Tuesday, February 27, 2018

J's Theater's 13th Blogiversary

A screenshot of my very
first post, from February
27, 2005 (Copyright © J's Theater)
On this date thirteen years ago, I started blogging at J's Theater. I've previously commemorated the date and written about why I began writing on this platform. In those and other posts, I discussed how my approach has changed over the years, and I've also commented a number of times about the fluctuation in the regularity of my posts. In brief: my teaching, mentoring and advising, and, in more recent years, administrative duties have sometimes led to sizable hiatuses or periods of silence. I've nevertheless tried to keep the blog going, in part because I enjoy blogging and it provides me with one of the few places to regularly and publicly share interests I have, especially if they fall outside the mainstream. What sometimes astonishes me is how much ground I've covered over the years, which includes posts I've completely forgotten about only to happen upon them when Googling some topic or other, and find that the blog is among the top links that appear.

From time to time, I with meet or speak with someone who speaks about the blog as primarily political, but rereading my posts since 2005, what stands out to me is the emphasis on culture, with cultural politics usually part of the equation. During my first year of blogging, which included 305 posts, I ranged widely, touching upon not only poetry and poets but artists, but also drawings and photos (many via Flickr, or from the web, so they're no longer visible); reviews of films, dancing performances, art shows, CDs and online audio sites, TV shows, plays; sports (primarily baseball, reports on the literary world and publishing industry; interviews, with domestic and international figures; numerous translations, by many others as well as my own original attempts; meta-commentaries on other bloggers and blogs; announcements of upcoming local and national events; obituaries and tributes; countless quotes by notable figures; random photos (always a popular feature here); and yes, discussions of politics. I've tried to maintain many of these foci over the years, the combinations changing in relation to my life at the time, while adding new ones. I probably do write less about TV and popular culture than I once did, and many of my favorite bloggers unfortunately have put their efforts to pasture or are no longer with us. There have also been strange occurrences, such as other blogs basically plagiarizing my posts and featuring them under other names; the specifics of the entries, however, makes the theft a bit nonsensical, but when has that ever stopped thieves?

What also continues to amaze me is how many people have visited the blog. According to the stat counter (which I had to reinstall when transferring J's Theater to Blogger's new platform) 745,059 people have visited the blog over the years. Blogger's analytics tell me, however, that there have been 1,061,061 (!) viewers over the lifetime of the blog. Last month, there were 29,566. The all-time most popular post remains the Julia de Burgos poem page (61,822 views), followed by my post about Vanessa Place and conceptual poetics (12,475); an entry on Allen Ginsberg (6,340); the 2007 Rugby World Cup (5,264); and my review of Christophe Honoré's film Homme au bain (4,147). Over this last week, the most read posts remain the one about de Burgos and Place, as well as one on William Butler Yeats and Federico García Lorca; the post about the new Locke biography and the Richard T. Greener statue, and my review of Inxeba (The Wound). Over the life of the blog, the most visitors have come from the US (556,277), Russia (92,407), Germany (54,849), France, Great Britain, Ukraine, Canada, China, Brazil, and the Netherlands, in descending order; over the last month, the visitors have primarily come from the same countries, with Italy, Estonia and Poland replacing Canada, China and Brazil. In sum, visitors from across the globe are checking out the new posts and some very old ones, which is heartening to see.

I intend to continue blogging for as long as it remains of interest and I have the time and energy to do so. At some point I probably should see if I can hire an assistant to cull through the posts and draw up a list categorizing and indexing them by date, subject, and so on. I am not sure how many translations of my own I've posted on here, but I often find ones I'd completely forgotten, including an entry featuring a poem by the late Dominican-immigrant writer Carlos Rodríguez (1951-2001). To my surprise, someone commented on the post this past January 16, under the title "Escritor de la nada," to say that there's an anthology out featuring 4-5 poems by Rodríguez was now out. They did not leave a name, but I have put on my list of books to seek out.


It's also a little surprising, at least to me, to note that blogging as we know it is roughly only 21 years old. I noted the 10th anniversary of the platform and genre back in 2007. Perhaps it was around this time or not long after that some pundits began declaring blogging over and done, and yet just a few years after that, it had come back with such force that reality shows were touting the fact the some of their stars' occupations included "blogger." "The blogs" even became an epithet of sorts. Blogging has morphed several times since, with platforms like Tumblr including blogs with almost no words at all. There are still many wordsmiths still toiling out there, and, in the case of publications like The New York Review of Books, some of their more vital, relevant writing is appearing on their blog, NYR Daily.

In 2005, I also wrote about one of the important proto-bloggers, Clarice Lispector, whose formally inventive and topically expansive newspaper Crônicas are more like blogposts and less like the conventional opinion pieces one usually finds in contemporary US journalism. New Directions plans to publish one her most difficult and personal books, The Chandelier, later this spring.

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