House of Wordiness: my nearly endless interview at the Palace

At her blog The Palace at 2:00 a.m., Marly Youmans has an on-going series of interviews with writers and publishers called The House of Words. One afternoon last February, I sat down and wrote a few thousand words in response to a series of questions she sent me, and promptly forgot about it until a couple months later when the first installment appeared (#20 in the series). Marly posted a few installments, illustrated with photos she found at Via Negativa, then went on vacation for a month… in the midst of which, somewhat surreally, she and I actually met up in Wales. This was the very first time we met, despite the fact that we’ve known each other for several years and are only about a five-hour drive apart over some of the most lovingly maintained highways in the world. Anyway, the interview finally resumed in the third week of May, and just concluded a few days ago. Here are the links to the pieces in order, with a brief quote from each to give you a flavor. If you have comments on specific points I raise in the series, please leave them at Marly’s blog rather than here so as to keep the discussion in one place.

Part 1
Friends started telling me about Blogger that summer, but like most literary snobs I turned my nose up at it, both because of the absurd and ugly word, “blog,” and also because of what I was hearing about blogs in the mainstream media: that they were filled with worthless minutiae of people’s daily lives and/or links accompanied by minimal, uninformed comments. It didn’t seem at all attractive.

Part 2
I’ve come to feel that blogging and poetry writing are an ideal match, at least for those of us who are shameless enough to share imperfect drafts with the world.

Part 3
The push to come up with new content every day was transformative.

Part 4
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite: I run an online journal, but almost never submit my own work to journals unless invited. But mostly that’s because very few journals consider previously blogged material, and I write first and foremost to feed the blog.

Part 5
In general, I think the best medicine for discouragement [at not getting published] is to join a community of writers, online or in real life, and focus on the writing rather than the writer.

Part 6
There are just so many opportunities for collaboration now — I don’t see how any serious writer can fail to be excited by that.

Part 7
Generations of poets have been taught to be absolute perfectionists and struggle against every word, because we all know how mortifying it is to have to look at a poem in print that we’ve long since revised. Being mainly self-published and mainly online does allow for a more fluid conception of one’s work.

Part 8
It gradually turned into a regular magazine, though we’ve never gone so far as to issue periodic issue-dumps, as other online magazines do, preferring instead to remain bloggish, with new material at least five times a week, and comments activated for every post.

Part 9
I fear a lot of people start blogs these days on the advice of editors or agents who neglect to tell them that the most important trait of a good blogger is generosity.

Jack-in-the-boxwood, Wales (photo by Marly)
Jack-in-the-boxwood, Wales (photo by Marly--click on the photo to visit her post)
Marly Youmans and Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Marly Youmans and Clive Hicks-Jenkins take a spin through the art gallery
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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

4 Comments


  1. Thanks for the links, Dave; I’d read some of these but not all.

    I had no idea Marly was within a day’s drive of you. In my mind she was somewhere much farther. Ah, the internet.

    Reply

  2. I see that Dave still persists in defending the honor of the Keystone State, its highways densely populated by tiny orange coneheads and somnolent Darlek barrels! They love the passers-by so much that they often bring them to a complete stop… about like that sporty number in The Gregynog Gallery.

    Luisa, elsewhere I suggested that Dave was a Green Man vomiting the world. And that got us into a tug-of-war between pretty Green Men and great hairy forceful Green Men.

    I like this way of meeting people who aren’t that far away in far away foreign countries–we ought to do it more often. Not sure how far away you are from me… I just tried looking up how far I am from Plummer’s Hollow, Snyder, and Tyrone and got three rather different distances and probably had the wrong place some of the time. But you’re right; it’s under five hours. (Rachel, I am much farther away in my head. Particularly about January.)

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