How Graceguts Got Started

First published on the Graceguts page on Facebook on 12 October 2019, on the tenth anniversary of the start of my Graceguts website.

Over the years I’d been writing and publishing hundreds of essays and book reviews relating to haiku poetry. It occurred to me—and I no longer remember when—that it would be useful to make them publicly available on a website, so that more people around the world might benefit from them. I was not sure what to name the site until I reencountered an untitled poem by E. E. Cummings that starts with the line “let’s start a magazine.” Well, yes, I wanted to start something, and my new website could be an online magazine of sorts. I found my website’s attitude and its name in lines from the poem:

                let’s make it serious

                something authentic and delirious
                you know something genuine like a mark
                in a toilet

                graced with guts and gutted
                with grace

And so, on 12 October 2009, I created a website using Google Sites. I named it Graceguts, and soon bought the domain name. I no longer remember which content I added first, but I had many essays, reviews, and poems to choose from. The site grew as I reviewed work I had saved to my computer, or upon reviewing publications where my work had appeared (in some cases I no longer had electronic versions and had to recreate them). I still have old content I could add, and any work newly published often finds its way to my website.
        It was a pleasure to add new sections to the site over time, such as the Appearances page that listed my upcoming readings and workshops, my Books and Quotations pages, and pages for Rengay, Stories, and Photographs, for my press, Press Here, and an online anthology of Poems About Haiku. I had a lot of fun adding Nothing too. The FAQ and Digressions pages were also amusing to add. The Essays page soon grew too large—and really, it still is, even after I split off pages for Interviews, Introductions, Reports, Reviews, Speeches, and Further Reading. And of course I continually added to the Haiku and Senryu, Haibun, Collaborations, Poems, Sequences, and other poetry pages.
        In all, the site has vastly exceeded my expectations, both in terms of content I thought I might add and in how its various parts have been informative or entertaining to readers around the world. I’ve been using Google Analytics since the beginning and have had site visitors from almost every country or region on earth. Still waiting for North Korea and Spitsbergen, though, plus Burkina Faso, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Western Sahara, Eritrea, and the Central African Republic, and probably a few really tiny countries that most people have never heard of. I’ve had two site visits from Martinique and Madagascar, and exactly one from Greenland.
        About a year after I started my site, I had a revelation. It seems altogether obvious now, but it was eye-opening when social media was relatively new. I had joined Facebook in the summer of 2007, and on 18 October 2010, on an E. E. Cummings page on Facebook, I announced an essay I had written about Cummings. Suddenly I had a spike of new site visitors, more than 500 percent more than usual. The power of social media was immediately clear to me, and yet I was mystified when other posts produced only slight bumps of reaction. Sometimes you get lucky, or sometimes content you post happens to pique interest in ways you might not always be able to predict. Although I do check the stats regularly, I’ve learned that they can be fickle. What’s more important is whether one person visits a page and finds it helpful or interesting. Thank you for reading.
        My gratitude to everyone who has visited the Graceguts site over its first ten years. Here’s to another ten years of helpful and interesting content.