Sunday, April 23, 2006

OK, folks ...

... how about helping me out. I want to write about literature and the Internet. In particular I want to begin with a piece about poetry and the Internet. Feedback, suggestions, whatever - all will be appreciated. I figure if I propose this online, I'll get a better perspective with the help of those online. It's certainly worth a try.


  1. Frank--I am the head moderator of an on-line poetry community, as well as an active member of Forward Motion for writers, an internet writing community. I'd be happy to help with your article--what sort of things are you thinking of?

    For me, the promise and the strength of the internet has nothing to do with commerce, and everything to do with linking communities of common interests. Through Wild Poetry Forum and Forward Motion, I have access to a group of writers from all over the world who come together simply because they all have a reverence for the power of the written word.

    The beauty of an asynchronous community is that I am not limited by schedule, timezone, or geography. I know there are local poetry critique groups, but there is something about the relative anonymity of the net that frees people to be more honest in their feedback. Of course, the reverse can be true--that same anonymity can encourage flaming. I have known of several internet based writing communities that have disintegrated because of a lack of appropriate boundaries. Fortunately, the two communities I participate in have strong moderators and are to a large extent self-regulating.

    best regards,

  2. Someone you might like to talk to is my friend Steve Burt (his blog is at, and you can find his contact info there). He's a poet, published with Graywolf, but also an academic (author of a well-regarded book about Randall Jarrell published by Columbia UP); and he's well-informed about lots of online poetry publications & so forth.

  3. Thank you, Lisa and Jenny. I will follow up on both leads. Basically, what I want to do is bring to the attention of the world some knowledge of how much poetry has flourished on the Internet. I think it's every bit as significant in its way as the effect the Internet has had on, say, the newspaper business - and for much the same reason. The Internet represents a direct assault on gatekeepers of all kinds.
    Feel free to challenge any of this. Or elaborate upon it. What I have found so good about blogging is the dialogue that gets going; having different minds focusing on the same problem seems to me to have fruitful results.

  4. Hi Frank,

    I just posted a link to this request at 22 online poetry forums, such as:

    Frugal Poet Writers' Workshoppe: Frank Wilson's "Okay, folks ..."

    And thanks for all you do. You are appreciated.


  5. Hello Frank

    Yes I like your refreshing attitude to the possibilities that the Internet presents and I could not agree more.

    As well as being editor of an on-line workshop, Desert Moon Review, and co-editor of a electronic and print magazine, Loch Raven Review, I have the advantage of operating in other fields as well besides poetry, namely history, where I am a War of 1812 author, and Ripperology, where I am North American editor for Ripperologist magazine. I can say that in these fields equally the Internet has led to a burgeoning of knowledge and reaching out of interested parties in the last decade.

    I am pleased with what I find on the Internet in terms of on-line workshops where poets are given the opportunity of free help in writing their poetry. It is a cooperative business: you help me and I will help you.

    In several of the workshops where I participate I have been helped to grow as a poet and I think to help others to develop their poetry. I believe the future of Internet poetry will be bright.

    Best regards

    Chris George

  6. Anonymous11:23 PM

    I too am a "host" of an on-line poetry forum. If you want to understand the new community of poets who interact on line, you should visit and read in some of the on-line forums. I host Writer's Circle, in The Town ( Writer's Circle is one of two poetry forums (called conferences on this particular board) in The Town. We have a good mix of amateur and experienced poets, some of whom have published poems in "real" magazines or anthologies. We also published our own "real life" anthology last year...The Best of Writer's Circle 2006.

    Write me if you have any questions ( or better yet, come by our site and see for yourself what's going on there.


  7. Anonymous11:27 PM

    Dear Frank -- I am the administrator of the on-line poetry community (Wild Poetry Forum) mentioned by Lisa above. We have been an established site on the internet since 1998. That's pretty ancient in internet terms. I started as a moderator and just last year stepped into the administration role which is to say that I've been around since poetry on the net was just a fledgling enterprise. I've been fortunate enough to watch it grow and mature over the years into the force it is today.

    I would be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding Wild and/or poetry writing forums in general as you research your article. You may reach me by writing You can investigate Wild itself at to see for yourself how our community works.

    BTW -- I'm originally from Wilmington, DE and spent a good many years reading the Philadelphia Enquirer. Glad to see you guys are still in business. *smile*


  8. Hi Frank.

    I'm nobody.

    I read an NEA study about 2 years ago that concluded with the alarming prediction that the readership of poetry and "other literature" continues to decline. The same study reports that home internet use continues to rise, but made no speculation as to internet readership of poetry. I suspect it's growing dramatically.

