October 28, 2013

Bridging gaps between poets


The Bridge’s forthcoming homepage.

As reported on Harriet and The Millions, an Indiegogo campaign by Brooklyn Poets asks for funding to build “The Bridge,” a new site which would become “the world’s first poetry network connecting student & mentor poets.”

“We have this thing called the internet to connect” young and experienced poets, the Bridge’s fundraising page points out, “but no network getting it done.” (And they’re right; though Twitter works in some of the proposed ways in terms of connecting the literary community, there is no single site dedicated to the purpose.) Having worked on the proposal and design for the past year, Brooklyn Poets now hopes to help poetry students and mentors find one another.

Brooklyn Poets’ statement explains that the site’s purpose is based on “a workshop structure or writing program,” though it hopes to bypass the infrastructure and several degrees of middlemen:

Students find mentors for less money than a workshop or writing program would cost, and mentors get paid without having to land one of those hard-to-find teaching jobs. It’s that simple.

Students choose mentors based on price, services offered, location and other factors such as skills and stylistic influences. If they like, they can sign up for workshops proposed by mentors—workshops not governed by the mandates of any institution, for however long mentors want, with however many students, at whatever price, online or on site.

The proposed site also offers a structure for sharing one’s work; Bridge-published poems have space for images, captions, tags, and comments. Users’ profiles can feature quotations and books alongside their own poems; the interface also makes space for “photos of your writing space and library along with your bio, skills and influences and links to other sites.” Besides any critiques and workshops chosen by individual users, the site—including weekly prompts chosen from its community of mentors and connections with other users—will be free.

Ultimately, the Bridge wants “to put more attention on reading and the written word than ever before, to create a deeper, more dynamic community of readers and writers.”

They’re already partway through: the Indiegogo page claims that the Bridge is already designed and that its invite function is running. This is what they need now:

. . . the cost to develop the entire Bridge is steep; after all, this is a social networking site with an e-commerce platform built in.

We could wait, and try to accrue the funds ourselves—but that could take years. Help us fund The Bridge now and we can have it up and running by the beginning of next year. Help pay for something that will pay you back. If you’re looking for mentors and workshops, finding them on The Bridge will cost you far less than enrolling in a graduate writing program–and you’ll have hundreds of mentors and workshops to choose from! If you’re a published poet looking for work, you can make money from the expertise that is not currently being rewarded on the job market.

Brooklyn Poets’ stretch goal is $40,000, and they’re offering perks ranging from early invitation to the site (for a $10 donation) to more comprehensive packages—featuring t-shirts; tiered memberships; discounts; signed books by Brooklyn Poets faculty members, including Melissa Broder and our own Leigh Stein; and free registration to the 2014 Brooklyn Poets Retreat in the Hamptons—such as the Kosmos, priced at $5,000.

Brooklyn Poets was founded on May 31 of last year in honor of Walt Whitman‘s birthday. From their beginning they’ve hoped, as their page says, “to connect the poets of Brooklyn to poets everywhere by building The Bridge”—a Whitmanian motive if there ever was one.


Emma Aylor is a former Melville House intern.