Via Negativa is a unique experiment in daily, poetic conversation with the living and the dead. Dave Bonta founded the site in 2003 and Luisa A. Igloria joined seven years later. Guest authors contribute as well. Both poets are based in the eastern United States, at least part of the year: Dave in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, when he isn’t in London, and Luisa in the Tidewater area of Virginia, where she teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. Dave writes, among other things, daily erasure poems from the 17th-century diary entries of the odious but fascinating Mr. Samuel Pepys, while Luisa has been writing and posting a poem a day since November 2010, often in response to Dave’s posts here or at The Morning Porch.
Blogging first drafts of poems isn’t for everyone, but it’s a practice that works for us. And though it renders the poems unsuitable for publication in the vast majority of literary magazines, which sadly still require all submissions to be complete virgins, it hasn’t prevented their publication in books and chapbooks. Dave has has had two chapbooks and one full-length collection of his Via Negativa poems published so far, while for Luisa, at least four full-length books of poetry and three chapbooks have come out of this daily engagement with words and poems.
Via Negativa is a member of several loose-knit blogging communities whose members have come and gone over the years. Our links page isn’t updated as often as it should be, but we strive to link out to other blogs on a regular basis, and feel guilty about not commenting on the blogs we read nearly as often as we should. (In our defense, a daily writing practice takes a lot out of you.)
Via Negativa will never have a Facebook page. Dave regards Facebook as a malignant, parasitic growth threatening to kill its host, the open web. You can follow us on Twitter if you’re into that sort of thing, though we recommend a free daily email subscription if you want to make sure not to miss a post. Do feel free to reblog any of our posts, as long as you supply correct attribution and a link back. And we’re grateful for all shares and forwards — even on Facebook.
Go read Dave’s blogging manifesto if you’d like a better sense of where we’re coming from here.
Steal this blog
All Dave’s writings here are licensed 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).
Other contributors to Via Negativa, including Luisa A. Igloria, have not chosen to apply a Creative Commons license, but will probably be pleased to grant most requests. And of course, as noted above, you don’t need to ask permission simply to reblog (quote and link).
Via Negativa started as a Blogspot blog on December 17, 2003, and moved to an independently hosted WordPress installation on April 1, 2006 (which explains the lack of comments on posts written before that date — Dave used Haloscan for comments at the Blogspot site, and couldn’t import them). We’ve moved twice since then, and have been through half a dozen different WordPress themes at least.
Why “Via Negativa”? Dave explains:
As its perhaps unfortunate name might suggest, Via Negativa didn’t begin life as a literary blog, but as a more tightly focused celebration of the unknown and the unknowable, in literature and science as well as in religion. The via negativa, a 2000-year tradition of religious agnosis most prominent in Eastern Orthodoxy, has nothing to do with negativity as it is generally understood. It’s a way of trying to honor the inexpressible and live with the questions, aware that ultimate realities can’t be apprehended directly. Meister Eckhart’s sermons and the Cloud of Unknowing are perhaps the best-known briefs for this perspective in the West, while the opening verses of the Tao Te Ching are a good example of a non-Christian via negativa. Though weighty religious and philosophical disquisitions long ago ceased to be a central feature of this blog, the name stuck. And why not? A kind of apophatic faith remains at the center of my worldview and informs almost everything I write.