jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
when they unlocked my teeth of braces
I was handcuffed with time instead
clock on my wrist fastened
over (overwriting) the vulnerable pulse
of my body's time keeping heart beating
and I worried it
at night not falling to sleep
because it wasn't time to sleep
it was hour o' clock
I worried it

as I got older time became
an ally or at least required
the games we played of shifting time
made LATE now seven minutes past
and I in wisdom set my watch
to physical five minutes faster
but sometimes my math wasn't so good
and I was late or my heart was
beating time dizzy
with its pulsing

these days my phone talks
to the internet
and the internet talks
to sensors circling the earth
and who cares about what the sun
that lets us down is doing now
when that first alarm rings
I turn on my SAD light
to bathe my eyes my brain my body clock
into thinking of five o'clock
as time
           to wake up
jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Where might we find elements of poetry in politics? For starters, no political speech seems complete without at least one metaphor, however well (or not so well) conceived.

Like some strange survival of the wittiest, some metaphors are so apt — or at least brain-snaggingly adaptive — that they seed entire families of related metaphors. 20th century US politics proffers, for example, a New Deal, a Square Deal, and a Fair Deal, followed by a War On Poverty, twin Wars on Cancer and Drugs respectively, and a War On Terror. When people call national efforts to recriminalize abortion in the USA part of a War On Women, they're drawing on decades of war-as-shorthand-for-national-mobilization metaphors, and also drawing attention to the violence 'War' never entirely escapes, metaphorical or otherwise.

What families of political metaphors or phrasings have you noticed? Do you have any thoughts about the ones mentioned so far, or metaphors you wish would catch on instead?
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Apologies for the delay on this last post — I've quite been under the weather the last few days.

Engineering "time & occasion to read, write, discuss, ferment poetry and poetic play into one's everyday life" doesn't have to take the form of a series of large and intimidating commitments. Ambitious projects can be useful to push oneself past plateaus, but unless you are making a living out of poetry, there will be times where periodic opportunities for poetry feel more sustaining & engaging than additional commitments to writing poetry.

One of the ways I engineer such opportunities for myself is through hosting 'How Are You? (in Haiku)' days, Read more... )

More generally, I make time for poetry in my life even when I'm feeling busy bee busy by questioning prose as my automatic default. There are times when poetry is not appropriate — certain types of professional correspondence spring to mind, etc. — but poetry as a way to communicate emotion, insight, a sense of playful purpose or perspective can be not only appropriate in place of prose but fun more often than you might think.

I've written personal emails as poems ("I chose to write this email to you as a poem, just because"), fannish comments as poems ("Oh this is delight and sorrow keen-woven /with eye for Thorin's subtleties"), even science commentary as poems (see below). I don't have to, but sometimes I choose to — and there is much joy to be found in that, and sharing that with others.

I love spot-the-affected-tissues, here:
Read more... )
to happiness (warmth from head to hands to toes
the person entire full like embers
of a campfire rippling heat and contentment
out into the night, face a beacon of yes)

— re: graphic featured in 'People worldwide may feel mind-body connections in same way' @ medical xpress

As always, I welcome all and any thoughts you have to share, in whatever form you are moved to share them.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I'm a mockingbird poet. That is to say, I have my own style, but I also have a lot of fun imitating the styles of other poets, or combining elements of several styles into something new.

Why imitate? )

Today's featured project is a game that takes imitation one step further into remix, i.e. imitating some elements and transforming others of one or more pieces to create a new work. 'One Poem, Two Poem, Old Poem, New Poem':
Let's play an informal game today. Comment on this post with a favorite line or stanza [without telling me the source], and I will write you a minute remix poem or poem fragment in return. If you or someone else replies to that with another favorite line from a different source, I'll elaborate on the initial fill to incorporate the new reference, and so on and so forth.
And here's one of my favorite resulting poems:
FAR AND FEY

they say your heart went fey to faeryland
where none can touch
or wound it wakeful

and down you went to goblintown... )
'Far and Fey' drew inspiration from five different sources — can you guess any of them off the bat? Try to work out what elements were imitated or transformed from each of the source prompts as the poem evolved, and then read the poem in its entirety again. Has your reading of the poem changed? Did any of the source prompts surprise you?

