Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Birth of a Blog

a: You know, I have been thinking (of course, I with my exhibitionistic bent would) that we should start a blog where we can post our correspondence. I have to admit (and I don't think it comes as a surprise, being familiar with "Dear Theo,") that I am just fascinated with blogs as model of colliding the private and public domains. In a way, it is people's diaries made public; in another, they are so numerous that in their multitude they almost guarantee anonymity... And that blog could be the beginning of a new defining movement in poetry... LOL! Dream on, huh?

k: i'll write a proper response later, but i just wanted to tell you that the idea of turning this exchange into a blog had crossed my mind a day or two ago but i let it pass. knowing that you'd be interested in it i'll give it some serious thought, though it may be something we save for the new year.

a: Katy, I'm just running out the door, so I'll write you properly some time this weekend, hopefully. I have quickly read through your e-mails (so I'll have to re-read them), and I just wanted to let you know that I am serious about the blog, and I am glad you are too! This should be fun.

k: i look forward to more from you, and i'm contemplating on a blog and all the ramifications like picking out a background (i'm so picky!) and a title and which of our emails ought to present itself as the first entry or rather we should write something like an introduction or should the intro to poemtree present itself first... or your question to me about publication or what? i'll chew on any ideas you pass onto me.

k: (later) i've been thinking about your blog idea. i'm not sure you were completely serious, but i think that in saying it you meant enough to really want to do it, or at least get me thinking about doing it. so let's do it. i actually thought of a potential title for it as well...
sounds like semantics, which is what these emails and conversations have been about (mainly) and it does that cool full stop thing like in your name and pseudonym.
what do you think?

a: You can be as picky about the details of it (including design) as you wish. I am quite particular myself, but after being opinionated and picky for a living, I am fine with relegating the responsibility (to a certain extent!). I guess, one thing that design has taught me is how truly subjective it is. So, want to take the lead? (And this is no sacrifice on my part, as I am quite passive to begin with and enjoy the ride...). As for the name, as much as I like the idea, I was thinking of something perhaps simpler, less antics if you will, and something more neutral for the both of us, or whoever joins this blog. Perhaps a simple question? I was thinking something along the lines of the title Billy Collins' new book, "The Trouble with Poetry". I know it is so simple it's almost naive in its ambition, but I think our exchange--perhaps due to its informality--did not shy away from the big themes and questions of poetry (and semantics), nor was paralyzed by the possibility of half-ass tackling any subject (which when it comes to the biggies, is perhaps the only way to tackle them). And I think starting with the introduction to PoemTree is a good idea; it's a good solid more formal base to the discussion. And then it can start with whichever e-mail started this rolling. I am thinking, that as in blog format (and that's the way I did it on "Dear Theo,") the posts would be reverse-chronological (most recent first). It might make the argument more difficult to follow initially, but it will allow it to go on and mutate as it flows.

k: blog title: the trouble with poetry... or the trouble with poets? you've seen how lost i can get just trying to name a poem, never mind an entire blog (or for heaven's sake a collection... i probably deliberated on calling my first collection PoemTree longer than i will on naming my first child!)
blog format: yes. just like dear theo.
we should, when i get back and manage to catch each other on yahoo messenger, play around with schemes and things. it'll be fun. and as far as me taking the lead, i'd rather we try to pull it off together, collaborate. i am picky but i'm also reasonable (i hope!).

(After trying to find out what poetry-related words are still available on Blogger, I landed on Poetship and registered it before it were snatched!)

k: yes. po'et'ship is very nice, very... it fits. and the definition is spot on too. well done and thank you for taking it into your own hands, taking that leap forward. i've written the first post (it includes, as you will see, the introduction from my collection as well as a pic of the lettered part of that egreeting you sent me. i have left it as a draft, not yet published, so that you can look over it and make any changes or suggestions before it goes up. and how are we going to post all the discussion we've already had? should we post everything? all those exchanges about Flake and what not? we could post the yahoo discussion too if you wanted, but i'm really not sure how far you want to take it. i'd be happy enough to just post the longer emails. and should we each post the emails in turn or blob a few together at a time?

a: I am so glad you like the name! I like it quite a lot, too. I had no idea what to call it at first. I wanted a one-word that can make the web address easier, and it seemed that all variations on poetry and its roots and its foreign equivalents were taken (now there's a topic, the over abundance of amateur poetry and the lack of readership!). And then, I was doing my dictionary combing, and I found this word. I didn't know it existed, but I liked it; it reminded me of "friendship" except for poetry. And yet it had a slightly different meaning. (And by the way, if you mind those dictionary antics of mine, please let me know; I am certain I can live without the apostrophes!)
Now, you raise some good questions about what to include. I think we should certainly employ some editing. (It's not privacy I am concerned about as much as readership; what may seem cute on a personal level may come across as just pure schmaltz to others.) So I think we can edit out the Flake bit, and any other personal references that we don't really relate to the subject matter. (Not that I don't think a lot of poetry is heavily autobiographical...) Now, the question is, do you think each should edit her and his own entries, or should I edit yours and vice versa? In any case, I think each of us should post her/his own entries; I think it makes it easier to follow who's saying what (from the signatures). (That is not to say, however, that we can't condense some of the shorter e-mails to a longer one, or omit some of them altogether.) And I think the chat had some good stuff in it, if you know how to retrieve it (again, I think we can omit my discovering-Yahoo!-messenger antics!)
Another important question I think is what sites should we link to? (I think that can be one of the most valuable aspect of a page, its links.) I think we definitely should include the Wikipedia entry for Poetry (it has some good links). One more controversial website (not included in their links) that I think we should link to is Foetry. By the way, I never asked you, what do you think of it? I will e-mail you an interesting article from the Boston Globe about it that has this disconcerting statement: "There seem to be more people willing to pay for a chance to have their own book published than there are people willing to buy a book of poetry by someone else." I won't go more into the poetry bit, I think we are in accord essentially; I think we are just expressing it differently (not that I am discounting the importance of language), and with different emphases. I would like to read what you think about the whole "industry" of poetry. (I think it is ok, if not helpful, for the argument to go back and forth between the "art" of poetry and its "industry"; in fact, I belief that will revealing and valuable at some point.)

