Monday, May 29, 2006


Poems the Muse Apprentice Guild, for your perusal. Tania VS (co-conspirator who puts Trip Picks together) is in there as well.

Hope you enjoy--and hope you feel like commenting, whether you do or not. Either way, feedback is always welcome.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


The evolution of dance

From Alexis, who is a Kangster but doesn't have a blog (that I know of), I receive another YouTube offering, The Evolution of Dance.

Me, I don't dance. Ever.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Breaking News

...from the self-publishing crowd, which probably scams more people than all the contests on put together: Absolute Write is gone due to the mechanations of Barbara Bauer and, according to Making Light, a naive, panicky PublishAmerica author who happened to own the web host upon which Absolute Write was housed. The story has been picked up by Miss Snark, as well, which means Miss Bauer looks to be receiving more attention for this than she could ever have prayed for. That said, I've done a brief search, and cannot confirm that Stephanie Cordray is in fact a PublishAmerica's not showing up on the PublishAmerica search engine.

Though not of the caliber of some forums I have encountered, Absolute Write was one of the stronger indy forums, for information regarding several self-publishing schemes and calls for subs ranging from poetry to greeting cards. No high profile academics involved, that I know of, but probably very wide repercussions for the general writing public with this one. I'm given to understand that there has been a loss of many posts, though one can only hope that the forums will be restored, in some form, in the near future.

Click the links to learn more.

(thanks to Books, Inq. for helping to get the word out.)

Addendum: going through the comment field at Making Light, it appears that the folks at Absolute Write are on the case, and that the forums will soon be returning to us. I think this one is worth watching just to see what's rumor, and what holds up as fact. But the comment field is an education unto itself.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Stay Hungry

Frank Wilson's write-up on internet poetry is now online. Kudos to Wilson for taking it on, and many thanks to him for getting a little wedge in there in the print world.

On a less positive note, I am rather disappointed that the trolls and the glut of poor offerings got a mention, at the expense of more on how the channel of the internet may affect the medium of poetry, itself. Perhaps such considerations are outside the realm of what the average book section reader wants to engage. However, and given that my comments were not used elsewhere, I'm posting my own private response to Frank's call for information here, just in case anyone's interested in knowing what sort of material didn't make the cut (great: he's offering rejected material...whatever next...and people say blogs aren't worth monitoring...).

Hi Gene,
You asked me to get in touch - and so I have. Why don't you fill me on what you think an article about poetry online should touch upon. Bear in mind that I am only going to be able to scratch the surface...

Frank Wilson
Book Review Editor
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Hi, Frank,

I'm really pleased that you've decided to write an article on internet poetry--it's a subject that's been neglected, in my estimation, for some time, probably largely due to the fact that the most visible and vocal among poets tend to be those who troll and criticize (a la and Poetry Snark, the former a 'high profile' case that I can't help thinking could have been executed differently to better effect), and one does face a significant task getting to the good stuff behind a lot of dross. As regards your current project, I was fortunate enough to be made aware of it via a thread started on the Poets and Writers Speakeasy forums by Rus Bowden, who is well known for his work on the Poetry and Poets in Rags newsletter. That newsletter is in turn associated with one of the oldest and best established poetry competitions on the web, the InterBoard Poetry Competition, or IBPC. I know Tara Elliott, co-editor and co-founder of Triplopia, has at least one second place win in that competition to her credit, in September of 2002, for her poem "Crabbing on the Cheasapeake". I think I 'knew' her for about 2 years at that point, and we'd started Triplopia about 2 months previous. We originally met via a much less well known poetry board, where we were fortunate enough to enjoy, at the time, a fairly active membership, and at some point, I proposed putting a zine together, wrote up a mission statement and workshopped that (a single sentence remains of about a page and a half--it's on the front page of Triplopia), and about a year went by until Tara announced that she'd put a team together with the tech chops to get the computer work done, thus calling my bluff. We've come much further than either of us really had any right to expect (Tara calculated 2 years, I was shooting for 3), and suffice it to say, the only problem I would have with a thousand word article would be LIMITING it to that amount. But I can be long-winded, and it's well known.

In the interests of keeping things short, then, I think the response you've received is pretty indicative of the breadth of issues surrounding the publication of poetry via the net. There is, in the first instance, the need to distinguish between forums, listservs, blogs, and zines, though as pertainst to 'publication' of a poem, many journals don't. I have received notification, at times, that my having workshopped a poem on a public forum constitutes 'publication,' and thus makes work inelegible for certain venues. On the other hand, those same journals probably wouldn't look especially highly upon someone who listed forum postings as 'publication'--it's an odd double standard that the folks on the internet are pretty familiar with, to the extent that a lot of poetry forums have gone private to deal with the issue. They're usually meant, in theory, as online workshops, though there are certainly community members who treat them as if they were publishing work. Blogs are a different creature, as well, and zines are edited, though how well is a matter of some concern to anyone who is at all discerning about where their words are seen. The main point behind all this is that these are actually very different senses of the word 'publication,' and it's taken a fair while to get the more traditional poetry community to take any notice of what the net is offering the larger poetry community.