Bonus: I would be remiss if I failed to mention [personal profile] luzula set 'Far and Fey' to music and recorded it. Listen to luzula's fantastic performance here.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Some background reflections on what inspired this project )


'Poem For Your Thoughts?' Day has a simple premise: "Leave me a prompt or prompts of any kind today, [date], and I'll write you a free poem."

No promises of quality, or format, or time of arrival — I wrote a lot of haiku and haikai for this project! — but for several iterations, I opened up my inbox to seeds of possibility on a given day, and committed myself to writing a poem for every. single. one. as soon as I could.

As you might imagine, this is the kind of project where it helps to set limits time- and/or number-wise on just how many prompts you need to fill, and the kind of exercise too where because you are doing so many, because you're doing them all for free, eventually you learn as I learned to stop worrying quite so much about the quality of any one particular fill, and to embrace the opportunity to try new things with language and format just to vary up writing in such quantity.

On average, every time I offered some variation on 'Poem For Your Thoughts?', I wrote one or two poems I considered especially memorable within a day. The following, written for [personal profile] raze's prompt 'Muddy hooves', is one of them.

BY THE GRACE OF MONTY PYTHON

the matter of transportation
was solved by judicious application of coconuts

Read more... )


---
In honor of this post's subject, should you choose to comment here in any fashion (and I welcome your thoughts, reflections, associations, whatever you're move to share), I will — eventually — respond to your comment in poem form. (No promise of more than haiku, though!)
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
"Before we can be poets, we must practice"

—Mary Oliver, 'A Poetry Handbook'

J.J. here, returning to host this week on poetry as craft, one that can be cultivated and refined through practice. A little about myself, for those who don't know me from the previous times I've hosted: I'm a pupal neuroscientist and poet, neither fully accredited* (yet) or just starting out in either field. As such, I'm drawn to experimentation when it comes to poetry, and to metacognition — thinking about how I think — about writing poetry.

So. What makes a person a poet? Or perhaps I should say — what makes a person a memorable poet in a good way? ([personal profile] lnhammer might argue writing very bad poetry is both memorable and skilled, but those depths are not ones most of us aspire to!) Going by most dictionaries, anyone who creates poems is a poet. Would you agree? Myself, I go one step further: I think anyone who makes a practice of creating poems is a poet. To make a practice of poetry is, as I see it, to regularly realize what would otherwise be theoretical ('I'd like to write poetry more' etc.), and also to practice poetry: to exercise one's ear for the rhythm and sound of language, to sharpen the precision of one's diction, to experiment with form and syntax and the turning of lines, and most of all to integrate time & occasion to read, write, discuss, ferment poetry and poetic play into one's everyday life.

This week, I'll share with you some ways I've tried engineering "time & occasion" for poetry into my own life, and offer a sampling of resulting poems. In the meantime, I open the floor to you: do you make a practice of poetry yourself? Why or why not? Are there exercises along the lines of [personal profile] melannen's Some Exercises in the Craft of Writing that you think would be especially appropriate to writing poetry?


* )
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
[personal profile] jjhunter and I both deal with ghosts at this time of year, I think; certainly I do. We've been sharing some of them with each other, and this is what emerged.

a curious thing, this—
a seed that does not drop until
fire hath eaten up the underbrush of certainties

There is no hopelessnessin loving you.
Precision, yes, and care, delicacy.
Awareness of your absence, bittersweet, and yet:


you don't trail lonely echoes in your wake
or scatter ghosts of leaves, however crisp

your absence cuts rather like vinegar
and pickled thus everything is flavor
almost too intense to bear

your shadow stretches out before me:
still your light casts my life into relief

On motion

Oct. 3rd, 2013 08:28 pm
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
[personal profile] kaberett
MACHINES

Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsicord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.

The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.

So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.

