1. European Union compliance message: This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

My thoughts on PoetryCircle

By Jay Dougherty, Nov 14, 2017 at 7:48 AM.

  1. Jay Dougherty

    Jay Dougherty Well Worn

    Hey, everyone. It has taken me a while to get into a calm enough emotional state to be able to address the situation with PoetryCircle.

    First, please know that PoetryCircle has been a labor of love for me over the past 12+ years. I’ve spent entire weekends, evenings, holidays, and good parts of many other days designing, refining, marketing, and managing the site. I’ve spent my own money—thousands of dollars more than the site ever took in—over those years. Along the way, I’ve developed relationships—albeit long-distance ones—with some of you. With all of you, I’ve shared a common passion for an art that never ceases to teach us and help us grow, reflect, and learn. What a gift.

    So it was with considerable dismay that I witnessed the changes in policy and structure that took place immediately following the handover of the site. I was not expecting so many changes to happen so quickly. In fact, I made an effort to impress upon the new owner the importance of acknowledging how different this place is from a typical Internet message board. Still, the owner is the owner, and upon relinquishing ownership, one also relinquishes control.

    So why did I relinquish control? The reasons are probably too many to list in any essay that hopes to remain readable, but for the sake of those of you considering starting another site, I will try.  First, there were the challenges involved with refereeing personal spats that inevitably arise whenever you provide a place where people can exchange opinions. Social media sites provide a platform for the relatively free exchange of ideas and the formation of constructive human relationships, and that’s good. But they are also fertile ground for many of the less admirable aspects of human nature: pettiness, arguments, insults, cliques, bullying, arrogance, victimization, perfidy, calumny, deceit, despotism, to name a few. I, like any social media site owner, have seen all of these on PoetryCircle, from people who are generally considered—and probably like to consider themselves—among the more thoughtful and “wise” among us. I don’t leave myself out.

    But when you own a site like this, you deal with one or more of these traits and behaviors on a weekly basis, if you’re lucky. If not, they’re a daily occurrence. And they weigh on you; they accumulate; they make you question your sanity, the amount of time you spend on or with a place like this. And this burden comes on top of the myriad other things you must do to keep a growing Web site afloat and relevant: design, marketing, keeping up with changes in technology, paying bills, attempting to figure out a way to have membership help in the actual cost of the site—a cost that in no way takes into account the time you devote to keeping it all going.

    That brings me to the current owner, a skilled software developer and forum owner who understands all of the burdens I have just described and believes, as a developer would, that the best approach to avoiding owner burnout is to automate processes as much as possible. Finding, training, and managing volunteer editors? No. Maintaining an attractive but labor-intensive front page? Strike. Reading and manually “picking” the best work on a site? Not a chance. The result is quite different from what you’ve been used to on PoetryCircle, true, and there are certainly two ways to go about this simplification: gradually or all at once. My preference would have been gradual, but my approach in the past led to owner burnout. For the sake of the longevity of this place and the community that you still have and can be a part of, avoiding owner burnout is key.

    Some of you have wondered about the “sales” price of PoetryCircle. Hold on to your hats as you prepare to hear how wealthy I now am. It was $20. Why $20? It was just a number that represented a transaction. I tried for years to give the site away to a university or writing group or individual. Everyone said thanks but no thanks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again: for most publishers, even large ones, there’s no money in poetry. There’s of course no money in writing poetry, either, and in a way that makes sense: there are very few readers of poetry outside of poets themselves—or students asked to read poetry by their teachers.

    So please, for those of you angry about the changes that have taken place at PoetryCircle, try to be thankful for what you still have. The community is still here. You can work around what you might see as limitations. You can even start your own “front page” site somewhere else. It’s not that difficult. But you still have PoetryCircle, which started out as nothing more than a forum, and you still have this community to share your work and your thoughts about the work. My choice, given the level of burnout I had, was between closing PoetryCircle down for everyone or passing it on. I chose to pass it on so that you might continue to use and enjoy it.

    That’s the story, in a nutshell. If I had it to do over again, would I do some things differently? Sure. But under the circumstances, I made a decision that I thought would benefit you and this community.

    I would like to add that as a literary scholar, I feel there’s a reason for you to feel proud of the work you have shared here: it stands as a record of your development. I remember how valuable it was for me, in the days before the Internet, to find some record of a writer’s development, some give-and-take between the writer and her readers. These records were typically rare. If any of you ever becomes famous, future scholars will cherish this record of your work and its development. No one is born a T.S. Eliot, a Wallace Stevens, an Anne Sexton, or a Charles Bukowski. One becomes a writer of that stature. Even if you’re already an accomplished writer, here you are leaving the world with a record of your development. I personally consider that to be important, both for you and your readers, present and future.

