribblers... & also I came of age in the powerfully anti-intellectual & anti-authoritarian late 1960s...




One began blogging because this multi-media platform offers one a luvvie-stability, from which to perorate (at length) on a professional and amatuer love one has for Letters and poetry: for an audience of the handful; ten core active followers, on facebook, say, Prizes R US; trust your local addict preep

The First Word-Verification

American Writing Face

Comment moderation has been enabled.

All comments must be approved by the blog author.

Deepest dearest Lemon squirter on a Lampost round of Langpo: Sina very very talented, now are now a Celebrity Luareate proper, because getting that many thralls in an open efferous voting procedure, passionatley executed as only the best indigenous North American poets do, darlink, please, let James Elroy enteratin you:

I have sung all Love's great songs,
And have no new song to sing

But I'll sing the old songs again,

With their burden of rights and wrongs,
And conventional sad refrain,

O, sweet Love's home-coming!

I will praise the arms of my Love,
And her tender body's swing,
And her eyes, and her lips and breath:

I will call to the powers above,
And to tunnelling powers beneath,

O sweet Love's home-coming!

Caoimhín kweeveen- Christian ken

Deasún O Suaird

cúisle croí

Can y'all keep up with What You Should Know to be a Poet by Gary Snyder - Or Not?

firist - is the second: Word Verification

Maria is the third.

Have a lovely day!

Debating Critic B.A.

Lemon Hound said...

What I'm imagining is better than anything said here, including anything from the annoying Lemon Hound who is always barking about something. Bit tart, I'd say. Completely without verse.

word verification:

further proof of what hasn't been thought.

Henry Gould said...

"Some comment threads exhibit a sort of progressive group psychosis," writes child psychologist Ghenrik Ghouldinski. "There is no easy way out for the participants in these convoluted psychodramas. What I advise my patients is : find the nearest swimming hole. Take a cool bath. Wash your hands. Then watch clouds pass for at least 45 minutes, while doing absolutely nothing with keyboards, letters, numbers, or anything else."

Don Share said...

... and, he might have added, read a good book.

Coirí Filíochta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Fama said...

I don't understand, I really don't. Pen and paper didn't die off with print, xeroxing didn't die off after the computer, insert three dozen other examples here] and blogging ain't dying off, even if "everyone" goes away.

Until Google takes it away, that is.

And sorry, I gotta ask Don it's odd you mention "raising" the issue on FB, when it was your employer who most prominently did so . . . last week? Or is this blog a Poetry-sponsored project? Or is your thumbnail identification as senior editor simply for identification purposes only here?

Don Share said...

Why odd? Makes perfect sense to me - this question is being discussed all over the place, and not just with regard to Harriet. No, this is not "Poetry sponsored.". Can't I have my own opinions and raise questions related to poetry without people suspecting something sneaky? And should I omit mentioning what my job is, which is the way most people know me, in that profile thumbnail? If you think so, I'll change it, though that would be disingenuous, it seems to me. This isn't the first time it's been implied that I'm some kind of lackey, or don't have my own mind. Please give me more credit.

And yet again let me say that I do not run or help run Harriet, so I have thoughts about it like anybody else.

Thanks, Don

J said...

poetry was dead many a decade ago.

blogging on the dead art of P's then like necrophilia

Anonymous said...

And what is commenting, then? Necro- necrophilia, I guess.

Lemon Hound said...

Methinks this thread is dead.

Thanks for the thoughts all, necro and hymo and all.

Though I don't feel anywhere new alas.

J said...

not really. more like attempt to hustle some hottay poesy gals (er, biological), especially ones who luv Joyce or Yeats, or say cuckold old pretentious lit farts, bunko of various sorts......

i sort of agree comments dumb things down...but blogs ain't the NYT

Matt Walker said...

middle-aged people sure love their facebook

Steven Fama said...

Thanks for the clarifications Don. You can of course do exactly as you please, particularly with regard to having and expressing opinions. I had no idea, or had forgotten (and sorry in either case) that you had nothing to do with Harriet (except I'm of the opinion that since it is a project of your employer, it is "yours" whether you want it or not).

Harriet's comments on the death of blogging are the elephant in the room -- it's that which started the recent "discussions." So it does seem odd to not mention it at all, . . . you might be in a position where it'd be highly awkward to say the least if you wrote about -- wrote critically in public -- about what Harriet did, or anything that Poetry does. I'm being sincere here -- most everybody at any job can't go too far "outside" with criticism.

And I'll repeat my main point: blogging ain't going to die, unless Google takes away Blogger.

Don Share said...

@ Steven: it's not mine - I don't run it, period. If it were, I'd take credit and blame for it. I'm not buying the guilt (if that's what it is) by association trip.

