The 2011 [D/DN] Top 30

Define ‘The Best’ …

I’m not usually one for competitions, but in this case I’ve made an exception: I’ve gone ahead and nominated Davey Dreamnation for consideration in the Sydney Writers Centre’s Best Australian Blogs 2011 competition. Why? Well, partly because there’s some cool prizes involved, but also because in this age of social media, I still believe in the importance of blogging and self-expression.

Those of you who may also be bloggers probably know all too well the impact that people’s use of social networking sites such as Facebook has had on blog readership. Speaking anecdotally, I witnessed a sharp downturn in visitors to this site from about 2007 onwards (a downturn we also noticed at Cordite), and have therefore invested a lot of thinking time and linking energy trying to coax those readers back. These days, you almost need a degree in marketing to keep up with all of the link-attractor methods and syndication strategies required to reach that elusive online audience. The irony is that the larger the potential audience out there on the Internet, the smaller one’s individual share gets.

So, I’ve nominated this site for inclusion in the SWC’s competition as a way of hopefully highlighting the fact that there are a lot of people out there who do more than post witty status updates, take part in inane quizzes measuring how many books they’ve read, or upload vacation photos. Of course, I do all of these things, every day, without blinking an eyelid. But it takes something more (call it masochism) to invest time in maintaining a blog or personal website. It takes creativity and stubbornness to keep blogging even when your stats counter suggests that no-one’s reading. And it takes a certain amount of humility to admit that the stats counter may just be right.

People blog for all sorts of reasons. They might have contracted an incurable illness, or developed an unhealthy obsession with Transformers, or just felt the urge to rant about a particular subject. If you’re in any doubt as to the sheer range of blogs out there, take a look at the sites I’ve linked to in my sidebar. One of the joys of this variety of motivations, from a reader’s perspective, is the sense you get that there are millions of very, very deep blogs out there (and I mean ‘deep’ in the hypertext rather than the philosophical sense) just waiting to be discovered. Stumbling upon a blog that’s been going for several years or more is like discovering a new band, and rifling through their back catalogue. It’s like making a new friend, or cultivating an allegiance for a sporting team that doesn’t always win.

Because competitions like these are not actually about winning (although there is that, and the SWC’s totally legitimate wish to publicise its writing courses). In fact, they’re about celebrating this new genre of writing that even a decade on (by which I mean, this last decade during which blogging platforms such as Blogger, Movable Type, Type Pad and WordPress have become ubiquitous – even though blogging naturally existed before that) doesn’t show any signs of fading away. Having been blogging now for ten years myself, there’s a certain self-referential symmetry to my own arguments. I can admit that. But I don’t think it diminishes the significance of blogging in general, or its impact upon the literary field, to take but one example.

All of this is, obviously, a kind of spiel designed to bring you gently to my real pitch, which is a rather simple request: I’d really appreciate it if you would consider taking the time to vote for this blog in the SWC’s competition. You don’t have to vote for my blog alone – in fact you can vote for as many different blogs as you like, the only condition being that you can only cast your vote once. So, if you feel that way inclined, why not head on over to the voting form and put your two cents’ worth in? It only takes a few seconds to click on your favourite blog (hint: mine’s listed on the first page, under ‘Davey Dreamnation’).

I’m not guaranteeing that voting will make you feel better about yourself, but I can assure you that just one vote will make all the difference to the blogger you vote for. And you never know: maybe just thinking about all of this may inspire you to become a blogger yourself.

To give you an idea of the kinds of things I blog about, below I’ve listed the top pages and posts on this site for the past three years. When I say ‘top’, I mean that these are the posts that my stats counter tells me have been visited the most times in that period. Of course, the ‘best’ posts on this blog may not appear here at all, but that’s all the more reason to spend a few minutes poking around the site, if that’s what you’re into.

Top 20 posts (March 2008 – March 2011)

How I got my Korean name
Poem in The Age
Thomas Pynchon: “Against the Day”
Pop lyrics — do they matter?
foam:e, Laurie Duggan and Hip Hop
Unrequited Love Letter
When Billy Corgan Had Hair
Some Classic Korean Manhwa Titles
LOL: Issue 1 and the Internet Post-Avant
We Will Disappear & The Evil Demon of Images
Respect voor Darryl ft Ali B, Soumia & Ryan Babel: “Eeyeeyo”
Buddha Machine Explosion!
My new job …
Chris de Burgh: An Appreciation (Part One)
Notes Towards an Imaginary Thesis: “Stanzaland”
Tell Me If This Is Getting Boring
Chris de Burgh: An Appreciation (Part Two)
(Ratcat) Ain’t That Bad
Surds & Indices: “Cube Root Forms”
Chris de Burgh: An Appreciation (Part Four)

(Anagram) Nation

Daydream Native No
Daydream Native On
Daydream Naive Ton

Daydream Naive Not
Daydream Novena It
Daydream Novena Ti

Daydream Novae Nit
Daydream Novae Tin
Daydream Neat Vino

Daydream Ante Vino
Daydream Nave Into
Daydream Vane Into

Daydream Ovate Inn
Daydream Anion Vet
Daydream Anti Oven

Daydream Vain Note
Daydream Vain Tone
Daydream Vita Neon

Daydream Vita None
Daydream Via Tonne
Daydream Nova Nite

Postscript: Utrecht, January 2009

I love Utrecht. Ever since I was a young law student in the mid-1990s contemplating the possibility of spending a semester there on exchange, there’s been something about the place that draws me in. Why?

Of course, in the mid-1990s, I didn’t even know where Utrecht actually was, and had even less idea of the differences between the cities in the Netherlands that make up the Randstad: from Rotterdam’s bustling post-war suburbs to Den Haag’s split personality folksiness and, of course, Amsterdam’s pigeon and tourist parades.

Utrecht, being slightly smaller and a little bit further away, is like none of these cities and yet somehow encapsulates most of the things I like about the Netherlands.

Of course, the Dutch are just as prone to sentimental cliches as the rest of us (see what I did there?), and Utrecht is a place where you’re almost guaranteed to hear someone talking about how, unlike [insert name of city here], Utrecht is a real village (population 300,000, FYI), where everybody knows everyone else, where people are friendlier and cooler and not from Amsterdam.

Whatever. I mean, why not go the whole hog and say Utrecht is actually Cheers? With Woody Harrelson, Carla and the rest of the gang hanging out together all the time, eyes misting up whenever they see yet another person they know, literally ODing from gezelligheid?

But I digress. The fact is that with its sunken canals, beautiful historic centre, profusion of drinking establishments and ‘ye olde University town’ feel, Utrecht is the most wonderful city I’ve never had the privilege of living in.

Why we’ve just spent the last twelve months living in Den Haag instead, I’m not sure. I would put it down to the high costs of renting in Utrecht but then the same is also true of most parts of Den Haag, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and even smaller towns like Delft. Maybe I’m just not ready for Utrecht.

Or else, Utrecht is simply not ready for me.

All of which baloney is a pathetic lead-in to the real subject of this post: the fact that in January this year, I travelled to Utrecht for Het Huis van de Poezie, a one-night festival where I made my Dutch poetic debut, reading along with five other poets for a total of four hours in a non-stop verseriffic marathon.

And yes, I made that word up. Marathon, I mean.

Um –