    Print poetry tends to be an "in crowd" sort of thing. The internet has blown this wide open.

    The in-crowd is much larger, and it includes everyone. It's instant, supportive, and appreciative. There are niches where aspiring poets of any level can fit right in. Poetry e-zines exist for practically any taste and level of sophistication.

    Without the internet, many of those aspiring poets would have been discouraged.

    While print venues generally downplay the legitimacy of online literature, it's clearly the area of most hope for reviving the craft.

  9. Carl made a good point:

    Print poetry tends to be an "in crowd" sort of thing. The internet has blown this wide open. The in-crowd is much larger, and it includes everyone. It's instant, supportive, and appreciative. There are niches where aspiring poets of any level can fit right in.

    Tht, I would argue, has done a great deal to make online poetry a popular -- perhaps even a pop -- venture. It's a participant sport these days, not an audience sport.

    Online poetry criticism has been much slower to develop as a result, but is coming along too. I belong to a 660+-member Women in Poetry listserv started by print poet Annie Finch. One of the listserv's purposes is to provide dialogue, which often becomes critical analysis at a pretty high level. We also have a weekly Gazette wherein members can list recent publications, readings, and other poetry-related news. Increasingly, I see no distinction made between online publications and print publications in that news. A majority of the members, I would guess from the discourse, are teachers of poetry at the college level. So a cross-breeding of print and online poetry happens right before my eyes, every day in my mailbox. It's fascinating to watch the walls coming down.

    Hope this is helpful! Can't wait to see where you take this.

    Rachel Dacus

  10. Anonymous1:37 AM

    Hi, Frank,

    I guess I'm going to sound like a stick-in-the-mud here, but while I share everyone's enthusiasm and, believe it or not, Carl Bryant's optimism about the future, I think the current reality for readers is not nearly so bright. Critical (including friendly, serious, egoless, quasi-critical and peer-evaluation venues) and vanity sites for poets are certainly booming. How has it been for readers, though?

    If we compare the hit counts of the critical and vanity sites to hit counts on those webzines that sport them (and the fact that many don't is telling) we will see that there are more people writing poetry than reading it. This is especially remarkable if we bear in mind that the number of people reading poetry on webzines includes many of those writing poetry.

    number of poets who read poetry + number of non-poets who read poetry < number of poets

    Until such time as one or two webzines become known to the public for publishing exclusively good poetry (i.e. what "Google" is to search engines) new readers will continue to be lost to the endless piles of doggerel and prose-with-linebreaks that occupy the vast majority of venues. We have to ask ourselves: if our first exposure to poetry was on a series of randomly chosen webzines would we have continued to read it?

    There is an interesting discussion on this subject at

    The infancy of the internet is particularly obvious in the field of poetry. Speaking for myself, I am as optimistic about its longterm future as I am pessimistic about it in the short term.

  11. Anonymous1:42 AM


    I have no credentials in poetry, don't host or moderate or edit or direct or whatever a poetry site, a journal, or whatever, although I have published zines from time to time. I'm not an academic, as most "professional" poets are anymore. I'm a musician and artist first, and a poet third. Nonetheless, I keep getting published and winning the odd award. Go figure.

    There are multiple sides to this situation, some of which have already been mentioned, both postiive and negative. I think it's worth underlining that the anonymity of the internet frequently certain people to cut their dark sides loose, and so they say and do things they'd never do in face-to-face life. I have seen such trolls kill poetry boards, more than once. I have also seen plenty of poetry boards that are insular, egotistical, run by clannish cliques, wherein the chief spectator sport amongst the locals is humiliating newbies who wander in, innocent. Frequently such humiliation is maksed as critique, but it is designed to devastate rather than develop new writers. I think it's inexcusable—and also far more common than the more reputable boards would like to admit. On the flip side, I have also been part of boards where things ran very smoothly, a lot of great writing appeared, and critique was honest without being vicious, precise in its criticisms without being a personal attack. Such things are possible. I've also seen "moral support" boards where basically it's all about supporting the writer, not at all about improving the quality of the writing.

