Distribution Automatique

Monday, December 1

Blogging and the Future of Poetry Dep't

I've been asked by a poet and blogger
from Massachusetts- Mike County
to comment on the how blogging
might change poetry. What
I predict might happen is that the
relationship between local scenes
and national and international scenes
might change. Up until now
that relationship has emerged
through the herculean
efforts of small press publishers
and their connected reading series,
the heroic efforts of small press distribution, academic
poetics programs, etc,

As bloggers, individual poets have the
possibilitiy of gaining a small portion
of what used to be reserved completely
to such efforts. Publishers
are unable to complete the task of
interrelating the various
scenes emanating from localities.
Local scenes, on the other hand,
no longer become "the only game in town"
for poets. Blogs are
not just pieces of paper. With a blog a writer
is an indepenent
publishing entity as well as a maker of texts.
This is empowering,
as Gerrit Lansing was acknowledging on Saturday night
at the Sheraton Commander, after the Saturday night
Wordsworth reading in Cambridge, in way similar to the way
readings are empowering.

Through blogging poets can connect more
frequently and
exchange information. While I don't see
poetry readings
as being any less important,
they used to be the only
place where poets could be seen and heard. On the other
hand, blogging is new and many
reading series have gone
on for a long time. These gives
them great prestige and

Poetry reading series are like the
town squares of poetry,
where poets met and get to
know each other. But now
there is blogland as well where poets
can get to know each other
and each others work and ideas.

The traditional avenues
for poets to connect
will eventually recognize
that the scene
must become more national
and international. Bloggers
can connect so frequently
that working relationships can
be established in a very
empowering way. On the other hand,
no matter how the relationships
evolve, the blogger remains
an independent entity. This is
unprecedented in the field of
writing. It is as if up until now
the reading series was the
only real poetry employer, but
now not only can a writer be
their own employer, but they
can work directly with other
"companies." And just as
good as that is, they can quit
if they want to and happily
continue their own company.
This is also unprecedented.

Since I have unquestionably
reached my anecdotage, I
want to mention that
Ted Berrigan once said to his
1967 workshop that a poet
couldn't get anywhere without
giving readings. This made me
uncomfortable because I
was so shy then that I felt
intimidated enough going to readings
where I might meet John Ashbery
one moment, David Shapiro
and Ann Waldman the next,
and then Allen Ginsberg might say
hello to me. What was I supposed
say? I didn't have a clue.To make
a long story short, I learned how
to give readings whether
I liked it or not and this changed
a lot of things for me. I met Ed Friedman
through Bernadette Mayer
and he asked me to do a lot
of readings in the early 70's, including
one at the Kitchen with Patti Smith. A couple
of years later he started inviting me to
read at the Poetry Project.Because of this,
Ted Berrigan came to hear me
read. I met Charles Bernstein at
a performance/party that
Ed Friedman gave where
I sang a song I I had written in French,
with a guitar player backing me up. A few years
after that I started working
with Charles on L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.
a xeroxed magazine. Alan Davies and
I encouraged Charles to continue the
magazine for an extra year or two, and I
suggested that way it might become a

Xerox technology and mimeo
technology made the poetry publishing
scene expand, in concert
with the reading series where the work
would be read and poets
could publish and distribute
their own mimeo magazines. Nearly
40 years after its inception, the
Poetry Project still
works in the same way.

Blogging takes this so much further
because where before
you needed a physical
place, like St Mark's Church to create
a place to meet, now you can meet
in blogland. Relationships
can still only mainly
flourish with live exchanges,
but blogging makes it possible for poets
to meet and exhange work and
ideas much more frequently.
You can introduce yourself to
someone you don't know
much more comfortably,
and this could lead to working
with them on projects. This can happen
very often now. But there is still
the formality of the
written word. Still,
bloggers could
have their own
national and international
reading series right online, tv series,
any kind of series all day
long and get to know
each others work and
put together projects
very fast. Soon they
will be able to work
in any medium on projects
every day and
distribute the products
right on line.You could
have the equivalent
of an entire movie company
for a series of
projects and then go on their way
just as in film projects.
With this quickly developing
technology, poets don't need
middlepersons to work
with each other, where the middlepersons get a lot
of the credit and had most of the power
(all the way
from a few months to a few dacades.)
But even
with a few photoes and audblogs
and poems typed out by hand,
working independently
but in an indirectly ensemble
way every day the way blogging goes,
makes things happen so
much faster and in such a more
quickly networked way than a local
print series combined with reading
series can do, at least in terms of
projects. Still, the live meeting
remains crucial. But now it just isn't
the only game in town, but exists in the
national and international town
square of blogging. Faces, and voices
can have very fast exposure in
concert with the printed words.

The potential for dailness
changes the power and
possibilites of every kind
of relationship.
People work together everyday much more
naturally than they do meeting once in
awhile the way poets have until now.
This is what gave the middlepersons
all the power, because they
were among the very
few people who worked with writers on
these kinds of things every day.
This creates the power of
working together, really working,
not the way a group of hobbyists might.
And shhh...with
the power of perruque, we can do it
on the company dime!

This is a tremendously
important and potentially very
empowering difference
with blogging in that it can go on every day. This can
move things much faster.
When poets start to feel less dependent
on the given outlets, while still
respecting their great accomplishments,
influence and prestige,
they can do things in a way they've
never been done before. They can
work together and make things
happen in a way that is
unprecedented for

In the end, all writers need is a way
to exchange their writing and their ideas.
Tradition and prestige are important but they have
been overly depended on by writers because
with poets there were few financial ways
to gauge things
as in every other field.

Bloggers can now gauge
things differently. I can use html tracking
sites to see how and when writers
are interested in what each other are doing.
This is important because people want to know
when what they do is useful, interesting,
enjoyable, and when it connects in the
minds of other people, is rewarding, etc. With a site meter
for example, we connect and
correspond quickly and our
working together is immeasurably
expanded- the only limit of the frequency
of exchange, as far as I can see, is
how much caffeine you happen to
have around that day or night.

In short, to quote an oft used phrase:
with blogging you "don't need a weatherman
to know which way the wind blows."