Web Notes

by Carl Bettis

Vol. 5 # 1, Apr. 2006

Aha! Poetry
Aha! Poetry is practically a daily stop for me on the web, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese verse forms like haiku, tanka and renga. Check out the related site for LYNX magazine, "A Journal for Linking Poets."

Electronic Frontier Foundation
EFF is a non-profit group devoted to "Defending Freedom in the Digital World." They provide news coverage, advice and opinions on issues relevant to online freedoms. This is a meaty site. They cover blogging, privacy, censorship, intellectual property issues, spam, the US PATRIOT Act, and many other topics. EFF also gets actively involved, as with their recent lawsuit against Sony BMG for stealthily installing software on their music customers' computers. The EFF site offers a free e-mail newsletter.

The front page says "haikuworld exists to help [haiku] publishers, poets, and readers discover one another." If you're interested in this genre and its related literary forms, haikuworld is a good starting point for your exploration, with information on relevant magazines, books and contests. Other items of interest here include the monthly "kukai" (a haiku contest on announced topics), notes on renga (the collaborative verse form from which haiku sprang), and articles on the reading and writing of haiku.

New Hope International Review
This site reviews "poetry-related publications"--and by publications, they mean things actually printed on paper. They sometimes include other media such as audio recordings and poetry-related art objects. The site is well-organized and easy to navigate. There are a number of different reviewers, and it's impossible to ascribe a single editorial stance to the site. However, the reviews I've read have always been articulate, opinionated and thorough--not a few lines pounded out after skimming the publication. (Disclaimer: NHIR has reviewed previous issues of The Same, overall favorably.)

Poetry Daily
Poetry Daily provides a different poem every day, and generally a quite good one. There's also an archive of poems going back a year, a free e-mail newsletter, and attempts to sell you stuff.

Poetry Net
Poetry Net describes itself as "a loose association of poets willing to cast into uncharted waters," which sounds to me like the artist-as-hero braggadocio you typically hear at open mikes, and if by "cast" they mean cast a net then I don't see what "uncharted" has to do with it, and if they mean "cast off" they should say so, but don't judge by me because my feet hurt and I didn't sleep well last night and this issue is running unbelievably late, so I'm a little fussy. Poetry Net features a poet of the month (profile and poems), experiments in "negative image" writing, an introduction to the ghazal verse form, and poetry links. The site could stand to grow, but it has a solid core. On the technical side (web technique, not verse technique), it uses frames, which I dislike.

Vol. 4 # 1, Aug. 2004

Arts & Letters Daily
A portal site consisting of links to cultural news, views and reviews. The categories are "Articles of Note," "New Books" and "Essays and Opinion." The left column has links to online newspapers, literary or art magazines, columnists and blogs. This site spans a wide spectrum of topics and viewpoints.

The Scriptorium Webzine for Writers
This site is large and diverse, featuring editorials, workshops, exercises and articles on almost every type of writing, from genre fiction to technical writing to literary fiction and poetry. The webzine also has news on markets and contests, and reviews of books and software.

National Coalition Against Censorship
The NCAC has been fighting the good fight for a quarter of a century. If you think things are bad now, imagine how they'd be without groups like this. This site has action alerts, roundtable discussions, a database of censorship case law, news briefs and more. The news is sadly often of the "You're *!@%%ing me!" variety. For instance, the Treasury Department allows manuscripts from places like Syria and Cuba to be published, but even minor editing is forbidden.

Vol. 3 # 2, Nov. 2003

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
An industry group, which means it's a bunch of capitalists trying to protect their business (and sell "fREADom" products), but that doesn't mean they're not doing good work. They're active in opposing the more extreme parts of the PATRIOT Act (charitably assuming there are moderate components), especially the Justice Department's expanded powers to subpoena bookstore and library records. A good, if limited, site, but they need to update the page on Banned Books Week--September 2003 is no longer in the future. You can sign up for an e-mail newsletter.

The Compulsive Reader
Many booklovers sites are fluff concerned with genre fiction, bestsellers or "inspirational" literature. I was prepared to dismiss this site as more of the same when an article title caught my eye: "On the Road in the Eighteenth Century: Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett." Tobias Smollett? Any site that puts his name on the entry page is worth a second look. The Compulsive Reader features book reviews, interviews, literary news, criticism and contests. It's supported by sponsors, but the ads are unobtrusive.

Creative Commons
An intellectual freedom and fair use site. Creative Commons includes a variety of licenses under which you can allow redistribution of your own intellectual productions, with a helpful wizard to choose the appropriate one. It also has links to Creative Commons-licensed works, a weblog, contests, news, and articles. Their latest project is an attempt to create international Creative Commons licenses. (Note: Portions of The Same, including this column, are published under a Creative Commons license.)