17 January 2013

How the Internet Gave Me a Voice: Skepticism and Poetry

Craig Newmark via Paper Camera
Today is Internet Freedom Day and Craig Newmark asks "How does the Internet give you a voice?"

When Craig asks something, I feel compelled to respond. Not because he is the founder of Craigslist or because he posts some awesome photos of birds or because Leonard Cohen is his Rabbi.

Rather, it's because he is a champion of causes like veteran's issues and Internet Freedom. (Well, maybe his bird photos do have a special appeal.)

The Internet gave me a voice --actually two voices. One for my skepticism and another for my poetry.

First, the poetry. It was the late 1990s when I first realized the power of the Internet to give voice to my poetry or, more to the point, gave me an audience.

My poems had recently won the Nebraska Review Award and Aldrich Emerging Poets Award, but you couldn't find the winning poems anywhere. The Nebraska Review had to scrap the initial printing of the issue with my winning poems because of a printing error.

Then I got an email from an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts college in Cupertino, California. She had found some of my poetry on the Internet and wanted to write about my work for her assignment. (You can read her essay here: Essay on the Poetry of Scott Edward Anderson)

A total stranger all the way across country found my writing on the Internet.

And now, all these years later, many more have read my work through online magazines and journals and my poetry blog: Seapoetry

More readers have read my poetry than ever could read it in the Nebraska Review or almost any other print publication.

And since 2004 this blog, The Green Skeptic, provided a platform to question the assumptions we make about how we conserve the earth's resources and invest in green technology.

The Internet is many things. At its best, it is a community of voices where there was formerly silence.

Like any community, to paraphrase Parker Palmer, it is where the some of the writers you least want to read do their blogging. But the community of the Internet is richer for the diversity of its voices.

Visit Craig's call to action here: Craig Connects

How does the Internet give you a voice?