Tuesday, 27 December 2022

The future of poetry blogging

The last few years have undoubtedly seen a significant drop in the number of poetry bloggers on the U.K. and in the regularity of their posts, almost as if there were a tacit recognition of the format’s growing irrelevance in the context of social media.

However, I’d argue that this shift is also tied in to two important points. Firstly, it’s far quicker for a user to tweet than to write a blog post. And secondly, even if the blogger gets their finger out and writes a post, it seems to fall into a vacuum and garner little reaction (how many people leave comments on blogs these days?!), whereas a tweet might receive several replies in minutes.

Well, I can do little to address the first question apart from suggesting we all need to fight the growing loss in our attention spans. Nevertheless, the second issue does have several potential solutions that can not only help poetry blogs survive but enrich our interaction with them.

Over the past year, I’ve been experimenting with how I use this blog in conjunction with social media. My point of departure was a quick analysis of the differing temporal nature of blogs, Facebook and Twitter as a poet’s main means of communication with their readers. If a blog post often gathers pace over the course of days and weeks (and sometimes even months and years if Google takes a fancy to it), Facebook posts accumulate likes over a period of hours and days, while Tweets find audiences mainly in minutes and hours.

This is why blogs are losing impetus. But it’s also their possible saving grace. Rather than viewing my blog as a separate entity from my social media use and lamenting its decline as a fading anachronism, I’ve begun to realise that my blog posts could acquire a crucial function on Twitter and Facebook. And as a consequence, the viewing stats for Rogue Strands have increased once more.

For instance, on some occasions, I now initiate a debate on Twitter via a quick, questioning Tweet, let the replies fly back and forth, then collate the differing opinions in a blog post that can consequently be posted on Twitter to bring the discussion together more coherently, thus enabling it to take a step forward instead of being lost on a morass of other threads.

Meanwhile, another option is to use a blog post as an anchor for debate. If a quick Tweet feels insubstantial, too open to misinterpretation or not long enough for a position to be coherently explained, the afore-mentioned blog post can work as starting point for exchanges of views. What’s more, if posted as the start of a thread, a decent blog post is a place where Twitter users can check back to recall a discussion’s initial frame of reference.

Oh, and one final reflection-cum provocation. I’ve found that certain blog posts fly on Twitter and others on Facebook. Facebook tends to work best with posts that reward lengthier engagement, while Twitter homes in on catchier stuff that’s more immediately attractive. Once again, the question of our ever-reducing attention-spans.

Do you agree? Does your experience tally with mine? Am I right in feeling that there is a strong future for poetry blogs if they learn to interact with social media in innovative ways…? Do you have alternative suggestions?


  1. Old-fashionedly, I tend to think that if something's worth writing, it's worth keeping. My blogposts are part of my growing website that I can later amend, refer people to, etc.
    Perhaps attention spans are shorter nowadays. I think the issue might rather be that people have so many simultaneous communications on the go (cycling through them) that they can't spent too long on any one thread. The app that beeps loudest wins.
    I've not got as far as you in working out the best medium for my various posts. The Flash community seem to have chosen Facebook - far enough; groups are useful. Various individuals have their preferences, perhaps only for historical reasons, so I follow them the way they want. What I'd like is to have various ways of announcing things, then getting people to continue the discussion on one platform only, rather than dissipating/duplicating replies across various media. But it's unclear what that one platform should be.

  2. Matthew, thank you for these thoughts. I think you tend to view a blog post as the focus for a debate; please correct me if this is not the case. I am still using my blogs, some more than others, as a personal diary, journal or record, which is probably how most blogs began. I see Wikipedia (I have gone to this site for speed and convenience ...) implies that contemporary blogs have 'evolved from the online diary where people would keep a running account of the events in their personal lives' (which perhaps we could stretch to 'poetry lives', 'wildlife lives' etc.).

    Out of my three main blogs (poetry, wildlife and essentially a publication list linked to my website), the wildlife blog receives by far the most comments in a year. I have wondered for a while why this should be. Perhaps bloggers are 'hooked in' by photographs (and I have had requests for the use of my amateur blog pics. for book cover images, a holiday property brochure, a choir's DVD cover etc. over the years).

    Perhaps poets simply reckon that too much time is already taken up with making submissions, logging acceptances, promoting publications etc. I also have a hunch that cookies and passwords have complicated the situation. I have, for instance, been unable to comment here with Chrome today. After fiddling around, I have switched to Firefox ... and, well, let's see what happens. I know if I have limited time, a quick comment on Facebook or Twitter can be done in a jiffy.

    It is perhaps worth stating that my poetry blog is not just a personal journal of events, experiences, publications etc. I feel blogs lend themselves to author/poet Q&As, book reviews and to the sharing of resources etc. I guess my challenge to myself should be to reach out a bit further and open up debates or discussions from time to time. I almost always throw a link back to my posts from Facebook and Twitter (and, dare I say it, I now have a Mastodon account as well). I wonder how you see LinkedIn fitting into the equation. I don't use it often, but every so often something surprising and poetry-related turns up. I agree with Tim Love that it would be quite hard to single out a single platform for debate. Personally, I am wary of Facebook for any in-depth discussion of poems (my own or those of others) as I am not up to speed on rights if people's work forms part of the debate.

    P.S. A frustration with blogging (on Blogger at least) is the fiddle of trying to add links to the comments I leave: a href etc. ... a formula that never sticks in my mind. My posts often have many links (easy to add), and there are times when I would also like to include links in the comments.