Friday, July 06, 2007

Zelig's Complaint

Deborah Ager of 32 Poems asks: “ I “know” poet-bloggers in an odd way. I know a lot about them, yet we’ve not spent time directly communicating in most instances. We have not spent much time together in person.... Do people think they know me because they read my blog? Do they?“

To which I responded:

You ask an interesting question. No, I would not presume to think that I know you or anybody else for that matter that I have met on-line. Whereas meeting someone on-line facilitates discourse of a certain kind. Written symbolic interaction is not a sufficient condition to arrive at the conclusion that we know someone. Instinctively we need to engage in other forms of symbolic interaction to supplement the verbal. IMHO it is somewhat like attempting to watch a movie with only the audio & a blank screen. Perhaps adequate enough to get a gist of what the movie is about but not consummate enough to make any presumptions.

Every day I religiously go through my blog roll and click. I read about someone’s publishing news, personal crisis, and vacation or just about anything else they want - me - the reader to be privy to. How much of this is social exhibitionism? I’m not sure. This is the kind of information that you might share with a friend and/or close confidante. Certainly, these bloggers appear to have busy social lives and do not seem to lack camaraderie. I am perplexed as to why these bloggers of which I am - I suppose - part & parcel of and who are for the most part successful at what they do, feel the need to share (at times), some of their lives’ most intimate details with an audience - that they don’t really know.

They would appear to be seeking affirmation from like-minded individuals and yet many of the bloggers I read are part of a literary milieu. Would it not be more satisfying to receive recognition for their work from a more immediate source?

I, for example, am not part of the literary world per se. None of my (real-time) friends are poets, writers or editors for that matter. My sole window onto the literary vista that is poetry - is via the internet and the books I read of course. Would I like to be more a part of it? Yes, but with certain reservations. I have read from various sources and on various blogs about the numerous venues that serve as platforms for just this purpose. I would very much like to meet and socialize at these functions. It might certainly prove interesting to meet some of the poets that I have become acquainted with on-line. (Would they in “real life” match up to my conceptualizations of them?)

But by the same token I would not like to lose the objectivity (on the part of both parties) that my marginality affords me. If an editor who knows of me from my blog chooses to publish my work it is safe to assume they are doing so strictly on that basis alone. However, I'm not so naïve as to think that networking has not proven beneficial to the career of many an author. And so it goes...

If I may redirect the gist of this post, I’d like to ask the reader which blogger(s) they would like to meet in real-time and why?


Collin said...

I've had my knuckles rapped a few times privately for posting naughty things about myself on my blog, but I don't care. I have very few secrets. Anyone who reads my poetry knows I put myself right out there. Very rarely is the "I" in my poetry not me. The blog is an extension of that. I've never given a second thought to what an editor might think about my blog or what's published there. I've been solicited for poetry by several editors who have read my blog and I appreciate their support. Without the blog, these contacts would have never been made.

I had the opportunity to meet a number of poetry bloggers at AWP this year (C. Dale, Reb Livingston, Peter Pereira) and there are several others I would like to meet: You, of course, Nick; Montgomery Maxton, Charles Jensen and Rebecca Loudon to name a few. Why do I want to meet them? Because I enjoy the honesty on their blogs and I think we'd have plenty to talk about over drinks.

Suzanne said...
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Nick said...

Gee Collin & Suzanne,

Thanks for making me feel wanted. I would very much like to attend the next AWP in New York and meet you guys along with a few more on-line personalities. (I assume that you will both be there of course.)

Due to its proximity to Mtl it might just be logistically feasible. But it's hard for me to make plans this early in advance. Also I'm planning to go on vacation to Italy with my family this summer so that economic viability might also be an issue re: AWP. Unfortunately, I do not have the deep pockets that some bloggers seem to possess.

Still one can dream can't they.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

I appreciate your comments here, Nick. I like this post.

shann said...

I, too, browse and read a variety of blogs by folks I've never met- but most of them seem like people I'd enjoy meeting at some time in the future- (and will, I hope)

Before blogs, when there was (for me) only compuserve and its writers forum/poetry forum, I became part of a wonderful online community. Over the years, I have met almost a hundred poets and other writers in person, some by design- we once had a group meet in DC and spent a great day together, and by accident- people passing through asking about available readings, through work- I used to write a VADCMD column for which got me to the Austin International Poetry Festival on a number of occasions. Ten years ago, I went along with a school trip to England and Scotland and spent all but one night with online friends I had never met before. They were all wonderful and exactly as they seemed online.

