AND IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE NOW, SCARRIET OR HARRIET?

We hadn’t checked it out since New Years, so what a shock to find it simply hadn’t moved on at all — same shops, same chaps, same figures.

Yes, there’s Christopher Woodman’s name still down there at the bottom, as if the PFoA were just waiting for him to come in again. The last time he tried was in response to Annie Finch on J.D.Salinger comin through the rye, poor body, but the comment he submitted just drew a blank. So he hasn’t tried again, though sometimes he’d like to.

Because he’s not at all happy with what’s happening at Scarriet either, and feels he might be happier back in the PFoA fold, he’s that old. True, there’s no commentary there (how many comments did you say there were  last week?), but at least he wouldn’t have to compete with Marla Muse praising Bob-and-Tom for dunking a new poem a second — or listen to that awful deaf-to-English-Fox that Scarriet calls our ‘coverage’ of the big Poetry Game.

Not a parody but a travesty!

And what an irony, because Scarriet’s numbers are truly running riot! But is this really what you want, my friends? Are you here just for the beer, is that it, or are you laughing at us, at the comics and antics we offer instead of poetry?

Why are you here, in fact? To watch us self-destruct on that rock in the Rhine, or sail on for another day and more questions than answers down the river?

Give us some feedback before it’s too late!

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8 Comments

  1. Desmond Swords said,

    March 29, 2010 at 7:22 am

    At last, a break from Tom ‘Brady’s recondite dabbles and dives into the seat of his spine, dragging up the gawdy and anal same-as same-as competitive nutmegging of poets paraded for the benefit of you, dearest Reader.

    And what the darlings want mein Scarriet Editor, is very simple – Theatre and kerfuffle, rants and spats, scraps, competitive insults and two poster-poets going at it hammer and tongue, both telling one another to fuck right off as inventively as possible in the flyting

    In England two weeks ago, there was a perfect example of it, when the British-Canadian-Irish poet-editor-curator-anothologist, Todd Swift, was decrying the state of intellectual poetic debate within UK po-biz, brought on after a breakdown of cordiality in the relationship between him and the editor of a latest Bloodaxe anthology of poets writing in Britian and Ireland, who’ve emerged since the mid-nineties.

    He argued a while back that critical debate in British poetry is stifled by a dysfunctional cliquism which inhibits artistic expression, creates insularity and a fear (amongst poets) of upsetting the ‘right’ kind of poet-editors who can help or hinder you depending on how you behave, what you believe, and how you say it.

    Swift sees himself intellectually as an internationalist with a pluralist outlook, and paints the poet-editor-curator-anthologist who left him out of the anthology, Rodney Lumsden, as being in an anti-intellectual camp and a facebook bully who organised ‘scorn to be heaped’ upon him because, in his review of it, he didn’t write enough nice things about the Bloodaxe anthology.
    Lumsden reckons Swift’s just ego-mongering and arrogant because of his expectation of automatic inclusion into his book, pointing out that the amount of time he has been living in Britian – six years – fell outside the transparent parameters of inclusion he set for the poets.

    The whole thing kicked off on facebook and Swift’s blog, and got me thinking: Does this spat articulate anything deeper than Swift’s desire to be included and accepted as a ‘British’ poet, or is there anything in his claim that UK po-biz is made up of poets too timid and fearful to engage in any form of critical debate outside of strategic networking on facebook?

    Tragically, I think Swift’s general point that this is the case, is a valid one.

    For example: In response to a post on the blog Frances Leviston owns called Verse Palace, by Hull University poet Cliff Forshaw, that briefly mentioned the only first-hand (early 18C) account of life in a real bard-school he cited as a 1772 ‘source’ quoted by Michael Parker and Daniel Corkery – I copied a page of this account from the introduction of Osborn Bergin’s Bardic Poetry anthology, informing the Reader that the text Forshaw referred to is a preface written by Tómas Ó Súilleabháin (Thomas O’Sullevan) in 1722 and published in 1744, which puts into context a memoir of Michael Ulick de Burgh (1604-1657) fifth Earl and first Marquis of Clanricarde – in the Galway region of Connacht.

