27 July 2007

The marketplace of ideas

...or is poetry dead?

I think becoming involved in online writing communities has reminded me why I write. It's about communication and dialogue. I like becoming engaged in conversation with people who can articulate their ideas intelligently.

Perhaps that's part of why I largely abandoned poetry after graduate school. When you're pursuing a craft where most of your feedback consists of rejection slips, it's hard to remain engaged. I may have disengaged a little too easily, as I confess I didn't spend much time submitting work after grad school. Perhaps I'm a little too much about instant gratification for poetry. Or perhaps I got tired of reading published poets whose primary goal seemed to be obscuring their meaning.

That doesn't mean I think poetry should be easy, or that mine necessarily is. But it should communicate.

Lately I've been fortunate enough to stumble upon a number of writers doing just that on thisisby.us, and there are even some poets among them. Perhaps the craft isn't dead after all.

15 July 2007

A New Addiction

The boyfriend has gotten me hooked. I confess. He found me techno-crack.

I've been doing more writing lately and publishing online, mostly on a site called Associated Content. Most of the articles there are very consumer-oriented, a lot of how-to articles and product reviews. I've only spent a little bit of time looking at the other work on the site, mostly as research.

This week he showed me thisisby.us. It's an unmoderated site, and any potential payment is driven by page views and ratings. On the one hand, the monetary payoff seems likely to be considerably delayed, but the writers on the site are active readers of its content, so the audience response supplies immediate gratification.

What's more, some of the postings are quite good. There are rough spots here and there in what's otherwise interesting work. Admittedly, some of it is a bit self-indulgent, but so far it's very nice to see that in a self-regulated system, the cream really does rise. I have seen other similar sites, but so far this is the most interesting. The commercial print world has consolidated to a point that it's difficult for beginning writers to get their work into the public eye, and it's been argued that the Internet will provide a remedy. Until now I haven't seen places where that's happening in a way that showcases much new talent worth seeing, and I'm interested in watching it develop.

14 July 2007

The Big Move

After over five years of running an academic department in Arizona, and eight years of living in the desert, I'm returning to the land of trees, foothills, and rivers. In a little over a month we'll be making the trek back to South Carolina, where I'll be teaching English. Just teaching English. Not being held responsible for every oversight, every midterm or attendance not posted, every instructor 10 minutes late to class.

I'm sure I'll miss the adrenaline charge of juggling 13 things at once, but I'm looking forward to a respite. In the meantime, there are a million things to be done--figuring out how to move several hundred books, two dogs and a cat 2000 miles, for starters--while still keeping up with the job that was never meant for one person.

August isn't the best time to leave the Valley of the Sun, so there will surely be challenges and entertaining things to write about along the way. I'll keep y'all posted.