I promised this yesterday, but got too involved reading stuff and thought it best to let some of it settle in before mouthing off.
These are strictly preliminary observations and, as I’ve tried to make clear, I’m open to comments, criticism, whatever.
So here goes:
1) I think everybody agrees that there has been an explosion of poetry on the Internet.
2) Most seem to think that among the major factors are the sense of community, the interactivity, the critical feedback. Those who have participated in online poetry workshops seem to have benefited from them.
3) Everybody also seems to agree that a lot of the poetry to be found online is not very good and that one of the problems is separating the gold from the dross. (Regarding this, I have a further observation: This is hardly unique to the Internet. As someone who has hundreds of books delivered to his office every week, I can assure you that such is the world of publishing, whatever the medium. Commercial publishers don’t come near to batting 1.000 when it comes to quality.)
4) Some think that there are more poets than readers of poetry — though obviously the writers of online poetry must also be readers of it.
I have a few other things I could note, but I want to think about them some more and continue reading. I do want to make one point, though, about the good/bad business. There was a reference to Hallmark in one of the comments, and I know what point was being made. But let me say this: If you had the job of writing for Hallmark, you might not be so dismissive. I have actually had to write a couple of poems on deadline. T’ain’t funny, McGee. And what do I care if that’s the sort of “poetry” someone likes? I take a very latitudinarian view of poetry — and literature. Poetry is what poets do and there are a lot of different poets doing a lot of different things. Poetry’s house has many mansions. The mere fact that someone would take the trouble to memorialize a moment or an experience in even clumsy rhyme and meter deserves respect, not condescension or ridicule.