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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Community, Confessions, and Cyberspace

I bring up the topic of confessional writing and blogging – poetry and prose that expresses the personal. I bear my heart on my sleeve in some of my posts – those who know me can track my personal issues through some of these posts. Those that don’t may suspect the personal issues, but why should they care? And really, why should those who do know me? These posts are issued into Cyberspace – my thoughts, my feelings set adrift in some sort of quasi community. After all, who reads? Who responds? Who knows? Does it matter? – the eternal question.

We’ve discussed this in my writer’s group – the wave of confessional poetry in the 60s and 70s as the personal became the political, and the glut these days of memoirs – some written by hip people in their 30s and which comprise really just a collection of witty and well-written bits – yet make no larger connection to the world and so leave me with a “so what?” and others by folks who have “important” stories to tell – have stories that do connect to larger issues in life, yet the stories fail on some level because they are not well-written.

Back to confessional poetry – or poetry that can smack of sentiment (as in my just-moments-ago I Dreamt of You post and past Charlie Poems posts). My concern is that though it’s often important for me to work out “issues” and feelings through my writing, can the work appeal to a larger audience – or rather – an audience? (And there's another issue - who is the audience in Cyberspace?) In some way, can I transform what is for me a very personal experience – and yet one that is also universal in its truth and reality – into a piece that connects on a deeper level with a reader – that becomes art – not just narcissist revelation? I think I often fail in that endeavor – half of what I write I never post. And I think even in what I post, I often fail to move beyond the self-centered and into a world that shares humanity in a fresh or compelling way. There’s a difference between wearing your heart on your sleeve and moaning, wailing, revealing your angst just to reveal it and creating a common and beautifully expressed capsule of the experience for others to share and connect to.

Oh what am I saying in these tortured sentences? I post my work – my poems, my social critiques – in cyberspace as part of a blogging community but is it really a community? Who comes by to call? Who responds? I check out other blogs and sometimes comment and then check back –and perhaps a conversation gets going – a back-and-forth dialogue embedded in the comments on someone’s particular post. But is this a real community? I might check out someone who has posted on my blog, or who has commented on a blog I visit – poke about and see – who are they? But do I know? Can you tell? Because I write and advocate for writing as a way of thinking, learning, sharing, connecting, I should be able to say – YES! Words reveal who you are and join you to a larger community – but I am not sure that is so. I am not so sure that blogging democratizes writing (nor am I sure I want writing to be democratized – hmmm – there’s a topic for a whole piece, eh?) or builds bridges between worlds or collaboratively constructs knowledge and understanding.

This post makes no sense, rambles and loops back on its self, yet I’ll release it out into the void nonetheless.


Blogger disguised said...

There's so much here.

Yeah, the question here is about community responsibility, it seems to me. Can that exist in cyberspace? And what is our responsbility to participate within the confines of any particular post...

Is it okay to lurk or not? And is it okay to think about a post for a while and then write back later (which I have done here)...and what happens if you need to actually THINK, and then forget to write.

And how does one judge that line between personal/private when the lines seem so fuzzy themselves in the journals. I ask myself the same questions--is it the journal's (editor's preference) or my own misunderstanding of current needs...

Perhaps we need to be braver with those we know and divulge our personal writing in person...I speak for myself here.

January 03, 2006 12:55 AM  
Blogger savagefredd said...

Terrific questions about audience and writing as a means of transforming or at least putting nebulous thoughts and ideas into concrete symbols....

As if "art" and "narcissist revelation" aren't synonymous. Otherwise "art" would be locked in the cellar or tossed in the trash or sacrificed on the funeral pyre.
Perhaps, there is some middle ground, though I would argue that "art" is always made for an audience, to been seen by others with the implication that said artist always thinks s/he has something important and interesting to contribute to the collective...that his/her ideas are both relevatory and relevant in a universalist way.

January 09, 2006 8:09 PM  
Blogger Bird said...

Hmmm.. do you mean Savage that narcissim is the beginning of art in some ways? That without the narcisstic tendency to begin with, no one would put pen paper,or fingers to keypad to begin with? That some sort of narcisstic quality is necessary and present in any "writer?"

Audience in this forum is perplexing. I've yet to truly identify who I'm writing for - so I suspect I begin by writing for me -some need (though not necessarily narcistic) to express something - to have words convey meaning. Just never sure who that meaning is meant for. The cyberspace audience is broad, invisible, and hard to define.
(forgive the typos and spelling errors.)

January 11, 2006 2:08 PM  
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December 25, 2006 12:08 AM  

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