Welcome to the Course

Fall 2019

The class will begin on August 28.


The biggest writing/publishing project that we will undertake is, really, this blog. It will be our classroom, our space for conversation about the readings, excursions, and projects in the class. More to the point, we’ll approach the blog as a collaborative publication. Like the other forms under study on our syllabus, we will consider its form, history, constraints, and unique possibilities.

Note: while it is no longer the heydey of the “poetry blog,” blogging is still alive as a medium for commenting on the state of the art in bursts of more than 280 characters. Even though the poetry blog “scene” of the early 2000s has largely broken up and migrated elsewhere, its affect on poetry discourse remains legible. So, let’s be aware of, and reflective about, the form and context in which we’re blogging this semester.

Craig Morgan Teicher’s 2006 Publisher’s Weekly article, “Poetry off the Books,” is a quick panoramic of the poetry blog as publishing phenomenon. Writing at the peak of its popularity, he notes the vitality of the medium: more access to poems = more readers = more books! (No doomsday predictions that “now no one will buy poetry books anymore.”) Follow the many links (most still active) and get a sense of what is/was out there. If Teicher’s article captures the exuberance of that peak in popularity, Joshua Corey’s more recent article “The Golden Age of Poetry Blogging” (Plume, 2017) looks critically and nostalgically from the standpoint of its decline. Both past and present raise questions for the future.

As you read about the “poetry blog” in these two articles, think about how the medium of publication (the blog, in this case) shapes content. Poetry, and poetry discourse, spill to fit their container, and vice versa, new containers take shape to accommodate things that we want to say and hear. And this give-and-take does not happen in a vacuum: political and cultural forces are a crucial part of this shaping process.

After reading, please chime in with a comment. What is something specific to the blog format that you might appreciate/enjoy, either as a reader or writer? How does blogging compare with social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram?

18 thoughts on “Welcome to the Course”

  1. I appreciate the openness of a blog, it is a space that people can share their thoughts, opinions, and personal writings and share it with others. The blog also gives other readers and writers to discover other people who share the passion for reading and writing or any topic that a blog is on. It gives people another community to turn too. Blogging is similar to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram because it is a way people can share their own thoughts and works. However, there is also a negative aspect to blogging and social media because if people don’t use it responsibly it can lead to consequences such as cyber bullying. Overall, I think there are more benefits to blogging than set backs.

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  2. I got this idea from the Corey article of the comments section being this sort of lawless region which encroaches on “legitimate” discourse. Even on the internet, where anyone can do anything, we have these demarcations telling us what is a valuable thought and what is worthless. It reminds me of the publishing industry in general, where there are gatekeepers in the form of editors deciding what gets published–although there is also self-publishing, which we could equate to the comments section in this simile. But on the internet, the medium serves as a gatekeeper. Websites of traditional publications are more trusted than blogs, which are more trusted than the comments section. How ironic that something that is supposed to be democratizing falls back on the age old ranking system.

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    1. YES, Julia. On one hand, we rely on editors and publishers to help us sort out what is worth reading and what isn’t. Blogs open the floodgates in a sense. And allow us the opportunity to reflect on what WE think is “worth reading” perhaps …


  3. I think having the ability to have a part in a corner of the internet full of ordinary people who can easily post comments and respond to one another’s comments is an aspect that I appreciate about blog posting. It is the same with social media platforms, because there is no hassle when it comes to letting another person know how you feel and what you’re thinking about a certain topic. However, I believe that social media can cause a larger separation between the people who are commenting and those who are posting. It’s easier to get lost among many other accounts commenting under a celebrity’s latest photo on instagram, versus having your comment noticed under a post written by a rather-not-so-famous blog author.

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  4. After taking “African American Literature” as an online course through CCAC this summer, I have come to appreciate the process of blogging much more than I had before. As someone who loves to write blogs, reading posts was not always an enjoyable process. In previous courses, I had seen a lot of people use blogs and posts as ways to just reiterate another person’s ideas to excel in terms of grades and so forth. I also witnessed writers treat a blog post as less of a shared work, but more of a personal notebook entry. On the reverse side, I have also seen blogs allow for silent and unnoticed people to express rich ideas with others on a more comfortable and accessible level. During my summer course, there were many writers who had the potential to be professionals, and these people took the blogs seriously and used blogs to show off literary prowess. I will enjoy working with a more experienced group and see the potential of everybody in the course!

