I had left a comment on a wonderful post by Tiel Aisha Ansari on being a Professional Poet. It is on her blog Knocking from Inside. I really find her a remarkable young poet. Also, like she mentions, thank God we love our day jobs. ‘Nuff said, you can go and read all that for yourselves. This is the additional comment I sat down to write after writing the first one. I decided to post it on my blog, rather than muck up her comment box:
Tiel, I wanted to add another couple of thoughts to my first comment. First, I would like to thank you for being such a part of the group of contemporary poets that one finds via the internet. I am honored by your presence in the life of my writing as are many others, I’m sure. The internet has been a real resource for contemporary poetry to grow in skill, community, enjoyment and, most of all, commitment among those who take this art seriously. That is indeed a great thing.
I remember when I left the writing program many years ago at the university. Those programs are so full of all the resources necessary for young poets. The contact and support structures are so busy with people trying to help that I was really unprepared to leave it for the loneliness of the print oriented environment it was supposed to be preparing us to enter. Afterward, I joked for years that I had finally found the obscurity I had been seeking. Eventually I stopped publishing poetry and then I stopped writing it.
This brings me back talking about the internet. It was my savior. My poetry found a raison d’etre here. The internet probably saved my life, in reality. The contemporary poets I have become acquainted with here are friends and colleagues whom I treasure. We share a lot and I am looking forward to continuing to do so for the rest of my life. I am about ready to publish a book now and have had the honor to be included in some fine e-zines as well as printed media and enjoy the encouragement of some wonderful editors. I woke up and started living again.
Lately however, the legalistic world has started to invade poetry on the internet. More and more we are told, if your poems have appeared on your blog then legally they have already been published and cannot appear in our magazine. I am now holding poems back to publish elsewhere before I put them on my blog. More and more I see poets who earlier were prolific on their blogs but have now become practically mute. This is a trend that worries me. I am not sure it is a good thing for the good poets out there to stop giving us the opportunity to come read their work and learn from them. I am not sure it will be a good thing for us who aspire to be afraid to practice and share our efforts with the group of readers we enjoy. I understand the value of the things Tiel and others have assembled as exercises and places to practice the art of poetry but that is only part of the richness we have all shared on the internet. It is the loss of that original and rather free environment that I find scary. I am not sure quite what we should do about it and would like to open this discussion with all of you out there who are equally affected. Tell me how you are reacting to these new changes in our precious electronic community. Please give us your comments!