    What makes a good board work, or a bad board into an unfriendly place? Frankly, the tone is entirely set by the participant site-owners and moderators. The tone, for good or ill, depends entirely on the people involved—NOT on the quality of the writing involved. If a board grows into a community of friends, who have some familiarity with each other's work and concerns and topics, the critique tends to get better. If this sounds like an analog to a face-to-face regular group that has some duration, it's intended to, because I have encountered no better situation, as a writer. I have been lucky to have been part of a long-term monthly poetry crit group who met in realspace for several years; during that period I radically improved as a writer, and got and gave a lot of good criticism. Frankly, the only poetry boards online that I have found useful at all, are those that follow that realspace model; it's even better when you get to know some people who are well-read and eager to write as one it oneself. But I have yet to find a poetry BETTER than that realspace group; I have been part of two, in my experience, that approached it. But they go through phases of troll attacks, and become less hospitable after awhile. Sometimes the internet makes things TOO easy for the trolls to get at you, and your work. As great a thing as the internet is, like everything else good, it casts a shadow, and has a dark side.


  12. Anonymous6:45 AM

    Carl is more than a nobody and has a really large head in RealLife

    He says:
    Without the internet, many of those aspiring poets would have been discouraged.

    Then Anon (and I think I still know you from how/what you write)
    says that hit counts tell us there are less readers of poetry than writers...Hmm.. the idea that some of those "non-poets" may be clicking directly into the sites (critical or vanity) seems to have been conveniently unremarked on.

    Statistics and precentage points prove nothing. (See: George Bush)

    All we need to know is that Internet poetry readership is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. Go to any of Rus' boards and read the comments left behind during your research. You'll find some folks with a "Hallmark mentality" but I think you will also discover a lot more sophistication than some have been giving us credit for.


  13. Anonymous7:46 AM

    I find myself sharing many of Art Durkee's reservations. I am a by profession a research scientist, but I have poems published in ~17 anthologies published in the UK and Australia. In sience I am working in several highly specialised and esoteric subject areas, many concerned with space sciences. All the people I work with are pretty exceptionally endowed in terms of intelligence and educational attainments and poetry and literature are recreational activities which release strains and tensions of mostly very demanding life schedules. Prior to the internet many of such people could not participate in live-group activities which occur at specific times and places which seldom fitted in with the work and meetings schedules of principal project scientist. Only very occasionally have I been able to join with and English Department group at at the four university colleges with which I am/have been connected. These ocassions, where I have had the benefit of the comments and advice of professional poets have been the most rewarding and beneficial discussions and analysis of my own tentative excursions into poetry.

    My experiences on the web have never been anything like as rewarding - they have been curates egg stuff good and bad in unequal parts - the bad measurably out pacing the good. As Art rightly says "the anonymity of the internet frequently leads certain people to cut their dark sides loose, and so they say and do things they'd never do in face-to-face life." To this we have to add that those of poor education and intelligence are normally inhibited by the presence of more able members in a live group - that inhibition is removed on the internet where the individual can neither see or be seen. The very democracy of the net means that there is little or no segregation between contributors of widely different abilities and this calls for exceptional skill on the part of those monitoring and admistrating web groups. It is necessary to avoid bias and favouritism if the site is to run in a marginally more than just satisfactorily way. One of the problems is that on many sites only a handful of participants offer, are able to offer a proper impersonal level of constructive criticism. Even where the critiques are offered by sane and sensible people the small number of individuals involved with the necessary competence tends to drive the contributions and contributors to a form of site conformity - essentially narrowing and dumbing down the range of expression. On at least one site I have explored is more concerned with the psycho-emotional state of the poet - assuming that every poem must come from the personal experience of the poetand he/she can only write in a state of complete self adsorbtion - each critque invariably ending with the words 'thanks for sharing'. There are a lot of relatively immature, poorly educated people writing on the net - not that this in itself a bad thing, the problem is whether the internet can help improve, indeed educate, them to a higher standard and in at least the same proportion a live group can do? I share the hope that this will prove to be so, but six years plus of participating in a number of groups has yet to convince me this is happening. Indeed I endorse Art's comments on the appearance of 'trolls' almost cyclically - rather like spots on the Sun. But it would not be right for me just to draw attention to the downside features, the upside is that you can get a far wider and more extensive reaction and feed back telling you how understandable your work is and whether you are reaching the level of your target audience a you should - and even if you are a play-time hack poet not a deeply committed devotee to a rather restricted form of art, it can be of interest and value. In the longer term internet boredom will strike and the surviving sites will probably reach and maintain much higher standards of behaviour and poetry. Only then will it be possible to access what the effect of opening up literature to the masses will have been.

    Rick Storey

  14. Boy, if I'm ever asked about inspiration, I'll tell how I was inspired one Sunday to post on my blog a request about poetry online. Obviously, I have my work cut out for me - and I took off this week!
    But that's OK. I can spend this off-week following up on all the leads and maybe put together a column that will at least serve as an introduction to the subject. Expect emails.

