At this point, I'm trying to take in each day's developments and gather my thoughts. I agreethat the way women are represented in my article points up many vital problems in the politics of poetry, the blogosphere, and the world in general. I could have written it differently to avoid this criticism, but I didn’t, both because of oversight and for considered reasons. Of course I had to leave people out, though I in no way wanted my exclusions to be representative of the blogosphere as a whole--of course it's inevitable that they will be, and I'm learning my lesson about that now.
I was trying to offer the best representation of the blogging scene I could given my limitations—some of which are personal (my knowledge, perspective, biases, preferences) and some of which are imposed from outside (word count, etc.)--and I had criteria for choosing who and what to write about--one of which was certainly the prominence of a particular blog or web (as I understood it), and another of which was figuring out how to tell the story so it could be understood by the audience I felt I was writing for. This wasn't the conversation I thought the piece would spark, but it's important that it did—the issue and feelings that provoked this response were out there, and if my article brought them to the fore, I’m glad the blogosphere provides a place for those thoughts to be heard. I certainly expected to be criticized.
My frustration now is that the discussion, at least as represented by some of the comments on my last post, has begun to devolve into defensive sparring, which overshadows the other issues that the piece might raise. That said, I'm also very glad and inspired by the fact that--as Danielle points out in the comments to the last post--my blog, or any blog, can harbor the discussion that's going on right now. What better forum, really, is there for hammering this out?
The repeated response that really irks me, though, is from the surprising number of bloggers and editors who basically wrote in to say “well, why didn’t you mention me and my blog, web journal, whatever…I have more visits than Corey…” I’m really surprised that people did that—it’s something I wouldn’t have the audacity to do, if for no other reason than the fact that it would weaken my argument.
Of course, the blogoshere isn't new news to the people who've been participating in it for years, but it's now-established importance is still news to the publishing world--whatever segment of it cares about poetry, and perhaps the rest of it, too. I guess I'm surprised that more people haven't written about the implication of the world beyond the blogoshere perhaps getting that news through their heads. I’m glad to see Tony and others expanding the discussion of the gendering of my article beyond just my article. But what does it even mean that the multi-voiced discussion we're having now is possible? What does it mean that poems are traveling as fast as email--are they more or less disposable/permanent than when they were just on paper, or just in the air? The roots of this whole blogging business are only getting deeper, and it's going to continue changing things. I wish more of the discussion would focus on how.
I picked the blogs and web-mags I picked because they are consistent, of high quality, were not vanity projects, and would clearly show an uninitiated audience the basics of what the blogosphere is about. I wanted to pick web sites, which, if read on any given day, would feature interesting, relevant and engaging content. It happens that three of the web-journals I listed have women editors, but I picked them because they are good publications.
I think the other issue at stake here is about what it means for the larger poetry audience to become aware of the blogging and internet scene. Is it good for poetry, bad for poetry? How is the internet affecting the way poetry happens? I think Tony is also developing this side of the artgument in a very relevant way. The search for answers to those questions is what drew me to the blogosphere in the first place. Those questions seem to have been completely overshadowed, which I think is unfortunate.
Also, I'm adding a few of the people who've chimed in to my blogroll, which I haven't done until now only out of laziness.