The Young Poets Network is launched on Facebook.
Aimed at young people from 13 to 18 it will provide a lasting infrastructure for those beginning to read and write poetry. if:book is working with the Poetry Society on the project, focusing on poets as amplified authors, with lots of new means to develop and distribute their work.
I've already been interviewing a number of poets and experts including poets Benjamin Zephaniah, Ross Sutherland, Joelle Taylor; Holly Damizio, game-designer in chief at Hide & Seek, and many more.
Films, articles and writing challenges will be appearing on the site over the weeks and months ahead.
Sign up please at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Young-Poets-Network/108342029242917
and if you'd like an invitation to join the Cloud Chamber, a closed on-line discussion around
poetry and young people run by the Poetry Society,
please let me know.
You can follow us on Twitter @youngpoetsnet
Here's my latest post for the Cloud Chamber.
It could be argued that digitisation is making mainstream publishing operate in the kind of way that poetry has operated for years.
Poets are used to a continuum of publishing possibilities from photocopied pamphlets to big print runs of full length collections, they've long been responsible for selling their own books at readings and workshops, and know that ancillary poetic activity such as teaching and reviewing is actually a far bigger source of income than, for most poets, royalties for books sold. Poets have always engaged in interaction with an opinionated circle of readers most of whom write poetry themselves - these are some of the features of the poetry world which echo the new reality for all writers.
We're all amplified authors now, at our laptops, communicating directly with, hopefully, an ever expanding circle of readers via Twitter, blogs, on and offline journals, books either self published through print on demand or made by publishers in all sorts of forms, from downloads to traditional pageturners. And of course poetry has always been a multimedia art; the experience of live readings is as essential as poems on the page. Texts illuminated with pictures and interpreted in other media have been part of the poetry scene for centuries.
The Young Poets' Network aims to provide a toolkit for newcomers to poetry which starts from now. Let's clear away our assumptions about what 'Real Poets' do and look at what poets need: great poetry to read; an appropriate readership for their own work; a community of fellows; constructive criticism; sources of inspiration; opportunities to show their work in performance, on the page and in other public forms, possibly even some income though poets know that's hard to come by.
How best can they do these things with the digital tools that now exist? And what are the issues they need to address in the digital age.
Once the problem was how to be accepted by the guardians of the canon and allowed into print. Now we can all put what we like on the global bookshelf of the web and see who finds it. How do serious writers hone their craft in this new context? How do they define their aims? And what are the new poetic forms and creative constraints thrown up by the web?
I've been talking to poets, film makers, an immersive game designer, teachers, poets who work with digital arts, architects and new collaborative forms, plus young people themselves to create a series of resources and challenges for young writers. We'll be rolling these out over the next few months.
I welcome your comments on what should be included and what issues we should explore with the poets of tomorrow.