  15. Balance said

    Frankly, the only poetry boards online that I have found useful at all, are those that follow that realspace model; it's even better when you get to know some people who are well-read and eager to write as one it oneself. But I have yet to find a poetry BETTER than that realspace group; I have been part of two, in my experience, that approached it.

    I disagree with balance for two reasons. Forums or workshos are not meant to be publishing. By and large they are less polished by nature.

    The e-magazines are something else again and they do publish works that match and exceed anything on paper. Granted that they follow Sturgeon's Law, but the there are between 25 and 50 that are as good as the Iowa Review, Threepenny, BAP, Pushcart or any other the reader can name.

    I sent you a partial list by mail, but would like to add one more to that group: Jacket, which I would put in the top 5.

    Thanks much for taking this article on.

    Gary Blankenship

  16. In my case, I would not have developed as the poet that I am had it not been for the Internet and this guy named Arro who constantly told me to read read read poetry. He told me to buy books, listen to audio poetry. He taught me to know what it is to write poetry. This was almost ten years ago, when AOL wasn't even a 1, and there was this great site ran by a guy named Dave, called The Amazing Writers (keyword NOVEL). Which is defunct now and I'm sure because of this Dave-dude's ego.
    Sometimes I imagined Arro to be this green-skinned, pointed tooth-type monster with long fingernails pointed to each of the wrong words/cliches/ and bad rhymed areas in my poetry. I imagined he had nothing better to do than to wait for my next post so he could rip it apart, I suppose, he was my troll. God love him.
    I rarely leave my house and hardly ever communicate poetry anywhere but the Internet. I buy books, subscribe to several e-zines and get my "fix" on online poetry boards. I am able to post a question without raising my hand further than a keyboard. This works for me.
    When writing on a subject one can lookup any reference with one hand and no more than two clicks. There are endless uses for a writer on the Internet. There are endless sites for a reader too. I am a poet who reads, and am able to read some wonderful poetry online. I have discovered many poets who are not on a poetry shelf yet, but they could be. Heck, for an excellent example, go to Wicked Alice (grin) and read the poetry there.
    That "After Black Forest Cake..." poem is a direct example of what a "troll" can do for an online poet, if a poet is willing to listen to the reader.

    Best regards,
    K.< a poet who reads

  17. Anonymous12:31 PM

    hi again--i'm posting this for a friend who had trouble getting his computer to post a comment.


    I couldn;'t get the blog poeter to work. Here's what I would have

    I have been participating in literary sites predating the time that
    the Wide World Web opened the Internet to the hoi polloi such as me. I
    have participated in various literary sites, usually as a prose
    writer, but have as a result of verious poetry sites I have
    rediscovered my poetic voice. This that has led to one major poetry
    award and several publications. I have found the interaction with
    other poets and wannabe poets wonderful. I have been more fascinated
    with the urge and drive to write poetry than I have been with the
    overall quality of the poetry produced. I find just like everything
    else in this world, the gift of poetry is rare. However, most poets,
    unlike proported athletes have a humility about them. An amazing
    number are extremely bashful about having their work read online.
    There is a glare of feedback that is sometimes brutal. Those are the
    flamers, and they can be cruel. The bashers are also very insecure
    people, and cowards when properly confronted.

    But the point remains tht poetry is an impusive outlet,even in those
    who don't think it is is a forum for freudian concupiscence. It is
    addictive. There is something about arranging words in a sing-song
    fashion like listening to a mother's heartbeat that is deeper than
    mere literacy. And there are very very few literacy-challenged people
    in the poetry forums. Even the goshawful worst poets for the most part
    have a love affair with the written word. I did encounter one poetic
    dreamer who claimed he didn't read. His alleged poetry proved him
    right. What is interesting about most is that they don't have much
    truck and traffic with more than a handful of modern poets, and by
    modern, I mean those after Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti. There is a
    shared sense of loss in the English language poetic voice; these
    forums seem to ache for the day when poets like Edna St. Vincent
    Millay could fill a hall for their readings.

  18. Anonymous1:17 PM

    For me there are three main aspects which I find of interest regarding online, interactive, poetry forums: self-expression, honing skills and socializing. Self-expression and socializing have played a big part, with poetry being the springboard for self-expression, and human nature being the driving force for socializing. It doesn’t always make for good poetry, or conversation, but then not everyone who desires to write poetry has the skill or imagination to become a good poet, and not everyone is charismatic or superior conversationalists; however, honing skills has usually, from what I have seen, improved even the least talented.

