Saturday, March 20, 2010
"About a Blog"
How often have you blogged? What specific topics have you blogged about?
I entered the blogosphere in June 2007, at http://www.behindthelinespoetry.blogspot.com. Its title is: Behind the Lines: Poetry, War, & Peacemaking, the subtitle is "Further thoughts on the cultural labor of poetry and art. Not 'is it good?,' but 'what has it accomplished?'"...
On the blog, I'm working to extend the arguments I made in "Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941" (2007)--but in an approachable daily prose format. The book received a good deal of positive attention and reviews--critic Diederik Oostdijk calls it "daring and experimental...a brave important book that will help future poetry readers and scholars," critic Edward Brunner calls it "groundbreaking" and "invigorating," and writer Julia Stein calls it "an important book for all who care about U.S. literature and culture." Despite these reviews, the book did not reach the wider audience that I'd hoped--the poets, activists, progressive and thoughtful citizens who have inspired and informed the book, and whom I hoped to engage.
Writing a blog, I hoped to reach more of those people, trolling the net; maybe they'd go and read the book, maybe not. But at least I could keep myself thinking further about the arguments of the book as our cultural and political circumstances continue to change. It's also a kind of living archive for myself; whereas I used to xerox or print articles and poems and stories of interest and throw them in a file (often, never to be seen again), the blog allows me to have an online file that I can return to, and show myself and others.
On the blog, "Behind the Lines Poetry," I post reviews of recent poetry collections; selected poems and art dealing with war/peace/social change; reviews of poetry readings; shameless self-promotions; links to political commentary (particularly on conflicts in the Middle East--Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine); youtubed performances of music, demos, and other audio-video nuggets dealing with peaceful change, dissent and resistance. I posted a couple entries on our own university movement to articulate a policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation; I was thrilled by both the student response and by the administration's ability to listen and change.
Who reads your blogs?
I have some 65 "followers" or so, get over 100 "hits" a day; it's a modest audience, but it adds up to something like 45,000 visits since 2009.
Do you find it to be enjoyable?
I used to blog every day, and when I woke up I already started thinking about what I'd write; now, it's a once-a-week arrangement. Every time I think of folding up my digital tent, I'll meet someone who says something admiring about it...which means, I'll continue.
How is the John Carroll community affected by it? Do you think blogs are beneficial?
Minimally. I doubt more than a handful of my colleagues and students even know that I blog.
Blogs are limited by the minds of those who build and write them; mine is a niche, and I expect and hope that its readers are instigated to learn more about the perspectives and work published there.
Honestly, the age of the blog has already ceded to the facebook update and the Tweet. There are just too many blogs to have the kind of impact one would have had in, say, 2005. But I'll stick with it for now. Both Facebook and Twitter seem to me too much "social networking" and not enough thoughtful rumination. I'm actually chagrined by how many students feel actively surveilled and judged by each other--Facebook has made social life in a small college suffocating, and for some, intolerable.