I’m a big fan of Dan Blank, founder of We Grow Media. Dan’s mission is to help writers build their online platform, not by blasting out marketing messages from twitter or facebook, but by growing your audience ‘one reader at a time.’
I was thinking of this maxim recently when I was contemplating American poetry. I’ve a copy of Best American Poetry 2012 thinking it might be a way in to understanding the US poetry scene and its publications. I was dismayed by much of the poetry and couldn’t easily connect with it; it felt very much like new territory. I also went online and started digging around writers’ programmes and residencies, following blogs. Actually I found it a bit overwhelming. There seem to be a gadzillion publications and poets. Even though I’ve lived in the US in the past I felt lost, like I needed a roadmap. I wondered if it was worth it. But I decided the way to do it might be one poet at a time.
So I randomly followed a link to a website and from there to the blog of Sydney Lea, the Poet Laureate of Vermont. I read a couple of his blog posts and really enjoyed them. I shall explore what I can of his stuff and who knows, maybe buy a book. Or maybe not, I don’t know. But I do know it will lead me to other poets, other blogs, and it will probably give me insights into the US poetry scene in a localised, grassroots kind of way. It’s a tangible, less scary way in, and one that wouldn’t have really been possible before the web.
Maybe I should instigate a kind of ‘poet twinning’ movement, in the interests of greater exchange and understanding between US and UK poets (at least, those interested in such a thing)? Or does it already exist?