The Digital Muse: The Poet as Website Owner
The site was launched in April 2009. A regular reader, Kira Somach, gave the site the following endorsement (in an email to me a couple of years ago), ‘Most people enjoy shopping delivered to their doorstep. I enjoy Selzer Poetry delivered to mine’. A pithy, witty rationale!
The idea for the site came out of discussions with a friend and ex-colleague, John Plummer. He shared the development of his book, ISLANDS AND LIFELINES, with me and we talked about self-publishing. I raised the notion of his doing so via the web, but he opted, quite understandably, for the conventional route. It took me some to realise that, since I had thought the notion was in principle a good one, I ought for once to take my own advice!
The site was designed to my specifications by Sam Hutchinson. We seem to have done the job well as the site has only required some tweaking since its launch – and feedback suggests it is generally user friendly.
I had anticipated that the content of the site would, for the most part, be work I had already produced – and that once that work had been posted I might add the occasional piece. I had not thought beyond that, and had certainly not anticipated that one of the effects of creating the site would be that I would write more. In fact, I’ve written more poems since its inception ten years ago than in the previous fifty years!
I suspect there are two main reasons for this. I now have a group of regular readers – from all continents except Antarctica! Some are people I have known for many years, others I have reconnected with through the site, and some I’ve never actually met and probably never will.
The other reason is that I have consolidated what I might call a blogging style of poetics, a style I realise I aspired to when I was a young man but, to quote Henri Matisse, ‘Even if I could have done when I was young what I’m doing now – and it is what I dreamed of then – I wouldn’t have dared.’
The only significant editorial decision I have made since the site launched has been in relation to the use of pictorial images – diagrams, maps, paintings, photographs etc. – with the text. Originally I thought their use essential as in the print medium – to illustrate and to leaven the text. But I eventually realised their use in this context was redundant – primarily because my poetry has always been built on imagery, figurative or literal. Duh! as they say. If I were capable of being embarrassed at my age I would be!
Mentioning age reminds me that another of my regular readers, the writer and critic Mary Clark, wrote in a review of A JAR OF STICKLEBACKS, ‘As an avid reader of his blog, I believe in the last few years he has reached a maturity as a poet that sets him apart’. Even if I could have done when I was young what I’m doing now…