Monday, June 13, 2005

Poetic rifts

Ron Silliman's answer as to whether there is a "rift" between online and print poets seems to hit only one aspect of that question, perhaps two angles at most. Silliman says yes to the question and points to age which equates to experience among those poets he mentions, and receptivity to using the computer.

When I saw the question, it got clouded with a whole nother point. I didn't ponder usage stats versus age or publication/writing history or internet likeability. I was wondering about influence, about the intensity of peers, about conformity to community. I am one of those barely over-50s that Silliman barely allows to have an interest and presence online. The internet drew me to its awesome cold bosom ten or a dozen years ago, and has held me mesmerized by its potency. I love the internet. But as far as poetry on the internet, that is more often than not represented by circles within circles, all with edges touching. Diversity is a dirty word in some circles. Now that's a rift. The differences I notice are communes built around levels of craft with the walls becoming higher and more slippery as the level of craft ascends. Maybe this is just a reflection of the poetry world out there. Very likely, Silliman has more knowledge of that world than I do. The gifted ones, the ones whose writing sends me into some ephemera of bliss, their presence online is a static one, not an interactive one.

Just now, I'm pushing myself to get my chapbook back "out there" after its third rejection. But this time, I'm scouring the Poetry Market for presses that don't have an online presence. It's an ironically small world online. I want a fresh set of eyes looking at my writing. Now, there's a rift. Would I have framed a submission in those terms 12 years ago? No. I would've sent out a query or my article (I was writing magazine features then), content that the editor had never heard of me, my writing style, my favorite topics, my previous credits, or seen any shameful drafts of an article. It was a bigger world offline. I wonder if that is still true?

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