If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsicordists prove

Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

-- Michael Donaghy

I used to be a pianist and a hiker, and these days I typically use a wheelchair when I leave the house, and my RSI means the most music I usually do is singing. It's been an... interesting transition to make, to say the least; and speaking of interesting transitions, to this day if I am walking late at night I will shift my gait from masculine-typical to feminine-typical and back again depending on what I think's warranted by my surroundings.

This all ties in with bodies, of course: the body as vehicle; motion between places, between states. Here is a thing I love: the way that we can suggest motion through structure, through rhythm, through assonance and onomatopoeia.

And we can also suggest stillness or constraint: I mentioned, yesterday, the strictures of poetry and how they relate to bodies; but I will also never forget the unseen poem in my GCSE English Literature exam, which was about being imprisoned - and was in sonnet form.

Robert Frost, of course, manages motion and stillness all at once.

And so: this is a way for us to talk about tension, about change of state, about - again - loss, but also about not having to be good, and it's not in the words, or at least not quite or not only in them.

Let's be clear: the poems I link to are not required reading for engaging in comments. They're just things I think you might be interested in, at least some of them.

And so, predictably, I am going to ask you to add to my own hoard of poems: what are your favourite examples of poetry in motion?

I apologise that I have not, anywhere in this post, included any trains - but what I will leave you with (and oh, but this leads in to my next post for you) is a tightrope.

TALENT

This is the word tightrope. Now imagine
a man, inching across it in the space
between our thoughts. He holds our breath.

There is no word net.

You want him to fall, don't you?
I guessed as much; he teeters but succeeds.
The word applause is written all over him.

-- Carol Ann Duffy
jjhunter: A sheep with shaded glasses and a straw hat lies on its side; overhead floats the pun 'on the lamb' (as in baby sheep). (on the lamb)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Society members by code numbers: 9 – [personal profile] lexigent; 16 – [personal profile] fyreharper; 24 – J.J. the Pointed Verse of Reasoned Debate; 28 – [personal profile] firecat; 29 – [personal profile] lizcommotion; 34 – [personal profile] okrablossom; 35 – Pau Amma; 40 – [personal profile] bookblather; and 41 – [personal profile] primeideal.

"There's something intimate about secrecy. When someone glances about and lowers their voice, you instinctively lean in. Whatever it is that the two of you discuss, your soft-voiced conversation creates a illusion of a private space, one set apart from the crowded world outside.

"Let's create such a space here [...]" Thus begins the Covert Collaboration Challenge, "a little experiment in secrecy as a recipe for intimacy". Over the course of a week, myself and my eight fellow Society members wrote two original sonnets; the majority of the lines in each were written with only one to two preceding lines for reference, and in the case of the second sonnet, the prompt ("spontaneous musicals, or What if life was more like theater?'").

==

METAMORPHIC UNDERSTANDING

full text of the 'Shakespearean' sonnet behind the cut )

==

HELLO, TROLLEY

full text of the 'loose Petrarchean' sonnet behind the cut )

===
All are welcome to comment and discuss. Society members, was this experiment successful in fostering intimacy? Do you have any favorite exchanges or quotes you'd like to share from our Top Secret discussion threads?
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
For myself, the pleasure and the difficulty of collaborative poetry are both rooted in the same place: the loss of control. In the following poem, the first that [personal profile] lizcommotion wrote with me for our LizJJ Jam, I think that learning curve is most readily apparent. The haikai format lends itself to alternating authorship by stanza; I wrote the initial seed and all the subsequent 5-7-5 stanzas, while Liz took the 7-7 stanzas. Please take a moment to read the poem itself, and then see below for further commentary.


pacific kitchen

peel your clementines
like compass stars, and your trash
will bloom orange suns

silver and gold diadems
abandoned, tarnish and fade

while plastic wrappers
float on distant seas, tawdry
immortality

amidst glass lures, forgotten
in the ocean's lulling waves

the global local
the distant piscine choking
on our convenience

---

Further commentary behind the cut )

---

Some starting places for discussion:

If this poem was written by three writers instead of two, and you were the third writer, what alternative third stanza might you write in place of 'while plastic wrappers...', etc.? Where do you think the new poem might go from there?