    So I hope that this little essay has given you a better idea of what led me to let PoetryCircle go after 12 years and why I decided to pass it on rather than shut it down. I hope, too, that you will proceed in peace, empathy, and gratitude.

    Take care, everyone.

  2. AndyB

    AndyB New Member

  3. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    "Ah, Bartleby! Ah, humanity!"
    Anna Ruiz and Jay Dougherty like this.
  4. Ashley Nebelsieck

    Ashley Nebelsieck Well-Known Member

    We haven't had much interaction, but thank you so much for creating this cyberwomb where I did so much growing in such a short (alas) time. What you did and held for the time you held it is very valuable and important to me.

    If you ever need an extra contributor,  count me in.

    All my Best,
    Anna Ruiz, Soodabeh and Jay Dougherty like this.
  5. brendan christopher

    brendan christopher the only private eye that mattered


    Thanks so much for all of your work over the years. I can't imagine what it took, on top of dealing with the personal spats and numerous other irritations. I hope most people on here don't overreact to the changes, though they are sweeping. I, for one, enjoy the interactions here, and I like having a place that catalogues my work, which I can always revisit (or not). I have no idea what Andy's vision is, but I will be patient. Maybe something better will come along than what exists here, but the internet has proven this to be doubtful.

    Good luck, Jay.
  6. Soodabeh

    Soodabeh Well-Known Member

    Thank you Jay :)
    Anna Ruiz and Jay Dougherty like this.
  7. Jan Harper

    Jan Harper Well-Known Member

    hello, Jay :)

    i took some time looking around the net to find a place i felt would help my writing reach another level, where i could read talented minds, be inspired by the imagination of others. i found this site that you, with the help of your editors and membership, had built into something rather exceptional... a place i felt i could maybe call my new literary 'home'.

    i fully understand the burnout and your reasons for moving on. it is, with regret, that i see the sweeping changes wreaking so much disturbance - disturbance that could have been softened by a different approach than the one taken by Andy. it is what it is. i am pleased to have been a very small part of your site for such a short time, and wish you every joy in your future.

    happy writings,

    jan x
    Anna Ruiz and Jay Dougherty like this.
  8. Soodabeh

    Soodabeh Well-Known Member

    I think it's not hard to understand and appreciate how wonderful PC was! Any member who knows even poorly about poetry and online sites would admit how different the site was, compared to the similar websites. I see PC was a baby you raised with help of devoted editors and active members... the thing I cannot understand at all is that how a mom may decide to pass her baby -which isn't baby anymore - on to the new guardian who never been a mom, a writer, a poet or at least a poetry lover/reader. I respect Andy's ability to be the owner of a site but PC was an extraordinary place. Parenting a dumb child is much different with taking care of a smart kid!!! Alas... sorry Jay but I think your decision was in hurry to get ride of that labor of love!
  9. brendan christopher

    brendan christopher the only private eye that mattered

    Well, I have no idea what Andy's background is so I will not go there. And I don't mean to speak for Jay, but based on what i know of the site and what he posted above, it's actually amazing that he held onto the site for as long as he did. You are talking about someone operating at a loss financially for years, never begging for money, dealing with constant headaches. It's actually remarkable that someone would choose to put up with this. And Jay did--for a long time. People are acting like he handed it over to someone who has nefarious intentions. We really don't know anything at this point but the site is still running and there are still people here. That's the most important thing,
  10. Tim J Brennan

    Tim J Brennan Well-Known Member

    See ya' around, Jay.  If the quick exchange between Andy B. & Elliot (and you, I suppose as the outsider looking in) is an example, these three amigos might take awhile to settle in.  For some.
  11. David Belcher

    David Belcher Don't forget to be Awesome

    Thanks Jay for everything. I understand your reasons for relinquishing control of PC.

    I've been reading the deluge of comments on the discussion board and my only concern is the air of panic that seems to have taken hold. Would I miss the edit feature? Yes I would. I miss the old site already but I don't come here for its bells and whistles. I'm here because it is the only place where I can have a proper discussion about poetry. It's the only place where I'm challenged and inspired. It is the people here, my fellow members of PC, our community that I value.

