It’s been almost two weeks since I started a separate blog for poems, ‘And Other Poems’. At first I thought this would simply be an uncluttered space for my own poems but I quickly decided that I wanted to include other people’s work. How, then, to acquire poems? Could I just select poems that I liked and publish them on my blog? What about copyright? And good manners? Surely it would be better to ask permission first?
So I started sending messages to poets I’d ‘met’ through social networking, asking them to send a poem, a one-line bio and a link.
Hey Presto! poems have arrived in my inbox and I’ve been trying to post a different poem each day. Some I’ve read before, in print or online, some are new to me. It felt very special when Ian Duhig sent a poem, ‘The Irish Slave’, which he described as being ‘long out of print’ and Helen Ivory sent a new poem, ‘Of Rocks and Pebbles’, which hadn’t made it into her forthcoming collection. A clearer concept for my poetry blog was forming in my mind; not only did I want it to be a quiet, non-fussy space, I also started to think that it would be more interesting if it contained poems that aren’t easily available to read online. Tania Hershman, better known for writing short fictions but also a published poet who I’d invited to participate, understood exactly what I was aiming for when she wrote about ‘And Other Poems’ on her blog “a lovely idea to have a site gathering poems that perhaps appeared in print so that more of us can read them.”
And now my shelf of poetry is gradually growing longer.
I’ve had to learn a bit of computer coding in order to format poems in WordPress. I’ve had to experiment with different blog themes in WordPress and post questions to international blogging forums to work out how to do technical stuff. I hope that these last sentences convey the brain-ache this caused in someone who has never fully grasped the inner workings of a kettle, let only anything containing a microprocessor. And, by the way, I own a very basic kettle.
But it is worth it, because of the poems, the poems, the poems.
I’m reading lots of different poems. And reading them in a different sort of way than I would if they were simply on the printed page. It isn’t just a question of copying and pasting into WordPress; publishing poems on a blog means that I must pay proper attention to line-breaks, italics, spacing, titling, capitalisation – all fascinating and educational to someone wanting to get better at writing poetry.
I’m posting a different poem each day.
I’m trying to incorporate this into my daily routine, so that I post a poem, tweet about it, post a link on Facebook and then go about my other daily duties, which must include some other reading and writing because if that stops, none of this will be worth it. I must stop checking to see how many ‘hits’ I get. But it is interesting to know that people, from all over the world, ARE reading and ‘liking’ the poems.
I’m still reading Emma by Jane Austen.
I mention this to prove that I am living a life away from the computer, not to suggest that I’m really enjoying it. I’m afraid I’m not. But I will persevere. I’ve also started Riddance by Anthony Wilson (soon to feature on ‘And Other Poems’) which is an amazing collection of poetry written during the six years that Anthony was diagnosed with and treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This such a tender and uplifting book. And I would never have known about Anthony Wilson, or written to ask him for a poem, if it hadn’t been for the internet, for social networking and blogging.
I will write about other subjects but I am becoming more than a tiny bit obsessed with my poetry blog. And it’s satisfying to know, judging by the messages I’ve received, that other people are enjoying it as much as I am.