Thursday, March 22, 2007

Arc Poetry Magazine Launches Portage: A Map to the Poetry Ecosystem

Today, March 21st, is World Poetry Day, as championed by UNESCO.

A day for poetry daring. What will you do? Looking for ideas? The online home of Arc: Canada's Poetry Magazine, has added a new window onto the world of poetry. Portage, on preview since December, is a routes map to the poetry ecosystem in Canada and around the world.

Through over 500 online links, the Portage map outlines educational resources, professional tracks, academic debates, underground movements, historical and/or indigenous legacies, book and magazine trades, new media innovations, and grassroots community initiatives. By no means comprehensive, this map attempts to offer a cross-section of the players advancing the craft, the critical discourse, and the public appreciation of poetry in its many forms, written or performed.

Portage points out the sometimes tucked away, and sometimes wide open, profusion of poetry and spoken word happening in Canada and in other countries. The emphasis is on poetry in English or translated into English. But as with traditional portage routes where explorers, traders, and indigenous people carried their canoes over obstacles to new waters, the goal is exchange.

Visitors can start their journey by picking one of the navigation routes listed on the right-hand side of the page. These include bookstores, fairs and festivals, poet websites, publishers, reading series, and workshops and writing groups. Regional links allow users to explore by country or by Canadian province. The National Capital Region, home to Arc, has its own list, and we are scouting for links with a bioregional emphasis. Visitors may also navigate by using tags, which indicate the poetry form, style, theme, subject matter or medium to be found in a certain site.

Try out the selective search to find, say, bookstores or workshops in a given area. Arc webmistress and Portage designer Stacey Munro admits the Portage map met its current shape in "a somewhat adhoc way, routes improvised from personal experience and finds from the Internet with the inkling of a 'poetry ecology' as beacon." As such, the map is designed to be interactive. Some routes have been linked to interactive forums or polls open for comment. Thoughts on this project, cartographic suggestions, additions, corrections, and recommendations for web traces to poetry heartlands are welcome at our guestbook or through our Portage contact form.

Tell us how you put Portage to use. It's no accident that World Poetry Day is celebrated on the same day as the day for the elimination of racial discrimination. How's the progress since the 1999 proclamation? Tell us, if you like, what you propose for the future or what you dared to do on World Poetry Day.

Tip the canoe. Enter the conversation. Rewrite this map.

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