So, it's going on five years almost since I first posted a poem online. That was at a Yahoo group I left long ago, searching for better places to read and be read. Honestly, there aren't many out there.
I've come across a handful of writers during this time that I felt were pretty decent. I've come across literally thousands who were truly abysmal. But hey, that's okay. Mostly they just want to express their feelings and don't really care about craft. Though of course the more craft one learns, the better one can express oneself. I hope I have learned some craft myself.
Where can a poet go online? Most of the writing groups at Yahoo, MSN, etc are not going to do much for you, I'm afraid, other than provide an impetus to write more. For some, unfortunately, that means only turning out greater quantities of drivel. I do think a discerning writer can learn from reading bad poetry and recognizing what is wrong with it, but that will only take one so far. Ultimately, one needs to be exposed to 'the right stuff.'
I've tried some of the dedicated writers sites, such as Authors Den. Basically, a rip-off I'd say. The folks there are a bit more serious about their writing, true, but it's mostly ego-feeding. This is not meant to denigrate anyone there or at similar sites; there certainly are some good writers who use them. But no one is going to learn much there nor get recognition by anyone more than the other members...and there are better and cheaper ways to network.
I don't belong to many online writing groups anymore. I don't expect anything from the ones where I do post other than to keep in touch with a few fellow poets whose work I like. The blogs where I post -- basically I put my first draft poetry up in a couple of them, this one and my one at 360 -- have some readership, but I've certainly no illusions about them having any great popularity. Shoot, I put the poems up as much to archive them as anything else.
No, at this point my focus has to be wider. It has to be magazine submissions. It has to be readings and competitions. It has to be finishing my second novel! But I am grateful for what being online has done for me. I've become a very different -- and better -- poet than I was five years ago. And I've met some pretty gals in the process!