    The Ó Súilleabháin account of life in bard-school is reproduced as part of the Introducton to Osborn Bergin’s Irish Bardic Poetry book, that was originally delivered by him in 1912 as a lecture.

    My response to Forshaw was soley Ó Súilleabháin’s written-account of bard-school life, a rare, invaluable text, yet Leviston, or whoever controls the blog, refused to publish it. Why?

    Because there’s no critical debate in UK po-biz.

    Not that I am complaining because, what people want are bread and circuses, a good straightner on the cobbles of cyberville, like fights at school, all theatre.

    Once you can turn your life into a dream, thus your dream becomes true-life, and if you’re dream is to be a poet who none of the 11,500 in the ranks of the UK AmPo army can poo poo and patronize; my advice would be to enter a competition, pay a few hundred bucks and some faery goddess or poetry god, might pick you hoo as the next All American bard.

  2. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 29, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I don’t want Scarriet to be boring like that!

    FOLK SONG ARMY

    Tom Lehrer

    We are the Folk Song Army.
    Everyone of us cares.
    We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
    Unlike the rest of you squares.

    There are innocuous folk songs.
    Yeah, but we regard ‘em with scorn.
    The folks who sing ‘em have no social conscience.
    Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

    If you feel dissatisfaction,
    Strum your frustrations away.
    Some people may prefer action,
    But give me a folk song any old day.

    The tune don’t have to be clever,
    And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
    It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
    And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

    Remember the war against Franco?
    That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
    Though he may have won all the battles,
    We had all the good songs.

    So join in the Folk Song Army,
    Guitars are the weapons we bring
    To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
    Ready! Aim! Sing!

  3. Desmond Swords said,

    March 29, 2010 at 11:30 am

    But Tom…I mean ‘Bob’, you really should have gone back into Harriet under the radar and played Travis at his own game. You would have discovered that all the tussles with youself about being denied the common right of appearance there in print, is misplaced and but the imaginative paranoia of a blogger with ideas out of kink.

    Harriet is very quiet because everyoen knows that what it purports to be and what it actually is, are not necessarily the same two things.

    When Travis – and/or whoever else is keeping us out – realised I was Eric Landon, he found it challenging because if he removed the posts on bardic stuff, he would just look stupid. For the two or three months I was Eric Landon, it was great Tom, because I fell in there by accident after realising that, because of my cable tv and internet provider, my isp address is not fixed and so anything I write and send on Harriet, Travis cannot know if it is me or not, unless I am just being myself.

    He cut Eric off when I was getting perky with Sina the Candian academic poet whose posts are all about her job teaching poetry. I just sent a one liner as Freida Maraya – to the Guam blogger who talks about his poems being taught on university courses and posts pictures of students asleep in class when this very exciting event happens – saying something innocuous along the kind of lines Trav wants to see: ‘Hey Craig, thanks for the session. Great reading!’

    Only the first post goes into moderation, and because the isp isn’t fixed and Trav can’t tell if it’s me, I was back on unmoderated within the hour. But I got bored because the truth is Tom, I know our real ‘name’ makes no difference and means nothing when it comes to writing the quality one finds in that portion of wit where Letters flower into blooms of eloquence.

    I learnt this from a poster I knew only as the pseudonym Tom Brady, last year, when I ended up on the Poetry Foundation of America’s blog Harriet, and spent a summer of love spamming with two other mad-possessed-by imbas poetic dreamers, being contemporary critical show-boats whose pizzaz and snazz stopped traffic, cut ‘the cloth and talk of honest men’ (as Kerry poet James Kelly has it) into small square blocks of timed silence and caesura in the posting of and halting because – what we wrote achieved the goal of being read, not skimmed over.

