A poetry blog, zine or journal: why you should

A poetry blog, to many people, is a site for their own poems but my poetry blog, And Other Poems, is different because I post other people’s work and invite submissions.  I suppose And Other Poems could more accurately be described as a zine or a journal but it’s blog technology I’m using and, anyway, I like the word blog.  Also, there’s no editorial nor are there feature articles or photographs.  As the tagline says it’s “simply a blog of poems.”

Search terms that turn up here and over at AOP often refer to “poetry blogs”, ie, “starting a poetry blog”; “how to get followers on a poetry blog” so the subject certainly interests many, for whatever reason, whether to share personal poems or the work of others, and there are an increasing number of blogs, journals and zines around on WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger.  I won’t do a ‘How To..’ article although I did write a post about my first year at And Other Poems.  Instead, I thought I’d list some of the things that make it all worthwhile.

Running a poetry blog, zine or journal: why you should

You learn about poetry

  • The more you read, the more you learn.
  • You begin to understand why you do/don’t like a poem.
  • You get a feel for the kinds of things people are writing about – you might spot a trend.  This is helpful if you want your own work to be original.
  • You understand the difference between original and unoriginal writing.
  • You recognise writing which is fresh.
  • If you write poems, you try to build all of this knowledge into your own writing.

You make friends and build relationships.

It might only be a ‘virtual’ relationship through the internet but if and when you do meet you will already know so much about it each other.

  • You learn about a poet’s work.
  • You introduce others to work you like.
  • You make rewarding, enriching contacts – you soon learn who else is running a blog, or magazine, or putting on events and is involved with collaborations or interesting projects.
  • You learn to say no kindly.  It’s a life skill.

Other skills you develop

  • Proofreading.
  • Designing layouts and formatting poems in WordPress (or Tumblr or Blogger).
  • Building a following using social media.

And you are filling the internet with poetry!

  • You provide poetry to read, talk about, share and perhaps buy (if you include links to publishers’ sites, which I always do, wherever possible).

Of course, there are reasons why you shouldn’t do any of this….. but I’ll save that for another post.  Any more thoughts on the ups from anyone?

22 thoughts on “A poetry blog, zine or journal: why you should

  1. Rebecca Gethin says:

    I think a blog that includes other people’s work also stretches a hand to many different writers and in some way creates a kind of community. ( I would certainly miss my blog if I stopped doing it.). It is supportive and friendly, that’s my view anyway.

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  2. Colin Will says:

    It’s always good to know that other online editors share your enthusiasm for the form but bring their individual poetic tastes and preferences to the blogs. The variety keeps them interesting.

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    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Hi Colin, It is interesting to see the variety of styles of poems. Even the different layout of each blog is interesting and often impressive. I forgot to say that managing a poetry blog can also be a lot of fun 🙂

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  3. E.E. Nobbs says:

    Both you & Becky have raised good points. I enjoy having a friendly, supportive community where we can get to know each other better, and learn from each other. To me it’s fascinating (and wonderful) how each blog reflects the personality of the blogger – there’s so much flexibility even with the free & basic wordpress.com platform. It’s exciting to experiment and see what one can do with it.

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    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Hi Elly, It’s true that you can get pretty creative in WordPress, even in the basic form (which I use because my technical knowledge is limited). For And Other Poems, though, a lot of the commenting and discussion of poems, and the sharing of course, goes on at Twitter and Facebook since I don’t invite comments on the actual blog in order to keep it clutter free. For me, it works to run this blog in tandem. Lovely of you to comment 🙂

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  4. Robin Houghton says:

    Nice post, Josephine. Funnily enough I was thinking in the shower this morning about what the purpose is of blogging. Not because I feel the need to justify it to myself, but because people often seem mystified if I say I blog about poetry – as if questions such as ‘how…?’ ‘what…?’ and mostly ‘why..?’ are hovering on their lips but they’re either too polite or just not really interested enough in the answer to say it. I think you’ve captured the main ‘ups’ of poetry blogging – developing skills, learning/opening the mind, community and so forth. I think the community side of it is a big one, for me anyway. My feeling is that a blog is good writing practice. It can also be a tool with which to think aloud, throw ideas out there, generate discussion, even build confidence in using social media. Your blog is your ‘home territory’ after all, and most of all it’s a creative project that builds and builds, often into something that really inspires/excites/entertains others.

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    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Lovely response, thank you, Robin. I suppose what I’m doing here, on this blog, is different to what I’m doing over at And Other Poems which is more of an on-line, ever-changing anthology. I enjoy maintaining both blogs and I am developing different skills on each site. For someone who isn’t really that technical, I’m excited by the opportunities offered by blogs and social media. As always, thanks so much for commenting. 🙂

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  5. Clarissa Aykroyd says:

    I started my poetry blog mainly for me, because I had poetry thoughts I wanted to share and don’t always have the opportunity to do so with people in my life. It has sort of brought me into the periphery of the poetry community, which means I’ve made some great contacts – that aspect has been very pleasant and slightly unexpected.

    I didn’t consciously set out to write a certain type of blog. The idea all along was that it would always be poetry-related, but in exactly the idiosyncratic way I wanted. So on The Stone and the Star, there’s a bit of classic poetry, a bit of contemporary poetry, reviews, ramblings, occasional updates about my own little poetry endeavours, occasionally posting my own unpublished poems or translations. I suppose out of the blogs I’ve read it probably has most in common with something like Anthony Wilson’s Livesaving Poems, though it is also different. I just wanted to keep it tightly focused on poetry, but beyond that, to have a broad focus. Personally it has also led me to a very keen interest in non-English poetry and poetry in translation.

    Also, I suppose if I was looking for a niche, it was to appeal both to poets and non-poets. And the feedback I’ve had has confirmed that it’s been a relative success in that regard. My slightly obsessive insistence in observing copyright laws has paid off too, I think. When I’ve occasionally asked contemporary poets for permission to post their work, they have always or almost always said yes and have been quite happy, and with poets’ estates and publishers, they have mostly been helpful too. I think such requests also bring the blog to a wider audience and give it credibility.

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    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Thanks very much for commenting, Clarissa. I have to say that I look up to your blog! I really admire your writing style and your scrupulous attention to detail. Your vigilance over copyright is a case in point. The Stone and Star is a terrific example of what can be achieved using blogging technology and really it deserves a very wide readership.

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  6. isabelrogers says:

    Great post about a great blog, Josephine! I love And Other Poems, precisely because you have kept it clear and simple, and it doesn’t push anything. It’s just the poetry. I’ve discovered some wonderful work there.

    One aspect of blogging I like is when someone arrives out of the blue, and either leaves a comments or ‘likes’ a post. I can then go and investigate their work and online identity, and perhaps make a connection other than through twitter, which is where I hang out normally. It’s all about the connections, as you said.

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    • Josephine Corcoran says:

      Thank you very much, Isabel. I have to say that I was so tired when I posted this. It was one of those articles that you write knowing what you want to say but not quite saying it. I’m so relieved that people have got the gist! I’m glad you like the simplicity and, indeed, I admire your own blog for its clean layout and, of course, your crisp and witty writing style. It’s always a joy to receive an unexpected visitor who turns out to have an interesting blog and, for me, even more exciting, is to receive poems from someone I haven’t heard of, or might know slightly, and discover thrilling work. As always, delighted that you’ve visited 🙂 x

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