What's New at Harriet
First of all, we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who made National Poetry Month on Harriet such a great experience. We had some of the most lively and engaging discussions over the past thirty one days, as well as profound stand-alone pieces. True, it was a lot to take in over a quick month, but we’re confident the posts will remain touchstones for future conversations. Thank you, writers and readers, for all your efforts.
And now, we’d like to lay out what’s in store for Harriet.
Asked to describe how poetry has changed over the past ten years, Ron Silliman wrote on our site that the ongoing revolution in communications technology has upended the power dynamics of the community as well as the way poets interact. “Poets blogging,” Silliman wrote, “is just a symptom.”
Over the past four years we’ve been privileged be a part of this revolution. From the early long-form journals on Harriet to the group blog, the style and format have evolved to match the moment, and we’re grateful for everyone who has participated, posters and commenters alike.
Recently, though, we’ve noticed that the symptoms of this revolution have changed. The blog as a form has begun to be overtaken by social media like Twitter and Facebook. News of the poetry world now travels fastest and furthest through Twitter (as the thousands of followers of @poetryfound, @poetrymagazine, and @poetrynews can attest), with the information often picked up from news aggregator sites rather than discursive blogs.
Also, anyone involved in the more dynamic discussions of poetry, poetics, or politics in the past year knows that more and more of the most vibrant interactions have been found on Facebook. We saw this happening last month as our National Poetry Month posts traveled far and wide through various status updates, wall postings, and links. Setting aside the troubling issues of privacy and coterie this brings up, it would be foolish to deny it as a fact of the revolution. As Craig Santos Perez recently joked, “it’s true, facebook killed the blogger star.” And while that’s obviously not completely true (check out our new blogroll for evidence to the contrary), we feel that the new terrain calls for a new Harriet.
Starting this week, then, Harriet will transition into a space we hope will better serve the various poetry communities we’ve come to know over the past four years. This new version of Harriet will feature on the main page a daily news feed with links and excerpts from other outlets around the world. We hope to point to the vibrant discussions happening online, as well as vital literary journalism, essays, and criticism. In addition to this news aggregation, we will spotlight poetry communities and events. These features, which will appear under the name “Open Door,” will use multimedia journalism to showcase unique interactions between poets and poetry readers around the world. Look for “Open Door” features on the The Interrupture performances in Seattle, poetry night in Iraq, and circle dancing in Iceland in the coming months. Click on the side bar link for a more in-depth description of this new feature.
In addition to news and these Open Door features, Harriet will begin a new life on Twitter. Each month a new poet will take over the Harriet Twitter feed and provide daily posts about his or her life, work, and interests. Sign up to follow this month’s writer, D.A. Powell, at @harriet_poetry.
The posts and discussions of the past will all remain archived on the site, but in this new stage Harriet itself will no longer feature comments. This isn’t a decision we’ve come to lightly, but it has become clear over the past few months that it is time for Harriet to move on from this discussion model. The space was designed to be forward thinking and experimental, and so we look forward to continuing along that path. We’re grateful for everyone who has participated over the past few years, and we hope that the energy and thought that went into the best comments can be put into the wide range of other available and worthy outlets in the poetry world.
We’re excited to follow Harriet on this new adventure, and we hope you are too. Together we believe we can continue to highlight the new voices Harriet Monroe set out to find when she began Poetry back in 1912.
Catherine Halley and Travis Nichols