    To say that online poetry forums have erupted in a great, renewed interest in poetry is probable misleading. I think it is merely a perfect format for the growing need we have seen since the sixties for self-expression in a busy, noisy, and sometimes callous world. Most poetry I see written is based on snippets of personal experience written in plain language, sprinkled with images, stretching for a sublime moment that gives greater meaning to experience. It seems, for the most part, that poetry, per se, is less important than the self-expression and being heard and understood by another. I don’t get the sense that many who write at poetry boards actually read or study much poetry, modern or otherwise. There is definitely a lack of interesting subjects, interesting language, originality and imagination.

    There are some who have talent and they hone their skills through workshop critique and self-awareness gained through that feedback. I would say 10% or so are skilled and talented enough to make great strides in this type format. This is the practical side, and, to me, the most interesting aspect. I have read poems online which are very good and certainly worthy of publication. One of the joys of online poetry forums is finding the occasional pearl of a poem when least expected, usually after reading 10 poems about mean mommies, broken hearts or how life in general is just not fair. It always amazes me, and gives me hope, when I read a poem that has transcended the normalizing effect of groups and become something different.

    The socializing aspect is the most troubling for many people because the human element is potentially volatile when so many personalities from so many different places, with so many different cultural and political ideas, come together in a format that allows interaction. I am all for pluralism and fall on the side of allowing disagreement and a certain amount of chaos. However, many people have a low tolerance for difference, or conflict, and so many groups pull together around commonalities and shun the maverick or the politically incorrect. To me, the socializing aspect is still in turmoil and is a constant point of discussion – trying to work out how to live together in a diverse world – go figure.

  19. Anonymous1:51 PM


    i would suggest you write some poetry or grab up some you have left over somewhere and spend time on the boards. Post and reply; get a feel for the flux. You could consider finding several contrasting poets and profile them. Some of the best work out there is, and may ever go un published. The writer seeks merely release, validation. On the harsher side, try the 'the Gazebo' where you may take some hits - there are critical pidgeons roosting in the eaves. decorum is an illusion. Naturally i would send you also to the Moontowncafe, whose well-cultivated atmoshere will keep you reading for hours. My overall suggestion to you is: go see!

    Good luck with your book endeavor, may you rock in a timeless fashion.


  20. Thanks, Duchess, for the invite, but I think we'd best keep me out of it in that sense. First, I was a judge of an online poetry competition recently. And most of the little poetry I manage to write these days gets the old-fashioned print treatment. But your suggestions and comments - everybody's in fact - have set me up for an interesting week of good old-fashioned reporting.

  21. Anonymous2:50 PM


    Thank you for starting this and for the good reading below your request.

    I share admin/ownership with MJM at Wild poetry forum and have sampled 6-8 other forums as well. Others who have posted here have even more widely travelled the web and its forums.

    One place you should look at is it is the home of a poetry competition, a good source of links to online publications, and publisher as well. that site also has a 'workshop' area.

    a few observations i have that you may or may not be able to confirm.

    one. web poetry has an ongoing stigma that the quality is less than poetry in print. this includes online publications. So much so, that Pushcart has yet (as far as i know) given an award to a poem published in an ezine. and in fact it was several years before pushcart would even allow internet publications to even submit their nominations.

    On line workshops currently are better for beginning and emerging writers because the feedback at that skill level is very available and widespread. as people grow as poets and learn skills, many reverse roles and give back to newer writers. the gap in the system is for published, highly skilled writers to get meaningful feedback.

    Whether in an online workshop or real space, there is a problem with 'judging' poetry as an art form. many comments are more about style than structure. Thus, many workshops have participants that soon begin to sound like each other. it is only natural because people will respond to positive feedback. but when sampling many different forums and real life, you get feedback from many people representing many styles. This gives the poet a chance to sift a little bit.

    Lastly, i did see a mention of 'vanity' boards. I think you should look at '' as an example of the largest vanity board. They are in the business of selling stuff to writers and will say any poem, and i mean any poem, is a great work of art. They look and act legit., but sadly are not. I can only imagine how many people have rushed to print their own books based on feedback from sites such as this, only to wonder later why no one wants to read their efforts.

    ok, so i'm getting far afield, thx for the opportunity.


  22. Anonymous3:27 PM

    I find myself agreeing with several of the comments along the lines of web-based poetry still being stigmatized relative to print-based poetry, whereas the truth is, for every poem published in print there are probably 5 or 10 equally as good published online, or which can be found on one of the forums, but hasn't been and might never be published. There IS a lot of good stuff online—the real problem is, you have to wade through so much crap to get to it. Sturgeon's Law has been mentioned already, and it definitely applies.