Does this feel like a cohesive poem, or a collection of disparate images? Are there particular key words or concepts that link two or more stanzas together?

Have you ever participated in writing haikai or other collaborative poetry yourself? How is it different from writing poetry on your own?

---

Leave kudos behind the cut )
lizcommotion: typewriter on a table, faded (writing)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
Apologies for the service delay! Those of you who guessed that I started the last poem, sacrificia, were correct!

This next poem was started from the last line first, switching off lines. I *may* have added two lines here and there as I got overwhelmed by the creative impulse, but it sorted itself out. If you've never written a poem backwards, I highly recommend it as a format. If you've never written a poem backwards with another person, I recommend that as well.

You are welcome to steal our first/last line: "and all that for a ha'penny" - or come up with something of your own. We'd love to see the output of your creative endeavors sometime, particularly at the Sunday Picnic! I dare you...

===

that time you nicked my penny for your plots

at first the day ballooned with sharp words, but
I couldn't win against your mock solemnity

we laughed through the ferris wheel
circling around each others' hands,
until the sun's last cheerful hurrah saw us

finished at the fair, exhausted and spent
fingers sticky with cotton candy --
and all that for a ha'penny.

===

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9


I would like to leave kudos for this poem

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Yes
7 (100.0%)

No
0 (0.0%)

I'm thinking of writing a backwards poem for the Sunday Picnic!

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Yes
1 (11.1%)

Maybe So
5 (55.6%)

Nope
0 (0.0%)

Some other time perhaps
3 (33.3%)

Every poll needs a duck!
4 (44.4%)



lizcommotion: typewriter on a table, faded (writing)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
Can I just say that I think my new favorite thing is collaborative poetry writing? I am so glad [personal profile] jjhunter  invited me to co-host this week with her, because it meant we had three heady days of dashing forth lines of poetry. 

This poem evolved almost exactly a 24 hour period from start to title. As we were nearing our deadline, each poet contributed a larger chunk of lines than in previous poems (3-5ish), sometimes stopping mid-line to let the other poet finish the thought. The theme was "artistic creation", the form free-form.

One of the things I really enjoyed about writing this particular pell-mell poem was the way we played with melding words. For example, in one exchange jjhunter ended with the word "quick", to which I added "-ening" thus changing the direction of the poem. I love that jjhunter just ran with it, and the synergy created there gave the poem a greater depth to its central theme and ultimately (I'm guessing, since jjhunter chose the title) helped lead to the choice in title.

Without further ado, here's the poem...

sacrificia

Room thunderswept, mind electrocuted,
the ideas swell-and-fade in currents and eddies,
elusive and overpowering. Sometimes
soulwrenchingly lost in the pell-mell tang
of creative synergy when one thread drops
and the others race on, electric in their mania
quickening, a first stirring of creation
or is it triplets quintuplets septuplets
surely one or two will be sacrificed in the birth
of a novel, a love poem, an heirloom quilt
kill your darlings stitched into institutional
whizzing, into the seasons and the harvest king
myth and mistaken and mapping nature
onto humanity as if a muse could be caught
tamped down, distilled into an essence
displayed on a dignified gallery wall
when all all is pursuit, the wild hunt
and beware those who get swept up in it
for there is no perfect art

Poll #12614 sacrificia poll
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 6


I would like to leave kudos on this poem

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Yes
6 (100.0%)

No
0 (0.0%)

Who do you think started this poem? Answer revealed tomorrow!

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jjhunter started it!
0 (0.0%)

lizcommotion started it!
3 (100.0%)



jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)
[personal profile] jjhunter
This week returning Poetry Hosts [personal profile] lizcommotion and myself ([personal profile] jjhunter) will be co-Hosting a week on poetry we wrote together during our recent 'LizJJ Jam'. Each poem is the fruit of a distinct email chain where the first email establishes format (if any), opening line(s), and loose 'standards' for swapping our digital pen back and forth as the poem evolves. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

ragdoll poetry

stitched from each poet's muse, handsewn smile recites ragdoll poetry
this arm drawn from a faded childhood dress worn
sepia with adventure, that one from summer skin
burnished smooth with coaxing snails out their front door holes
memories ragged around the edges, smudged by fingers
mucky from ink pens and filching chocolate chip cookies
the way you say hello in my voice, my diction echoed in yours
wordshop duality into one poem, one ragged edge joined to ragged heart

