I started writing poetry on computers back when Compuserve was king. I belonged to the writers forum and later the poetry forum (there was a brief run of an erotic writing forum- I recall being booted off because someone said I was underage.)
Judson Jerome had been on the forum but died the fall before I found the place.
It was early 1992 when I jumped into the forum with my first serious poems since my teenage years. I had won a scholastic magazine competition with a poem called "To be, to go, to die" in 1967(?) which included a charm for a bracelet I still own. I went to music school and got distracted.
Compuserve had the cafe (for fun), a workshop of some kind, and the hell called "No Holds Barred". After browsing a few days I posted a poem in "No Holds Barred". For whatever reason (my poetry was raw, unformed but not horrid) the regulars did not skewer me, but were kind and helpful. A retired marine named Jerry Jenkins encouraged me to send a poem to the print magazine Echoes for the memorial day issue and I was published.
We had flame wars, later I traveled to England and Scotland, staying with forum friends. I was churning out poetry like time was running out. It's tough to remember details of the demise of CIS, my children were small and I was working part-time. Mostly I remember being exhausted.
I was running open mikes and poetry events from 1996 on, wrote a column for about.com (paid!!), edited an online zine. I attended three Austin International Poetry Festivals, had poems in their anthologies. Compuserve faded away but I had the Melic Natter, Alsops Review's Gazebo, other places for fun and light criticism.
Twenty years ago this month: the forum was first. I have printouts of most of the poems and correspondencies.
Those and the rest are preserved on floppy disks.
I made good friends, still keep in close touch with one.
This is how it began.