Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Power(lessness) of the Post

Posting blogs and videos online has become a common occurrence for many an artist and/or self-promoting individual.

Good or bad?

Not for me to decide; it is a sign of our society much like speakeasies and flappers were signs of the twenties, or zebra pants and poofed up hairdos were signs of the eighties.

What does spoetry have to do with online posts?


Some of the most talented individuals are not mainstream moneymakers or celebrities, therefore, the internet has become their only outlet (well, outside of dainty coffee shops and/or not-too-crowded college cafeterias).

The brilliance of freelance writer and spoken word artist Mary Fons (a.k.a Paper Girl) won’t be discovered scaling the ranks on any top ten charts but can be found on Youtube. Check out two of her best performances and decide on her brilliance for yourself –
“I love you” at:
“I’m so young” at:

Posts are great ways to get ones message or work out in a world otherwise inundated with information, images, and celebrity gossip. The only problem is that watching a video online wanes in experiencing a spoet live. The video may have been made at a live show, therefore giving the spoet something to feed off of, but the people watching it (inspired by the video or not) are missing out on the intimacy afforded by firsthand experience.

Another point where posts lose power, especially posts of written work with little to no identification or dating system:

Taylor Mali’s poem, “What Teachers Make”, is a prime example of the uncharted depths of internet security, which pertains not just to identity theft anymore but word and idea theft. Yes, ideas can not be copyrighted, only actual works can.

For a writer, however, ideas are the wombs that bear bodies of work, which may take years to properly form into developed creatures. If someone happens to split the surface of such a womb they may taint that which has grown within.

Mali’s tale of woe, can be read on his website and details just what can happen when a well-intentioned writer tries to share his voice with the world via the web:

“I am well aware that ‘What Teachers Make’, a poem I wrote in 1999, has been elevated/reduced to the level of Inspirational Cyber Spam. It started happening shortly after I posted an unattributed (sic) draft of the poem on this very website. Since the poem appeared on my website, I figured my name was unnecessary. But I was wrong. I suspect the text of the poem got copied, pasted, and sent by well meaning teachers and fans. Soon enough, the poem became anonymous, and people began to edit, alter, and "sanitize" it. There are, to my knowledge, at least five different versions of the poem out there circulating. All of them are anonymous.”

I’m not trying to profess doom and gloom for those of you who may post writings or your own personal catch phrases online. I’m merely preaching the prophecy of don’t-be-surprised if someone confiscates your work and either claims ownership or, perhaps worse, detaches any ownership by citing said work Anon.

Also be aware of the fact that you have no clue who sees your work and how they might react, if only in the comments section.

There are upsides to posting online. Videos, of course, offer more security to the spoet because he/she has not only written it but he/she can be seen performing it (most often with a time stamped post).

Thanks to internet and video technology, spoets like Fons have been discovered some tens of thousands of times, and others like Mali or Rives have been viewed over hundreds of thousands of times.

Facebook and Myspace should not be the places where beautifully crafted drafts appear for the first time. Blogs are good sources and so are viral sites because these allow for clear, dated posts that will not call your ingenuity and talent into question. (When posted, however, works are considered published and therefore no longer “new”; so be wary if you intend to send it off to a poetry contest or journal for publication).

Who is this post to, really? Don’t most self-respecting internet spiders know this as they titter across the web?

Well, this post is more for the tortured souls who have ever had a notebook stolen, or a file deleted or a laptop pilfered; for anyone – not just poets, spoets, or writers – whose talent has been usurped by greedy talentless people who feed off the power and artistic abilities of others. These parasites may obtain glory and recognition but Taylor Mali’s words reflect a refreshing way to look at usurpation of one’s integrity:

“Am I disappointed not to have received credit for writing this poem that has inspired so many? Used to be. But the truth will always come out in the end. And if I had to choose between inspiring teachers anonymously or not inspiring them at all, I would choose anonymous inspiration every time.”

End note: This post goes out, in part, to my Aunt Marie who had the unfortunate luck of having a poem (“A Rose Beyond the Wall”) published in a national high school journal only to see it appear on a drugstore sympathy card attributed to one A.L. Frink.

As always, enjoy yourself before somebody else does.

No comments:

Post a Comment