Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Oops. When I said that Nick's blogroll was "no longer his own," I did not mean to imply that the EPC had somehow seized editorial control of his links list--just that Nick's own blogroll was now appearing on the EPC--though I can totally see how what I said could be interpreted as meaning the former.

In fact, as Nick explains, the only change Nick made in the blogroll to post it up at the EPC was to alphabetize it; otherwise it is his and his alone.

My cryptic comment might also have been taken to mean that I think putting a blogroll up at the EPC is a bad idea, which I don't. I've always found the EPC to be an absolutely crucial resource, a kind of home base for many poets I'm interested in (and sometimes the only place on the web you'll ever find anything about a lot of them), and I think that poetry bloggers and readers have many points of connection--if not overlap--with the readers and writers served by the EPC. It makes sense to me that EPC users, many of whom may not be regular blog readers, ought to have some kind of gateway into the blogging poetry conversation that's going on.

It also seems to me that Nick is the perfect person to ask to do such a thing. He's been blogging as long as any of us; he has ties to a large community of writers, including bloggers and those associated with the EPC; and he's never allowed himself to get dragged into some of the squabbling that goes on among some of us at times. Most importantly, though, he's been a great supporter of other bloggers and an enthusiastic and comprehensive linker--generous and fair in this regard, more so than almost anyone. Putting together this list for the EPC just seems like an extension of what he's often done on his blog, which is highlight blogs, old and new, that he really enjoys and trying to help get them the audience they deserve.

That said...My comment may have betrayed some ambivalence about the idea of having an "EPC Blog List" at all, in part precisely because of the central role the EPC does play as an on-line poetry gateway. The EPC has a centrality and officialness, and I wonder if the EPC list will come to be seen as "definitive" by people, not so much by bloggers themselves but by non-bloggers who are just coming to the thing.

Part of this is just an inevitable effect of making any catalog or list. I always think, in this respect, of Ron Silliman's introduction to In the American Tree, where Silliman writes that "there are literally dozens of other poets and writers whose work has both influence and been influenced by the debate reflected in these pages" and that "a volume of absolutely comparable worth" could be constructed from their work--and then goes on to list eighty other writers who were not included. (This in an unusually generously proportioned anthology that already fills over 600 pages and includes some forty writers.) Yet ultimately a choice had to be made, leaving some in and some out for reasons that might in retrospect (or even at the time) seem pretty arbitrary.

The blogroll, at least, doesn't have this restriction, in that it can be infinitely expanded. And I do think that having one person's blogroll, formed by personal preference and experience, make up "the list" is far preferable to having the EPC folks officially arbitrate who's in and out; Nick's list is, I'd like to think, much more a report from the field than a carefully vetted table of contents, and will, I imagine, continue to grow.

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