Poetry X is a web site devoted to increasing the public’s readership and appreciation of poetry via the Internet. PoetryX.com is owned and operated by poet, critic, and raconteur Jough Dempsey, who receives much guidance and assistance from a number of generous people online.
Use these links to skip right down to the section which most interests you.
- Poetry X Site Features
- Some Fun Facts About Poetry X
- A Little History
Poetry X Site Features
Some features of Poetry X include:
Poetry Archives: the poetry archives contain poems from the classic to contemporary. The poetry archives are the oldest section of the site (and the reason for making a poetry-related web site) and have been online in one form or another since 1996.
Every poem in the Poetry X archives appears with permission of the poet, publisher, or copyright holder. Please do not ask us how to contact a poet or publisher to acquire permissions. Contact the U.S. Library of Congress if you want to publish poetry on your web site or other publication.
Articles: the articles on Poetry X include a series on writing poems, information about particular poems and poets, articles about the business of poetry, publishing, and society, canonical essays written way-back-when, and all other writing and criticism that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else.
Analysis: in association with our sister site, Plagiarist.com, we offer downloadable eBooks called the “PoetryNotes™.” Each PoetryNotes™ book offers a complete analysis of a poem, background and information about the poem, author, and period, a biography of the poet, a detailed bibliography (works cited), a glossary of poetic terms used in the PoetryNotes™, and a guide to using the PoetryNotes™ to write a successful essay or term paper.
Discussion Forums: visit our poetry discussion forums to talk about all aspects poetry. You can post your own poems for critique in the “Members’ Poetry Post,” post questions or other topics for discussion.
Poetry Contest: enter your poems to compete for cash or fabulous prizes. Contests run twice a year, and are judged by a visiting poet or critic.
Customize Poetry X: via the “Customize” menu you can change the “theme” of the site, altering layout, colours, and font styles.
Some Fun Facts about Poetry X
This is the third iteration of this poetry site, which began as a sub-directory of the editor’s personal homepage, was later moved to Plagiarist.com (and completely re-built from the HTML-tag up) and now re-ported to Poetry X (and much improved and updated in the process. See “A Little History” below for a great deal more about the history of the site(s).
The site is built using W3C web standards, and uses CSS for all styles and layout.
Poetry X is an anagram of “Xopetry,” an ancient Sumerian word meaning “lover of well-written lines that may-or-may-not-rhyme.”
We developed our own CMS for updating the mySQL database on the back-end. The database keeps track of all of the content on the site, and aggregates data about which poems and articles are the most read, commented on, etc. We do not keep track of individual reader selections, only per-text statistics which are visitor-independent.
Poetry X is lovingly hand-coded in a plain text editor. We like to use TextPad, a shareware text editor for Windows that has advanced search and replace features, syntax colour highlighting, and many other bells and whistles.
Poetry X is hosted by Tranquil Host.
Poetry X runs on a Linux server running Apache, PHP, mySQL, and other open source technologies.
Poetry X loves you, even while it secretly sleeps with your best friend behind your back.
A Little History
DISCLAIMER: The following tale is not for the faint of heart, for children, or for those with weak dispositions or pacemakers.
Part I: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
The story of Poetry X begins seven years ago, all the way back to the year 1996. The editor/owner, Jough Dempsey, posted his first web site via a free Geocities account, and the first thing that he posted, egoist as he is, was naturally some of his own poetry.
The web was, and remains, a great democratizer. Within hours, or even minutes, anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time could post their thoughts (however inane), jokes, art, ideas - heck, anything at all.
Unfortunately, the power of the web is also its shortcoming. Since anyone can self-publish anything they want, most people do. The amount of inaccuracies, errors, and outright misinformation available on the Internet is staggering. Never before in the history of humanity has so much incorrect information been so freely and readily available.
Back in 1997, the “Wild West” days of the web, the Internet was like a separate class or caste: there was the online elite, and the rest of the “snail mailers.” Those of us who were on the web looked at those not yet on the digital bus as dinosaurs. The offline masses were subjects of derision, bemusement, or pathos.
The problem was that the web really wasn’t so great back then. The dot com commercial boost (and subsequent bust) was still a few years to come. When a company listed their domain name (their www address) in their advertising or in product literature, it was an exciting exception, not the rule.
