Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Sunday, July 1, 2018

This is not a eulogy

North Dakota poet Timothy Murphy (1951-2018).
     The erbsenzähler will not mourn.  As a group of writers, they will continue to count and measure success by publishing credits in unread venues.  "Published is perfect" is their motto...for their own work, at least.  To them, being concerned about objective merit is to wonder about the tree falling in the forest.  As long as editors put out words and sponsors/subscribers still pay to see theirs in print, who cares about quality?  It's not like anyone is going to memorize, perform, remember or quote any of these verbal collages, right?

     Poet and critic Timothy Murphy was one of the very few people who gave a damn about whether a poem had artistic merit or not.  He died yesterday.  We will miss him, whether we know it or not.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Asolg

Poet/Activist Susana Chávez.
     Are you a poet trying to find inspiration for a great novel?

     An asolg is the polar opposite of a glose (or "glosa"), a Spanish form that prepends a stanza from a source poem (called the "cabeza") and then inserts an iteration of them among the author's verses ("texte"). 

     For example, "¡Ni Una Más!"  is a glosa derived from "Sangre Nuestra" by slain civil rights advocate Susana Chávez (1974-2011).  It is macaronic;  Susana's "Sangre Nuestra" (the cabeza) was written in Spanish, while the texte is in English:

Sangre mía,
de alba,
de luna partida,
del silencio.

Blood of mine, a stream that traces back
through mother's womb to Spanish hunger. It
reminds the body of velvet dreams that track
along the yearning neurons, sand, and grit.

Blood of sunrise,
burning crimson, light
these walls, these towns, these lands, these words on fire.
Now, nourished by my last appearance, fight
to leave our stains until we both retire.

Blood of a broken moon
that brings no child
to bear mute witness to its mother's fate:
this aging news, this tale of life defiled
that only apathy can mitigate.

Blood of silence trickled as you swore:
"Ni una muerta más."
"Not one death more."

       The asolg appends the verse (or dramatic speech) as the climactic finish, filling in the rest with prose.

       Start by writing a finale which is a dramatic speech or poem.  Now "backfill" it with a novel that serves to add context to the phrases used in the final scene.  (You could formalize this foreshadowing, having Chapter One refer to line one, Chapter Two an explication of line two, et cetera.  Or not.)

      There is no finished example to show you but the novid, "Love is a Weakness",  illustrates the concept.  We begin with the ending.

     Now we write the novel:  A 27 year old runaway, Kemla, meets a community organizer, Todd.  Despite pressing schedules, they begin to fall in love, notwithstanding her insistence that romance is a sign of weakness.  She admires his demeanor and sensitivity.  He tries to draw her out but Kemla is not forthcoming, especially about her past or her health.  Permanence is not in her tarot cards.  In the final scene, at an open mic with their friends gathered around, Todd surprises Kemla with a marriage proposal. 

     Kemla's response was originally written as her wedding vow.  Now it serves as her farewell.

Kemla's Aloha

You showed me how to wait
in Capistrano.
You showed me love
is a weakness
stronger than power. 
You showed me grace
is the present
tense of sorrow
but what time
can take from us
was never ours.


You showed me home
is a person
not a place.
I fear a thing
I'll never leave,
a crime recorded
in watercolors
on your face,
the minutes whispering
in the voice of time.


You said there cannot be a little candor;
the truth, once trimmed, can never last.
You swore you'd never flatter,
never pander.
I promised you an unregretted past.
If chance is kind you'll understand
this vow, this wish,
a thousand happy nights
from now.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Bob Dylan not a writer?

     In "Why Bob Dylan Shouldn't Have Gotten a Nobel" one "Anna North" opined that Bob Dylan is not a writer.  At least, we think that is what she was arguing but, given the level of coherence, we may wonder if this was the first article ever written in rot-13.

     "Words have meaning," a critiquer might say to Ms. North, "even if yours don't."

      Gerard Ian Lewis could be even less generous.

      Partisans use words like hand grenades.  To Ms. North, they are land mines.  She steps on one almost immediately, speaking about Bob Dylan:

     "He is a wonderful musician..."

      Learning nothing from that catastrophe, she repeats the mistake two paragraphs later:

     "He is great because he is a great musician..."

