There is this growing assumption that Facebook (as well as other social media) is not safe for sharing one’s creative works. I do not think it is true. I personally share my works here. I have been doing so since 2009 when I could count the number of poets on Facebook on my hands and you could say for sure who and who writes any kind of literature. At this time, likes and comments on poems were rare. Were my poems ever stolen? Yes, a few times, but I have and will continue to do posting my poems on Facebook and other social media.
So what about the safety of my works? Well, no one guarantees the ‘safety’ of anyone’s works on any platform, but saving your works for the best platforms will not save you either: some of the famous plagiarizers – journalist Jayson Blair and American Poet Ailey O’Toole for example – stole from already published and celebrated works. Your work can, therefore, be unsafe anywhere.
In this quest for ‘safety’, other more important issues emerge.
First, there is the issue of lost audiences that hiding your works can lead to, especially for emergent poets. Some of them write beautifully and extensively and never get to share them, except for the occasional foreign magazine acceptance. Whereas sharing on social media could give you a much bigger audience. After all, you would need people to buy books later.
Again, by saving your works and releasing them only on foreign platforms, which is fast becoming the norm, you are inadvertently taking everything away from us and making us have to borrow access. Right now, we can no longer read anything from most of our good poets unless we first access them from foreign platforms.
Lastly, I wonder if no one observes the evolution that occurs when you read others’ works and other read yours and offer helpful comments. These comments help you to improve your art and evolve. An emerging poet who never shares works in public loses a necessary growth hack that established poets cannot deny using in the early years.
Now, I do not want anyone to get me wrong and think that I am against publishing your works on foreign platforms or saving your works. No, I am not. I am however advocating for more openness and sharing for the local audience and for your own developmental need. I am very much particular about the young poets, not those already established who paid the price long ago.
There are many viable ways to navigate as a writer. You could be like David Ishaya Osu; he has lots of international publications and still made a Nigerian chapbook with the occasional poems on his Facebook wall. Or you could be like me and share mostly excerpts from all your poems. You could also be fully dedicated to Facebook and then compile your works into books like Sir Eriata Oribhabor. The choice is yours.
We need the audiences as much as we think they need our creations. This is why I personally decided to offer chapbook-publishing services to young writers in Nigeria.
These are my PERSONAL thoughts. No one is obliged to follow them.
NOTE: irrespective of what you want to do with your poems – hide or share – one thing you must always do is back them up somewhere. I personally use Google Docs, but there is also OneDrive and the simple old-fashioned way of emailing your poems to yourself as soon as you finish writing.