k: the wikoidiopedia thingy link is fine. there are plenty of terms that are useful to non-poets and stuff. i don't really like wikeop...whatever, simply because anyone can write anything without signing up, and there's rarely someone that checks content. that would be alright, just a database, but their reputation is one of authority, of which i feel it has very little or non. so i'm weary about it, i was weary about the link, but i read through the entire entry and found it satisfactory. and like i said, there are lots of bits and pieces that people may find useful. as for the rest of the links... i'll just post that email i sent to you with those three or four links in it soon, then if you want to add the links from there feel free. maybe we can do a recommended list from amazon like you have on your blog with a few recommended reads. other possible links i guess would be... http://www.litkicks.com/ (which i really ought to start reading myself) http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html (because i think we both appreciate books for what they are, and the capability of technology) and maybe the blogging poets site. i don't know if i really want to be associated with the foetry page though, it will be useful within the context of the blog itself.

a: I don't mean to be a touter of new digital media (though I think I am an early adopter), but there's a study published in the journal Nature recently that concludes that "Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries" (and I don't think it's a stretch to extend the findings beyond science entries.) There are actually several pages on Wikipedia arguing its resilience as a concept of collective knowledge that I think are quite convincing. If you really have a lot of time to kill, or you really want to read more about the whole concept of Wiki, Wired had a great article about it several months ago. To make things short, I think the concept of Wiki relies on the belief of the essentially good nature of humans and it seems to have proven, much to my surprise, that by and large, we are not essential evil in nature. (Selfish and stupid and... are all another matter.)
The other links you suggested I think we should definitely include. I'll try to do that today if I have the chance.

k: good morning ashraf,
this link actually includes everything from the wikopedilioaioda entry

a: Great! I just edited the link.

k: this "Wales also plans to introduce a 'stable' version of each entry. Once an article reaches a specific quality threshold it will be tagged as stable. Further edits will be made to a separate 'live' version that would replace the stable version when deemed to be a significant improvement. One method for determining that threshold, where users rate article quality, will be trialed early next year." makes me feel much better about wiki (i'll just call it that from now on instead of making up it's name over and over).

a: As for the blog, I was wondering if you could forward me a copy of that e-card image so I can post it as a (lame) reply to your intro (rather than at the end, in order to establish--and hopefully maintain--a reply rhythm). Because I was planning to post up something yesterday and I realized that next comes your big e-mail... So, your turn! (Told you me lazy!)

....time passes...

a: I like what you did with your latest post on the blog; makes it easier to follow. Maybe we should just do it like that, instead of having whole emails and then repeating portions of them. What do you think?

k: i'm not entirely sure what you mean about posting our correspondence like the way i posted that last one. i posted it like that because i'd written the email like that (sort of lazy for me, really). do you mean we should edit bits down and have like dialogues on the blog? like all this stuff about rohrer going up in one post? explain more to me so i get a better picture of what you mean.

a: It does feel that our e-mails have been chopped, "like a list just hitting all the points." But I guess that's just the case with correspondence. That's why I'll take the liberty to skip some things (as we inevitably do), and you can feel free to do the same. And yes, I guess that is what I was trying to say about the posts. That instead of being completely faithful to the e-mail correspondence format, maybe we can piece them together, if not by topic, then as a conversation. I know it's more work, and then it gets difficult when certain topics bridge several conversations... Just a thought (not all thoughts are great).

k: (on a draft post, basically the above) is this what you meant? i don't even know if i have everything here, or if it's really that interesting to read... i just picked a topic that seemed to come up a bit... also, i haven't fixed any of the links, so no matter, this isn't read to go up. there are obviously other topics that this would work for such as foetry, silliman's stuff probably, and the whole dialogue on frank o'hara...

a: Katy, thanks for taking the time to do this. Yes, this is kinda what I was thinking of. This could work. I mean, it could be a good thing to group things by topic, but we probably have to do a bit more editing to make it read smoothly (like removing phrases such as "regarding the blog" from the beginning, since it would be obvious from the formatting; I took a prelim stab below). However, I realize after reading this that it probably would be easier if we just kept it to the emails-back-and-forth format, even if it's several smaller ones in one post like you did earlier. It just hit me how much we've been writing, and how catching up to do with the posting! (Which makes me think we should feel freer to cut things out to keep it focused.) What do you think?

k: i haven’t read all your edits yet, but, well, we could at least post this then move on to posting the rest like we had been. i personally feel that once we do catch up on all the old emails that it’ll be too difficult to write posts like this one, and we’ll always be a bit behind. so you can post this if you want. minus the secret message, or leave it? your call okay?

No comments: