But if it's at all true that the proliferation of poetry blogs changes their social function or dynamic, then where is poetry BLOG going, and might its social energy be re-articulated towards supporting or creating an alternate retail-distribution model or marketing arm for poetry publications, I mean the kind printed on paper? Is that even desirable?I've been meaning to respond to this post for days, because it gets at a lot of the anxieties I've been having about blogging of late--well, not so much anxieties as a sense of disorientation, ungroundedness.
It's funny that in some ways, poetry blogs are starting to become more like what some naysayers wanted them to be at the outset: more like forums for discussion and debate--more formal and critical--and less local, daily, diaristic. Or perhaps it's that my blog seems like it's going that way. There's no question that there's been an explosion of discussion: just look at the spikes in posts in anybody's comment box. Enough so that flamers are actually bothering to take their venom there. (Was there no room left at the Poetics list?)
The odd thing about the appearance of flamers is that they're usually a sign of a forum crossing a certain threshhold of publicness and impersonality. If you're going to tell someone you know that he's an idiot you'll probably do it privately. People usually only feel safe enough to engage in public nastiness when there are no personal consequences; once the blogger becomes a "public figure" he/she is fair game.
And hence the increasing difficulty of coming to terms with what Stephanie's calling all-caps BLOG: the whole universe of poetry conversation going on out there. Even a year ago it seemed like it was possible; now I'm more and more aware of the concentric circles of blogs that I read, and how there are always more beyond that. This is, perhaps, why it's starting to look more like debate: what I think of as the original group of poetry bloggers I read seemed, as if by coincidence (though of course it wasn't), to share some kind of baseline aesthetic. I would venture to say that that's no longer the case; a more explicit discussion of aesthetics has become necessarily precisely because the poetry blogosphere is growing, and getting less homogeneous as it does.
I don't know what this says about the future of poetry blogging. I'd like to think, as Stephanie suggests, that it can continue to remain a form with its own integrity, a true alternative to the poem-on-the-page-surrounded-by-white-space of print publication (or the justified margins and neat columns of print criticism). But I wonder if it will increasingly become an adjunct of print culture, a mere pointer to the "real" work that is going on elsewhere.