What will commentary on African American poetry look like a year or two from now? How might new technologies and digital humanities shape how we engage the art-forms(s)?
For me, blogging and tweeting about poetry over the last couple of years have been major shifts in how I was trained to write verse. Not many years ago, the typical plan and approach for writing about poetry was to review volumes of poetry or write longer essays about the literary history of poets and seek to get the work published in a scholarly journal. A relatively small number of scholars showed interest in producing scholarship on poetry though; at least few scholars presented on African American poetry at conferences and even fewer essays appeared on black poetry in scholarly journals.
My activities blogging and tweeting about poetry have led me to write for and about a broader range of poetry topics and address audiences well beyond the fairly small world of African American poetry in the academy. In the past analog setup, the big goals were scholarly essays and books. Now, the future goals involve developing useful and expansive data-sets and lists that might assist audiences in identifying poets and poetry trends.
I am still aware that many of my colleagues and the larger field still place more value on books published by university presses, including mine, than on the kind of blog work that I do. Nonetheless, working in this medium has been rewarding, and I suspect that I'll continue expanding my work here in the near future.
Future Histories project