Thursday, October 28, 2010

Poets and Geeks

First there were poets. Then there were geeks. Now there are poet-geeks. I'd like to give a shout-out and a big round of applause to some of these strange but wonderful people who love poetry and computers and who are finding new ways, via the internet, to spread the good word about poetry. They do not sit around moaning and groaning that nobody buys poetry books anymore. Instead, they are creating new ways for poets and poetry lovers to experience poetry.

First on my list is Dave Bonta, who must be a real mega-geek. His name pops up in all kinds of discussions about online journals and technology. Rather than do the same kind of online journal that has proliferated, i.e., an online parallel to a print journal, Dave has created a truly innovative online journal, qarrtsiluni, which takes full advantage of what the internet can do. Issues are themed and editors change. Instead of the entire issue appearing all at once, poems are added daily, thus giving each poem and poet a chunk of time in the spotlight. Each poem is accompanied by an audio with an introduction by Dave and a reading by the poet. Readers / listeners are invited to leave comments, so there's an interactive element. You can subscribe by email and iTunes and you can follow on Twitter. Like what you've found? Say so at Facebook and any number of other sites with a quick click of the appropriate icon. You can also download any of the podcasts. For free! Links are provided to each author's blog and website if available. This is no concession to The Book Is Dead philosophy. In fact, Dave and his cohorts recently instituted a print version of themed online issues as well as a chapbook contest. Hey, Dave even has a hoodie!

Nic Sebastian has recently taken on another kind of innovative project, a site she calls Whale Sound. Nic has a lovely reading voice which she puts to good use by creating audios of poems by other poets. There's an Index of Poets with each poet's name linking to a bio and to the recorded poem. Readers can Like at Facebook and Tweet. They can also leave comments. Guess who helped Nic with the technical issues involved in running such a project? Dave Bonta! Another interesting aspect of this project is that Nic limits it to what she has named "web-active poets." Here's the definition from her submission guidelines:

If #1 below and at least two of the remaining items accurately characterize you, you are a web-active poet:

1. A fair amount of your finished work is freely available online (on yours or others’ blogs/sites or published in online poetry journals).
2. You check and respond to email at least once a day.
3. You have a comment-enabled blog that you update at least twice a week.
4. You have a Facebook/Twitter/other online social network account that you check/post on at least twice a week.
5. You have a website that consistently displays current contact info and material.

Although the site did not begin with this limitation, I think that Nic soon became overwhelmed with requests from poets to record their poems. And she noticed that those poets who had a heavy web presence were attracting many more visits than those who didn't. This is a web project, so, of course, it makes sense to want to expand the exposure using the resources of the web.

Last on my list is Jessie Carty who has begun an online project called Referential. Jessie selects a poem or a piece of prose from submissions for which she puts out a call. That single piece is posted in the online journal. Other people are then invited to respond to it in an original piece of their own. That can be another poem, a piece of prose, some kind of audio, or a visual piece. These pieces can be submitted anytime during the year. After the initial piece is posted, the referential ones accumulate. From what I can see, subsequent ones may also, in turn, stimulate referential pieces. These are posted with a piece of art. What an interesting concept! A kind of Ponzi scheme for writers.


  1. Diane, what a wonderful surprise! I'm honored by the attention and flattered by the company. Your own efforts on behalf of other poets, online and otherwise, are an inspiration. I'd like to think one thing a lot of us "web-active" poets have in common is a less competitive spirit; though I'm hardly without ego, I find I enjoy promoting other people's work nearly as much as I enjoy writing, recording, and envideoing my own. I encourage your readers to check out my on-going anthology of videopoetry, Moving Poems, as well.

  2. Three of my favorite Geeks, Diane. Have you got work on Whale Sound?

  3. Dave--There's a lot of truth in what you say about promoting other poets. I'm often surprised, too, how helping out another poet sends something good right back to me.

    Sherry--Yes, Nic read my poem "Gender Issue." You can find the link in the left-hand index. How about you?

  4. Oh I'm so thrilled to be included with Dave and Nic, not to mention just having the chance to appear on this blog :)

    We are reading for a new poetry feature right now at Referential. Hope some of your readers will stop by or submit!

  5. My pleasure, Jessie! Already all 3 poet-geeks have found this post. Nic tweeted a link. More cheers for web-active poets.

    Dave--I just checked out Moving Poems. Wonderful resource. I'm going to add a link to it in my December Poetry Newsletter.

  6. Yay for web-active poets! That includes you, Diane! Thanks for a lovely lovely post. Nic

  7. A timely, well-considered post. The ability for each of us to be inspired by the work of others is enhanced because of the cyber world. Moving Poems, Whale Sound, Referential are wonderful examples.

  8. they are all wonderful poets and people with great projects. bottom line: without technology and the internet, i would probably not know about any of them. yay, online poetry!!!!!!!

  9. Wonderful stuff, all around! And I love your Geek head, too.

  10. Great post, Diane. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Something about sharing that is stimulating. When we support the work of others, our own work advances. Nobody here is working for the money.


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