      No, nor is he being honored for his skill at composing or performing music (despite some lovely instrumentals).  He is being fêted for his songs:  lyrics and music, with special attention to the former.  For reference and contrast, this is a great music performer:

      ...and, within the context of songwriters, this is a great music composer:

      Dylan is neither of those.

     "Yes, it is possible to analyze his lyrics as poetry. But Mr. Dylan’s writing is inseparable from his music."

       Unless one is aiming for paradox or humor, it's rarely a good idea to contradict oneself in consecutive sentences.  At best, this is a distinction without a difference.  If lyrics aren't poetry which of the two modes of speech are they?  Prose?

      "But more than that, awarding the Nobel to a novelist or a poet is a way of affirming that fiction and poetry still matter..."

       ...until and unless the poetry is set to music, we suppose [as the Iliad and Odyssey were].  By this same "reasoning", is Shakespeare's blank verse not poetry or literature because it was presented in theatrical performances?

      "...when the Nobel committee gives the literature prize to a musician, it misses the opportunity to honor a writer."

       Are these two things mutually exclusive?  What did you imagine a song is? 

       Dylan isn't a writer?  Leaving aside his prose and prose poetry efforts, his lyrics weren't written on album sleeves?  They can't be read in any of a thousand web sites by entering the song title and "lyrics" into a search engine?  They aren't studied in universities, among other places?  They haven't already survived for generations?

      "By honoring a musical icon, the committee members may have wanted to bring new cultural currency to the prize and make it feel relevant to a younger generation."

       Younger than what?  Seventy?

       At this point we leave Ms. North to her misadventures with the English language.  It is one thing to step into a mine field, quite another to dance in one.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan's Nobel Peace Prize

Verse is Verse

Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan
      In case you haven't heard, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature.  We would have preferred the more qualified Leonard Cohen but we salute the long overdue recognition of poets.  That's right.  Unless someone wants to argue that rhyming metrical compositions are prose, song lyrics are poetry. 

      The contention that poetry is defined by quality is easy to disprove.  Is "The Tay Bridge Disaster" prose?  Let's face it:  bad poetry exists.  It's not a oxymoron.  In fact, it's everywhere.  Whole institutions and myriad publications are dedicated to the presentation, if not the preservation, of bad poetry.

       And, no, it doesn't matter which is written first, the music or the words.  To wit, the music to this song was composed centuries after the words:

      Meanwhile, the lyrics were not added to this old folk tune until 1971:

      Nor does it matter if the same person is writing both music and lyrics, even if at different times, as was the case with "Suzanne", published as textual verse in 1964/1965 and not performed as a song until 1966 (and not by its author until 1967).


Leonard Cohen
      Anyone who wishes to mention that very few songs rise to the level of literature should check the [.000] batting average of written poetry over the last four decades.  Not one line of text-only verse has penetrated the ranks of the poetry communities themselves, let alone the public at large.  Put simply, every line of poetry--that thing deemed worth remembering verbatim--written in this century is accompanied by music.

      There are books and courses on Cohen's and Dylan's lyrics, but does literature have to be read?  If so, movies and plays are not literature, a thing that most primitive societies could never have produced.  Poetry, a thing which is (with rare exceptions) meant to be performed, could not be considered literature.  Fortunately, most definitions include the specification "work or production".  Thus, if Shakespeare is literature, so is Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Ferron, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot and, yes, the St. Exuperian John Prine.

      The idea that adding music somehow precludes verse from being considered literature ranks second on the list of ridiculous human notions.  (Right after the 22nd Amendment, of course.)

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Future of Publishing

     We accept that the future of all communication is the web but how can professional writing survive?  Especially in an open environment where stealing is as easy as copying and pasting?

Why Did E-Readers Fail?

     Proprietary e-readers such as Kindle, Kobo or Nook have failed largely and simply because they require proprietary, dedicated hardware.  In short, the World Wide Web had obsoleted them before they were designed.  IBooks for Apple iOS and OS X devices will linger on because Apple desktops, IPads and smart phones have another use.  Why didn't Stanza, which can display any of these formats on a personal computer, tablet or phone, catch on?  For the same reason we use Windows or Mac-based software more than the vastly superior, bullet-proof Linux:  there was no big money committed to promoting the latter.