    For two decades I worked as a publishing industry insider, both magazine and book, mostly as a graphic artist and typographer. I can testify to the print-media bias still being present and healthy. There are reasons for this, which may or may not be pertinent to your reportage. Some of them have more to do with cultural inertia than inherent quality, I think.

    I refer you to a website that considers itself a watchdog against poetry publishing fraud:

    There is reportage on there about some of the well-known legit-seeming scam sites.

    At least a couple of people have already mentioned the tendency of even good boards to fall into habits, because of the small number of people who can really give good, well-thought-out, well-educated crit. I have also found that to be true. (Again, I was lucky to have that real-space poetry group for those few years; and again, I believe that the personalities involved were the key. Honest crit was always given, both negative and positive.) The tendency of new writers to want to please their more experienced critiquers is definitely part of this trend: it takes a strong personality to fly in face of supportive critique and continue to explore terrain that no one seems to understand. (On the shadow side, it might simply be egotistical cluelessness, too; but I am speaking of those with positive intentions, where I can.) I have stopped submitting my poems to boards, at times, when I realized that I simply could not get useful critique there, because what i was doing was too far away from that particular board's normative style and content. This is, of course, one reason why poets move between boards, or post on more than one. Useful critique, for me, is honest critique that helps me improve the poem, technically and otherwise. Either awe and praise or vitriol and denigration are equally useless, if you are trying to continue to grow as a writer. It is a rare online board that can provide this balance of useful crit in a sane environment.

    The board that I played on for several years that DID provde this for me was the late, lamented Canned Air, provided by Avatar Review. Again, it was the right mix of personalities—not totally fawning, not totally rude, and with the right amount of playfulness—that stimulated growth in more than one poet.

    Lately, I've been seeking something similar at a well-known board that is focused on critique more than socializing, although there is some of the latter: The Critical Poet. I find that even TCP and other generally good boards go through those cycles of being useful versus being cliquish. Perhaps it's human nature, to recycle our personal faults in public, just so.

    I also fully appreciate the fact that I, as a writer, continue to evolve and change and hopefuily grow, and that not every new thing that I try out will either be a success, or even understood. I can say, though, that all these years of critique work, giving and receiving, offline and online, have helped me develop a better radar for my own work, and helped me know when I'm onto something possibly good, even when no-one else seems to think so. In those latter cases, you learn to go off and keep writing, and NOT post it on the poetry boards for critique, but maybe send it one or two trusted readers for feedback, then put if out for publishing, skipping the whole critique process. My basic rule has become, if you aren't sure, have questions, think it might need something but you're not sure what, go ahead and post it on a place like TCP. But if you're pretty sure the poem is "done," it isn't always wise to post it–as that can veer you off in other directions, and actively erode your self-confidence as a writer. The trick is learning to be self-aware enough to recognize when which option is the better one.

    One thing it's important to remember in all of this: you cannot ever possibly get to know everyone, or try out every board, or even get to read all the good poems out there. There are too many, and they are too scattered. You can proceed on the assumption that whichever direction you go, you will run into both massive quantity and occasional quality. Cyberspace (the noosphere, as de Chardin put it) is an infinitely-expanding universe; exploration and discovery is half the fun.

  23. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Hi Frank,
    I started Pen Shells poetry board after being a member at several other boards. I have to say that I wouldn't be writing poetry today if I had not listened to the editors and poets who have helped me with my poetry online. These are the people I look to and hold dear, without them the self confidence I needed to send my work to a publisher would not exist and the opportunity would have passed me by.
    I'm not sure that my comments answer any of the questions you have or add to the discussion you want but I'm open to helping out in any way I can. Thank you!

  24. Anonymous7:29 PM

    As a beginner in writing poetry I would not have come as far as I have without the access the internet provides in both reading and workshoping of poetry. I live in a fairly small town and there are no live workshops available that would fit into my schedule. Or that would provide the constant feed to my passion. I have yet to publish, but I see the possibility in my future, because of the opportunities available to me through the internet.
    I have taken 2 online courses in poetry, am currently enrolled in my 3rd about publication. I am a member of 2 online communities where I can read, write, critique and enjoy inspiring challenges. In "real" life the only people that read my work are family and a few friends, and we all know how biased that can be. I think the internet offers a great opportunity for the future of poetry as a whole.