    Immediately prior to ending up there, I’d got through 100 and more user-account-names on the Guardian poetry blogs, the moderators of which had been removing me as a matter of policy since 2008, because of my behaviour during a poem of the week blog, in which a two-year poetic disagreement between my -then- main faux-rival and I, came to a head and caused a three and sixty hundred comment thread we were flyting on, to be closed down early amid all sorts of assertions, allegations, claims, counter accusations and verbal shenanigans.

    At the time, not as confident as I am now, writing as Ovid Yeats but half-known as Des, as the other posters took to calling me now and again, I passionately believed myself to have moral right on my side, but recognize now it was all just a printed performance of the actoary bore and ham I was pretending to be in this theatrical set-piece flyte with someone exactly the same as me, just another human being who loves poetry and performing – back then, still finding my ‘voice’ and ‘name’ within.

    After this top-five classic potw, Ovid Yeats (and especially desmond swords) could not be mentioned, and could certainly not appear in print, on the Guardian poetry threads.

    And so I spammed a crooked, winding and recondite route and road, in a game of cat and mouse with the anonymous force of faceless, nameless moderators playing their long-game, grinding me out their gaffe by any and all strategy, trick and subterfuge open to them. A hundred and more user-accounts and names, sometimes two a day, all created on the fly, extemporised and part of some mysterious game-play in one’s mind: Grace Pailey, Alice Carr, ChampionAmatuerDruid, redstripe, slangy, cafen, RolandPoland, EnglishTosser and many, many more – eventually arriving at Practicing Artist, where there was a brief few-months respite in the war with the mods.

    I had convinced myself that I couldn’t use my real name because their was some hex or voodoo on it, but the truth is, I didn’t have the belief (or ability) yet, to be myself in print as I am in person. I was wedded to some mad bardic course 500 years dead and the realm of interest and possession for only the very very intelligent Old Irish scholars, or the very very mentally kinked and unstable babblers talking shite on new age druid chat-gaffes. Eight years in and though it was firming up, there was still no purchase on the full topography of this compact but complex myth-sytem underpinning the 1200 year bardic tradition that no one in Britain, especially British ‘poets’ want to talk about to someone in my boat, because..who knows?

    So, by the time we randomly collided, I had a high abstract and ineffable swirl going on intellectually, that related to the ‘names’ names names I was getting through, thinking the Guardian were denying me my own name because of some editorial conspiracy on the part of every editor in the world hating me because they knew I knew their game Tom ‘Brady’.

    How dare they by psychic means on a social-network literature site, use suspernatural methods to affect one’s game, denying me the right to use my name. How fucking dare they Tom!!!!

    So, I was pretty mixed up when me you and Chris met, but came to cogize that all the tussels with myself were but the paranioa of a blogger with ideas above his station, because the hottest, most readable parts of the ‘deabte’ was coming from an anonymous poster, Tom ‘Brady’ – writing by far the best stuff in the critical cut and thrust atmosphere of Harriet 09.

    And after two months of us three running amok, acting, being passionate, reaching toward our own unique itch and slowly attaining what poetic capacity the good Lord, God, Creator, Cosmic Consciousness Co-Ordinator made us be – spirituality – ourself – all there it occured in the four month stint, when we made ‘Harriet’ take off as a blog and ‘established’ its reputation, Tom Brady.

    I spent weeks tracking down your writings when we first met Tom, and came across three years of you as Tom Brady and Monday Love, The Earl of Essex and a handful of other nom de guerres ‘Brady’ had been performing under, online in American poetry chat sites – most of which had – like me – banned you for being a spammer. Unlike me though, you never made a spelling mistake and whereas my poetic itch was a rambling bardic woof, your own thoughts were always well ordered, rational and the itch: Edgar Allen Poe – which all talk eventually turned toward.