@ Matt W.: Why the ageism? You're on Facebook, too, I see.

@ J.: Your last sentence says what I've been saying, though differently!!

@Lemon Hound: It may well be that both this comment stream and my blog have now outlived their usefulness.

Guys, as Ron points out, if we're reading blogs they're not, of course, dead. But the quality of communication and thinking, which is what's been the topic of this thread, well... that's another matter. Or maybe I just need a break from this, myself.

Henry Gould said...

Don, take a break if necessary, but hang in there! Your blog is a public service to non-Facebookians et al. Pursuit by clouds of comment-mosquitoes behooves one to keep running, in any case.

Steven Fama said...

Hi Don,

I'll put away for the time being the degree to which employees "own" their company's policies.

Are you focused on blogs as comment boxes? To me, comments are useful but the key is bloggers putting their views out there in their respective individual posts. Harriet did away not only with comments, but with individual blog posts, claiming that blogging was dead. Individual posts The latter are alive and well, I do believe.

Blogging dead? Not so -- see even this morning's LA Times story on a blogger .

Lemon Hound said...

@Don, I don't think your blog has outlived its usefulness, no, but comment streams might have.

Though every time I think that someone says something that makes me think and so, I gather, no, even comment streams are useful.

Still, one rarely feels one has arrived anywhere in these conversations.

Thanks Coiri, it was an odd little election.

Coirí Filíochta said...

I have my own thoughts on why Trav chose to close the comments at Harriet, and have just posted them to Oscar Bermeo in the Bronx, in response to his own piece on this incredibly exciting free-speech who's stopping it kerfuffle.

At the time of writing; the post is still in moderation. If he doesn't publish this, harmless comedic post; I will be complaining to Seamus and Paul.


They are difficult things tho; to get right, bcuz I've had four chat gaffes in my time, and it was in the third one, called Literature Lovers; that I turned into a tosser who thought I had power just because I controlled a pane on a chat gaffe.

Not that I knew it at the time. I got too deep into the acting, and because I knew things other members didn't, like how to make things appear and disappear with the click of a mouse, I confused this with having real talent and poetic power. The truth was within two months of setting the site up, I had turned into an insufferable asshole dictator.

It ran for about six months and then died, when everyone left because I was such an arsehole; and once the effect of being a chat gaffe arsehole wore off, I thought, how very lucky I am to be back on the ground, because what happens is, I would have turned into others who haven't been as fortunate to learn this fundamentasl principle; a ruthless deluded person with control of a mouse and hiding from myself the desire to be telling everyone else how to behave, under the guise of doing what's best for the 'members' or 'community', Commons, call it what you will.


But japes aside; I think Don is the one who's conducted himself in all this hooha, with the most sense. I imagine something Simon Armitage wrote about reading of his 'literary self' in the rags: wry smiles at the waffle of the outraged poet-victims, blaming Trav for the death of intellectual debate in American Poetry.

Then, behind this Public Don, there's what Armitage calls the private or 'real' self; at home, much as us lot, supping tea and coffee, picking our noses and watching the chube; trying to do what those in the guild before us did - be ourselves in Letters.


I will never forget hearing Dublin poet Paula Meehan, who learnt under Kennelly at Trinity as an English lit-lang student; married to Theo Dorgan the Cork poet - when she gave her take on pobiz and what makes the poet real; at an event where Evan Boland was supposed to be the returning sta bard.

It was early summer 2006 - the final night of the Bank of Ireland Art's Centre on Dame Street; which was closing down the next day and was jam-packed with upset luvvies saying what a disgrace it all was such a fantastic venue was being mothballed by the philistine bankers.

I cannot forget because the following day was my own big do, my first ever paid gig; that had come out of being chosen as one of the twelve poets for that years Poetry Ireland Introductions scheme.

Coirí Filíochta said...

(prome, is the word verification. cheers Sina)

Poetry Ireland is the State Poetry organization chiefed by Louth poet Joe Woods; and the final four of that year's circle of contendors with state-sanctioned approval, were to read the following night in Damar Hall; a basement of the Unitarian Church on Stephen's Green, where the great and the good from all over the global poetry village; read for Poetry Ireland when in Dublin.

After a somewhat square and metallic reading by Boland topping the bill; Meehan read, and it was clear where the popular vote for 'best' live poet of these two titans lay with the riff raff audieence of arties and straights.

Meehan said that when she began in poetry, she thought that there was some misty place where all the real poets where, and it was somewhere she wasn't allowed access to, because a shadowy, unseen, anonymous cohort at the top of poetry in Letters, who had got there by association and means of diabolical magic not commensurate with their talent – were actively machinating to keep the door closed to a dorty Dublin native such as she.

