(Welcome, Introduction and Thanks)
"to wit -- idiom. That is to say; namely."
Passions in Poetry has turned into something of a surprise to me, and something of a major
conundrum as well.
Less than three months ago, during the second week of November, 1998, I added a new
subdirectory called /poetry to one of my existing web sites (at rcarnell.com). It was
little more than a toy, a chance to try a few new web design techniques in a practical
setting. I posted a score of poems on the site, some of my oldest work, and invited others
to join me.
To my pleasant surprise, a few actually did. On December 5, I received our first poem,
titled "Serenade of the Sirens," from an obviously talented poet calling herself
PoetDeVine. Two days later, I found two more poems in my mailbox, "Unforgotten
Words" and "Just A Little Longer," both by Maria Byrne. On December 11,
Michael Anderson submitted his first poem to Passions, "Sleeping Beauty,"
followed the next day by "The Miracle."
Five poems in the space of a week seemed like a lot, especially when they were such
extraordinary poems. Suddenly, there was a small tickle at the back of my mind, whispering
suggestions that maybe - just maybe - there were other people out there that shared my
passion for poetry. I half-heartedly spent all of fifteen minutes one night submitting
Passion's URL to a handful of search engine.
By the time Christmas arrived, we were receiving maybe five or six poems a day, along with
about 80 visitors a day to read those wonderful works. Perhaps more importantly, I was
also receiving some wonderful email and suggestions, ways we could make the site more
useful and more extensive. One of those suggestions was to add a section for Classical
Poetry. Ten days later, bleary-eyed and thinking in meter, I had winnowed the list of
poems I just "had" to include down to 888 (seemed like a nice round number). I
redesigned our graphics menus, adding several other suggested categories, and - on New
Year's Eve - started to upload well over 1,000 pages to the web server.
It crashed, unfortunately, before I was even half complete. And it did so again, and
again, and again, and eventually it dawned on me this wasn't going to work. The
rcarnell.com web server simply could not handle the load. Coupling this with our
increasing traffic at Passions and a few other factors, I decided that perhaps Passions in
Poetry should become its own site, rather than the subdirectory of another.
The domain registration for netpoets.com is dated January 3, 1999, but it was over a week
after that before I invited our first guests - our resident poets, of course - to tour the
new site. By that time, traffic on the old site had risen to new levels and we were being
visited by about 200 people every day. On January 13, I redirected all the menu options at
the old site to point to the new one. As I write this, that was fifteen days ago. And the
chronology gets a little blurred after that, because it's been a VERY busy fifteen days.
Three days ago, I posted 33 new poems on the site. That same day we had 829 visitors,
viewing over 9,000 pages. As I write this, I have 163 poems waiting to be posted, some so
good I almost cry when I read them (out of envy, if nothing else). Our growth has been
phenomenal, to say the least, and there seems to be no end in sight.
That has been both an amazing surprise to me, and a source of continuing bewilderment. To
what do we owe our success?
Some people have suggested that the ability to send a poem (and now a greeting card) to a
friend has played some small role. That idea, and writing the code to make it work, is
probably the only small credit I might be able to take for our success. Every other single
feature added to Passions, since the day it opened its literary doors, has come as a
suggestions from either our poets or our visitors. The only possible credit I could take
for them (and you know I'll take what I can), is that I've listened to you people.
Of course, in a very real sense, the bulk of any credit has to go to our resident poets.
Without them, and the wonderful work they allow us to share, Passions could not even
exist. But as true as that certainly is, it really only begs the questions. WHY have we
been able to attract what are, without question, some of the most talented writers on the
Ask any expert, in any field, and you'll be told that success cannot be found without
focus. And that's my conundrum, because I really don't know what our "focus" has
been or should be. Are we a conclave of poets (those who write poetry) seeking an audience
and the acceptance of our peers? Or are we a diverse group of poets (those who read and
love poetry) finding a common way to explore our feelings and those of others? It may seem
an academic question to some, but the answers we reach will necessarily effect the
direction our web site takes in the future.
Perhaps, in some mystical sense, the Truth that could answer my conundrum lies at a much
deeper level. There are a great many satisfactions and rewards that come with being a part
of Passions, but none will ever match the sense of camaraderie and friendship I find every
time I log onto the 'Net these days.
Michael, Sharon, witty Nance, Rosemary, dear sweet Rachel, Jennifer, Samantha, reluctant
scared Tracey, Shelly, Heather, Jeremy - people I've *talked* to a few times or many
times, and others I've probably neglected to mention, all have become dear friends I've
learned (and am still learning) to value greatly. I've found a new source of wisdom and
insight through Passions, and have come to depend on my new-found friends' support. And
perhaps the best part for me is knowing there are almost certainly other friends out there
I haven't even met yet. But, God willing, I will.
Is it possible that at least some of our success stems from the fact that Passions is, or
is at least becoming, more than just a web site?
Often reclusive, always diverse, foolish enough to believe we have something important to
say, courageous enough to stand up and say it -- even the poets of this world need friends
to stand by them. Right?
Passions in Poetry
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