Poetry Wired

By Lu, Pamela | Chicago Review, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview

Poetry Wired


Lu, Pamela, Chicago Review


Considering the proliferation of World Wide Web sites devoted to everything from government agencies to personal scatology, it is not surprising that no shortage of poetry websites should exist; entering "poetry" into the search field of Alta Vista, one of the largest Web search engines, yields 579,610 listings. These sites cover the gamut of the contemporary and classical poetry and poetics scene - from online journals to online chapbooks, academic poetry to spoken word, and established publishers to the smallest of small presses. The World Wide Web has been an especially friendly medium for the experimental poetry community, whose members are spread throughout the world and often depend on marginalized "networks" of hard-to-find journals, small-press book distributors, word-of-mouth reading series, and long-distance discussions. Given the relative democracy and inexpensiveness of setting up, posting, and accessing a website, the Internet has proved to be the ultimate networking resource for the avant-garde.

What follows is a short sampling of poetry sites on the World Wide Web, with an emphasis on contemporary experimental poetry and poetics. It is impossible to be "complete" or "comprehensive" when discussing the vastness of the Web, and this list does not pretend to do either. Rather, it represents just one of the many possible itineraries or "reading habits" that might be charted through a browser window.

Resources

Perhaps the single largest and most eclectic resource site for experimental poetry, the Electronic Poetry Center (http:// wings.buffalo.edu/epc/) offers an extensive array of author biographies, selections of poetry, book reviews, and links to other poetry sites on the Web. Updated regularly from its headquarters at SUNY Buffalo, the Electronic Poetry Center, or EPC, strives to keep abreast of the latest news, events, publications, and even reading performances in the experimental poetry community. In addition to a revolving Hotlist of current and topical websites, the EPC maintains alphabetized archives of independent literary journals and small presses. Each listing links to a description of the press or magazine's frequency, contributors, and editorial focus, along with subscription and contact information. The EPC also administrates the Poetics electronic discussion list (see http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/ poetics/for information), whose subscribers include hundreds of wired poets.

Long an institution in the New York City poetry scene, the St. Marks Poetry Project (http://www.poetryproject.com/) Call now also be visited online. This site provides a virtual tour of the Poetry Project, including its history, a calendar of upcoming events, selections from its newsletter, and a brief anthology of some current Poetry Project poets.

Columbia University's Bartleby Library (http:// www.columbia.edu/acis/bartleby/index.html) maintains a rich online archive of classic texts - from volumes of Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations and the inaugural addresses of all the U.S. presidents through George Bush. A fascinating and valuable reference resource, the Bartleby Library site also demonstrates the accessibility and convenience of electronic archiving, replacing folio covers with digital photos, manuscript pages with scanned images, and cross-references with hypertext links.

Bookstores and Publishers

Though it may appear at times like an online Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com) is much more than a purveyor of trade paperbacks and book-of-the-month club selections. Basically, if a book is distributed through a distributor, it will appear in Amazon.com's truly massive, fully searchable catalogue of titles. This list includes everything from academic volumes of critical and literary theory to small-press books of contemporary poetry. Even out-of-print titles may be ordered through this site - for example, a search for Lyn Hejinian's A Mask of Motion brings up a message stating that Amazon. …

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