Money as a Filter

      We have been brought up to believe that "you get what you pay for."  This is not the case with software, including at the systemic level.  To understand this principle, grab your remote control, turn on your television, and hit the "Back" or "Last [channel]" button twice.  What happens?  Chances are, it takes you to the previous channel and then brings you back.  WTF?  Why doesn't it take you the last channel, then the penultimate one, and further back every time you hit the Back/Last button?  Like your Back/Last button does on your browser, it could work in conjunction with a "Forward" button for returning to more recent channels.

     The answer is that, like a horse designed by a committee, the TV interface is created by a professional programming team with a multi-million dollar budget.  Twenty years ago, Free-To-Air TV switchboxes had much more elaborate, intuitive, utile and aesthetically pleasing selection software.  Some versions allowed you to watch up to nine channels simultaneously.  Who created these masterpieces?  Creative teams with billion dollar budgets?  No.  These brilliant interfaces were invented by lone wolf computer nerds, few of them out of the their teens.

      Other examples abound.  Some premium priced word processors cannot print aligned columns, even in a non-proportional font like Courier [New].  Hypertext Markup Language or "HTML", the basic language for web sites, has trouble with alignment and indentation.  Poetry editors complain about linebreaks on e-readers.  Portable Document Format or ".pdf" has similar difficulties.  Meanwhile, a freeware text editor (e.g. EditPad) created by some geek has no problem presenting and printing all of this.  Ditto independent literary sites.  Parenthetically, this is an economic reality:  when we pay someone to do something their interest usually ends with the completion of that project, if not earlier.  By contrast, geniuses tend to be more "focused and self-motivated" (read:  obsessive), as evidenced by the failed efforts of their parents to dislodge them from their basements.  By any objective measure, inspiration beats money every single time.

The Market

      We ask:  "Why would anyone want to pay money for clumsily ordered text when more functional and fancier writing is free?"

      The answer we get is:  "Because the content is professional/commercial quality."

      Actually, that is true only of our "long" reading (i.e. books, especially novels).  Most of our "short" reading (blogs, articles, jokes, discussions) is online and free.  Facebook is our news fulcrum, obsoleting print magazines and newspapers.  If we need instructions do we look around for the print version or search online?  The vast majority of this information is gratis, easily accessible, graphical and interconnected.  Hypertext rules. 

      Recompense for the authors and publishers?  Like television, much of this comes from advertising (and data mining).  This is especially true of blogs and social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).  These require substantial traffic, though.

      Subscription-only services are losing ground not because the expense is too great for subscribers but because it is to great for potential subscribers.  It restricts access and, thus, general interest.  Paradoxically, if "Game of Thrones" were not the most heavily pirated series in history it would not be the icon it is.  It would be an obscure and bizarre indulgence of the wealthy, like yachting.  Similarly, no novel on a format accessible to less than 1% of the market will ever be a best seller or be discussed by the public. 

      Expense is not the only issue;  there is also the matter of convenience.  Imagine if every HBO episode were purchased individually, each show preceded by an onscreen payment, like a pay-per-view movie.  This is how we purchase novels/e-novels.  Tedious, and tinged with buyer's remorse if the item disappoints.


            Few things are more frustrating than making a one-time visit to an information venue and being confronted with a demand for a substantial subscription free.  Imagine if all these sources were handled by one central service and the cost were the lowest coin of the realm.  To wit, suppose everything you pay to read were to cost a penny.  Not social media, personal blog or special interest sites but every commercial offering:  every magazine (now e-zine), newspaper edition, textbook, literary collection, standalone treatise, and, yes, every novel.  Everything that needs support from readers.  One penny, total, even if reading that document requires multiple return trips. 

      Of course, collecting one cent is not profitable so everyone would have an account with some organization, similar to your Google or PayPal account.  A publisher could present indices, blurbs and teasers of their products, as many already do.  When readers select the final text their account would be charged one cent.  Do you read 1,000 such items a month?  If so, your cost would be $10.  That's less than most individual subscriptions, less than your ISP or cable television charges and it can be paid automatically via credit/debit card or a remittance service like PayPal.  Little expense, zero bother, using cookies that make it "transparent to the user."

      Who is going to pirate something that costs a penny? 

      Who can afford a computer and an Internet connection but not a penny? 

      Who is going to balk at reading something where the investment is a penny? 

      No one.

      Is a penny enough, though?  The service might charge up to half of that so...is half a penny enough for a publisher or author?

