It seems Oscar and I are a smack talking luchador tag team. I say this, given our many conversations about open discourse and e-places. His recent blog post is here, thoughts in response to the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog’s recent change to a news feed format. They have ceased to be what they call a “discursive blog,” in favor of the popular linking to others. Oscar raises many good points there, so I won’t rehash. I’ll just encourage you to go read his post, as well as excellent comments from Sheryl Luna and Reb Livingston. Sheryl discusses gated e-communities in which people can selectively block others from participating in discussions. Reb discusses the kinds of blogs which have easily transitioned into gated e-spaces.
As PAWA’s primary blogger, I get how and why blogs operate as hubs of information, how bloggers function as e-traffic directors. I see Francisco Aragón and Oscar doing that at the Letras Latinas blog. I frequently ask fellow community members, writers and authors themselves, to contribute content to the PAWA blog. Rarely do they come through; it’s nice when they do. It stymies me when people freak out or become paralyzed when I ask. I don’t get this, precisely because it seems folks are constantly clamoring to be heard and noticed in e-space, and many outwardly exhibit animosity towards those of us with access and platform. But once faced with an opportunity to stand on the stage and speak for themselves….
In one of the comments I’ve left at Oscar’s blog, I liken blogging to writing a regular column for Op-Ed or reviews. He and I talk about people like Roger Ebert, who has really flourished in e-world; how important has it been to him to have this platform after having lost his physical, biological ability to speak. How much do we appreciate and need such rich and brave voices like his, whether or not we agree with his assessments of film and culture. In response, Oscar asks who are our Herb Caens, Studs Terkels, Djuna Barneses? Perhaps such authors as Martín Espada, Rigoberto González, Noel Alumit, Ninotchka Rosca, Luis Francia.
To state the super-obvious, publication is public. Because publication is public, I regard my position as an author as one who engages in public, social, cultural, political, literary discourse. As a fledgling educator, I am learning that one of the most important things I can do is to encourage people to critically examine, to learn to articulate their beliefs about what is happening in our world, rather than rehashing what others believe. As an editor and curator, one of the most important things I do is offer a public platform to others. I would like to believe we can move beyond coterie and grow community this way. I would also like to believe that emerging writers and established authors can be brave outside of gated spaces, e- or otherwise, and by example, encourage others to do the same.