Uncle Flatboot's Porch: Site Reviews for the Picky
by Paul Sonntag
The HyperTexts is a terrific way to lose an hour or two if you have a penchant for aimless browsing. If you don't know what you're looking for, there's good chance you'll find it in good supply on this large, excellent site. The HyperTexts is, beyond anything else, a place for people who love poetry just for the sheer magic of the language and who have no interest in literary taxonomy restricting their reading to narrow genres or schools.
The HyperTexts is a bit like a shelf of battered books in a cozy little coffee shop you've just discovered. You know the scene: it's raining buckets outside, you don't have anywhere to go or anything else to do for the rest of the day, and the place is deserted except for you and the heavy-lidded barista. You get your cuppa, stake out a fat, threadbare easy chair and start digging. The Hypertexts offers a little something of everything, ranging from the past giants of poetry--Frost, Wordsworth, Shelley, Blake and many other of your college lit heroes--as well a broad selection of contemporary poets. The site design is simple and made for browsing; it's presented as two panes in independent frames, the left one containing links to each poet's individual subpage and a few other sections, the right one containing the page itself. Interested in learning what Alfred Dorn is all about? Click his name on the left and you get a page on the right with a photo, a bio, and a good sample of his poetry. Done with that and now you're ready for some Yala Korwin? One click and you're there. Need some Uncle Walt to clear your palate? Click "The Masters" and scroll down a bit; he's there. You can go on like this for hours, flitting from poet to poet and never hitting the same one twice.
New poets and their work are added and featured monthly, but that's really the only manner in which The HyperTexts adheres to the traditional volume/issue publishing model. The site is a single, unbroken collection of poets and poetry, their names listed together without regard for school or style, or really any other particular pattern that I could discern. This lack of any organizing principle is a large part of the site's appeal insofar as it enforces the need for aimless exploration while eliminating formal and often meaningless categorization. But The HyperTexts is a very large site with no clear entry point; there are so many poets that it can be a little daunting to know where to begin or how to find what you might like. This will only become more pronounced as the site grows and the list of poets stretches further and further down the pane. Then again, that's probably the whole idea.
As a market The HyperTexts is a restricted venue; not entry-level. The editor doesn't accept unsolicited submissions except from those with fairly distinguished publishing records. But half of writing is reading, and when you're looking to do a little reading, The HyperTexts is an excellent place to start.