    I recognized that you, I and the other poster I’d randomly crossed paths with in our three way summer of takeover love, ex Yale, Cambridge English lecturer with a life and wife in Thailand, whose own itch to speak was because he got ripped off by Joan Houlihan and was agitating for fixed manuscript competition coteries to be exposed – Christopher Woodman – had all been up to exactly the same thing for the previous three years – writing like poets possessed by imbas, you in America and me here, going for the bardic self-enoblement Amergin speaks of in the Cauldron of Poesy text at the hearth of one’s practice, yet which few else are interested in.

    ~

    You will notice Harriet

  4. thomasbrady said,

    March 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I choose Harriet.

    Harriet all the way.

  5. Christopher Woodman said,

    March 30, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Thomasbrady writes

    I choose Harriet.

    Harriet all the way.

    That little response sums it all up, Tom — and the irony is that there’s a whole lot of truth in what you say. Because you imposed this huge March Madness juggernaut on Scarriet without consulting any of the other participants — just like Travis Nichols did the RED THUMBS at Harriet. You have done just what you wanted right in the face of your most regular and faithful associates, and even brought in Bob Tonucci to make the madness party even merrier— who’s a bit like the Harriet gang, Noah Freed, Nick, Krista, rolled up in one. Bob fills in all the spaces, or as you would say, makes all the extra dunks.

    Did you think all those poems that got slotted in were funny? Think back to Harriet — did you like the way every time you, Tom, said something you were closed down by the Thumbs, defined, dismissed, run over?

    You think I enjoyed having my Articles hemmed in by all your hoops and riot? Did you look at what actually happened to Scarriet after our most active Article ever, “Pop Goes the Weasel,” went up on February 21st? How do you think I felt about the way both “Poems That Have Spoken to Us in the Past” and “Why Keat’s ‘Ode to Psyche’ Also Doesn’t Work” were treated, hemmed in immediately by the Tom Brady Hoop-and-Poop Show? 26 Articles you put up, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, while all the time constantly reloading your six shooter and then getting Bob to pump in yet more three pointers in between.

    Tom Lehrer? Did you see that on this very thread? Or those two irrelevant LONG poems, this one and this one, thrust into Bill’s “Ich Weiss Nicht” Article on Lyric, neither of which had anything to do with the topic. I mean, did you see Bill’s complaint? Did you think those sort of mindless intrusions were fun and helpful for him, or for anybody?

    Sometimes the whole Recent Comments column just read “Bob Tonucci,” so that anyone visiting the site would think Scarriet was just about your party. Indeed, the whole distinguished 7 month dialogue at Scarriet got flushed right down your jolly jock-on-the-spot toilet.

    And do you really care that much about this BAP thing, Tom, to ruin Scarriet for it? Is it worth losing so much just to be funny?

    Or are you showing off:

    a.) Tom Brady’s ability to read 1,500 poems and keep them in his head;

    b.) Tom Brady’s total disrespect for poetry, i.e. his ability to pigeon hole any poem, to give it a nickname, and throw it back and forth in a sporting match in total disregard for anything the poem might actually say (the poems by Margaret Atwood and Franz Wright, for example — both the illustrations and the commentary are a travesty);

    c.) Tom Brady’s ability to talk basketball coverage really, really, really fast everyday for a whole month?

    Because that’s what we’re ending up with at Scarriet, Tom Brady’s POETRY ADVENTURE PARK WITH SPORTS FACILITIES!

    Christopher

  6. thomasbrady said,

    March 30, 2010 at 2:39 am

    I’ll make it up to you in April, Christopher! I promise! No more sports!

  7. Christopher Woodman said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:56 am

    But will you start reading anything but your own “positions,” as you call them? Because you’re not aging well — you’re becoming more and more reactionary and insensitive by the day.

    And you justify every superficial intellectual judgement you make with the most egregious slips and glides and subterfuges — like arguing subjectivity whenever you want to even though your calling card says in big letters: ‘Objectivity.’

    There’s a new Feminist interest called “Reflexivity” — we’ve got a Conference of Asian women coming here to explore it next month. Perhaps you should look into it.