I've had CE Chaffin (Melic Review), Brett Axel (Poets4Peace), and some others staying at my house and brought Georgia Popoff, Stadja McFadden, William Talcott (Carbuncle)and many others to town- if you are in the spoken word movement you might recognize some of these names- or maybe not, there are SO MANY poets out there.

Even as late as last year I met Reb Livingston, Kristen King (Inkthinker) and others you'd recognize-

By and large, I've found bloggers to be exactly what they seem online, sometimes curmudgeonly, sometimes adorable- I hate to sound like Pollyshanna here but I LOVE the internet!

Nick said...

Sam & Shann,

Thank you both for weighing in on this post. Shann, I'm glad that you've had only positive experiences when meeting bloggers and other on-line strangers. I too, like to believe people are what they seem to be. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that that is not always the case.

Nick said...


I would like to add that I think that it's great that you have hosted errant troubadors/poets over at your place. You seem to be a genuine & fine person. :-)

shann said...

aw, thanks, Nick- I have my moments- I have been some nuts, sure- I always try to leave a 'safety net' when meeting someone new- and my husband did sleep with the pistol by the bed on at least 2 occasions- both completely uncalled for IMO (if I told you who one was you might not be surprised, but the gentleman was well medicated and well behaved at my house).

A long time ago, one of my (now) dearest friends met me the first time at a Border's for a poetry reading- what he didn't know was everyone in the coffee shop was there to watch my back- he later told me if was the strangest experience he'd ever had, how weird he felt-
like he was being watched (heh)

I'm crazy, not stupid (I could also tell you about the woman who threatened to kill me, but hey!)

Suzanne said...
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Nick said...

Great anecdotes, Shann. :-)

jeannine said...

Dear Nick,
Good discussion! What's funny is I'm such a computer/e-mail person, I think I communicate better via blogs and e-mail than I do in real life. I'm hesitant to talk much about my real life in my poetry, and hesitant to burden more than one or two close friends with my writing ups-and-downs. The blog world has been a gracious and welcoming place to me, and all of my real-time meetings with bloggers have been just what I'd expect - people like Paul Guest and Aimee Nez and Reb Livingston just as delightful in real life and just exactly as I'd pictured. I started blogging before I really got attached to my current writing group, before I decided to try to get an MFA, but now I see it as a great way to get to know like-minded people who are geographically unavailable. And I've bought a lot of really wonderful books and chapbooks i would never have known about otherwise!
Okay, is that too much of a cheerleader response?

Nick said...

Nope it's a great response... I still keep on balking when it comes to getting involved in the local poetry scene but perhaps should take the plunge. Still that would imply that I see myself as a poet and do not really define myself as such. I suppose, not having published a collection of poetry has something to do with this but then again nothing is that black & white is it. Thanks for your response

Robert said...

I'd like to meet you, Nick. And a few others. Participating in conversations via the blogosphere has taught me lessons that might have taken me decades to discover otherwise. Like, for example, that I get along really well (sensibility-wise) with Canadian poets.

Nick said...

Robert, thanks for the kind words. I don't really think that Americans & Canadians are that culturally diverse. I do believe though, that poets have a common ground no matter what language they speak.

Billy Jones said...

I organize Blogsboro's (Greensboro, North Carolina) local monthly blogging get-togethers and have come to meet hundreds of bloggers face to face there and at the annual here in my hometown.

Sadly most of these bloggers aren't poets but many are among my audience and are supportive of the arts as is much of the Blogosphere.

As I began writing entirely in a vaccum most I didn't know before starting my first long dead blog in 2000, but what has amazed me time and time again is the fact that I find myself liking almost every blogger I meet-- even most of those whose blog led me to believe I wouldn't like them.

Blogging is how I came to be a partner in LLC. the company that owns the MuseCrafters Creative Writing Network that now hosts and about 50 others.

It's only through blogging that I have come to know university professors, journalists, publishers and many others. It was a reader working for the publisher of my most recent book who told her boss about me and managed to get the book in print.

That said, while I've met several poets and poetry bloggers through blogging I really would like to meet many more yourself and Collin included.

And yes, I've been to Canada many times and find Canadians as a whole to be very much like Americans.

Nick said...

Thanks for posting your comments. Billy. You obviously care and contribute much to the arts both on and offline. If I'm ever down in Greensboro, North Carolina I'll be sure to hook up with the monthly blogger get together you've set up. Sounds like fun.