Saturday, September 4, 2010

Online vs. Paper

I thought about giving this post this title: "When It Rains It Pours." But in a week where a hurricane lashes almost the whole Atlantic coast, with more systems swirling out there, I decided on a more mundane title.

But really, how many weeks can I remember where I have 2 poems published? Not many, if any. My poem, "Left Behind," is up at Qarrtsiluni. Go here to read it or to click on the link to hear me read it. It's a poem which imagines what happens after the feeding of the 5000 by Jesus. And yes, the poem is a playful nod to that wildly popular series of apocalyptic books from a decade ago, but those books really have nothing to do with this poem.

Two poems in one week--and both in online journals. That rarely happens with paper journals, but I do notice that acceptances often come in clumps. No mystery there--I usually work on submissions in a big burst.

Qarrtsiluni was one of the first online journals that made me really see that the online form could do so much more than paper. First of all there's all the color that an online journal can use. And then, there's audio, a whole new dimension. Can video be far behind?

And then there's the matter of readers. Karen writes here about the readership that she has that she wouldn't have without online journals. And more of us are reading online and expect to be able to read online. If a voracious devourer of books like me finds myself increasingly reading on a computer, what does that say for the rest of the world. My poem on Qarrtsiluni can be delivered by all the means that younger readers have come to expect: podcast, e-mail feed, I-tunes. And yes, I realize that I'm probably leaving out some content delivery system that only younger readers know about right now.

For those of you who are ready to dip your toe into the electronic waters and submit, Diane Lockward writes here about what she'd like in an online journal and she she gives us a list of journals that fit her criteria here.

I think about an older generation of writers and wonder if they'd have been happier with an online option. Today is the birthday of Richard Wright, who finally got so disgusted with his country that he moved to Paris. I doubt that being able to publish online would have eased his eventual hatred of his native country.

I remember reading Black Boy in high school, because Native Son was deemed too intense for us. So, naturally, I read Native Son. Now I read that there's an unexpurgated version. Holy cow! The expurgated version was intense enough, as I remember it. Those two books paint an important picture of what life was like for minorities before the Civil Rights era.

I do think that the Internet, with all its content options, has helped usher in a brave, new world. In some ways, we may have a less repressed era, since we all control the printing press. Unfortunately, it's up to each of us to make smart content choices, and I continue to be horrified at how unskilled many people are at determining the truth and horrified at how skilled people are at manipulating human gullibility.

That overwhelming abundance of information makes me especially appreciative of online journals. There's one poem on the screen; I can handle that. A thick journal that arrives by U.S. Post is too much. It goes in the never ending stack of paper bundles that wait to be read.

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