I was recently contacted by a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer regarding Poem Sparks and online workshopping. As a volunteer moderator at www.poets.org (Academy of American Poets discussion forum), I was asked about my impression of the Internet and its value to poets and poetry. To my surprise, much of what I said made it into the article.
There are a few things I like about this article. First, I like the idea that a nationally recognized newspaper is including articles about poetry at all. Poetry has long been absent from generalized reading material and it’s terrific to see it being featured in this venue. Second, I like that my comments are in it. Who wouldn’t? But I also really appreciate the mention of The Externalist.
When Katie Haegele asked me if she could mention that I edit The Externalist, my immediate response was: PLEASE DO! Now, most of my reasons for really appreciating this article are entirely selfish. My name as mentioned as an important part of an online poetry community and the journal that I edit is mentioned as part of that community as well. This brings me to a philosophical question: Is shameless self promotion a valid and ethical marketing practice?
The humble, modest person in me wants to say, “No! You should let the audience promote you!” But in a world where good exposure is relatively difficult to come by, the value of being humble and modest has decreased substantially. Perhaps self promotion is the best marketing technique. After all: How will people know you exist if you don’t let them know? How will people know what you do? In the end, the worthiness of promoting is still determined by someone else, right?
Historically, many poets, writers, and other individuals have self-promoted and been well-rewarded for it. Consultants and public speakers make a living (sometimes a really good living) by self-promoting their expertise and/or experience. Maybe humility can be found in other ways.