Archive for May, 2006

writers with blogs

In relation to the previous post, and as a result of Jeff Jarvis' discussion, a quick look across the Irish blogosphere shows up quite a few Irish writers using blogs to write about both work, life and everything else. Have blogs and email replaced the traditional literary letters? (NYT seems to think so) How much are writers willing to collaborate with audiences online?

Any input/ideas and opinions from writers, bloggers and readers are welcome. (I am linking to a few writers on the Blogosphere here but there are many more I have missed)

White House Poets   Shitty First Draft
Desmond Swords    Robert Bruce
Alice Lyons              Paul Sweeney
Sean Lysaght          Barbara Smith
Peter Sirr                Pat Boran
Micheal Begnal         Lorraine McArdle
That Girl                 John Scalzi
Onyeka George       Jane Holland
Bookish                 Selection of Poetry
Kevin Doran           C.Dale Young
Seth Ambramson
Lane Smith   
Seth Godin             Eoin Purcell

The conversation surrounding this topic has been interesting, and conflicting in places. Barbara Smith summarised one aspect of the argument as 'boiling down to the difference between hard copy and soft copy'. The conflict between traditional publishing and the web is only one, and possibly the first, step in successful online publishing. There are a number of other questions arising from using the internet, such as the changing relationship between an author and audience and the changes that writing online has on writing methods.

All of the writers/bloggers/readers that have contributed so far have been fairly conservative about moving away from print entirely. American Poet, Robert Bruce hopes that his blog will bring enough of a readership to help him move into print when he approaches a publisher.

"…if, in 2 or 3 years I approach a publisher with my regular readership of around 100,000 folks a month (or more), said publisher will most likely be more inclined to take a glance at my stuff. You see, I’ve done all the marketing, footwork, and building for them.

…a blog does not replace real publishing. What it does is intensify the publishing world and shakes it out of a deep and selfish slumber."

The validity of self-publishing on the Internet is also brought to contention, as both Lorraine McArdle and Micheal Begnal dispute how successful self-publishing can be. The absence of an editor, and with no restriction on content, allows anyone/anything to be published and does not allow for any objective view to the content before it is published. Begnal adds,

"…if you get yourself in a literary magazine, or if you’re very lucky, a real book, that means that at least one person besides you thinks your work is worth something, and more often than not, that person knows their stuff (if they’ve found themselves editing a “respected” journal)."

Going further, Begnal also questions the validity of the medium and questions whether or not an audience takes a blog/website as seriously as a book? As much as writers' are unwilling to move away from print and use the Internet only to compliment their work, how far is the reader willing to move?

Eoin Purcell (via his blog) adds his voice and has experienced the change in publishing and a new departure in writer/publisher marketing relationships. 

"…A writer of a soon to be released Dublin Archaeology book approached us with an amazing idea, a wonderful website which acts a showcase and bundles of passion. What was more his website has over 100,000 unique visitors a month. Most publishers would have ignored the topic as being slightly off track, but as we have some experience with it and we liked the additional revenues of worldwide web sales, we will publish his book in October as the first of several."

Any replies will be posted up here – let me know if there is anyone I miss out on.


future of the book – book 2.0?

The Institute for the Future of the Book has been involved on some interesting projects lately, not least of all the impending arrival of Sophie, a new online authoring tool – Book 2.0? The most recent e-book project that the institute has been involved in, GAM3R TH3ORY, has been a success, the commentary and active conversation that has helped develop the books content has rendered it a definite triumph. The layout of the site however, although innovative and allowing for a great deal of user navigation freedom, it is not the easiest medium for reading larger amounts of text.

The new wave of social input, conversation and collaboration have led to a large number of projects, Diane Duane, Neil Gaiman and Robert Bruce come to mind, it has allowed for idea sharing on a much greater scale, as well as giving the writer a greater access to an audience.


Collaborative authoring and the future of print has occupied a lot of space online and the Institute for the Future of the Book is tagging the new Sophie software as the next progressive step in web-publishing, this however, remains to be seen. The Sophie software will allow for a much greater reader input to an authors work, removing the writer from the previous seclusion of writing.

Alternative screen publishing – before the availability of Sophie – is limited and has not seen much uptake. Emulating the printed page on screen (magwerk and ipagez) are well designed but very stagnant methods of emulating print. The relatively still ‘printing’ is a hybrid of .pdf and flash that can incorporate some active components that allow for interactivity.

