Interview with Whale Sound poet – Greg Sellers

(An occasional series, with a standing page on Whale Sound. If you’re a Whale Sound poet and would like to participate, please email me your responses to the questions below at nic_sebastian at hotmail dot com

1. Please comment on the following:
a. The experience of hearing your poem on Whale Sound (WS):
Just hearing Nic read What the Winds Says aloud was an enjoyable, learning experience in itself. It opened my eyes, (or should I say, “ears”) to how individualistically someone else can interpret one’s lines. It reminded me, in a concrete, audible way, of how tone and tempo can also contribute to the listener’s understanding of the line or poem. In a sense, it provided a new layer of feeling & meaning that the poem’s originator had not fully realized before.

Hearing someone else read What the Wind Says also amplified the poem’s strengths and weaknesses by removing the creator’s inner voice, which can often mask such attributes and deficiencies. This is a good reason alone for a poet to find someone else to read his or her drafts aloud during the revision process.

Having Whale Sound select and read What the Wind Says reintroduced the work to a new audience; it revived a previously published print poem that had been linked on the Web many years ago. What poet would not be pleased with having one’s work renewed?

b. The WS decision to focus only on web-active poets: Whale Sound‘s decision to focus only on web-active poets is helping to lend credence to electronically published verse and to promote its format. I do hope my initial statement will not be misconstrued, for I am not suggesting that electronically published verse is inferior to its traditional print counterpart. But until this recent popularity wave for all things social media, a certain undercurrent did exist, which perpetuated the idea that verse published electronically often lacked a “certain standard” of quality and was considered amateurish (I’m referring here to electronic work that’s self-published and exists outside the realm of e-zines and online versions of traditional literary journals).

However, this attitude appears to be changing today, as evident in the number of established poets and writers who now showcase their own literary works via Websites and Weblogs, as well as the professionalism demonstrated by Whale Sound and other editor-managed online poetry sites to select and publish quality verse. By focusing on web-active poets, Whale Sound is able to lead readers to accessible, virtual works that tangibly counter this previous mindset.

c. The WS third-party submissions policy: Providing a third-party submission policy gives “readership” a participatory role into the submission process and also expands the “pool” of potential work to be considered for publication. The World Wide Web is an expansive, electronic universe, which makes it virtually (no pun attended) impossible for any one individual to browse a significant portion of it. A third-party submissions policy helps to address this concern and also alerts Whale Sound to electronic verse (in its typed form) that has memorably “spoken to” its reader.

2. What does WS do well? First and foremost, Whale Sound provides its listener a unique, audio-poetry experience. It is evident that great attention and care go into the recording of each audio-poem. Besides having an incredible reading voice, Nic Sebastian knows how to accentuate the sonic and “caesuric” aspects of a poem through phrasing, inflection, intonation, and diction without ever forcing these devices. The “sake of sound” prevails in a very natural way.

The poet bios & related Web links are also added bonuses that I’m sure WS readers appreciate.

3. What could WS do better? Whale Sound may want to reconsider the frequency of time by which it posts a new set of poems. Showcasing a group of poems for only one day before replacing it with another may be limiting the chances for some poems to be read. Granted, an archive does exist, but PLE (principle of least effort) comes into play here. There is definitely a nice advantage to having one’s poem selected for Friday’s posting as compared to one of the other weekdays. (Editor’s note: Wow, I hadn’t considered that. I know that numbers go down considerably over the weekend, but have not noticed that Friday has a particular spike. Will pay attention to that!)

4. Anything else you’d like to say about the WS experience? Whale Sound reinforces the importance of reading a poem aloud by reminding us of the pleasure and added interpretative dimension that such an act can bring.

About Greg Sellers.
Greg’s poem on Whale Sound: What the Wind Says

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