Then there is the matter of anonymity (which I think largely an illusion, anyway), the matter of design, issues surrounding multi-media, questions surrounding how the online experience actually encroaches upon the poetry writing process as well--that little response field frames more than some writers are aware of, I think, starting with the fact that we can so easily cut and paste where our not so distant predecessors might have been a little less hasty on the keyboard, and moving forward from there. I think, in the interests of keeping it somewhat succinct, I'd point in the direction of how design and content help or hinder each other. At Triplopia, we have been very fortunate in that our web designer has provided very high quality work--work that usually fetches him a fair paycheck--on a pro bono basis, because he happens to enjoy both designing and literature. That's not all we've been fortunate about, but the fact is, the site takes up a very large proportion of the time I don't spend earning a crust, and in real life, I pretty much steer anyone who will engage the subject of poetry with me to the site. There are a fair number of those people who are not at all interested in literary content, but they consistently comment on how the site looks, so all credit to our web designer. Thing is, design shouldn't carry the day if it's the words that matter, but I don't think it should be neglected, and I think in some quarters it is. And I think it's especially important when trying to convince poetry readers--many of whom do have traditional streaks--to stick around long enough to read some of our articles. It has to be easy on the eye. So where I could easily comment on forum behavior, on technology's effect on the writing process, on the potential offered by new media features such as hyperlinks, audio files, video feeds, really, on any number of issues, I'd just like to offer a couple of comments on the reasons why our undertaking has made some of the decisions it has, and beyond that, just say that I'm open to any questions you might have.

In my own opinion, the greatest peril a poet faces in approaching the internet as a possible venue for either publication or workshopping is distraction--and I think that level of distraction is, if anything, greater than it has been in the past. There's just so much on offer out there that's easier, and the fact that one can be 'published,' and their off-the-cuff opinion disseminated so widely via a forum posting or a blog comment is one of the greatest distractions of all. I suspect there's a lot of writing--some of my own, included--that would have benefitted greatly by being allowed time to age a bit, and in terms of a full body of work, that's not necessarily a good development. So when it comes time to create a zine, I share a commitment with Tara, my co-editor and co-founder, to keep those distractions as minimal as possible, while still closely engaging the channel of the internet. There is, for instance, no advertising done on Triplopia: there are reviews, certainly, and there are links to places where one may buy books, but we don't even subscribe to the affiliates program, so none of those links provide a source of revenue for us. This is possible because Internet publication is about as free of overhead as it is possible for publication to be. We do receive donations: our current contest is the result of one such donation, and we don't have to pay for a service provider because of another, so basically we're looking at domain registration (which goes at about 50 USD per year for two domains, .com and .org) and a whole lot of time both fielding and soliciting writing. We don't even have to pay postage--though I have had to foot the bill for a long-distance phone call from time to time. Time, however, is by far the greater investment. We also don't include pictures of our contributors, even though some of them are well known indeed. Steve Kowit was our first brush with fame, followed by Bob Holman (a personal hero of mine for his work on the United States of Poetry series on PBS back in the 90's), Joy Harjo, and Lindsey Collen (who has twice won the Commonwealth Prize for Africa)--and those are just the better known among our contributors. We also provide links, within the contributor bios, to other journals where our contributors' work can be found, but rather than linking the bios to the individual contributor's work, we link to the journal's homepage. These decisions are followed because I think we share a common aesthetic, in the Triplopia editing 'offices,' of keeping the focus on the words. On the other hand, we do make extensive use of hyperlinks: if an interview subject references a writer, we can provide a link by which the reader can follow up on that information, and learn more. Additionally, if it isn't glaringly obvious, the section entitled Yawp is my own undertaking, usually penned in the mad period between nailing down the last of the interview questions and going live, and essentially serves as an unquiet editorial on the issue at hand. It, too, can get quite link heavy, as it's just too sweet a temptation to go ahead and link to Aristotle's Poetics if it happens to come up during the course of that rant. It's online, it's free to access, and it probably provides greater insight into the discipline than anything I've ever written, so why not? So there's a balancing act being attempted here--to greater and lesser success--between trying to create a quiet space on the 'net where the words can do what they're meant to do, but still make a real effort to engage the realities of the Internet as a whole. Personally, I'd love to provide sound files--that's the performance poet in me, no doubt--but we haven't reached that point as yet. Maybe someday.

