Poetry-Blogging, a Primer

This entry is part 7 of 20 in the series Poetics and technology


When sharing poems on the internet,
it is important not to consider an audience
of square dancers and nudists but to focus instead
on less “mainstream” readers: the tracing-paper
addicts and chronic organ grinders.

The latter are especially unreasonable and will offer
poetry critique at inappropriate times, such as when
they want to feel better about their own shoddy
attempts at plastic surgery.

Password protection of poems offers a sense of security,
although a misguided emphasis on the sanctity
of toadstools and juke boxes prevents poets
from enjoying steady employment.

Everyone knows the point of sharing poems
on the internet is to keep them hidden away
like secret regrets. Yet we find that the more
we behave like flashers, the more we have to spend
on trench coats.

Likewise, our public invitations to square dances
and raves, though almost universally rejected,
are still our only chance at being rubbed all over
other people’s hair, causing it to stand on end.

This brings us to copyright issues. The ownership
of a poem, like the ownership of a washing machine
or cat, is pretty simple: Just slap an ID tag on it
and you’re good to go — or so we thought.

As it turns out, in the murky world of the internet,
your “cat,” however “cat-like” it may appear,
might yet turn out to be a washing machine.
How will you know what to do with it?

Do you open its mouth and fill it with Tide,
or do you take another route and stop washing
your clothes altogether? Soiled shirts
will definitely make you look like a poet.

The phenomenon of poetic recognition is crucial
to a sense of online community. Waking up one day
and realizing three or four people know your name
is akin spotting a UFO: You know it’s real, but you
can’t lay your hands on the evidence.

This is why poet-bloggers turn to their oracles,
Statcounter and Google Alert, neither of which
need be consulted more than 400 times a day.
Every page view produces a sensation similar
to sliding along a Slip-n-Slide covered in baby oil.

Toxicologists fret about enthusiastic bloggers’ tendency
to lick their monitors until the words smear. The aftermath
can be measured in parts per million: How many
poets’ nouns must bleed into the verbs of casual readers
before this behavior is seen as a public health risk?

—Nathan Moore and Dana Guthrie Martin

* * *

Dana Guthrie Martin and Nathan Moore blog at My Gorgeous Somewhere and Exhaust Fumes and French Fries, and co-edited an issue of qarrtsiluni, Mutating the Signature.

Earlier in this series, British writer Dick Jones also tackled the subject of blogging and poetry, in case you missed it: “Poetry in the Ether.”