Sharon is a poet. She maintains many blogs, but we’ve been asked to review “Watermark.” So I focused on just this portion of her web presence for my review, although I did read through each of the journals, and enjoyed my visits to one and all.
Watermark presents a basic two-column standard layout with a header graphic. Everything is grey and black and white in the design layout, with standard web link colors. The look and feel are comfortable, familiar, and kind. No garish and frightening background colors, no noisy mess — it’s all presented in a clean and well thought out manner. All the links to archives work just fine, there weren’t any unexpected pop-ups or launchings of new windows. The site is friendly, easy to navigate, and over the course of the last several days I enjoyed my foray into her world.
When I came to the blog, I started with her “My Readers Should Know” page, and went back to her archives which start in January of 2004 in order to read through the entire site. At this blog, Sharon mixes introspective and often very personal and beautiful poetry with observations on the world of politics, local (Montana) blogging, living with the pain and discomfort of fibromyalgia, and Catblogging.
It is obvious from the very first page that Sharon spends a great deal of time on the internet. She shares a lot of “memes” and “wikis,” extensively quotes from other sources and links out to things that she is reading out in the blogosphere. Her friends join in and share in the discussion in many places. Not just the usual fun blog-fodder types of things are discussed, but poems that she writes sometimes grow into shared experiences called “poem dances” that are really fun and interesting to read. The creative process is a living thing here at Watermark.
I found the entries where she focuses on her poetry to be my favorite. She also uses Flickr to take some really wonderful photographs, and blogs them directly through the flickr blogging tool. And I greatly enjoyed the use of the visuals to accentuate the writing she shares.
I found less useful the catblogging, the online quizzes (you are a blue blog, you are this tarot card etc…) and found that they shed little light and added nothing to the experience. Online quizzes are time stealers from true content, and I’m glad when she eschews them and focuses on life, feeling, observations and opinions.
Sharon struggles with isolation, confesses and discusses repeatedly what it is like to be in pain, unable to go OUT and socialize, and how the internet is her way to stay connected with the world. Not just with the world of peers and poets, but just with all human contact. It is an amazing thing to realize while reading her journal what a life without socialization might be like. Even though she is isolated by her pain, Sharon has built a community. Not of “fans,” but of friends. And reading the poetry and observations of the past several years, I have to say she’s found a niche.
My complaints are several entries of flickr-blogged photos that have “this photo is no longer available” which litter her journal. I think a little housecleaning is advised when she has the time. Archives can be a pain in the arse to keep clean, so I don’t begrudge her the fact they are there… but could do without them really and recommend they be deleted. I also got really bored with all the cat stuff. Way too much for my liking… but … again, she’s found a niche and that’s something that resonates with some of her readers. Can’t argue with that when there are fans of that kind of thing.
I was most touched with her poetry about her brother and his partner, and her recollection of each of them over the life of this journal often moved me to smiles and tears. And I did love her sonnets. Lord knows, iambic pentameter is a pain to keep in line, and those who do it and do it well get a big grin from me. My daughter asked me why i was tapping two fingers on the desk yesterday as I paced out ” da da, da da, da da, da da, da da” in reading her lines.
My parents said my English degree would amount to nothing. HA!
Watermark is an enjoyable read, I will be back. To Sharon today, I give it a 3.75 and a smile.