As long as the above paragraph is, it's the briefest glimpse into some of the issues surrounding poetry on the net as a whole, as it only focuses on the design decisions of a single e-zine, and there's quite fertile ground to be explored in forums and blogs, as well. I will say, in closing, that I don't frequent forums any more, as I find they're really not that helpful to me, personally, as a writer. That said, Triplopia started because of my participation on one such forum, and the first issue, for which we had to solicit every single piece of work included (and which strikes me as woefully amateurish in retrospect), is entirely made up of contributors from that single forum. I have to say, there were those who imagined the undertaking to be pretty much focused on that forum, and probably no few who were disappointed that we elected not to go in that direction. That's a decision I think any zine that proposes to make any difference whatsoever has to make, and it's not as easy as some might imagine. For me, though, that sense of community is something that I highly value in internet poetry: I've been put in contact with people I would never have imagined myself exchanging words with when this project started, and I find, for the most part, that the exchanges that result are nothing short of exhilarating. There's a whole other can of worms in those exchanges, because the fact that there are so many people out there not just reading, but writing, and editing, is far from a bad thing in my estimation. Whether the product is top shelf or not, the fact that those people are engaging the written word enough to create such spaces is one of my greatest sources for hope. When you find out what's behind the production of even the simplest such zine, you earn a greater respect for those who have had to go much further, and spend much more, in the past. That has to be a good thing.

I've definitely broached the 1,000 word mark in this e-mail, so, although I could certainly go on, or elaborate on the above, I'd probably be better off closing at this point. I did want to alert you to a couple of resources that you may or may not have been told of, however. First, the go-to blog is Silliman's Blog. He's consistently entertaining, and often right on the money. I don't particularly like L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, but I think his blog a great resource. That's on your blogroll, though, I think. There are also links to UBUweb and PENNsound on his blog, if you haven't checked them out already, they certainly deserve a mention. Finally, a newer one, not a zine or a blog, but a database of journals with some very interesting features, over at Duotrope--at present, this bills itself as a "Digest of Fiction Fields," and there's no option for poetry in the drop-down menu under 'Genre,' but there are a fair few publications in its database that do take poetry, and it provides some very relevant information regarding the publication, and does so in an easily navigable fashion. You might find it of some interest.

Frank, I hope some of the above is of use to you: I'm excited to see what you end up writing. I'll be following the link carnival closely. On a side note, as prompted by your linking to us on the blog proper: you might be interested to know that, although our zine is named after a vision problem that Tara suffers from, the editors regularly refer to it as "the Trip" in private correspondences.

Hoping yours continues to be a pleasant one--


For what it's worth. And, as I'm currently working my way through the next mountain of subs (the submission period just ended today for Trip), I'm off to labor in obscurity once again. Before I do, though, these words for Marc, who last night had a brief exchange with me over dinner re: the definition of poetry (my primary response being that I'd like to know for what purposes it's being defined...), I include something that hasn't yet forced itself on me enough to become a poem, but seems like it might one day. This was, initially, my first response to one of those ubiquitous posts, pretty much a standard for any internet poetry forum, entitled "What is poetry?":

All definitions are dangerous. It is

words sculpted into a shape so tense a mere whisper might well shatter it.

rocket fuel to prose's gasoline, white lightning to beer.

the whole being concentrated on saying the one thing words won't hold.

dialogue with creation, pragmatic inquiry into the mind of the creator, and the relationship between creator and created.

less statement than opening.

the expression of the mind's receptiveness when wonder at the simple, miraculous fact of awareness gives way to an unconditional commitment to being.

what you feel when you fall deeply enough in love with a complete stranger to place your very life at risk to consummate that love.

holy surrender in spite of the good likelihood that what you are worshiping does not exist.

Go over and give the resulting article a read, and keep an eye on the sidebar of Frank's blog: it's an evolving thing.


Sunday, May 14, 2006


Drumming for bears

Via Wom-po, where a discussion centered on the reticence, on the part of many poets, to call themselves poets in some social settings prompted me to break my general silence long enough to explain why I prefer the title 'student of poetry'. Granted, in the context of Wom-po, which boasts a large number of published poets, I very much AM the student, but I prefer the 'student of poetry' title in pretty much all contexts--at least when I'm the one saying it. Anyway, the discussion has been going on for I think about a week now, and following the multiple tributaries of the exchange is fascinating, BUT, one of my contributions to the discussion prompted another member of the list to post this:

"Language is a cracked kettle on which we bang out tunes to make the bears dance, when what we long for is to move the stars to pity." - Gustave Flaubert

Some kettles having larger cracks than others, to be sure, as my holding my own up to Flaubert's too readily demonstrates. This, I think, is one of those quotes that'll be with me for a while.