Downloadable .pdf files are also available but are digitally printed pages that do not really allow for much interaction (forms, hyperlinks and animations). The blog format is also a method of screen printing, but not really aesthetically friendly for such large amounts of text. It does allow for a large amount of interaction and reader input – but how much input into the writing process is wanted, a personal question really – how much criticism/input can you take? Writing collaboratively as a writer/reader partnership is interesting but how much influence can an audience have over a writer before they become writers themselves?

more on Sophie and the future of the book here, here and here.

John Updike is not a believer in the digital era. (Via NYT, free-sub req.)

catch a show yet? Broadway, Beckett and Dublin…

The American theatre, or Broadway at least, is seeing the end of its most successful (financially) season to date as the shows begin to wind-down. The news that ‘Lestat’ – developed with Elton John and Anne Rice – is closing on Sunday sees the end of Warner Brothers first Broadway show. Other shows up and down Broadway are closing, or closed, including shows starring David Schwimmer and Julia Roberts. (via NYT)

Is Dublin experiencing similar theatrical success?

There has been some very successful productions staged this year and the current offerings host some of Irish theatres biggest names, but will it be Dublin’s most successful year to date? The Beckett centenary has increased awareness and filled more than a few seats; all across the country the sallow and stolid face of Beckett has reminded us of our theatre, a spectre playing upon the cultural conscience – making you feel guilty for not paying more attention to your own culture and arts.

Currently on Offer in Dublin

The Gate, which hosted Brian Friel’s ‘Faith Healer’ earlier this year, is currently playing Beckett’s ‘Waiting For Godot’.

Friel has another play in Dublin at the minute, this time in the Abbey, an adaptation of Turgenev’s ‘A Month in the Country’.

The Gaiety is playing host to John B. Keane’s ‘The Year of the Hiker’ which is produced by the critically acclaimed Druid Co. while the Project Theatre hosts ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Wallflowering’.

Clare Boylan, 1948 – 2006

Missed this on Saturday, Clare Boylan has passed away at the age of 58. Most famous for her revision of Charlotte Bronte's work a few years ago, Boylan was a prolific and energetic writer and critic. 

Readers adored her, as much for the clever, evocative, erudite prose as the information within. Her articles were often wittily sardonic. For such a dainty, pretty woman, her capacity to pack a deadly punch in person as well as in prose was much admired.

another event – this time in the city!

Desmond Swords posted it in the comments but I am going to echo it here: 

A fortnightly poetry night at the

Monster Truck Art Gallery
(Corner Francis Street and the Coombe, opposite st Patricks Cathedral)

First guest poet is Raven, alongside a jazz duo from Blackrock college backing the poets.
There is an open floor and all are welcome.
It is a pay what you can policy entrance.

More info contact Desmond via his blog.

a post of questions, not answers…

Stephen Moss is featured in the Guardian this morning after he toured the UK interviewing independent bookstore owners, here and part two is here. The survival and necessity of small bookstores is something that is prevalent in Dublin at the minute, with the loss of The Winding Stair, via Sigla, the sale of Reids to Easons and the growing success of Anthology.

Apart from the large chains such as Easons, Waterstones, Dubray and a few others, Dublin has only a few independent sellers. Books Upstairs on College Green, the Anthology store in Temple Bar, Chapters on Abbey Street and a few considerable second-hand shops across the city. Is there a need for independent bookstores, or is it simply whoever can sell the book cheapest? (Personally, it is a little of both)
And where does Amazon come into all of this? Moss offers a few insights into the world of independent book stores – but how prevalent are they in Dublin?

a poetry event in… Balbriggan?!

A friend, poet and long-time advocate of Balbriggan arts, sent me an email about an open-mic event on Thursday in Trax (the café just opposite the train station as far as I remember). I am dubious of open-mic nights, inviting poets to microphones phones could be compared to allowing a drug addict be unsupervised in a pharmacy, but Poetry Upfront comes highly recomended from a trusted source. So without further comment:

*Poetry Upfront *

Free Open-Mic Poetry Night
Thursday May 18th 8pm

Trax Café (Station street,Balbriggan,Co. Dublin)
All Poets and Listeners Welcome.