Saturday, March 28, 2015

The value of blogging about African American Poetry

What's the value of blogging about African American poetry? I've been asking myself that question lately.

Just yesterday, for instance, the question came back to me as I listened to some of my colleagues discussing a meeting where more faculty in decision-making roles were critiquing blogs as modes of displaying academic rigor. I think I understand some of their critique.

It is, in fact, easier to publish an individual blog entry than it is to publish an individual scholarly article in a refereed journal. The scholarly article will likely have far more footnotes and will have gone through more revisions than the blog entry. Accordingly, the scholarly articles "count" for more than many other kinds of publishing in tenure and promotion cases at universities.

It's been this way for decades.  It all makes sense to me. I understand why some faculty members would sneer at blogging and view the practice as lightweight, if not pointless, exercises. But I wonder how many of those folks blog about aspects of their fields?   

After more than 4 years of active blogging about African American poetry and African American Studies, I am inclined to view blogging as a notable complement and divergence from scholarly publishing. I have not fully pinpointed the distinct value or worth of all this blogging, but I know that it matters for my own thinking and writing in ways that my "scholarly" publishing does not.  

Blogging about poetry has also allowed me to engage live and expanded audiences in ways that were new and useful to me. I became far more prolific in sharing my thoughts on poems and poets as a result of my blogging activity. I was also inclined to read more and look out for increasing numbers of poets and volumes.

Moving forward, I'm going to produce a few short pieces here thinking through the value of blogging. I don't want to be defensive either; just because some faculty hold disdain for blogging is not my main motivation. Instead, blogging has somehow become a major part of my scholarly and leisure activity. So I might as well do some reflection on what it means, what it's worth.

Poetry blogging is more productive and smarter than you think
One way blogging has shifted my engagements with poetry
Blogging about African American Poetry & The Habit Loop 

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