(A bow of gratitude to Alyssa Harad and Susan Elbe for making me aware that these words exist.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Paradise is exactly like

...where you are right now,


I love YouTube. Haven't gone on a serious explore yet to see what poets are doing with it, but it's on my to do list.

(Thanks to Wind Meals, Deborah Poe's online home, for alerting me to the existence of these. I've listened to Laurie for years, have never seen a video until this evening.)

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Words Don't Matter

Desperately trying to avoid political comment, mostly because I find it enormously depressing to even engage the subject, in times that I believe are truly taking a turn toward the desperate, but were you aware that we are currently almost five years into World War III?

In reply to a statement by David Beamer, whose son Todd died in Flight 93, and who described those events in the Wall Street Journal as "our first successful counter-attack in our homeland in this new global war, World War III," I give you the words of our president:

"I believe that. I believe that it was the first counter-attack to World War III."

Kinda puts the whole thing in perspective to think that you can be five years into a World War and not even be aware of it. Either that, or I'm just dense. Always a possibility. It would certainly explain a few things.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Moving this mountain...

All's been nearly a month since I posted, and the real fuss right now is the fact that there has been no shortage of material I should be posting here...which means, now I'm playing catch up. So, for the present, just an alert as to changes on the sidebar due to recent events: The new Triplopia is up, thus the addition of a new Spotlight and a new Yawp. Also, if you're a writer type, take note of our most recent contest. There's no fee for entering, the top prize is $100, and the only catch is that the poem has to have won a contest previously. Slots are filling up fast, so send your work quickly if you want to get in.

Trip's been the bulk of my work. There is the issue, but there is also letting people know the issue exists. For those who don't know, the core editorial staff stands, at present, at 4, with past contributor and new editor Tracy Koretsky coming on board just in time for our 4th anniversary celebrations--this summer! That's 16 Spotlights, 16 Yawps, and believe me, between those two alone, that's a LOT of Word Document pages (I'd conservatively estimate 320 pages of 12 point font--but it's more than that, and I know it). We're still going strong, in fact, stronger than ever, and just recently, have had a few people take note of us that had not before. Among them, the steady hand of Rus Bowdin, who has been 'personing' the helm of the Poetry and Poets in Rags newsletter for almost as long as there's been a Triplopia: many who read here do know, but if you don't, the IBPC and WebdelSol are among the venerable grandparents of online poetry. Triplopia's yet to get a mention on those pages (and even less yet to get a mention on Silliman's Blog), but hey, you can't blame a guy for trying, and in the meantime, I keep checking in because these are good sources of info. There are others. If you submit regularly, go check out a place called Duotrope, which I think has very real potential to become another go-to resource for poets and writers who are using the web to access and distribute the good words. Triplopia is among the magazines you can get information about on their pages, by the way.

Another source of attention, of late, is a blog Rus Bowden clued me in on, is Books, Inq., the online home of Frank Wilson, book review editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Frank recently posted a call for information about online poetry on his blog, and I think he's a little overwhelmed by the response: there's lots of good info for him, some comments that may be a little too closely informed by some of the internectine nonsense that goes in within the context of any particular poetry forum, but some interesting areas of discussion being proposed by those in the comments field. In any case, Frank's going ahead with the article, proposing a Carnival of Online Poetry and accompanying article slated for May 21. Watch for the update.

Also, if you like your poetry to be backed up with stats, go check out Ron Silliman's entries for April 23-May 4th: breakdowns of recent surveys by and (Yes, that is the contemporary face of Harriet Monroe's Poetry magazine, and the public results, so far, of Ruth Lilly's $100 million dollar bequest to that venerable magazine. Let 'em know how you think they're doing spending the money.)

In other words, a LOT of news JUST on the poetry front here, and even more, on the ground, that I need to get to...but if I try to get to all of it in one post, it's going to overwhelm anyone who might be interested in reading it. So, one more note: in addition to my usual work at Trip, I also agreed to serve as guest poetry editor at poeticdiversity for their May 2006 issue. Two new pieces by yours truly on those pages: a review of the work of Norman Ball, and (gasp!) a poem. That particular piece is about 12 years old, and it's what remains of a piece about 3 times as long. After over a decade of it's steeping and being rearranged, I think I decided it was time to cut that one loose. There are more coming, this summer. Really--poems, and not just me blathering on about whatever comes to mind.

Okay, I'm gonna tweak the sidebar a bit, but wanted to alert you to just a little sliver of the stuff I've been fielding for the past couple of weeks. It's raining, and the countdown to home is, I think, officially commencing. I have 3 months and 20 days left.

More soon--tchitch

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