Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Yesterday, I returned to Reginald Shepherd's blog. I am not sure why. It wasn't an action stirred by thoughts of mortality, a sort of desire to return to some (electronic, virtual) gravestone. It was more to do with, I hope, a wish to know if the blog still existed, as a memorial to his intelligence and writing. Perhaps, it was something to do with reading Alberto Manguel on libraries: I wanted to walk down this particular corridor again to remember what was there...precisely. On returning, I was surprised to see that visitors had left comments. For whom? And which people exactly had left these invisible post-it notes, in the dark, on the pages of his thoughts? Some comments were surreal trolling...but one left me speechless. A poet (that noun is used loosely), in response to another poet (used even more loosely, here, to describe someone who decribes writing as a "release from spiritual baggage") had left a tag for Reginald Shepherd. It was a double shock. Which was the least sensitive, daring to tag a living poet of Reginald Shepherd's standing, without knowing his reputation, just a man who "loved books", or daring to tag a person who was never going to respond, being simply ignorant of the fact that the tagged person had died? Such senseless behaviour mocked all that his civil blog represented and itself represents the nonsense that characterises so much poetry on the world wide web: as inappropriate as a scream in a library, after dark, when the spirits of books are whispering.


Mark Scroggins said...

You're right -- shocking; it makes one a little queasy. For all the instant, sometimes serendipitous togetherness that the web makes possible -- whole new "communities" of poets who've never seen each others' faces, shaken each others' hands -- there remains this obdurate distance that casual surfers all too often forget in their groping around for electronic "connection."

The blog-to-blog "tag" is a party game whose day has passed, at worst no more than a gimmick for drawing attention to one's own site. A little tacky at best; painfully inappropriate in the case of RS's blog.

I never met Shepherd, though we live in the same benighted state. I'm grateful that his partner has decided to keep his blog alive for awhile, though; it's been one of the most thoughtful and (your word) civil places on the poetry internet.

Eshuneutics said...

Hello there.You put the matter with feeling and better than I have. Yes, "tacky" is right. Best wishes to you.