|Dave Bonta, "Talus"|
MY: I started out as an innocent in the print and book world and met all the usual mad, mad world discouragements and fleabites: multiple editors who left for greener pastures and orphaned my books; great historical events nudging my book out of the way, Jonathan Franzen comically shoving my book and others out of the way (along with 9-11, not at all comically), multiple editors who fell out of the business for various reasons, the problem of being on great publishers’ lists but not getting a “push,” etc. I imagine that in some ways you avoid all the annoyances of print world (and when you do have a print book, as you now do, it emerges naturally from your online world) by having an online kingdom. Is that how you see it?
DB: Yeah. My mother is a mid-list nonfiction author with ups and downs at multiple presses, so the traditional writer's path held little romance for me. I had pretty much given up on submitting poems to print journals by 2001, when I racked up close to 40 rejections in a row before finally landing another acceptance. I just couldn't afford the postage. I approached blogging as a form of self-publishing from the outset; it's just that poetry didn't happen to be my focus at first. Though I abandoned all pretense of having a thematic focus after about six months, Via Negativa continued to be dominated by long-form expository writing about religion, philosophy, anthropology and culture for about two years, until I finally got that out of my system. But gradually the poems began to creep in, and I was encouraged by the positive responses from other readers and bloggers.
I've come to feel that blogging and poetry writing are an ideal match, at least for those of us who are shameless enough to share imperfect drafts with the world. One friend — Dale Favier — credits my posting of original poems at Via Negativa for sparking his own interest in modern poetry, which I find enormously gratifying. And I've watched any number of other bloggers grow as poets through blogging, myself included. In my case, I was never very good at keeping a journal — if no one but me was going to read it, what's the point? So the discipline of daily blogging has really whipped me into shape.