Write me: rjn@richardjnewman.com
The Pleasure and Pain of Starting Over

One of the things I decid­ed to do when I signed with Guer­ni­ca Edi­tions to pub­lish my sec­ond full-length book of poet­ry was total­ly revamp my web­site, not just its look, but its orga­ni­za­tion and con­tent as well. I’ve been blog­ging on Word­Press since 2004, when my first book of trans­la­tions was pub­lished, but my “online face,” as it were, has always been the face of the blog. What­ev­er I’ve accom­plished as a writer—the books and oth­er work I’ve pub­lished, the inter­views I’ve giv­en, news cov­er­age I’ve gotten—all of that and more was pret­ty much hid­den behind the far-more-com­plex-than-nec­es­sary net­work of menus and links that had evolved over the years. I want­ed to take the oppor­tu­ni­ty this new book would offer me to cre­ate a web­site where it would be much eas­i­er for peo­ple to find out who I am and what I’ve done as a writer, not just as a blogger—and that would also allow me to keep the web­site up to date in a more orga­nized and effi­cient way than I’ve been able to do in the past.

Mak­ing this hap­pen was not a sim­ple process, as it required me to gath­er and orga­nize every­thing I’ve done dat­ing back to 1989, when I pub­lished my first arti­cle in the-unfor­tu­nate­ly-long-defunct Chang­ing Men. Then, because I didn’t have the mon­ey to pay a web design­er to redo my web­site for me, I need­ed to find a Word­Press theme that was not only easy on the eyes, but also pow­er­ful and flex­i­ble and easy enough to learn that I could man­age it all by myself.1 Final­ly, I need­ed to fig­ure out how to struc­ture the site to accom­plish what I want­ed, and then I had to take the time build it.

I relaunched the web­site some weeks ago, and I am very hap­py with the results, even the fact that I screwed up entire­ly the process of trans­fer­ring my blog posts from the old site to the new one. That might seem an odd thing to say, espe­cial­ly since I’ve writ­ten more than ten years worth of con­tent, but the screw up has giv­en me a chance to look through what I’ve writ­ten and to think more clear­ly and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly than I have ever done before about my blog’s content—especially now that it is not mere­ly a per­son­al blog. So, I have been read­ing through my old posts to see which ones I think are worth repost­ing, which ones I will archive because I might some day have use for them, and which ones I will con­sign to the trash. The first three reposts (1, 2, 3) are rel­a­tive­ly recent ones that tell the sto­ry of my expe­ri­ence with anti­semitism from third through twelfth grades—the kind of thing I think it has become ever more impor­tant to talk about since the cam­paign and elec­tion of Don­ald Trump.

To put all this anoth­er way, I am in the process of rein­vent­ing my online pres­ence from top to bot­tom. There are still some fin­ish­ing touch­es to put on the web­site, and then, once those are done, I will start to look real­ly crit­i­cal­ly at how I use and how I want to use social media. I don’t, how­ev­er, want to get ahead of myself, so I will stop there and share with you some hap­py pub­li­ca­tion news:

  • My trans­la­tion and accom­pa­ny­ing essay, “Attar’s ‘Tale of Marhu­ma:’ The Woman with a Man­ly Heart” appeared in the most recent issue of Mod­ern Lan­guage Stud­ies. (I’ve post­ed a copy to Acad​e​mia​.edu.)
  • Also, while it was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on Unlike­ly Sto­ries in Decem­ber of last year, and while some of the con­tent is a lit­tle dat­ed (since it was writ­ten before Trump was elect­ed), I’d like to remind you about my essay, “The Lines That Anti­semitism and Racism Draw: Reflec­tions on White Jew­ish Inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty.” Writ­ing it is what moved me to write the posts about anti­semitism that I men­tioned above, and it’s my attempt to add to a con­ver­sa­tion about being white and being Jew­ish that all too often does not occur. (The white-text-on-black-back­ground of the Unlike­ly Sto­ries web­site is hard for some peo­ple to read, so I’ve post­ed a copy of this essay to Acad​e​mia​.edu as well.)

If you do get a chance to check out my new site, I hope you’ll let me know what you think. If you find the blog posts worth­while, please share them with oth­ers and, as always, if you have a response, please leave a com­ment. I’m always inter­est­ed to hear what you have to say.

  1. I chose Writer, by Aco­ra Themes. I rec­om­mend them high­ly; their cus­tomer ser­vice is won­der­ful. []

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