She said that she thought she'd beat them at their game and decided to go for the double, triple and quadruple bluff-strategy, of trying to go over the walls of the Literary citadel, through, over and under them; until at last, after many fruitless attempts she realized the bastards had won, and accepting her fate, to remain an anonymous poet barred from top-table – she decided to walk away from the citadel of Letters, defeated, broken, beaten and defeated by an anonymous force of people she imagined to be.

Just as she was about to walk away, it suddenly struck her that, she hadn’t tried the front door; so certain was she in her theory of being barred. And when she pushed the door, it was open all the time, and she came to understand that it was her own paranoia that had kept her from believing she was as likely and talented enough to become as proficient as those she admired in poetry.


Anyway; I won't bore you much longer, other than to link to a space I created in a similar situation to what went on with Trav and one; two years ago during the penultimate round with one of my premier enemies in Letters; a titan in the blogosphere with - like Trav; her very own poetry playpen, in which what passes for British poets, huddle and debate in short exchanges, making sure not to upset Her Highness Mouse Controller with anything she mightn't want to hear.

Anyway, this is the chat-gaffe Global Poetry News; set up as a poetic act two years ago and an empty room; waiting to be filled by intelligent arties, the sound of tinkling wit and conversational debate in the Iomarbhágh na bhFileadh.

Bardic contention.

Fell free to dump owt you want there. It's not 'my' gaffe, in the usual sense of my little pony briagde; and I act only as a janitor of it - because I've done my nine year swim and think I've hit Anruth: 'great stream'; and have only another 12 years to go before I am a fully operational bore, as per the aul days.

grá agus síocháin

Love and peace


Poetry Police

Letts Bay Avenue

Unknown said...

too bad the RICO laws can't apply to the conspiracy perpetrated by those on Gary's list (peachpooch and the mob), but despite their fraudulent cartel, there persist a few honest independent poet bloggers, myself among them . . .

Steven Fama said...

I've learned plenty from comment boxes. Information (and fun) is everywhere, and it's as likely to pop up in comments as in posts, in a mimeo-ed sheet as a letter-pressed book, etc.

Besides, comments should be kept open so that readers have an opportunity to disagree. Otherwise, the blog becomes an authoritarian pronouncement with no chance of engagement, constructive or otherwise, by readers.

As for whether you, Don, think your blog is still useful: that really is only for you to decide, ultimately. Are you like me (I don't wish that on anyone) in the sense that you write first and foremost for yourself? If it doesn't do it for you, yourself, anymore, then be all means end it. That's the weird thing about Harriet -- I didn't get a sense that the individual bloggers thought it dead....

Don Share said...

No, I don't write first/foremost for myself; nor, necessarily for other people. I write & have to think about whether what I'm doing belongs in front of readers, and presume that if I express something publicly, then The Other may well engage. I'm not a solipsist, nor am I interesting enough to be a writer who's own pure head contributes necessarily to the gaity of nations.

Re comments, well, I disagree (!). Most writing doesn't come with comment boxes, and it's not "authoritarian" if it doesn't. The key is, however, in your word, "constructive." Community and democracy, as Martha Nussbaum eloquently observes, are founded on concern and respect for others. If those qualities are absent from the conversation, then it's not really a conversation. As a reader and writer (if that doesn't sound too pompous), I'm really, really sick of comment box vandalism and rudeness. Period.

Unknown said...

many "blog poets" (like most if not all of those on Gary's list) use their blogs mainly as venues to advertise and promote the sale of their deadtree publications, and to advertise and promote the sale of their friends' deadtree publications in a daisychain circlejerk you PR my deadtree books and I'll PR your deadtree books . . . they sugarcoat this backscratch racket with blather about "community" but like most Net ops they're more about COMMERCE than community . . . but after all the Web was created to sell things, that's its raison d'etre, right:— so I guess it's no wonder that if you wanted to read the poetry of those on Gary's list you would have to pay cash to buy their deadtree publications, because being good market capitalists they don't give their poetry away for free, they don't distribute their poetry on their "poetry blogs" for free open access and free download in a poetry-to-the-people spirit, they're not hippies for crysake, they're entrepreneurs, they're running a business, not a charity!

Lemon Hound said...

Thanks for lumping me in with whatever strange story you've created about myself and the other poets on Gary's list.

Carry on, as they say.

Best of luck to you.

Don Share said...