  25. Literature and the Internet

    You want to begin with Poetry and the Internet. Which Internet? The "poetry and the internet" that preceded the World Wide Web? Before rec.arts.poems, before the great Usenet reorganization, before the FidoNet dialup boards, before the private BBSes devoted to writers such as Joyce?

    Or is your story the Internet that begins later, with Mosaic and the first graphical browsers? The poetry of that part of the internet known as the World Wide Web? How it grew and how big it is today?

    It would help to know what you're trying to accomplish and how far back you want to go. Do you want to tell some history or just catalog the current condition?

    I know a bit of the history of "Poetry and the Internet". And I know how wrong, in the past, news mags have gotten "Poetry and the Internet" just to further their idea of having a story.

    Poetry and the Internet is the story of computer geeks with a love for every flavor of writing you can imagine. The story of avant-garde, purple prose writing software engineers. Poetry and the Internet is a story full of people no one ever heard of making sure their computers were being used for more than weapons design.

    But that's where it came from, not where it's going. And your post didn't indicate what kind of story you want to tell. A comedy? An expose? A guidebook? It would help to know.

    -Beau Blue

  26. Anonymous4:04 AM

    The net is full of so-called 'poetry' sites, that are little more than a space for people to dump their words, or sites where people who should know better simply wait for fresh meat to tear apart for their own pleasure and that have little or nothing to do with improvement.

    Not all sites are there to address this passion for workshopping - some poets don't enjoy that process, and are quite capable of honing their own work or are simply after opinions as feedback to work from. PhaZe2 is an independent kind of site, that is strongly poetry orientated but is also driven by music and art. It came about after my own visits to all different kind of poetry sites and my experiences of them... While we offer no formal 'critique', we do have Open Forums and people more than happy to say what they think and where people are perfectly able to reply as they would. My point here is that we are all people - not just 'poets' - and this site (run by myself and Matrix) is a place to kick back, read great work, chat, mess about, whatever takes your fancy really. The site's I'd been to made me convinced there was a definite niche to be filled, and one doesn't need the confines of a strict workshopping forum to read and be inspired and IMPROVE one's own work in the process.

    The Library, accessed through the main page, is where you will find the writers whose works we are currently promoting - I am building this up with the purpose of it being a valuable resource for both reader and writer alike - a place where you DON'T have to trawl the boards of rubbish just to find one decent piece of poetry!

  27. So many comments, but I only have time to address one: Beau Blue's. I don't know what sort of article I'm going to write, because I'm in the process of reporting it. I know I can't cover the whole field, it's too big, too varied. But I figure I can give readers some idea of the essentials - historical and stylistic - so they have some idea of what they'll find and some idea of where to look.

  28. Hello Frank,

    I'm sure you are overwhelmed with what popped out of this box labeled, Poetry and the Internet. Either subject taken by itself is magnitudimous.

    I would like to address a dynamic that I have experienced as a self proclaimed poet who "does" poetry using the internet.

    I personally believe that there is a culture war ensuing, even as we speak. It is a type of civil war. Philosophies, ethics, aesthetics, physics, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, age, ethnic groups, politics, economics, and the kitchen sink are involved in this culture war of point and counterpoint. Poetics is the "melting pot" bubbling over. Poetics serve as a vent to the tension in today's society. With poetic license, our society emotes and finds a place of catharsis.

    Using the Internet, society finds a voice when society feels like it has no voice. Individuals within the society can yell out into the cavernous public and have hope, that within that feeling of isolation that we are now all experiencing, someone will hear and yell back an empathetic affirmation.

    I might not be educated, astute, degreed or academic but I am. And, in simply being, I have entrance into the warp and woof of the universe, including dialogue with my community in total.

    Thanks for the soap box. I'll release the platform now to whomever would like to exercise one of our still yet, great American freedoms that many have spilt blood to ensure for ALL, their freedom of speach, including their attempt to do poetry.

  29. Sorry for the typos, I hope that whomever reads my comment will be able to see past my human error and appreciate that I was simply trying to communicate something that I hope will be transcendant enough to cut through the various strata of society at large.

  30. "But I figure I can give readers some idea of the essentials - historical and stylistic - so they have some idea of what they'll find and some idea of where to look."

    Since everyone seems to be taking the opportunity to tout their favorite places, let me add my two cents.

    Blue's Cruzio Cafe

    Beau Blue Presents

    You'll need high-speed access.

    A shameless plug, I know. I learned it from Rus, Chris, LJC and others.


