THE TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION KILLS HARRIET

Harriet has shut down comments to its blog. 

What follows is Harriet’s explanation, with comments from Scarriet:

What’s New at Harriet

First of all, we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who made National Poetry Month on Harriet such a great experience.  [No…Thank YOU…]

We had some of the most lively and engaging discussions over the past thirty one days, as well as profound stand-alone pieces.  True, it was a lot to take in over a quick month, but we’re confident the posts will remain touchstones for future conversations.  Thank you, writers and readers, for all your efforts.  [No…REALLY…Thank YOU.]

And now, we’d like to lay out what’s in store for Harriet[‘lay out what’s in store’  What ugly terminology.  Don’t like the sound of this…]

Asked to describe how poetry has changed over the past ten years, Ron Silliman wrote on our site that the ongoing revolution in communications technology has upended the power dynamics of the community as well as the way poets interact.  [Whatever that means…ALL BOW DOWN TO THE NEW GOD OF C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-O-N-S  T-E-C-H-N-O-L-O-G-Y! ]

 “Poets blogging,” Silliman wrote, “is just a symptom.”  [just a symptom.  … a symptom’ of what?]

Over the past four years we’ve been privileged to be a part of this revolution.  [ahh, the privilege of revolution!]   

From the early long-form journals on Harriet to the group blog, the style and format have evolved to match the moment, and we’re grateful for everyone who has participated, posters and commenters alike.  [yes…eternally grateful, no doubt…]

Recently, though, we’ve noticed that the symptoms of this revolution have changed.  The blog as a form has begun to be overtaken by social media like Twitter and Facebook.  [Twitter and Facebook???  LOL]

News of the poetry world now travels fastest and furthest through Twitter (as the thousands of followers of @poetryfound, @poetrymagazine, and @poetrynews can attest), with the information often picked up from news aggregator sites rather than discursive blogs.  [“News of the poetry world:” Damn those discursive blogs!]

Also, anyone involved in the more dynamic discussions of poetry, poetics, or politics in the past year knows that more and more of the most vibrant interactions have been found on Facebook.  [Facebook.  LOL]

We saw this happening last month as our National Poetry Month posts traveled far and wide through various status updates, wall postings, and links.  [FAR AND WIDE?? golly!]

 Setting aside the troubling issues of privacy and coterie this brings up, it would be foolish to deny it as a fact of the revolution.  [The “revolution” of “coterie.”]

As Craig Santos Perez recently joked, “it’s true, facebook killed the blogger star.”  And while that’s obviously not completely true (check out our new blogroll for evidence to the contrary), we feel that the new terrain calls for a new Harriet.  [Harriet jumps into Facebook river.  See ya…]

Starting this week, then, Harriet will transition into a space we hope will better serve the various poetry communities we’ve come to know over the past four years.  [Harriet wants to “better serve” Facebook and Twiiter.  LOL]

This new version of Harriet will feature on the main page a daily news feed with links and excerpts from other outlets around the world.  [Harriet evolves into a nothing which exists only to link to something else.  Vive la Revolution!]

We hope to point to the vibrant discussions happening online, as well as vital literary journalism, essays, and criticism.  [“We hope to point to…LOL]

In addition to this news aggregation, we will spotlight poetry communities and events.  [Harriet, the Community Calendar.  Yawn]

These features, which will appear under the name “Open Door,” will use multimedia journalism to showcase unique interactions between poets and poetry readers around the world. [Multimedia journalism!  You don’t say!]

 Look for “Open Door” features on the The Interrupture performances in Seattle, poetry night in Iraq, and circle dancing in Iceland in the coming months.  Click on the side bar link for a more in-depth description of this new feature.  [Harriet’s got discount plane tickets, too!]

In addition to news and these Open Door features, Harriet will begin a new life on Twitter.  Each month a new poet will take over the Harriet Twitter feed and provide daily posts about his or her life, work, and interests.  Sign up to follow this month’s writer, D.A. Powell, at @harriet_poetry. [Celeb Twitter!]