---
Poll #12598 Kudos?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 6


I would like to leave kudos on this post

View Answers

Yes
6 (100.0%)

jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I originally planned to write about thresholds and cycles that one might wish to break, but this poem, my first in the new year, took on a bit of a life of its own. Concrit most welcome.


ad libitum

first the baritone of breathing
the baseline beating
the magnum spin of light
day-night, day-night

next the liquid counterpoint
goes up to heaven and down again
as rain, as sleet and snow
and silent swirl of fog

while chain the carbons breathed by leaves
and ooze the currents down below
and hurtle this whole dancing enterprise
through space around the sun

so we are never really still, you and I,
but adjusting always
never so silent that we are not living song

===

Behind the cut, some questions for discussion )
jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I've written about haikai here before; for those who missed it the first time around, a quick refresher:
One of my favorite poetry formats is haikai (alternating verses of 5-7-5 and 7-7), or more specifically haikai no renga, which today is known more simply as renku. It is a form of collaborative Japanese linked verse poetry; the more well known form (in English) haiku comes from taking the first verse of a haikai in isolation. I like haikai because I usually write them in collaboration with one or more other poets (with some exceptions), and the strict syllable count for each verse limits its length, making it more likely someone else will take the time to respond.
Some further thoughts about English-language derivatives of Japanese-language poetry formats )

=

I have not run into many other poets using an English-language haikai format. As mentioned above, it's one that I prefer because the strict syllable counts and overall brevity of stanzas make it an easy format for facilitating collaborative poetry between two or more people. Sometimes I also write non-collaborative haikai when I want a slightly more expansive format than English-language haiku without losing the power of its precision and short, restrained lines.

Example poem 'Civitatis' behind the cut )
=

Have you ever written or participated in writing an English-language haikai yourself? I'll repost 'Civitatis' in the comments, and I encourage you to try adding a stanza yourself to the thread according to the alternating 5-7-5 and 7-7 stanza format.
jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
The shortest form of English poetry I know comes from the Japanese: the 5-7-5 syllable lines comprising a ‘haiku’. The modern Japanese haiku in turn comes from an older form of Japanese poetry, the haikai no renga, which I will discuss later this week.

Some thoughts on the implications of 'haiku' being a linguistic transplant )

The upshot of transplanting the original format from Japanese is that the haiku in English doesn’t map neatly onto the usual rhyme and rhythm schemes of native English or Romance language poetry formats. It is visually distinct and instantly recognizable to a general audience without facilitating sing-song sloppiness or verbose obscurity. By its nature, it challenges the poet to be both succinct and precise, and as a result can pack a significant punch behind its deceptively simple three lines.
genealogy
of helping hands reminds us
action’s contagious
(Source: 'Poem For Your Thoughts?': Special US Voter Registration Edition fill for [personal profile] nagasvoice’s prompt ‘pay it forward’)

=

In my opinion, the haiku’s short format makes it ideal for micro-poetry events such as my occasional How Are You? (in Haiku) days. Whether or not you have thoughts to share concerning the main content of this post, I encourage you to write a haiku in the comments responding to the following prompt:
Pick a thing or two that sums up how you're doing today, this week, in general, and tell me about it in the 5-7-5 syllables of a haiku. I will leave anonymous comments screened unless otherwise asked; feel free to use this to leave private comments if that's what you're most comfortable with.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
[personal profile] jjhunter here: I'm succumbing to temptation and Hosting this week on a subject near and dear to my heart: very short poems, here defined as poems of ten lines or fewer. (For more about me, please see my intro post from the first time I Hosted at [community profile] poetree.) I plan to primarily post my own poems as springboards for broader discussion on all brevity has to offer.

what I can say in
5-7-5: everything
or one thing concise.