  31. Hey Blue, Shamelees is just another name for blogger.

  32. And Hi Steadydrip:
    No need to apologize for typos. I'm one of the world's worst typists and am always going back to correct my posts.
    What you say in your comment is largely true. That is the real revolution of the Internet - that people now can speak out in a way that has some chance of being noticed. It is the gatekeepers and the guildmasters who are made uneasy by this. Good.

  33. I put a blog up a year ago. Made a few posts to it. Then stopped. It's a very restricting format. I have several friends who tell me it's "the future" and the feedback they get is stimulating. Poetry as a ping-pong game. It is surprising to me how many of today's internet poetry participants are excited by this approach. I hope "the future" of internet poetry is broader than just blogging and writers' forums. I hope the bloggers and forum participants will branch out, create performance venues and multi-media Ezines.

    There aren't enough of those yet. And I wonder if that isn't testimony to the power of the entrenched "publishing" industry. The establishment we've been railing against since forever.

    Just a thought.


  34. For me, poetry was poetry was poetry. I think the only real distinction I thought I knew was between classic poetry and free form poetry. That was all I knew. Since discovering "the world of internet poetry" which ultimately does lead to actual physical manifestations of other kinds of poetry, I have learned that there are quadrains, haiku (both traditional Japanese and contemporary/western), tonka's, persona, found poems, sonnets, serentinas(?) and a bunch of other stuff.

    I have found out that there is a dilemma as to the viability and benefit of self publishing, as through something like Lulu, and that what one would think is a credible poetry competition for unpublished types, is, in fact, a big fat scam.

    I have been corrected on grammar and spelling, giving sage advice on adding texture and depth to my writing and learned how to make a chapbook. I have found that the academic route is apoproachable even to someone who is not academic.

    I said all this to say, where else would I have gotten all this wonderful, useful, educational information, for free essentially, if not from the internet.

    However, I do still feel vulnerable on the internet as a novice writer. Especially, regarding copyright and selling 1st print rights when it is still controversial as to what constitutes "in print". I think if you are writing in what is considered a workshop site and there is an evolutionary process of write/critique/revision, then that should not constitute "in print".

  35. If you're interested in talking about this, I am, too, though I see I come to the conversation late and am preceded by several familiar faces. I've been at online publishing, variously, as moderator on a poetry forum, contributor, fire-breathing critic, and editor. I don't know how well I can hold my own in academic terms, but I have a lot of personal experience with it.

    Best contact point is through the mailboxes of my current endeavor, which is soon to celebrate its fourth anniversary of existence. That'd be Triplopia: .

  36. BTW: the note by Steve Williams re: no online publication landing a spot in the Pushcart anthology: it has in fact happened.

    Exciting times. For a real blast, consider that in conjunction with Bill Henderson's forward to the 1997 Pushcart anth. But I think such anthologies are starting to slowly acknowledge some of the changes online poetry has made to our conception of 'publication'.

  37. As a senior citizen who has written poetry all my life for the pure joy of it, I only recently found these on line poetry forums and sites that might just kickstart me into writing something actually publishable. I put something out there and others tell me if it is bunk or worth polishing.

    I am looking forward to reading whatever you finally write about it.

    Ava South

  38. Ava:

    That's the gig. They can slam the poetry being published online--and sometimes, they'd be right to do so--but the real joy of this situation is that the "audience" is getting involved.

    Harold Bloom says poetry is our 'elitist art.' There may be something to that, but it depends on how poetry is defined, and it is everyone's to define. I prefer a more democratic definition: poetry costs nothing to make: you don't even need a pencil, so it's anyone's to pick up. And now, poetry writers can get their words out there where other people can read them. I'm still not convinced that the 'glut' those more critical voices spend many pixels complaining about is any different than it has ever been, or that the cream will not float to the top. I think it will, and I don't think it hurts poetry at all when people who will never be the next Robert Frost nevertheless take up the pen (or the keyboard) and try to frame their own thoughts using the forms poetry offers. On the contrary: anyone who tries their hand at it soon comes to a better appreciation of the effort behind a well-turned poem. That's a good thing, for all involved. And no matter how many times your work gets knocked back, the submission/rejection cycle is itself a valid part of the revision cycle.

    I think many of the concerns being voiced are less about the state of the art/discipline, and more about being confronted by a channel of communication that does not allow one to easily pull a profit from it. Personally, it absolutely warms this cranky young fart's heart to know that whatever else can be said for those forums, they provide an outlet for people who might have abandoned the effort altogether in the forums' absence.

    We're all feeding that tradition, and being fed by it. For most of us, that doesn't translate literally into bread on the table, but the sustenance it provides is every bit as important.