The posts and discussions of the past will all remain archived on the site, but in this new stage Harriet itself will no longer feature comments. [yea, who needs ‘em?]

This isn’t a decision we’ve come to lightly, but it has become clear over the past few months that it is time for Harriet to move on from this discussion model.  [Twitter is calling!  LOL]

The space was designed to be forward thinking and experimental, and so we look forward to continuing along that path.  [to Twitter.  LOL]

We’re grateful for everyone who has participated over the past few years, and we hope that the energy and thought that went into the best comments can be put into the wide range of other available and worthy outlets in the poetry world.  [for we, Harriet, are no longer worthy!]

We’re excited to follow Harriet on this new adventure, and we hope you are too.  [What is this ”adventure” again?  Kill discursiveness and embrace Twitter?  Gosh…thanks.]

Together we believe we can continue to highlight the new voices Harriet Monroe set out to find when she began Poetry back in 1912.  [“Together we believe…”  This never bodes well…]

Sincerely,

Catherine Halley and Travis Nichols

So here’s the question:  What happened to Harriet?

It seems Harriet is like an investor in clover leaf highways in the 1950s. 

Unable to bring substance, they are now latching onto mere technology as the answer.

The patient, poetry, has long been sick, the illness due to the obscurantism of the modernists, and Harriet believes the best cure for the patient is to block discursiveness.  Well done, Doctor!   

My hunch is that Harriet’s April (the ‘no comments’ experiment) saw hits go way down, and, disturbed, perplexed, perhaps even angered at this turn of events, Harriet decided poetry must really be dead…after all, Harriet offered all these articles from all these interesting poets…but interest was minimal and Harriet’s experiment was a failure, precisely because readers were not allowed to comment.  Harriet realized in horror that readers were not really interested in Harriet’s offerings—they just wanted to hear themselves talk.  

“We’ll show you…” has been Harriet’s reaction.  No one read Harriet in April because everyone was on Twitter!   That’s what Harriet told itself.   Blame it on the technology.  

The problem isn’t with Harriet or po-biz.  The problem is that damn ‘technology revolution.’  It’s all Twitter’s fault.

Nope. 

Everyone was reading Scarriet.

4 Comments

  1. Chuck Godwin said,

    May 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Ok, so Harriet, the Blog is not allowing comments (fine, its her blog, she can do as she pleases). So readers are invited to “follow on Twitter”… which, get ready, is ALL COMMENTS.
    And such interesting poetry related comments they are: I learned that the Grand Ole Opry is underwater, that cranberry juice has lots of sugar, and that Queen Noor wants our help in saving the Jordan River. (Is that the one where John baptized Jesus?). Ok, so Harriet is not allowing comments. Ok.

  2. notevensuperficial said,

    May 5, 2010 at 7:19 am

    The Principle of Non-Co-Existence of Discussion Models at work at Harriet is puzzling.

    Because there are twitter accounts to tweet ‘back at’ (?), there’s no point to opening comment threads appended to blogicles.

    So: because there are tweets to read, there’s no point to reading poems – why, poems are less “dynamic” and “vibrant” than tweets because they’re simply slower. (I can’t be the only bare, forked creature for whom this priority tree is . . . incomprehensible.)

    ——

    Why puff oxygen Harriet’s way? Why not support their brave, lonely skepticism of “coterie[s]” by (gradually, then suddenly) losing the sense that there still is such a site?

  3. May 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I don’t get it…it this just about shutting up the riff-raff? I never cease to be astonished by how uncomfortable “official American poetry culture” is with any sort of negative criticism of the in-group. It’s worse than a small town chamber of commerce.

    What self-respecting poet is going to tweet while representing himself “as a poet”?

    On a different note–John Hollander is not a big league bat. He will cool off long before the all-star break and once Merrill is unprotected in the lineup, Hartford will struggle.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    May 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    You might be right, Briggs.

    John Hollander (Lifetime)

    BA .268
    HR 139
    RBI 805
    SB 21

    Tom


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