Introducing our new blogger
By Phillip Lopate
June 1, 2016
I am starting a blog, something I thought I would never do. When my late friend Peter M., a worldly man who was an expert on publicity and whom I dearly miss, advised me to start a blog coinciding with the publication of my last book, I pooh-pooh’d the idea. I also told the publicist at the publishing company: I don’t blog, I don’t twitter, I’m not on Facebook or MySpace, so you’ll just have to promote me without my assisting in these newfangled ways. (Lotsa luck: nowadays, publishers expect the writers to do all the promoting.) I was playing the geezer card. Never, never would I consent to keep a blog, that catchment for random drivel.
But now I have agreed to write a weekly blog, which is scheduled to run for a year. Why? Because Sudip Bose, an editor at The American Scholar with whom I worked in the past when he was at Preservation, asked me to, and I like Sudip, whom I have never met incidentally, or if I have I don’t remember (forgive me, Sudip, it was probably at a crowded literary event), and I’m not even sure if Sudip is a man or a woman, but I think a man—in any case, I’ve enjoyed the way he dealt with me via emails, and so I agreed. One year, 400-600 words a week. I am on the road to hell. Or simply, I have finally joined the 21st Century, 16 years into it. Good thing I am not a purist. I am an impurist, which is probably why I voted for Hillary Clinton and not Bernie Sanders in the primary. Oops, there goes half my readership. Well, I’ve always been a firm believer in the notion that it’s all right for a personal essayist to tweak or alienate the reader from time to time, and not insist on warm agreement.
I also thought it might be good to try a blog because it could help generate some unexpected material and fresh ideas, which could then be recycled by combining them into diary-like essays for my next collection (Notes on X, that sort of thing). Clearly, this first entry will not be useful in that regard. Have I mentioned that the pay for this blog is wretched? I can’t wait for Congress to raise the hourly minimum wage. See you next week.
Phillip Lopate is director of Columbia University's nonfiction program, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay, and author of Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body, and To Show and to Tell, among other books.