      For all the reasons listed above, there are no best-sellers in the fragmented e-reader world.  Forgive the hyperbole, but some producers will be happy with "100% of nothing" while others will prefer "1% of a lot".  There are ~2,000,000,000 English speakers worldwide and a growing percentage of them are online.  Compare hit counts on popular content sites to periodical subscriptions or book/e-book sales and we'll see how quickly the 1% exceeds the 100%.  This tortoise versus hare race includes the snowballing effect of more readers producing more discussion which, in turn, produces more readers.  These visitors can generate direct advertising revenue for the producers and heighten interest in other items the publisher sells.

      Another paradox is that the online world is "more permanent" than the print one.  A book published in 2010 will be out of print in 2013 and may be very difficult to find in 2016.  Text posted online decades ago is still available (if only in open archives) today.  Thus, authors and editors may be collecting those benefits long after initial publication.  This provides an incentive to maintain domains, extending the life of online content.

      Other approaches are being tried but we predict that, in one form or another, this "penny-peeking" (critics might call it "penny-piquing") approach will be the standard.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Information Logistics

     Have you ever wanted to perform a speech, poem or presentation in a natural, authentic and engaging voice and manner?  What is the fastest way to master this passage?  In one form or another, Information Logistics is becoming a key concern everywhere from stages to politics to board rooms--anywhere that values precise verbage and public performance.

     Please take a moment to listen to this song a time or two (and, yes, there will be a test later):

     Squirrels don't have very good memories.  This, paradoxically, explains our fascination with poems--things that facilitate something we can do only with great difficulty. 

     Information Logistics or "InfoLoge" (pronounced "Info Lodge") involves putting precise, context sensitive data into our hands in a timely, compact and unobtrusive manner without our having to request it.  Instant mnemonics, if you will.  The goal is to make a performer seem comfortable with imparting information.  Think of an advisor to Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep" or Téa Leoni in Madam Secretary" whispering (lest the visiting dignitary be affronted by her need for such a reminder) into her ear the names and quirks of the people she's meeting at a party or welcoming line.  Poorer examples might include:

1.  A web search engine, as in a cell phone or tablet.  No time for queries!

2.  A teleprompter.  We need precise snippets, not the whole spiel.

3.  A word cloud, flash cards or point form notes.  We're getting closer, but we need to find a raindrop rather than an unorganized cluster.  We need to coordinate and personalize that cluster.  Indeed, we need to choreograph and stage it.

     Among the simplest applications would be a poetry recital, perhaps followed by a Q and A about those particular poems and poets.  Unless our intention is to look as dorky as possible and make the materiel seem unworthy of absorption and recitation, we want to avoid following a script in front of us.  A teleprompter would help but is likely to fix our gaze in one place, reading text.  A set of teleprompters, if affordable and practical, would allow us to shift from one to another but we'd still be reading, our pace and focus always controlled by the scrolling.  In addition, we're not looking for a one-size-fits-all solution;  info logistics have to be tailored to the individual and circumstance.

     The error is in using an algorithmic solution to solve a heuristic problem.  We're not reading text for the first time.  We're quite familiar with the narrative, we just need to be prodded at the start of each section/paragraph/stanza and, perhaps, each sentence or line.  We're not trying to remember lines, we're trying to re-member them, piecing them together by prepending the beginnings of verses to prompt their endings. 

How Elliptic Are You?

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #191
     Russians say "Kto skazal 'A'...", meaning "Once you've said 'A'...[you must say 'B']."

     We often use elliptical language, relying on the listener to complete a truism.

     "Don't count your chickens..."

     "If at first you don't succeed..."

     "When in Rome..."

      Of course, this demands that both the endings and their implications be understood.  Such constructions are so common that, in some cases, even the ellipses themselves are implicit:

     "Do this or else."

      Now for that test we promised you.  From memory, how many of the lines from "The Rose Above the Sky" can you complete?

Something jewelled ----- ----
Round the next ---- ---- - -----
Laughing at the hands - ---- ---
Only air ------ ----- -----
All you can do is praise --- -----
For the fineness -- --- -----.

Gutless arrogance --- ----
Burn apart the best -- -----
You carry the weight -- --------- ------
From your first day ---- --- ---
Toward that hilltop ----- --- ----
Forever becomes one ---- --- ---

Ozone on --- -------- ----
Got me thinking of --- ---
And the mercies of the -------- ---- -------
Me to you --- --- -- --
And in the silence -- --- ----- -- ------
Where all true meetings ---- -- --

       It might help to sing it to yourself.  The beat, rhymes and meter can be very helpful.

