I could be blogging or I could watch the red dog running in the field
Despite this experiment with blogging, I remain jittery about how computers have changed our experience of poetry, and our experience with each other, which is a bigger question that isn’t suitable to being addressed in something as ephemeral as a blog entry. Some quick thoughts though, from a computer know-nuttin, Harriet’s one and only dial-up blogger…
A certain type of poem seems to be well-served by the more populist aspects of the poeticocyber culture as it exists now. That is, one can receive “a poem a day” from more sources than are absorbable—poetry daily, verse daily, writer’s almanac etc. The computer has made it possible to be bombarded by poetry, and yet this format pushes its poems toward a certain style—relatively short and closed-system-ed (“like the lid of a box clicking shut”: I forget who said that). And the system favors poems that are accessible, though I do not like that word (I especially do not like the way “Billy Collins” has become a shorthand for something that is ostensibly wrong with poetry, a problem that remains so ill-defined that it eludes me). And we breeze through these poems, as they are meant for breezing-through, while we are supposed to working on the computer at our jobs doing, who knows, filling the orders for the widgets.
This makes poetry more predominate in our lives, and paradoxically more disposable (the barrage and the breeze) and less disposable, through the process of “calling out” a poem and disseminating it--for example, the post-9/11 dissemination of Auden’s “September 1939”. I can’t think of other poems that were brought into public prominence via the internet, though I have discovered poems that I have a personal fondness for, poems I wouldn’t have been aware of had they not been sent me.
Obviously, time spent on the Internet has to be subtracted from the non-cyber elsewhere. The time I’ve spent blogging got subtracted from other forms of writing and reading, though I did still make the time to run the dog in the field. A disabled person, I like the fight to retain a presence in the meat world, despite the meat world’s difficulty and solitude. Retreating to the cyber-world would be both too easy and too hard. While it is easy to sit at a desk and tap, I discovered through Harriet that I’m not cut out for the combat of blogging-commentary. And I would feel odd with the male-ness of that sport. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen when the bloggers change.
I hope I can break, though, my addiction to checking out Harriet each day, just as I hope to break my compulsion to dial in for my email each morning, even though I rarely get any. Here’s to more writing, more reading, more time in the field.
Lucia Perillo grew up in the suburbs of New York City. She earned a BSc in wildlife management from McGill University in Montreal and worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before earning an MA in English from Syracuse University. Perillo was the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Dangerous...