    Or look into something.

    No, Tom, it’s going to take not your intentions but your words to win me back, what you say, how much self-examination and “attention” you can bring to them. (I put the word in quotation marks because I like the fact that in French it means what in English we also call “mindfulness.”)

    And another big obstacle to my getting over this — Scarriet has been stained as well. Of course the huge increase in numbers may be because our visitors are interested in this debate between us, but I doubt it.

    I think they’re here for the beer.

    (Tell me I’m wrong, dear friends — how I hope, how I hope I am wrong…)

    C.

  8. Desmond Swords said,

    March 30, 2010 at 5:04 am

    The traffic visiting here, I suspect, will be nearly all po-biz readers.

    Harriet has gone very quiet since I as ‘Freida Maraya’ had my posting privilge removed. This doesn’t affect me, because I can get back on any time under the radar because my isp isn’t fixed and the psychological game-play is terrific fun.

    I am used to it from other sites and learnt as a result of this kind of carry on, how to educationally profit from it as a student poet. The most important fact is that though they excised Frieda’s right to post, but not any of the posts. This sends out a clear message. I did not write anything remotely close to contraveneing any talk policy, and the real reason Travis didn’t want ‘Freida’ there, is because he is still in short pants intellectually and is confused about what poetry is, believing it’s all just about standing next to yer wan and the talent filters in by psychic osmosis. Not what you know but who.

    ~

    The breviloquent bloom of Woodman’s below, reminds one of the critic at her or his very best; because it reveals an essential point of awakening, this brief, pertinent, straightforward definition-comment: Apologia.

    ‘Poetry, through special uses of language quite beyond prose, persuades, tricks, cajoles, entertains and wrenches us into perceptions that we have never had before.’

    Beauty, eloquence, passion and a poetically logical twenty-five word combination, obvious to the readers Best American – me-generation – Poets and very simple what’s being communicated: By a thinker with seventy years experience and event, contributing to -what I think- is a terrific poetic gravity in literate expression, equal to and/or superior than the intellectual offerings from the ‘critic’ Tom ‘Brady’.

    Our own thrust and batter, lack -by thirty years- the head-start on a filling-up of event and understanding bag Woodman has, in his memory-bank of reading and bodily experience, Graves.

    ~

    You -methinks- as ‘Brady’ – were the most unfairly treated of the three of us, by the Trav; because you never put a foot wrong in print throughout your five month tenure there, a year ago now. Not once did you lose any intellectual cool, flare into flame with posters who’d clearly lost control because you’d beat ‘em fair and square in prose – you the Brady Cool, not them – nor did you come within ten yards of contravening any talk-policy on that blog – at the very heart of comtemporary American poetry – no: Yes?

    Unlike me or Woodman, you were ‘performing’ beneath the cloak of anonymity, and your name Tom – Brady – though it meant nothing to me, those in Am-Po accorded it a cultural weight equalivalent to the English person’s: David Beckham. But less obviously fake, a perfect zero-neutral purchase for yr collegiate fuaxs and fonie ****s you as Anonymous – slaughtered.

    One by one they queued up to prove you incorrect and every time -almost- you emerged cooler, their reputation ripped to a shred and the very sliver of their former glowing solid rock of American Poetry selves slid away ‘beaten’ by ‘Brady’.

    However, you’ve been twice as long off now as you were on the blog where we me; collided randomly as three equally passionate human beings with our own ‘itch’ – bugbear, reason for feeling it was we alone correct on the matter of our expertise, and the rest in Am-Po wrong.

    Scarriet is facing into another match, longer on here now than the American Poetry Foundation blog: is Harriet or Scarriet the poet-critic-manque space?

    ‘Those perceptions may be just flashes, hunches, tiny little glimpses of things we never imagined before, or they may be profound changes in our whole way of being. But they’re real — indeed, we may even say “I never guessed that before,” “I had no idea,” “My God!”

    Christopher Woodman


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