Bill, I can only speak for myself, but I've never earned a dam thing from deadtree books of my poems, and I usu. give 'em away for free, which means AT A LOSS. Even when they sell, I get nothing, frankly. And as for this blog right here, I can't think that I've sold more than a book or two total by having it; and I wouldn't have received any money for those copies, either. But I'm just a bad capitalist. In fact, if I could afford to keep buying my own books for the purpose of giving them away, I'd provide a copy for everybody reading this. I'll make you guys a promise: if I ever get some kinda prize, I'll use the dough to buy my own books to give them away to anybody who asks. Not a likely scenario, admittedly.

However: deadtree books - including yours, which I bought and love - do a fine job of getting work out there. Your own tree'd books led me and lots of other folks to want to have the work you so generously give away now via Lulu. Most of us, though, were we to give away our work in such fashion, would find no or few takers.

Now please friend me again on FB so I don't have to imagine that you like Robbins more than me, though perhaps you do!

OH! I have a free downloadable book of my own, so I am not a hypocrite, at least, mon lecteur!

Delia Psyche said...

I don't often add my feeble honk to a blogjam this long, but I'll say this: I'm growing disenchanted with poetry blogs. (I never blogged or read a blog until about a year ago.) A lot of them seem to devote more space to wrangles about MFA programs, denunciations of the elitism of po biz, and snarky chin-wagging than to discussion, serious or otherwise, of poetry proper. And some of those who indulge in this vapid squabbling actually write good poetry. They make me feel like saying, "Don't waste your talent. Go write poetry or an essay on poetry."

Unknown said...

okay orangedog I'll carry on telling the truth on my blog,

and you and your blogmates will carry on with your merchandising—

Don Share said...

Gary, via FB, sez (reproduced w/his permission):

I actually don't have a book of poetry as such out, and do have about 50-100 poems out there in variously places on the web, for free.

Too, most of the people on the list I made up have given me their books, and I suspect they give them to others as well. I've probably spent more on Bill Knott's books than I've spent for books by anyone on the list except for maybe Ron Silliman.

I'd be happy to trade my non-poetry books with Bill if he'd ask.

I actually don't personally like the poetry, or agree with the ideas, of all of the people whose blogs I mentioned; I was just listing what were some of the poets who, at least for periods of time, maintained blogs where they seriously discussed poetics. I don't know where he got the idea of the conspiracy. He probably felt hurt that I didn't include his blog; but I haven't been reading blogs as attentively as I used to, and when I've gone to his, it's usually poetry, not poetics.

Which is great! But not what we were discussing

Anonymous said...

Funny, truth is a word I most often associate with merchandising.

But thanks for clarifying the need to stay away from comment streams, Mr. Knott.

Now if I could only unsubscribe from any further comments.

Sorry Don, I'll catch you on the page, or email.

Lemon Hound, also apparently not quite arrogant enough to make it in public.


Unknown said...

fun trading insults here with the persimmonpup, but i do sympathize with her tragic situation, thus:

Don Share said...

You could try trading books instead of insults, if you don't mind my saying so; she'd certainly have sent you a book or two had something else transpired between you guys.

Steven Fama said...

Who is Gary and what is his list?

And Don, I don't think that writing first and foremost for one-self is necessarily solipsistic. Writing has for me a quality of both expanding and clarifying (condensing even) thought, and in that way discoveries. Audience must be considered too, of course.

And I hear you re: vandalism and rudeness in comment boxes. Yet I think that too many think any disagreement or challenge, especially if strongly stated, is rude. I DON'T include you in that, just saying that some, think that. It may be an American cultural trait. Think of the difference between English Parliament (barbed questions and even cat calls hurled at the Prime Minister at regularly scheduled events designed for just that) and American Congress (no such institutionalized throw-back sessions).

Web 2.0 (including blogs with comment boxes) is designed for feedback. The potential interaction between the writer and reader is what it was designed for, in part. By the by, Poetry magazine, an entity I stress is in some ways independent and apart from you, gets big credit for (I think) having always had a letters to the editor feature (or at least they have one now, and had one back in the 1960s).

Steven Fama said...

Please cancel my question, asked just above, about who's Gary and what's his list. I've figured out (duh, I know) that it's Sullivan and that the list is included in the dialogue reproduced in the main post.

Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

The only thing that counts, or will ever count, boys and girls, is the quality of the poetry.

It will always speak for itself.

Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

BTW, Bill, you forgot:

Kiwi Cur
Mango Mutt
Papaya Puppy
McIntosh Mongrel
Kumquat Canine
and (most accurate)

Delicious Dog


Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

This said knowing, of course, that LH will take this in the spirit of humour and humility in which it is intended.

Lemon Hound said...

I do, Gary.

When the book from which I took my alter ego was translated (in part) into French there was quite some back and forth about the exact translation of Lemon Hound...I believe Chien Batarde was my favorite...but I don't think that's the won they went with.