In this feature we share some highlights of poetry online and ideas of how to set up your own online community whether it be to keep your school creative writing club going over the summer or to find other young poets in your area.
Of course we hope you’ll stay part of the Young Poets Network and help it grow and grow, but this site also provides a toolkit for Doing It Yourself, and there are other kinds of online writing communities you may want to create or join.
It’s easy to set up a Facebook group or small social network of a collection of friends using tools like ning.com, which used to be free but now charges users, and Webs.com, which is still free but not quite so user friendly. Blogging tools like blogger.com and posterous.com can also be used to build a site with multiple users. What you need to decide is how private you want your site to be – and whether you want to be part of a bigger network like Facebook or build your own customised zone including whatever features you want, such as forums, profiles of members and places to post text and videos, chat facility and twitter feed.
Caleb Klaces’ Top tips on setting up an online community for writers
1. Why? Think carefully about why you want to get a community going. It could be anything from a love of prose poems to writing underwater. But what really interests you is most likely to be what will interest other people.
2. Research. Search the internet. Follow recommended links from sites you really like. Join in conversations. Don’t be afraid of emailing other editors and writers with your ideas.
3. Who; what; how? Ask yourself: who will be in your online community? What will they be there for? How will they talk to one another?
4. Keep it simple. There are lots of literary sites. How will yours home in on something specific? For example, on Likestarlings.com we introduce writers to one another and get them to have a conversation in poems. That’s it.
5. Choose the right platform. Tools like Blogger and WordPress are staightforward and adaptable – and free – ways to make a site. Test them out and see what will be easiest for you to work with.
6. Make links. No site is an island. Be friendly.
7. Give people reasons to come back. It’s easy to forget about websites. How will you keep visitors aware of your site’s exciting new discussions and poems (without clogging their inboxes)?
8. Include the small print. Make sure that somewhere on the site it is clear who has the copyright to any works published there.
9 & 10. Take a deep breath and enjoy yourself!
Some recommended online communities
1. Quilliant: a new and elegantly designed UK site for sharing and discussing literature of all kinds (aged 14+).
2. 3by3by3: send them a poem written according to their beautifully simple ‘recipe’ involving a special ingredient – GoogleNews.
3. InkPop: publisher HarperCollins’ site dedicated to writers and readers of ‘teen’ literature.
4. IN QUIRE: American poet HL Hix invites writers to respond to photographs and objects.
5. Young Writers Online: join the old-school but very useful forum on this US site for ‘writers in their teens and twenties’.
At the opposite extreme from your own small community of friends are those sites where you can upload your work to be read and critiqued by other members. One of these is Figment.com, a US based community for young writers, launched on December 6, 2010. Below is an interview with Figment’s founder Jacob Lewis. The site grew from 500 to 28,000 registered users within six months of its launch, with over 55,000 pieces of writing, from poetry to multi-chaptered novels.