It’s amazing how quickly the conceptual shift regarding the Internet occurred. We’ve seen evolutionary changes in the quality of content in just a few years. A few years ago people would wonder if a company was “on the web.” Now people generally accept on faith that everything is on the web - it’s just a matter of finding it.
But in 1997, quality poetry (i.e. the classics and great poets’ work) was difficult to find. Considering the success of search engine results back then (they weren’t so good) it’s amazing anyone ever found anything.
Enervated by his fruitless search for decent poetry on the web, Jough Dempsey decided to post some himself.
The general idea was to always have great poems available. So Dempsey posted a number of his favourite poems at his then new personal site and some people came and read poems. Others submitted more.
Thus the Caveat Lecteur (reader beware) poetry archive was born. Hundred of visitors a month began to stream in to the site. However, forced to drink from the garden hose of life, Jough Dempsey found that he didn’t have time to update the site any longer, as life and other hassles muscled-in and blocked his way. The site was not updated for a long time, although people kept visiting, reading…
… and waiting.
Part II: Poetry Takes a Holiday
It lay waste for years, growing as stale as a re-gifted fruitcake as it gets passed around from man to man like a sorority girl at a frat party. We’re talkin’ stale here, people.
Fast forward to the Fall of 1998. Jough Dempsey and fellow poet Richard William Pearce were going to publish a poetry magazine. They called the new self-published print magazine “The Plagiarist” because most poets tend to rip-off lines and ideas from other poets (or as Mr. T.S. Eliot so succinctly put it, “Mature poets steal.”) and Jough Dempsey registered the domain name Plagiarist.com, just in case they wanted to advertise or accept submissions online.
The magazine site was never developed beyond a few static pages, and the domain lay fallow until the summer of 2001.
It was a hot summer, one of the hottest of recent memory, the kind of heat that makes the skin of your legs stick to the seat of the vinyl recliner when you’re wearing short pants, and Jough Dempsey, having completed his course work, was now returned to the fast-paced, sweaty world, and looking forward, although he didn’t know it yet, to the harsh mistress that would be long-term unemployment.
Poised with little more than a love for the Internet and time to spare, Dempsey considered his options. Retail? Good luck trying to wrest even the most horrible of jobs from the teenage minimum wage set - they work longer, harder, and cheaper than anyone with even the smallest nanoshred of dignity. Web site design? It was a hobby of Jough Dempsey’s for several years, but during his time away at school spent studying literature, philosophy, and the German leitzschneichopstruten dance movement, the world of Internet design had cannily progressed. Sneaky thing, the Internet.
No longer was HTML and some mad Photoshop skills enough to satisfy the rabid appetites of the Internet-dwelling public, who clicked from site to site like spastic, epileptic pigeons hopped up on smack. No, he would need more than a keyboard, a 750ml bottle of peaty Islay single malt scotch, and Edgard Varese playing in hi-fi stereophonic sound. Jough Dempsey would need more than a cunning mind, a serrated blade, and guile…
He would need to learn new skills.
And learn them he did. He studied hard, looked new technologies like PHP and mySQL in the face, and curled his fearsome mandibles into a stomach-curdling smirk. He peered deeply into the maw of open source, database-driven dynamic software design and laughed.
Part III: Once More Unto the Breach
For two stinking hot months Jough Dempsey locked himself away in his room like a mad bomber making sure the nitroglycerin didn’t sweat. Line after line of code streamed effortlessly from his supple, yet manly, muscular hands. He typed all day and night, breaking only to eat, sleep, make use of the lavatorium, and to invigorate his body & mind practicing the deadly arts his master, Xiang Sho-Lung, taught him during his childhood spent among the Tibetan Sherpa.
Once per fortnight he would leave the house to refresh himself, and perform the requisite amount of whoring and carousing. He would return home renewed, and after wiping the blood from his fangs and flexing the siniews of his registered-as-deadly-weapons fingers, would return his steely-eyed gaze upon his computer monitor and recommence his unflinching task of making the web a better place for all mankind.