    Both social media and blogs allow a writer to express opinions while sharing information somewhere accessible to a large number of potential readers who have access to the internet. The biggest differences lie in the length of the posts, potential for credibility, access duration, and the audiences who view the content. With blogs, there is a greater capacity for direct and professional content that can withstand time and retain a spot easily accessible to new readers.

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  5. Despite the impermanence of the Internet (“The era of poetry blogging was a brief one…”), the fact that poetry blogs continue to remain is a testament to how relevant they still can be as means to share content. Even if a blog now takes shape as more of an island of misfit toys (“…something more like a dream annex,”), its still a space in which those odd ideas and endeavors can flourish. Beyond this, one poet-blogger’s immense influence could still be felt across both of these articles: Ron Silliman. Though I am ignorant of his work, perhaps his maintained popularity could be due to a strong sense of poetic identity. This is also something that appeared, albeit briefly, in Corey’s article: ownership of one’s thoughts. He says (when discussing comment-sectionless blogs): “If someone wanted to say that something I had written was asinine or had missed the point—and someone very often did—he or she had to either send me an email or start their own blog, thus claiming ownership of their thoughts.” Unproductive criticism is useless; however, I feel that the idea of ownership of one’s thoughts, particularly in the impermanent digital realm, may be tied to one’s poetic identity, thus tying it to one’s influence in the greater poetry community.

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    1. Silliman was a pioneer…his was the first poetry blog that I ever encountered, and it is such a rich site of discourse. It’s helpful to see the blog an extension of the self of the poet, a place to feel out and project one’s identity-as-a-person/poet – something that the poem itself does not exactly/necessarily do. This idea of ‘taking responsibility’ for one’s thoughts, of embodying them in the blog form, is very helpful to think about!


  6. I thought it was very interesting that this poetry blogging community that we’ve now all entered into does such a good job of working within and from itself. One thing I noticed in the “Off the Books” article is that since many of the young poets and new poets feel left out of the mainstream, that they turn to small presses and that everyone in the small press world seems to know each other. It also feel really cool to be part of the sort of rebirth of a movement that started all the way back in the 90s. This medium gives us all the opportunity to share with one another in a way we normally wouldn’t be able to.

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  7. One of the benefits of poetry blogs specifically, as opposed to websites like reddit, tumblr, or twitter, is its meeting of the middle of curation and collaboration. As you mentioned in your post, poetry is rarely ever written in a vacuum, and poetry blogs allow for a more immediate reach of both social and political influence. However, the benefits of a poetry blog in particular are central to its medium being mostly focused on the writing and commentary itself.

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  8. One of the things that most struck me when reading the three articles was the phrase “more access to poems = more readers = more books!” From the perspective of one who generally values the physical, tangible book more than online versions or publishing platforms, poetry blogs initially seemed like a “fake” means of publicizing work, and added to my fear that books may become obsolete. The “real” authors surely go through the Big 6? On the contrary, these articles pointed out that, if readers have more access to poetry, they will have a greater hunger for more! Many will even want to own physical copies of poems for their personal libraries. The more people have the opportunity to read, discover new work, and engage in good discussion about writing, the more they will promote poems, books, and writing in general.
    I had never really considered the pros of a website for writing, but they are numerous: you can have an audience from across the world (gaining a rich diversity of perspectives), there are more opportunities to try unconventional poetry and writing styles that wouldn’t be accepted by mainstream publishing, and the casual tone helps new writers overcome their anxiety. As I dive into the realm of writing with an audience, I’m excited by the new open door that blogging could provide!

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  9. I appreciate how unique blog writing is while still having a familiar style. While it is not quite an essay and not quite an article or journal, the blog maintains a similar feeling, but with a much more conversational tone, allowing the writer to freely express their opinions. I don’t often have an opportunity in my other classes to write in a conversational way, so I am looking forward to trying it out and honing this skill. I also find it interesting that blog writing in its prime (and still today) gave the lesser-known and even the unknown writers and poets a place to share their work and ideas in an environment that harbored conversation and valued the neglected opinion. These conversations may have been essential and formative in some of the art, specifically poetry, that we enjoy today. That thought leads me to believe that blogs, although casual, are an important tool that can be used to encourage creative and new thinking.