      (Incidentally, did you find it easier to reconstruct the first three lines or the last three lines in each stanza?)

Reading the Audience

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #36
      Info logistics involves supporting the performer with just enough of a prompt to instantly reconstruct the text, not so much as to adversely affect the performance or to make the speaker's brain get lazy and dependent on the text.  It isn't like minimalism;  it is minimalism.

      One of my favorite human beings lost most of his memory in a fever when he was in his late teens.  Imagine my amazement at seeing him, in his fifties, wowing an audience at a slam!  He carried no notes, had no teleprompter or earpiece.  Like any good performer, he was in complete control of his speech and never lost sight of the audience. 

      I asked him how he did it.  He pointed at four posters along the back wall.  They looked like word clouds:  terms and phrases haphazardly printed in various hues and sizes on bristleboard.  I had assumed they were intended as art.  On closer examination, I saw that it was the text of his poem, scattered across the four posters.  How did he stitch it together, when the parts of each line might appear on any part of the next page? 

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #122
      Sizes, fonts and colors.  The beginning of each verse was in larger print, tailing off into smaller letters as the line progressed.  This tiny text gravitated toward the center of the sheet, creating a spiralling effect.  The verses themselves were aligned on the color wheel:  line one was in red, the next ones purplish, leading to stanza two in blue turning into green and, finally, stanza three was in yellow becoming in orange.  Against the grey background, black text listed factoids relating to the intro and white words related to the poem/poet.  (At this particular slam, winners were often interviewed after the event.)  Each stanza had its own character face:  Times Roman, Courier, Helvetica, et cetera.  This created a visual effect in the brain, dramatically reducing the learning curve.  The small lettering soon becomes unnecessary and, after flitting from poster to poster landing on larger print, the crutches could be tossed aside.

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #192
      It also enhanced performance.  Have you noticed that the "Back" button on modern browsers don't just bring us to a certain web page but to the exact spot we were on?  Similarly, speakers could leave the text to look attendees in the eye--which is the whole point of the exercise--confident of finding their place via the color, style and size of the letters. 

     My eyesight being what it is, I couldn't see the back of the room when I tried this.  Rather, I had to place the posters from the left to the right edge of the stage, facing me, like feedback speakers at a concert.  It worked perfectly.  My attention remained on or near the audience, my head turning to address everyone, and I couldn't fall into the trap of lingering on the text.  I was, almost literally, reading the audience.

Crude Facsimile:  Poster #1 (positioned on the left)
Crude Facsimile:  Poster #2 (center left, with album details)

Crude Facsimile:  Poster #3 (center right, with bio details)

Crude Facsimile:  Poster #4 (positioned on the right)


The Rose Above The Sky - by Bruce Cockburn

Something jewelled slips away
Round the next bend with a splash
Laughing at the hands I hold out
Only air within their grasp
All you can do is praise the razor
For the fineness of the slash

'Til the Rose above the sky
And the light behind the sun
Takes all

Gutless arrogance and rage
Burn apart the best of tries
You carry the weight of inherited sorrow
From your first day till you die
Toward that hilltop where the road
Forever becomes one with the sky

'Til the Rose above the sky
And the light behind the sun
Takes all

Ozone on the midnight wind
Got me thinking of the sea
And the mercies of the currents that brought
Me to you and you to me
And in the silence at the heart of things
Where all true meetings come to be

'Til the Rose above the sky
And the light behind the sun
Takes all

Monday, July 4, 2016

Who Reads About Poetry?

     We all know that no one reads contemporary poetry other than those who write it and, perhaps, their friends and relatives.  Indeed, we calculate that the author of most poems today will read it more times than everyone else combined.  Who reads about such poetry, though? 

     When you arrive at a website your browser presents a "certificate" stating where your computer is located, what operating system and web surfer you are using.  This data, collected by the software that drives sites like this one, allows webmasters and bloggers to create a rough demographic picture of your viewership.  For example, this is a snapshot of traffic here in the last little while, starting with country of origin:

United States 146

Ireland        24

India          24

United Kingdom 22

Philippines    21

Ukraine        20

Brazil         15

Netherlands    15

Canada         12

China          10

      Among the English speaking nations, the disparity between the United Kingdom and the United States reflects our Amerocentric spelling and points of reference.  The stereotype of the Irish being a poetic nation finds some evidence here.  Bearing in mind that we're talking about English language discourse and verse, the interest from the Ukraine, Philippines, Brazil, Netherlands and China reminds us how much healthier the art form is outside anglophone countries.  The percentage of visitors from India, which has more English speaking people than any other nation and retains a keen interest in the subject, is quite low in this particular survey.

