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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Interview with Arlene Ang (New Series - Life in the E-Learning Organization)

Welcome to an interview with Arlene Ang. While not directly involved in elearning, her involvement in publishing, particularly in creative texts and online journals, makes her work very appropriate as instructional materials in online courses.

Arlene Ang is the author of The Desecration of Doves (iUniverse, 2005) and Secret Love Poems (Rubicon Press, 2007). Born in Manila, Philippines, she currently lives in Spinea, Italy with her husband. In 2006, she received the Frogmore Poetry Prize (UK). Her poetry has been published in Diagram, Georgetown Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poetry Ireland, Poet Lore and Rattle.

1. Name, background. How have you been involved in online publishing of poetry and poetics?

Arlene Ang. I’m a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine ( and Press 1 (
I started out in 2002 as editor for the Italian edition of Niederngasse ( In 2006, I guest-edited for the English edition and for Pedestal. It was then that I realized English poetry was more my element than Italian and so handed the keys over to someone who was more in contact with the Italian literary world than I was. Early 2007, Pedestal editor-in-chief, John Amen asked me if I wanted to become a permanent member of the staff and I said yes.
Press 1 sprouted out some months later, a labor of love for Valerie Fox, Phyllis Wat, Dennis Moritz and me. Valerie and Phyllis are, I think, the “serious” editors since they do much of the reading and scouting while I occupy myself more with the web design.

2. What do you see as some of the advantages of publishing online?

For one, with online magazines, anyone with an internet connection can access your work. There’s something liberating about reading contemporary poetry for free. Some journals actually have an “E-mail this poem to a friend” button—which helps spread readership. For another, submissions are usually sent via e-mail—when you’re living abroad, this facilitates a lot of things. I’m continually surprised and pleased by submissions to Pedestal that come from countries like Nigeria or China. I don’t think this happens much to print journals, even if only for the mundane reason of SASEs or finding IRCs. And yes, no trees are killed in the process.

3. What are some of the trends in e-journals?

A good part has begun to request audio recordings of poems. I really love how this gives a voice to the work and also to the author.
I also love the new submission system, like the one adopted by Kenyon Review—where you can be assured that your submission was received and are able to track or withdraw it online.
Some ‘zines focus on experimenting with mixed media. A prime example would be Born Magazine (—which never fails to astound and delight with their Flash presentations of poems.

4. What are a few of your favorite sites?

Diagram ( remains at the top, near at hand are Tarpaulin Sky (, Drunken Boat (, Typo ( and Painted Bride Quarterly (
Sidebrow ( is another favorite because it’s so different—submitters are encouraged to respond creatively to the work published there. The term “incestuous” is bandied around a lot when referring to internet writers—I think this applies evocatively to the work in Sidebrow, too.

5. How can you envision using online poetry repositories and journals in online education?

The internet contains a universe of information. I’ve actually found step-by-step instructions on how to write almost anything—from ghazals to sonnenizios. Education-wise, research becomes a question on knowing what to look for because, chances are, it’s out there.
Because online journals are accessible to everyone, they make very good reading material especially when it comes to contemporary (world) poetry.

Project Gutenberg ( is a great resource—instead buying books like Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Joyce’s Ulysses, you can just download an electronic copy. And, funnily enough, for required reading, there are free Cliff Notes ( for students who have no love for literature.

6. Do you have a philosophy of creativity?

More than having one of my own, I’ve adopted my dad’s, I think—which works really well for me. He was quite a successful painter. In his life he must have done more than 1000 studies of the seated figure, among other things, using different media. As a child, I loved joining him in his studio every day and often complained about not knowing what to draw. He would tell me patiently that everything I needed was before me, all I needed to do was open my eyes. It was only decades later that I understood what he meant—that creativity is not about finding a worthy subject, but rendering that subject worthy of interest and, in the process, evoking emotional response in the viewer or reader. In many ways, it’s a lot like energy—we all have it inside, how we harness and release it depends on us.

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