(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): When I first heard my poem, ‘Kingdom,” on Whale Sound, I thought “Did I write that? Yes, I think I wrote that.” Before this recording, I’d never heard anyone read my work….never anyone but me. It was really exciting for me.
I know that many people like to hear poems. Usually I prefer reading poems, seeing line breaks and white space, considering how words are positioned on the page. But my own work being read by another person really grabbed me. I’m sure there’s a bit of ego in it, though I hope it’s more like pride. I do wonder how it would be to have an autobiographical poem read by someone other than me. My poem at Whale Sound is not autobiographical in any way I’m aware of.
Whale Sound has really whetted my appetite for listening to poems. I feel like I can hang out in the poems recorded there, like they are rooms I can visit from time to time.
b. The WS decision to focus only on web-active poets: I have a particular fondness for web-active poets, because those I’ve come to know a bit are generous, thoughtful, productive and accessible to me through blogs and websites.
c. The WS third-party submissions policy: Third-party submissions, for me, mean that I can submit work I admire, and that that work can reach a new audience through Whale Sound. I submitted work by someone who’s a terrific poet but also a real champion of poetry online. (Editor’s note: That would be Erin Elizabeth Smith. Thanks, Nancy!)
2. What does WS do well? Poems online become new when they’re read out loud. To have that newness captured on Whale Sound is really exciting for poets and readers.
3. What could WS do better? The work that it takes to maintain Whale Sound must be exhausting. I hope Nic Sebastian doesn’t burn out. (Editor’s note: She won’t! But she may eventually reduce current volume from two posts per weekday to one post per weekday. We’ll see how it goes.)
4. Anything else you’d like to say about the WS experience? Because a poem of mine is at Whale Sound, I feel an allegiance to the site and a renewed energy about the possibility of poetry and community online.