Following my earlier post on Tuesday I've had additional time to reflect on this subject. In fact I was talking with a peer at a meeting on Wednesday night about this. This person, who is not a blogger, but reads my blog in her e-mail by way of a feed she subscribes to, acknowledged she agrees about the exposure to others people's work. It dawned on me during this conversation that there are many poets who develop close peer relationships for example, with people who go through an MFA program together, and find themselves connected to one another and their work for years after completing the program. For these people, the Internet becomes an extension of the peer contact from the MFA program itself. In spite of distance, it remains relatively easy to follow the work of others through this medium. Their network may start there and expand well beyond.
I've not had the benefit of the MFA experience. Certainly none of it, but for the sake of this conversation, the peer network that can develop as a result of it. I have a limited number of individuals, with varying degrees of writing experience, with whom I have face-to-face contact with locally. Clearly these people are important. Still, if left to these contacts alone, there is much I would miss in terms of my exposure to the poetry of today.
There are far more people with whom I've had contact than listed in the previous post. But six of those seven people have published work which I have copies of. The other one has a book (nudging myself) I still need need to acquire. Now in each of these cases it is not likely I would have just walked into store and bought their book. Not without other contact. Not without coming to know something about their work, their style, their voice.
Through blogging, I've met other poets from beyond the local community. I've learned more about some through interviews. Expanded my knowledge of contemporary and experimental work. Benefited from a variety of poetic voices. Increased my knowledge of available poetry markets, received exposure and yes, feedback on some of my own work. And last but not least, shared in triumphs and rejections. Writing, especially when it comes to poetry is very solitary. It often relies upon withdrawing deep into one's own self which can seem lonely and even dark at times. It's ameliorating when you are exposed to and can learn from other poets who know well that place and the process.