After all of the work that went into the site, to force it to live in a subdirectory of another site seemed preposterous. This was a poetry site that was irrepressible, a site that could not be shackled behind a forward slash. This was a poetry site that yearned to, like a butterfly, be free, allowed to spring nimbly from flower to flower, pollinating all in its wake, disseminating its seed as well as its ideas.
But what to call such a site? What name could contain the awesome splendour and bountiful harvest of the perfect melange of poetry and hypertext markup?
Then Jough got an idea. An awful idea. Jough Dempsey got a wonderful, awful idea. He’d call it “Plagiarist.com,” a delightful name, and with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, Dempsey built what would become the Plagiarist Dynasty.
Another month of work and it the site would be unleashed.
Finally, in early September 2001, the new site, Plagiarist.com, was poised to launch. It went online 10 September 2001. Then the next day the Arabian cur sullied Jough Dempsey’s native soil (not that we’re drawing any parallels between the launch of Plagiarist.com and the attacks of September 11th), and the site went offline for a full week in remembrance of those lost. The site was, in effect, at half-mast.
But then on 17 September 2001 the site finally went online in all its glory. Over the next year and a half visitorship would increase into the thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions.
The site underwent two major revisions and re-designs, once in March 2002 and again the following October. Every other week Jough added new content, wrote articles, added comments and discussed poetry with the throngs of visitors arriving daily.
In November 2002 the site began to listen to the demands of the site’s readership looking for help with their homework, and launched the Plagiarist PoetryNotes™, a service whereby for a nominal fee students (and others who wished to learn about a poem and how to explicate it) could receive a full analysis of a poem with background information and tips on writing a research paper using the notes. The service continues to be a resounding success.
Part IV: A New Chapter in the Life of a Web Site
Despite the success of the PoetryNotes™, the site was always on the brink of financial ruin. The wolves were pounding at the door, and the bills were rising. While the site continued to grow in popularity, and therefore used more bandwidth (data transfer), costs increased, forcing Jough Dempsey and his staff to consider other options.
Poetry readers are notoriously stern taskmasters, and the demands that they put upon your fearless webmaster would have crushed any ordinary, mortal, human man. But not Jough Dempsey.
Not the man who rescued that short-bus load of blind, crippled, special-ed kindergardners from a pit of fierce cobras, nervous African killer bees, and the 1993 LAPD. Not the Jough Dempsey who single-handedly diverted an asteroid the size of Pago Pago from its Earth-puréeing path. Not the Jough Dempsey who played a game of Parcheesi with Death and won back the lives of sixteen-hundred unemployed homeless widowed single mothers. Not that Jough Dempsey. You must be thinking of some other guy.
No, Dempsey raised himself up by his own jackboot-straps, dusted himself off, threw open the sash and shouted “I’m poor as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Jough Dempsey decided to hit his visitors up for cash.
Some generous souls were kind enough to donate money via the site’s PayPal donation links, but unfortunately most visitors didn’t, and Plagiarist.com faced closing as the barbarians were often at the gates.
In May 2003 Dempsey began to build Poetry X, which would begin anew as a premium subscription-based site, offering stronger and more in-depth content for a nominal monthly charge - this is a site that everyone can afford, and even a meager amount from each member helps to sustain the growth and development of the site. There is, and always will be, a copious amount of free material on the site for those unwilling or unable to subscribe. It is and has always been Poetry X’s intention to provide poetry and information about poetry to as many people as possible.
As more poets contact us to publish their work, and as Poetry X takes on more members and a wider readership, the site will be able to provide even more original content, criticism, analyses, and help for students and poetry lovers alike (sometimes the two groups do intersect, we know).
Free at last.
On 27 February 2004 Poetry X dropped its premium memberships and made all previously members-only articles and poems free to everyone and supported with advertising. Previous members will receive a password to log in and never view the adverts, and those wishing to support the site may receive an ad-free Premium password for a nominal fee. See the home page for more details.
NEW: On 31 August 2004 a re-design of the site, dubbed “Poetry X 2.0″ was launched, streamlining the user interface and adding our exclusive Poetry Xtras feature, which provides thoughts and analyses by leading poets and critics about poems in our Poetry Archive.
Keep watching this space for the continuing saga of Poetry X.