Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are You Notable?

You may not have noticed this, but please take note: here.

To simplify, Wikipedia believes that the publication of two poetry books is not a notable act and therefore doesn't qualify for a bio.

Wikipdia has hardly a single bio for a living poet. I'd guess that there's not one for a poet born after 1960. [EDIT: I found one today for Jeff Clark. So there may be a few. But too few.] John Gallaher challenges us each to post one. Go do it now. He's claimed Martha Ronk. Click here and scroll down. [Clark's is a good model to follow.]

For an encyclopedia, especially one claiming to be a "free Encyclopedia which anyone can edit" and which has as its "primary role [...] to write articles that cover existing knowledge; this means that people of all ages and cultural and social backgrounds can write Wikipedia articles" this is stunning and depressing.

What makes it worse is that the commenters voting on whether a poet's bio stays or goes base their votes on whether the poet is published by a mainstream press, or whether he/she has won a mainstream award.

There are so many problems with this. Some of them are ours, as poets and readers of poetry, to deal with: to inform people better about our poetry, about the poetry we love, about the situations in which poetry comes to be published, whether as a chapbook, a webzine, an act of graffiti. Many of these problems relate to Wikipedia, however, indicating an elitism, a narrow-mindedness, and an ignorance that I believe don't reflect that views of the multitude of users and contributors to Wikipedia.

I'm writing this because I believe poetry is notable. I believe a book of poems is notable. I believe that part of being a poet is pointing out how poetry affects us today, and how we should take note. For Wikipedia to tell me poetry isn't notable is beyond belief. Please take a moment to post a bio for a contemporary poet.


Carrie Etter said...

Um, someone wrote an wrote an article on me for Wikipedia. The author was interested in another writer, who published my first chapbook, and that led the Wikipedia author to me.

ljs said...

Great! Glad to see it. Wikipedia has since our writing kept John Gallaher's post, which is also good.

I notice that there are now 516 American poet stubs , some of which (Thomas Sayers Ellis') are new. Wikipedia's notability criteria still applies to some, which is interesting; the criteria need revising.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia is goofy.