Lately I've been going through various writers' blogs (predominantly Canadian writers, and poets at that…) to see what it is they're doing, what it is they keep them for. What is the point of a writer keeping a blog at all? My friends Randy Woods and Jennifer Mulligan have been talking lately about the blog as not working as a game of telephone, where one tells one tells one more, but more as a central hub, like a bicycle wheel; we work our information from a series of central points, before we move back out again. It would explain the 1,200+ hits on Ron Silliman's blog every day (which is so freakin' cool). I think I've been averaging about 150 a day for months now; but what do all these people want? Thanks to Laurie Fuhr, I even found a site that tracks when folk come to my blog from certain others, helping me go backwards & find out about some I wasn't previously aware of. Is everyone blogging now?
It's interesting, looking at the range of activity (& quality, too), and surprising (to me) who exactly has started (often quietly) keeping blogs, whether it be more of a place for a journal, various essays, thoughts, some writing &/or otherwise (the predominant/general blog usage; but why do so many of them have not a single link to another...?),
including Stuart Ross (Toronto), Michael Winter (Toronto/Newfoundland; writing these lovely bits of nonfiction/fictions), Corey Frost (Montreal/New York), poet/critic Gregory Betts (St. Catharine's ON), fiction writer Kate Sutherland (Toronto), expat Sina Queyras (New York), Jennifer Mulligan (Ottawa/Gatineau), Mark Truscott (Toronto), former Ottawa resident Wanda O'Connor (Montreal), Jon Paul Fiorentino (Montreal), Rhona McAdam (Victoria), Ariel Gordon & her other one (Winnipeg), Tracy Hamon (Regina), Karla Andrich (Winnipeg), Jennifer LoveGrove (Toronto), Ken Kowal (Winnipeg), Rob Budde (Prince George BC), Jordan Scott (Coquitlam BC/Calgary), unknown (Toronto), Gary Barwin (Hamilton ON), Julia Williams (Calgary), George Murray (now in St. Johns NFLD), Thomas Wharton (Edmonton), Brian Campbell (Montreal), Erin Noteboom (Waterloo ON), Zoe Whittall (Toronto), Harold Rhenisch & another one (150 Mile House BC), Kellie Underhill (Sackville NB), Peter Garner (Montreal), Bernadette Wagner (Regina), Jan Lars Jensen (Nova Scotia), J.R. Carpenter (Montreal), Pearl Pirie (Ottawa), Claude Lalumiere (Montreal), Abigail Friedman (QC), Marcus McCann (Ottawa), Lou Reeves (Ottawa), Nienke Hinton (Toronto), "mompoet" (Port Moody BC), Vincent Tinguely (Montreal), Sherwin Tjia (Montreal), Shawnda Wilson (Montreal), Jude Goodwin (Squamish BC), Jim Munro (Toronto), William Gibson (Vancouver), etcmore focused on poetry,
including poet ryan fitzpatrick (Calgary), Bywords editor Amanda Earl (Ottawa), Jeremy Stewart (Prince George BC), Denielle (Prince George BC), Ian Whistle (Nepean ON/Winnipeg), Jennifer Mulligan (Ottawa/Gatineau), Chris Hutchinson (Vancouver), Weldon Hunter (Vancouver), etcreviews & announcements,
entertaining visuals, whether artwork, comic books or visual/concrete poetry:
many of which still work some variant on all of the above (none of these considerations, as I give them, are absolute). What floors me are the ones who can keep more than one blog going at a time (I can barely keep up with my one). Why does Toronto lad Nathaniel G. Moore need one, two, three, four blogs? There's even a writers retreat with a blog, & then of course the blog for the late Montreal poet Irving Layton...
The collaborative ones are particularly interesting, including the one Ariel Gordon, Bren Simmers & others keep, as well as this one (when does Gordon find time to do anything else?) or this one, by folk I don't seem to know, as are the geographically-related collaborative blogs, including the one Rob Budde plays about in his northern British Columbia, The Calgary Blow-Out, or trans-cribing Canada, the Winnipeg Words, or my own attempts through the ottawa poetry newsletter. I think Anansi has touring authors get blogs, which is why (it seems) Lisa Moore started, and Michael Winter too, but he keeps going...
Vancouver writer/editor Wayde Compton keeps one with others, on his Hogan's Alley Project, working to celebrate the early histories of the black community in Vancouver. Apparently Toronto poet and ECW Press editor Michael Holmes has started one for mostly ECW business; The Mercury Press also has one for notices (& then all the others on my sidebar that I just haven't mentioned...). Has the blog simply replaced the noticeboard?
And then there are all the Canadians living abroad, working their own variations, including Sina Queyras (Toronto/Montreal) and Corey Frost & his other one (Montreal) wandering New York, or Todd Swift (Montreal), Frances Kruk (Calgary), Richard Rathwell (Ottawa/Vancouver) and John Stiles (Nova Scotia), currently living in England, or poet Neile Graham in Seattle. Where else?
I know American poet/editor Ron Silliman has a million or so blogs linked on his sidebar, and I just can't see myself doing that. It's simply too much, and there is so much going on, who can keep track? (I also don’t have internet at home, so I can't afford to spend $2/half hour wandering around just reading…). The ones on my sidebar are, for now, the essentials, that I (mostly) visit every day, including John Macdonald's essential Ottawa blog, Queyras' and Jessica Smith's, among others. For more expansive lists of what else is out there, there are plenty of other blogs that allow such on their sidebar; do I have to be doing exactly the same thing? And then there are those folk who started a blog, but don’t really post, such as Toronto writer Stephen Cain; unfair to point him out, I suppose, but I would love to hear more from him generally on such things. I understand teaching and kids do tend to slow the production of any such work down, but I still check his out every few days, hoping.
I've never wanted too many of my own poems on this blog thing I do; there are enough other places where I can do that. After three reviews a week in the Ottawa X-Press from mid-1994 to the end of 1998 (it took them two years to get rid of me, wanting to remove me for the sake of 50 music articles per issue, instead of only 49; it took a long time after I was bumped before someone was writing about books at all in the paper, & no one has written about the amount or the range of writing since), I would rather put my energy into writing about books and such than finding homes for what it is I've written. There's nothing worse than writing a review of a book fresh from the printers, only to wait twelve months for a print journal to tell you they don’t have space for the thing; I am tired of working to place dead reviews. For me, the blog is the perfect place for such a conversation about poetry, books, literature and whatever other blather the newspapers and journals don’t feel they have the time or the space for.
& I know how badly organized this appears; but its an awful lot of information to go through, aint it...?