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  10. What charms me personally about the “blog format” is the possibility of creating a monologue-style tool to communicate certain opinions, ideas, ideals, the gist to other people, have they a similar mindset to yours or a totally different one. Being able to contact an audience in a casual yet truthful way makes a blog the perfect medium for a writer to balance pathos, ethos, and logos into a formidable argument which can win over people’s hearts, make them think, persuade them to give valuable feedback on the work, or even simply entertain them. To a reader, blogs can be attractive in that blogs become easily accessible to anybody who has a computer (or other device) with a stable network (not to mention, blogs are usually FREE; a pretty big deal for broke college students like us).
    Blogs, much like other social media outlets, allow a writer to directly communicate with an audience, to ensure a loyal “fanbase,” and to be able to regularly update these followers on his/her activity. By being constant and keeping in contact, a writer earns a trustworthy image in the audience members’ eyes, and thus can rise in popularity at little to no cost! The more support a writer has, the more likely it is that his/her work will gain recognition at an even larger scale in the future, which is pretty cool…

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  11. As the medium of the blog comes about and is used more frequently, much like social media, I feel like it both gives us a space where we can connect with others who have similar interests, and allows us to dispose with social norms that would usually be restricting what sort of language or expressions that we are typically allowed to use when discussing literature. Typically, on other internet platforms, this is freedom is used for negative and hurtful purposes towards others, but I believe here and on blogs with similar content, it could be used more constructively as an outlet for critical thinking and constructive criticism.

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  12. Corey’s statement of blogging being ” a genuinely new literary form, located somewhere between the intimacy of the personal letter, the rawness of the diary, the miscellany of the commonplace book, and the wit of the better sort of newspaper column or feuilleton” captures the essence of its attractiveness and compelling draw. It is so many things at once and that fluidity is precisely why it gained popularity. What better than a place, a forum, to exude one’s thoughts and feelings, raw and unpolished as they are? This is the aspect that I enjoy both as a reader and a writer. Casual speech is encouraged and feels natural as it is written and then processed by the mind. This contributes to a personal touch that, I think, lets the reader experience and examine such opinions and thoughts in a deeper, more expressive fashion for themselves. It feels like the blog completely and literally embodies a person’s very being as it lays out their exact thoughts, speech patterns, emotions. The expression of a blog rounds out a well-thought opinion, humanizes it in a sense so that it doesn’t feel like a clinical, disembodied thought without a person attached. However, this personal feeling is balanced out by the deep thought. Compared to social media, which sometimes is known for shorter observations and statements, blogging is where longer, analytical views are expected. People come to blogs specifically to experience other opinions and views in-depth and to share and defend their own. Thus, the fine line of blogging is what separates it from social media; ironically, this “fine line” is also what makes blogging so fluid since it combines two ways of sharing opinions.

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  13. Although poetry blogging I’m sure has become slightly overshadowed by other types of blogging, it is still very important and exciting. If we were to tell the world’s first poets that poems could be shared online and the advantages to that, they might not have believed us. According to Teicher’s “Poetry off the Books”, poetry has been most successful online and has also driven up book sales. I think the relationship between an author and reader is an extremely important one; social media and blogs make this possible. Although meet and greets, as well as book signings, are fun, having fast and direct access to an author’s works is easier and sometimes more enjoyable. Whether an author is sharing lengthy blog posts, photographs, or a simple tweet, the connection is still there all the same and allows for a multitude of possibilities. As a reader, I am an avid collector of books (it’s kind of an obsession). But I think reading online blogs as well as looking at author profiles is so much fun and adds an element that physical books don’t have. As a writer (a broke one at that) having a blog sounds like a much better option especially if you’re more tech-savvy. Once you publish something online, it’s out there for the world to see and it might be terrifying but it’s also an awesome experience.

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  14. After reading the articles, I’ve found that my respect for the blog as a “real” outlet for literary material has been greatly improved. To me, a blog had always seemed less credible, or perhaps less important, than works published through a big press. After my reading, it is apparent how important these blogs are. Not only do blogs give voices to those whose writing may be overlooked by publishers, but it allows more people to have access to poetry which they may not have been aware of. As a writer, I can certainly understand where blogging would be useful in reaching a broader audience and as a reader I can appreciate the quantity and variety of blogs present with unique work to peruse.

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