Sunday, July 08, 2007

I don't know how long they've been around, but Writer's Digest has a number of pretty active blogs now. Seems the poetry one is pretty new, with posts from Nancy Breen and Robert Lee Brewer from the WD Books cast list. I discovered Poetic Asides through a comment made over at Jeannine's place and visited with some trepidation. I gave up on WD a little over a year ago, when it became clear to me that their opinion of meaningful poetry content wasn't aligning with mine (also when Nancy Kress's contributions became less frequent).

It's early, of course (though relative posting rates being what they are, Poetic Asides will have reached the word count of this humble establishment before summer's end), but I think it shows some promise. I think anyone who frequents one or more of the poet's blogs at right will find the content a little light at first (the concept of the spam prompt, for example, are quite old to established poet-bloggers), but remember these blogs aren't for the established "blogosphere", they're for WD aficionados learning what blogs are and are not, what they are capable of and who they can reach.

Which leads me to a question. Many of us began the discovery our voices through relentless imitation. Some of those imitations must have, at times, found a way to an audience (publication, workshop, friend-of-a-friend), and that audience may not have recognized the imitation. For example, a good hunk of my early work aspires to be After Apple-picking or Birches. But a good hunk of my "immediate audience", having a knowledge of Frost that ended at the edge of the woods, therefore learned of the original through my works. Is that bad? Does it mean my work is less meaningful? Less useful? Sure, to one "schooled in the art" my work brought nothing new, but for some people, my work was the key to deeper knowledge of Frost. And to me, those same poems were the apprentice work that helped me hone my sense of rhythm, of sound, of line, etc. that have become something of my own voice.

So: Imitation of the past greats: good or bad? Useful? If so, to whom? Does it deserve positive, negative, or no attention from those who discover it? Enthusiastically joining the blog party without deep, knowledge of what earlier-arriving guests brought with them: good or bad? Useful? If so, to whom? Does it deserve positive, negative, or no attention from those who discover it?

My answer: Poetic Asides may bring new readers the long way around to the places Ron Silliman et al have been working in for years. It will definitely add a new voice, even while it searches through what came before looking for a place to settle in.

(Quick aside, poets only): first submission in almost 2 years went out yesterday. Got any luck you feel like sharing?

(Another quick aside, SF fans only): If you haven't already, go read the July Asimov's - Nancy Kress's novella is terrific.

(Final quick aside: computer nerds only): Any idea why Blogger is resisting accepting a title for this post?


Andrew Shields said...

I was unable to post titles yesterday (so I only posted one thing), but I was able to put in the missing title today.

jeannine said...

Congrats on your sub, D!

NancyB. said...

Thanks for your comments on Poetic Asides. Yes, the "SPAM prompt" has been around, but not necessarily for all of Poet's Market's readers (who aren't necessarily WD readers, since there's not much about poetry in the magazine on a regular basis). The PM readership is so broad (age, experience, poetry styles, online participation) that we have the opportunity to do some things that may be strictly old hat to the experienced online crowd.

I hope we can keep it fresh once our production cycles kick in this fall. Deadlines require us to be book editors first, bloggers second.


Nancy Breen