I started this blog on the 14th of June, 2006, so this is the tenth anniversary of The Imaginary Museum's existence. Five years ago I put up a post which listed five major web projects I'd undertaken in the first five years of the blog's existence.
I've tried to do the same this time (albeit with somewhat shakier chronology). And, just as I remarked last time, every time I complete one of these endeavours I tell myself never again, but the impulse doesn't seem to have dried up just yet ...
So here they are, in rough chronological order:
- (January 1, 2011-August 14, 2012) Tree Worship.
- (March 31-July 3, 2012) Jack Ross: Notes on NZ Poetry (Commentary: Jacket2).
- (August 18, 2013- ) Opinions: Published Articles, Essays, Prefaces & Reviews - 1987 to the present.
- (January 1, 2014-February 17, 2015) Poetry New Zealand Index: An International Journal of Poetry and Poetics (1951-2015).
- (February 25, 2015- ) Advanced Fiction Writing: 139.329: College of Humanities and Social Sciences - School of English and Media Studies - Albany Campus - Massey University.
This blog is linked to my novel The Annotated Tree Worship (Forthcoming: Pania Press, 2016), and constitutes the "research project" undertaken by that book's protagonist - with somewhat disastrous results to his professional reputation ... If parts of it seem a little unusual for me, then, it's because they are supposed to have been written "in character." I is another, as Rimbaud once remarked.
Pam Brown asked me to edit a feature on contemporary NZ poets for the American poetics site Jacket2 to match the one she was compiling on Australian poetry. It was a very enjoyable experience (the results can be looked at here, if you're curious), and it went live in late 2011.
As a result (I presume), they asked me to write a set of posts on NZ poetry and poetics for the Commentaries section of their site. This proved a little more arduous, and the results have received a certain amount of healthy criticism - not least from Vaughan Rapatahana, whose own Jacket2 commentary begins with the remark:Jack Ross has ... enabled a series of earlier commentaries in Jacket 2 (during 2012), where he reflected about ‘my ongoing engagement with New Zealand poetry.’ Yet, Jack, for all his ensuing comments, never touched on the first New Zealand poetry that had existed on the shores of this country for hundreds of years before any English language versifiers ever entered the scene. This, of course is ngā mōteatea Māori, which necessarily must be included as a vital and ongoing component of Aotearoa poetics. ‘Maori language and Māori oral literature may come to be seen as being … crucial to the development of New Zealand literature … an acquaintance with Māori language and literature is a necessary prerequisite for making Olympian judgments about the nature of New Zealand literature as a whole’ wrote the late Michael King back in 1993.It's hard to quarrel with Vaughan's position on that. I've tried to redress the balance a bit in my editorial for the latest issue of Poetry NZ Yearbook. There are certainly things I would probably write differently if I were to begin this task again, but one does, after all, have to start somewhere.
It sounds like a simple enough thing to do - listing your old essays and reviews on a single website - but in practice locating all the texts, scanning all the journals, and collating all the bibliographical information took far longer than I'd expected.
Nor did I have any real idea of how much work I'd actually done in this category (a few statistics: 290 separate pieces, published over 25 years, incorporating over 350,000 words of text). Now that it's done, it only requires updating every time I publish something new.
Occasionally I get flack about some of the information in one or other of these ancient pieces, which makes me wonder if it was worth saving them from the newsprint they could otherwise just quietly fade away on, but I suppose one should face up to one's mistakes as well as the occasional thing I may have got right.
This one was a bit of a hoor to get finished, I must admit. "Never again, never again, never again," kept on shrilling through my head as I scrolled through issue after issue of New Zealand's longest-running poetry magazine, entering the contents onto my author index. But now it's done, and I never have to do it again! The only maintenance required now is to update it as each new issue comes out (something I already do - for my sins - for New Zealand's longest-running alt lit journal brief.
And, last but not least, a work in progress: the website for my latest Creative Writing course, our new stage 3 Advanced Fiction Writing paper, which I'm teaching as a kind of backward glance over traversed roads, as befits its status as a follow-up to my colleague Thom Conroy's Fiction Writing course (139.285). It kicks off in semester 1, 2017.
So what does the future hold for this blog - and for the bloggy empire to which it constitutes the gateway (38 at last count)? Who can truly say? These are deep waters, Watson.
More of the same, no doubt, but perhaps it might be a good idea to learn to expend my energy in ways which make more sense to the authorities presiding over my professional development: PBRF [Performance-Based Research Funding, for those of you lucky enough not to be in the know], for instance... Nah, just kidding.