To get us started, please share one or more of your favorite haikus in the comments. What makes such haiku work for you?

===
Poll to leave kudos behind the cut )
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
[community profile] poetree sprouted from a visual seed, itself a snapshot of a pun made art.

Paper sculpture of a 'poetree' left as an anonymous gift at the Scottish Poetry Library
Mysterious paper 'poetree' sculpture - photo by chrisdonia


What is a 'poetree'? It sounds like poetry, and looks like an elision of poet's tree. And in the case of the image above, it is a small, extraordinarily detailed paper sculpture of a tree lovingly crafted from strips of printed paper and mounted on a book. The anonymous artist who left it as a surprise gift at the Scottish Poetry Library a year and a half ago also left this message referencing the library's Twitter handle:
It started with your name @ByLeavesWeLive and became a tree… We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words… This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…
Read more... )

Origins

Oct. 9th, 2012 11:38 pm
jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Just as Dreamwidth itself is a code fork of Livejournal, [community profile] poetree is an explicit code fork of its sister comm [community profile] poetry. It borrowed [community profile] poetry's basic format of a weekly Poetry Host and, at least initially, duplicated the other's explanation of what Hosting entailed. Given that [community profile] poetry was and continues to be an superlative Dreamwidth community for poetry sharing, I knew from the start that [community profile] poetree needed a clear answer to 'So why do we need another poetry comm?' Initially, the answer was very specific:
There's one type of poetry (besides song lyrics) [community profile] poetry explicitly doesn't take, and that's the poetry written by the poster. Less explicitly, there is a bias toward poetry that has been published on paper as opposed to posted online or shared through other more unorthodox channels.
In other words, [community profile] poetree was originally conceived as a version of [community profile] poetry where poets could share their own poetry. The poetry discussion element that has become so central to [community profile] poetree's identity today was literally an afterthought on the original signup post.

Read more... )

Further Reading
* [community profile] poetree's first Guest Host was David Kopaska-Merkel. You can browse David's posts via his comm author tag.
* [community profile] poetree's first multi-Hosted themed week centered on Poetry Complements. Click the link to read its introduction post and find links to individual posts from that week, including On illustrating poetry by guest artist [personal profile] meeks.
jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (Default)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Hello all! I’m J.J., the founder of [community profile] poetree and one of our two current admins. Today I’m going to give a brief overview of POETREE’s history, and then open up the conversation in regards to a topic of importance to both this community and any online community seeking to increase participation.

In a post earlier this week, Plunge magazine founder [personal profile] ailelie mentioned the importance of defining any idea, or really any organization, in three to five words. Six months in, I define POETREE as an ‘online poetry discussion community’. The community was originally envisioned as a supplement to the higher volume [community profile] poetry, another Dreamwidth community that specializes in published poetry not the poster’s own, but quickly began to morph into something more interesting than that: a place where poets amateur and professional and poetry enthusiasts could share and discuss poems and poetry culture. Rather than being just another poetry mailing list, POETREE could take advantage of its host platform to facilitate conversation and and build up an archive of resources available free to anyone interested.

That dream is very much a work in progress, and the journey to realizing it has been alternatively humbling and exhilarating. For the first six months, I focused primarily on recruiting people to write content, and assumed that the audience for that content would materialize over time. The community has certainly grown a great deal -- we’re now at triple the number of members and subscribers that we had in December -- but the amount of discussion going on in the comments has been much more variable. This in turn makes it more difficult for the Hosts to gauge how many people are reading their posts, and (I worry) makes it less rewarding than it might otherwise be for people to Host in the first place.

This is not a guilt manifesto, but rather a place to begin. Earlier I defined POETREE as an ‘online poetry discussion community’; it’s worth asking ourselves, what makes us a community? Is participation a requirement for being part of the community? Where does that leave the lurkers, those who might be reading avidly but by preference or default tend not to comment on posts or have time to Host? Read more... )

==

What do you think? If you left the occasional ‘kudos’ comment, what format would it take? Do you have ideas beyond those already mentioned? What would you like to see in the comments?

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poetree: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
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