Saturday, 15 November 2008

Strange Virtual Meetings

A recent post on Rachel Fox's blog, More about the Song (see my bloglist) got me thinking. She was talking about the early days of her blog, and “the strange virtual meetings, the finding people you might even like in real life”. About ten years ago I joined a poetry-writing mailing list. It worked very well for a couple of years, as I remember. The internet still felt quite new. We'd just bought our first PC (second hand, from a friend) and it was quite a novelty to be regularly contacting like-minded people around the world.

I spent a few minutes yesterday searching the net to see if any of my fellow participants' poetry was still around. I quickly found Molly Walker. I wondered at first if it was the same Molly Walker until, that is, I read this poem. I knew it from the mailing list and I'd forgotten how funny it was. Some of Michael Bedward's thoughtful poems are still out there too.

Strange virtual meetings: people who in their invisible, virtual way were really quite important to me. The feeling was possibly mutual, although I have no reason to believe we knew -and know- anything about each other apart from the poetry we put out for each other to read and comment on. We can't even be sure we know each other's real names.

The only participant who I do know anything about, sadly, died. Cait Collins' poems are still out there to be read. This is one I didn't know until I found it today, and when I found it, and the photograph that goes with it, I realised I had no idea what she looked like, when she was alive: a strange virtual meeting indeed.


The Weaver of Grass said...

It is interesting how quickly you build up a cameraderie with fellow bloggers, so that when they have a crisis you feel the need to give them support, even though, as you say you are not even sure what they look like.In a way it is interesting that you don't know what they look like - your first impression of them is rather in what they say, which is surely far more important.

Sorlil said...

I know what you mean, it's funny to come across people I 'met' years ago on a poetry forum. One in particular now has an excellent book of poetry published which is full of poems I saw at a very early stage on the forum.

Poet in Residence said...

Thanks for the Molly Walker poem 'Quiet'. It's a lovely thing. The ants are magic!
Now under my fridge magnet.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Have read the Michael Bedward poe about the flower - simple and yet so effective. I would leave a comment except it is along time since he posted the poem. Do you think he is still writing poetry?

Dominic Rivron said...

sorlil: Interesting. Interesting, too, how drafts vanish in a digital age.

Poet in Residence: Good, isn't it? I might get round to printing it out myself.

Weaver of Grass: I don't know if he's still writing poetry. We can only hope tries googling himself sometime.

Anonymous said...

It's strange, small world. I fear I usually end up alienating most of the people I 'meet' by being too much myself at times. How true are we to our true selves when blogging? What is our true self and how do we know it is true? When will I stop asking questions? Interesting post, Dominic.

By the way, I'd like to become a 'follower' of your blog but can't find anywhere to click.

The Solitary Walker said...

Dominic, do you know Joby Talbot's 'Path of Miracles' sung by the Tenebrae choir? I ask this because someone just posted an interesting comment about it on my latest blog entry - apparently it's inspired by the Spanish Camino pilgrimage to Santiago. I'm going to get it and listen to it as it sounds amazing. Just wondered if you know anything about it and whether you'd heard it.

Rachel Fox said...

Last week I met a couple of people (in the flesh) that previously I had only known on-line. It was so weird...I knew them so well...and yet not at all...but I was pleased to learn that they were all just as lovely and interesting and... whole as I'd thought they would be. You can tell a lot from the content and tone of comments and posts, you really can.

the broken down barman said...

everyone come and look at my blog. its crap i know. i canny spell and i canny punctuate. i couldn't tell an adverb from pronoun and i don't care. i like what i write, mainly for the therapy and im not scared to say what i feel. sorry for the blatant advertising but i love the thrill of comments on my entry (ooh err missus) so please feel free to come visit and feel free to give me some abuse, i mean feed back. i promise i wont be as insulting as i have been known to be in the past. yours humbly the broken down bar man x x x x x x x

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

People I know always seem to write emails the way they talk, so perhaps we're even truer to ourselves than we generally realize when we communicate like this. Rachel's experience would seem to bear this out.

It is often said -and it's true- that irony is often missed in emails, with potentially disasterous results, so some things obviously don't get through.

SW: I've never come across Joby Talbot, so can't comment, I'm afraid.

BDB: Thanks for this. I'll drop in.

BarbaraS said...

It's true: some of the best discoveries I have made in/on poetry have been through t'internet, whether bloggers or poetry fora. These poems illustrate your point pretty well and also make great reading - thanks!