A very public room of one’s own, online writing

These performative dimensions of public speech always carry tones, gestures, forms of acting out, contradictions, and self-corrections that contribute to new actions and capacities in others. The quote you have singled out to me suggests that poetry can show engaged citizens how to listen to, or respond to, public issues or actions.”

The above statement is about poetic engagement derived from a piece at J2, entitled Recasting poetry, the long biography of a poem.  (at Link) . It is interesting indeed  how writers use the internet and multi-media resources  for poetics , but this piece is not about practice or  gesture, it is about creating poetic spaces in the most public of places, the web. I saw this republished Atlantic article last week and wish to set this short post into that context.

Lots of readers will note the allusion to Virgina Woolf’s statement about writing spaces in the title of this post, indeed we know all about the oubliettes, the locked-doors, the time stolen or negotiated that forms the woman writer’s battle for self-expression. There are also varieties of instances of perceived adulteries caused by women musing upon their muses, written most poignantly by Mirjam Tuominen which could have net-applications… I may link that one soon.

I am concerned now with the issue of public writing, with space, and with the diary form translated and updated to the web blog form, and in how that impacts upon the practice of writing, specifically  mine. I recently wrote a piece about writing  practice ( for another blog) on the subject of transcription, which set me to thinking about how my writing practice has changed. There is an awkwardness about my left-handedness which does not lend itself to copying and pasting much, and most of the poems on this blog are transcribed directly from books, except the original works which are just written down and eventually typed out. However, I do a lot more in the way of communicating than I necessarily would just sitting in a room reading and writing (or doodling). 

It has been excellent in many ways to be able to access other writers and discuss subjects such as poetry, gender, women’s presence online and imbalances in publication of women writers , most particularly literary women writers.

What hasn’t been excellent is that the scrawled jotting, associative thinking, and lateral imaging things are a bit neglected. No matter how much one refuses to admit it, blogging is a very public method of getting to the essentials of writing, it has its own space, time and decorative element. Blogging has rather severe limitations in terms of tailoring what one thinks people wish to read, and it is not a spontaneous or creative way of writing.

This very public space which is defined by what I want to go on the page lacks a creativity that is often exasperating, I don’t doodle here, or cross out things.  Poems that  I like or think others may like  are what this space is about, it does not have the busyness of sets of inter-related note-books, folders, pencil-cases or writing smells like inky leaks. It is too neat. I am looking for ways to make it more natural at the moment.

One thing which annoys me beyond anything else about women who write is their constant referral to themselves as scribblers and not as writers. The two acts, that of writing and that of scribbling are not really related, scribbling is more a mode of generation than of production. Very few male authors tend toward that type of florid self description.

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