I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to interview a true Internet pioneer. No, not Al Gore. One of those pioneers whose names you don't find out until curious people get out there and start trying to figure out how all this happened -- all this literature online, print publishing melting into the blogosphere and poetry reaching millions of readers. Yes, you heard me right. Millions. Just ask JJ Webb, whose name fortuitously omened his career helping to develop the Web. JJ is better known as "Beau Blue" of Blue's Cruzio Cafe, one of the Internet's most innovative poetry zines because of its animated poems.
My interview of him is now up at Umbrella, that fine and eminently re-readable literary zine piloted by the amazing Kate Bernadette Benedict (who knows her way around print and virtual publishing). What JJ Webb had to say about the future of online poetry is fascinating. And I was equally interested to hear him cite numbers of readers of same.
To me, the most stunning statement he made was this:
"It [poetry publishing online] is beginning to eliminate the old-line gatekeepers. Well, not eliminate them, but make them more and more irrelevant. It’ll be interesting to see what the new gatekeepers look like. And with that the Web will begin to reshape the poem itself."
I think zines are beginning to reshape the poem. For one thing, it's made the short lyric even more emphasized. Anything that scrolls down below the first page is harder to read. And the first page of a web site is very much shorter than a print book page. Print space drives form, and we may be looking at new forms because of the Web.
Take a look at the article. Let me know what you think about the future of lit-publishing-online. Meanwhile, I'm shopping for discounts on a Kindle.