Alice Walker on the immediacy of digital publishing

By Harriet Staff

Alice Walker spoke to Googlers as part of their authors series back in October about her latest book of poetry, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing and why she chooses to publish some poems directly online through her website:

I started on a website on the day that Obama won the election. And I’m not sure exactly why I did it that way, but in any case I did. Part of the reason was that I wasn’t permitted to use some of my poetry, some of my previously published poetry, on the internet and I was so annoyed that I decided to write new poetry and put it on the internet first because I wanted to go directly to people.

You know, when you publish a book it takes a whole year usually for it to see the light of day. You write it, you send it in, they keep it and they do various things with it, the whole program, but it takes a year for it to come out. And by the end of the year you’ve forgotten why you wrote it, where you were, who you were, everything. And so a lot of the joy is lost. And it just seemed to me to be a wonderful thing, a great idea, to publish directly on the internet so that people could see the poems because, I don’t know how many poets there are in the room, probably a lot, but when you write a poem the feeling is of instantly wanting to share it because you automatically think of poetry, I think, as a medicine. And this is the medicine that comes to you in that moment and you just want somebody else to have it.

Originally Published: November 17th, 2010