      Here are the operating systems used by our visitors:

Windows  231 (58%)

iPhone    58 (14%)

Android   45 (11%)

Macintosh 28 (7%)

Linux     18 (4%)

iPad      13 (3%)

Unix       3 (less than 1%)

      The tendencies may be too weak to draw conclusions, but the data sample suggests a demographic that is working/middle class and more savvy than the average computer user.  This is supported by the low number (1%, listed below) of Windows users who cling to Internet Explorer.  7% are likely using mainframes at work and 25% come to us via small-s smart phones, which suggests a somewhat keen interest. 

Chrome           213 (53%)

Firefox           84 (20%)

Safari            73 (18%)

Internet Explorer  8 (1%)

Opera              6 (1%)

UCBrowser          6 (1%)

GSA                5 (1%)

Mobile Safari      5 (1%)

CriOS              1 (less than 1%)

     The list of preferred articles underscores how people might want to influence, be or learn to become poets, but not to read actual poems:

10 Greatest 21st Century Poets - The List       - 146

Scansion for Beginners                            - 9

10 Greatest 21st Century Poets - Versers          - 7

The Ten Most Influential People in Poetry Today   - 7

     To be fair, our "Great Poems of our Time" series was 10th overall in readership.  As always, we're gratified to see the interest in verse-writing.

     What caught our eye were the traffic sources or referrals.  That is, what brings people here?

Google             118

Android Quicksearch  2

Mirrors              8

ECabotage           20

     Of 148 visitors, 8 were from forwarding mirrors (e.g. if you type "commercialpoetry.blogspot.co.uk" or "commercialpoetry.blogspot.fr" you are redirected from the facsimile site in the UK or France to here).  120 were from search engines, who are presumed to be newcomers because regulars would normally bookmark your site.  118 of these got there via Google, which speaks to the utter dominance of that particular choice over, say, "Bing".  It also says something about interconnectivity within the poetry world:  There is none.  There are eddies but no river.  That is, with all of the other blogrolls and hypertext out there, few or, in our case, none of the visitors follow links from other poetry web sites.  From talking with other webmasters, we can confirm that the current crop of poetry onliners are among the least curious people on the Internet.  They almost never click on the unknown.  As we've said before, "They are the most cliquish and least clickish."  For what it's worth, this is a complete turnabout from 20 years ago, when rec.arts.poems Usenetters were among the most outgoing or welcoming (though not always welcome or well-mannered) among Internauts.

     When we are posting more regularly we see a number of Facebook and, far less often, Twitter referrals.  This is the audience everyone wants, but far more common are the web searchers.  It is gratifying when Googlers have a native curiosity about the subject at hand but most are students wanting to copy and paste their homework assignment.  The comments section is often flooded with questions like "Can you cite three instances of irony in 'Hamlet'?" or "What is 'The Red Wheelbarrow' about?"


     The most rewarding number is always ECabotage (or "e-cabotage, rhyming with "we sabotage").  As you know, cabotage refers to transportation within a nation, not to be confused with the international voyage that brought these passengers or goods into the country in the first place.  ECabotage involves those who come to your site and, having sampled one of its wares, decides to examine other posts there.  This is a credit to the web editors and to the authors of the material.  For a typical poetry collection, it involves someone coming to read a poem written by themself, a friend or relative and sticking around to examine the works of a stranger. 

      Levels vary from genre to genre.  Sites detailing popular pursuits will have a lot of ECabotage;  a person who goes to NFL.com to read about Tom Brady might well stick around to read the latest on fellow SuperBowl-winning Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.  Given the high percentage of Looky Lus and the low level of poetry consumption in general, 2% ECabotage is encouraging.  That is, if one in fifty arrivals is from another page on the same site, the staff and contributors are doing well.  One in twenty is exceptional and one in ten would be phenomenal.  We here at Commercial Poetry are delighted with our one in six rate, and would be even more so if this were a typical compendium of poems.  In any case, we are grateful to those who take the time to ponder our offerings, all the more so if they sample more than one.