Monday, April 12, 2010

Introduction: We're all in this Together

I never knew that a poetry website could make me so angry that I’d feel compelled to make a blog opposing it. But Planet Poet is just such a place I joined it about a week ago. Although they offer free membership, I was actually considering upgrading to a paying membership. It’s less than $100.00 for your entire life. Considering how much I like poetry, it seemed like a good deal.

The website is based on the premise that you earn points for entering contests, reading other people’s materials, maintaining a blog, and generally being a member of the writing community. You can spend points creating your own contests or having someone review your poetry. Again, especially for free this is not a bad deal.

The problem with the site that I begin to have is that I’ve found out that it’s not for the actual enjoyment and expansion of poetry as a pursuit or job. It’s all about making money for this one person. He doesn’t want you to post links to other poetry sites. In fact, you get in trouble if you do this. Therefore, I’ve decided not to become a paying member of his site. I assume it’s a him because his Internet name is PirateKing, but you can never tell about gender on the Internet.

At first, I thought I was only going to revoke my own membership and complain in my personal blog. But, as I learned at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy conference at Hampshire College this weekend, too often artists and progressives only rail about what’s wrong with the world. We never talk about what we would like to see instead.

So instead of complaining about this one person’s wrong headed artistic vision (in my opinion) I decided to start this blog creating the kind of poetry community I envisioned. That is one where you’re more than welcome to share any publication, website, grant, or other opportunity that you find out about. In this case, I truly believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

Sure, there may be a little more competition for a particular grant but if we all share resources we will all become better poets and better people. I don’t want to live in a world where I must guard my meager artistic opportunities from anyone else.

What we need is more arts funding and not fewer artists competing. If I win, I want to know I won because everyone had an opportunity to apply. That makes losing better too. At least I’ll know I lost to good people.

So I invite you and everyone you know to go on this sharing journey with me. If you hear about an opportunity, please post it in the comments. For my part, as moderator, I will try to review submitted opportunities in order to make sure my readers are not getting scammed. Of course, no guarantees. Buyer be ware. I hope that you will contribute to this site and tell your friends about it. Let’s work on making a world that’s less jealous and more open minded. We can do it if we all work together. An old organizer friend of mine used to say, “Let’s build a world we can all thrive in instead of a world only some of us can survive in.” I know poetry isn’t the biggest deal in the world with homelessness, student loans, and many other issues to deal with but it’s a place to start building the world we want.

Please post your own poems and opportunities here! Share and share alike.

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