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Welcome, word-thirsty patrons, to your dVerse neighborhood pub’s twenty-eighth  Open Link Night. Tonight’s the night to share a poem of your own making on any topic with the crowd of usual suspects and very welcome newcomers, and read some of others’ efforts in return.

Hedgewitch(Joy Ann Jones) here, holding the door open and trying not to get trampled by the early afternoon rush. So far, despite the inordinate amount of fun we all have here at the jumpin’est little roadhouse on the internet, no one has as yet attempted to make the exuberant writing and linking of poetry as we have come to know and love it illegal, but we live in a time where that, unfortunately,  could  always change. Therefore tonight I want to talk a little bit about the importance of uncensored poetry and art, and the need to support an environment where it can happen.

Many people saw the word (technically, the acronym) SOPA for the first time on January 18th, when several prominent internet sites “went black” or posted a censored version of their contents, but the desire to control the internet has been coming down the pike for a long time. What was remarkable about this instance was the response it drew from both big internet corporate entities like Google, non-profits like Wikipedia, and many grassroots protests, petitions and expressions of solidarity from every corner of the world wide web. As a result the legislation, which would have enabled the US government to issue orders to shut down websites deemed guilty under very amorphous terms of copyright infringement, was withdrawn, at least for the moment.

So it’s important to realize that we have a voice, perhaps never more so than now when we can amplify it through blogging and social media, and that we need to use it, and speak up for those things we believe in. This is somewhere where poetry, and art in general, has always been at the forefront—in breaking taboos, in calling out those who so richly deserve it, and in raising issues of injustice out of obscurity and forcing them into the full light of day. Aspiring to be a poet or an artist is in many ways a protest in and of itself against conformity, against sterility.  Art says there is something more important than money, a particular something that can’t be bought which adds value to life. We need to all be vigilant in supporting an uncensored environment where artists, writers, political protesters, the disadvantaged and the oppressed, and the everyday user out looking for the facts, can communicate and freely utilize this amazing resource called the internet, planet-wide.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox, now and ready for another night of the best poetry on the web, so on a lighter note, I have two of my favorite definitions of poetry to leave you with tonight. One is from Paul Engle, long time director of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, who says:

 “Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.”

The other is from American poet Carl Sandburg:

“Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.”

Let’s put some flesh on the bones tonight, synthesize a hyacinth biscuit or two, and  enjoy the fact that we are fortunate enough to have this vibrant writing community to support and encourage each other, and that we still live in a society where we can express ourselves freely.  See you all on the trail!

If you’re new to the pub, welcome, and here’s the drill:

  • Post a poem on any topic to your blog,
  • Link in the poem you’d like to share (1 per blog, please) by clicking on the Mr.Linky button just below.
  • This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog url and entered your name, simply click submit.
  • Don’t forget to let your readers know where you’re linking up and encourage them to participate by including a link to dVerse in your blog post.
  • Visit as many other poems as you like, commenting  as you see fit.
  • Remember, we’re here for each other. Engage your fellow poets, talk, chat, comment, let them know their work is being read, and enjoy the input you also will receive. Feel free to tweet and share on the social media of your choice.
  • Finally, enjoy–and relish the privilege of free speech in action.