    There are countless poetry sites on the internet but there's no other place I know of that is such a rich source of knowledge,and experience. I value every voice here. I value your honesty.
  12. Miya Ko

    Miya Ko Literary Polyphonist

    Burnt out.  I understand.  Well, any online forum should not "babysit" us.  I've learned that a long time ago.  As the cliche goes, happiness must come from within, not from the internet.
  13. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    Well, as I've said directly and privately to him: Jay Dougherty is the only reason I ever showed up and participated in this forum or website or whatever it is. Mr. Dougherty is the only Bukowski scholar I've ever known, and Mr. Bukowski is the only poet I've ever really cared about. So, all of the outraged puffery and threats about litigation and feelings of betrayal and...blah blah blah...are just a load of Internet nothingness to me. Post some interesting poems, and I'll read them (maybe). For everything else, I recommend fistfuls of Prozac every hour until you feel better. If that doesn't work, I'm sure the Internet can come up with some other helpful suggestions that might be useful.

    No more editing???

  14. Soodabeh

    Soodabeh Well-Known Member

    I don't hate you Douglas. I don't even care.
  15. Jan Harper

    Jan Harper Well-Known Member

    i have nothing against Jay:

    even so, Douglas, can you not understand that not being able to access one's own work to make changes/remove for other publication issues/whatever  - may be of concern to people putting together collections or, even, simply just to ensure intellectual rights to one's own property?

    the above doesn't apply so much to me, but it's the members' content that has helped make this place what it was - content posted when the site was a different animal to the new vision. if members are so unhappy they decide to leave in droves and have work removed/refuse to post new, then it's a loss for the site. yes, no-one's indispensable... new posters will post, some may even be good. but to make changes with no courtesy pre-warning so people can make their own decisions about their own material, no warnings to the editorial volunteers about the changes? that was only ever going to be a controversial move. i'm sad to see the upset this has caused. such good writers are a site's valuable assets: they encourage new members to join.
  16. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    No, I do not understand that. How is it possible that you don't have access to your own work? Did anyone actually use Poetry Circle as a remote repository for their writing? If so, why? I don't see an intellectual rights issue here. I don't see that anything has been taken from anyone. Maybe you can find a lawyer who thinks you have a case. Good luck.
    David Belcher and Anna Ruiz like this.
  17. Jan Harper

    Jan Harper Well-Known Member

    ^ *sigh* i'm not getting into this nonsense, having never suggested i'd want to 'find a lawyer'.  

    none of us can access work back past saturday as far as i can see, except to read only.

    nice blinkers
    Anna Ruiz likes this.
  18. Miya Ko

    Miya Ko Literary Polyphonist

    If you want to submit your work for publication, what you can do is request for deletion.  Yes, there are publishers out there who won't accept your stuff because they are all over the net.  It's poetry not critical theory.
    Anna Ruiz and David Smalley like this.
  19. Miya Ko

    Miya Ko Literary Polyphonist

    Can we all just get along?

    -- Rodney King
    David Belcher and Anna Ruiz like this.
  20. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    There seems to be a lot of ceasing and desisting going on around here. I guess that's what we all must do now in response to this unprecedented poetic atrocity. My anxiety level has increased alarmingly.
    David Belcher and Anna Ruiz like this.
  21. Miya Ko

    Miya Ko Literary Polyphonist

    Write a good poem and post it here.  That's the cure.
    Anna Ruiz and Jay Dougherty like this.
  22. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    I think I'll just cease and desist. Desist we much!
  23. Miya Ko

    Miya Ko Literary Polyphonist

    Douglas, I'll be honest.  You are being insensitive.  Poetry is life to many.  Some quit jobs to become full-time poets.  Others try homelessness to suffer and write their masterpieces.  You should, at least, recognize that not all poets are like you who can make fun of the idea that poetry is life.
    Anna Ruiz and Soodabeh like this.
  24. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    Humorlessness is a virtue.
    Anna Ruiz likes this.
  25. Miya Ko

    Miya Ko Literary Polyphonist

    There's nothing humorous in your comments.  You even put down the poets here by saying you only come here because of Jay.  Well, many of us come here for poetry.  Period.
    Jay Gandhi and Anna Ruiz like this.
  26. Thank you Jay for being one of the good guys. C
  27. silent lotus

    silent lotus _-_== Loiterer ==_-_

    seems Jay took care of that for you
    just  before he gave up being the head honcho


  28. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    Poetry is life to many.
    Some quit jobs
    to become full-time poets.
    Others try homelessness
    to suffer
    and write their masterpieces.
    You should, at least, recognize
    that not all poets are like you
    who can make fun of the idea that
    poetry is life.
  29. Douglas Goodwin

    Douglas Goodwin "We don't hate you. We don't even care."

    Anna Ruiz and Jay Dougherty like this.
  30. silent lotus

    silent lotus _-_== Loiterer ==_-_

    Scientists finally discovered why languages don’t have the same number of terms for colors

    Anna Ruiz likes this.