1. Natasha Trethewey Beautiful! Black! Poet Laureate!
2. Billy Collins Still sells…
3. David Lehman Best American Poetry Series chugs along…
4. Stephen Burt Harvard Cross-dresser takes Vendler’s mantle?
5. William Logan Most entertaining poetry critic…
6. Christian Wiman He’s the “Poetry” man, he makes me feel alright…
7. Sharon Olds Sock-in-the-gut, sexy frankness…
8. Tracy K. Smith Young Pulitzer winner
9. David Orr The New York Times Poetry Critic…
10. Harold Bloom Not sure on Naomi Wolfe; we know he abused Poe….
11. Matthew Dickman OMG! Is he really no. 11?
12. Anne Carson Professor of Classics born in Toronto…
13. Dana Gioia Famous essay still resonates & not a bad formalist poet…
14. Jorie Graham Judge not…
15. Rita Dove The Penguin Anthology really wasn’t that good…
16. Helen Vendler Almost 80!
17. John Ashbery Has he ever written a poem for no. 16? Where’s the love?
18. David Ferry This translator is almost 90!
19. Kevin Young We hear he’s a leading poet of his generation…
20. Robert Pinsky The smartest man in the universe…
21. Cole Swenson The Hybrid Queen, newly installed at Brown…
22. Marjorie Perloff “Poetry on the Brink” praises cut-and-paste…
23. John Barr Financial leader of Poetry Foundation and poet worth reading?
24. Seamus Heaney The inscrutable Irish mountain…
25. Geoffrey Hill A mountain who is really a hill?
26. Robert Hass West-coast cheerleader.
27. Stephen Dunn Athlete, philosopher, poet
28. Laura Kassichke Championed by Burt.
29. Mary Oliver The John Clare of today…
30. Kay Ryan Come on, she’s actually good…
31. Don Share Riding “Poetry” gravy train…
32. W.S. Merwin Noble, ecological, bull?
33. Dana Levin Do you know the way to Santa Fe?
34. Susan Wheeler Elliptical Poet. At Princeton.
35. Tony Hoagland Has the racial controversy faded?
36. Mark Doty Sharon Olds’ little brother…
37. Frank Bidart The Poet as Greek Tragedian
38. Simon Armitage Tilda Swinton narrates his global warming doc
39. D.A. Powell He likes the weather in San Francisco…
40. Philip Levine Second generation Program Era poet
41. Ron Silliman Experimental to the bone, his blog is video central…
42. Mark Strand Plain-talking surrealist, studied painting with Josef Albers…
43. Dan Chiasson Influential poetry reviewer…
44. Al Filreis On-line professor teaches modern poetry to thousands at once!
45. Paul Muldoon If you want your poem in the New Yorker, this is the guy…
46. Charles Bernstein Difficult, Inc.
47. Rae Armantrout If John Cage wrote haiku?
48. Louise Gluck Bollingen Prize winner…
49. Ben Mazer 2012 Scarriet March Madness Champ, studied with Heaney, Ricks…
50. Carol Muske-Dukes California Laureate
51. Peter Riley His critical essay crushes the hybrid movement…
52. Lyn Hejinian California Language Poet…
53. Peter Gizzi 12 issues of O.blek made his name…
54. Franz Wright Cantankerous but blessed…
55. Nikky Finney 2011 National Book Award winner
56. Garrison Keillor Good poems!
57. Camille Paglia She’s baaaack!
58. Christian Bok Author of Canada’s best-selling poetry book
59. X.J. Kennedy Classy defender of rhyme…
60. Frederick Seidel Wears nice suits…
61. Henri Cole Poems “cannily wrought” –New Yorker
62. Thom Donovan Poetry is Jorie-Graham-like…
63. Marie Howe State Poet of New York
64. Michael Dickman The other twin…
65. Alice Oswald Withdrew from T.S. Eliot prize shortlist…
66. Sherman Alexie Poet/novelist/filmmaker…
67. J.D. McClatchy Anthologist and editor of Yale Review…
68. David Wagoner Edited Poetry Northwest until it went under…
69. Richard Wilbur A versifier’s dream…
70. Stephen Cramer His fifth book is called “Clangings.”
71. Galway Kinnell We scolded him on his poem in the New Yorker critical of Shelley…
72. Jim Behrle Gadfly of the BAP
73. Haruki Murakami The Weird Movement…
74. Tim Seibles Finalist for National Book Award in Poetry
75. Brenda Shaughnessy Editor at Tin House…
76. Maurice Manning The new Robert Penn Warren?
77. Eileen Myles We met her on the now-dead Comments feature of Blog Harriet
78. Heather McHugh Studied with Robert Lowell; translator.
79. Juliana Spahr Poetry and sit-ins
80. Alicia Ostriker Poetry makes feminist things happen…
81. William Childress His ‘Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?’ caused a stir…
82. Patricia Smith Legendary Slam Poet…
83. James Tate The Heart-felt Zany Iowa School…
84. Barrett Watten Language Poet Theorist.
85. Elizabeth Alexander Obama’s inaugural poet.
86. Alan Cordle Foetry changed poetry forever.
87. Dean Young Heart transplanted, we wish him the best…
88. Amy Beeder “You’ll never feel full”
89. Valzhyna Mort Franz Wright translated her from the Belarusian…
90. Mary Jo Salter Studied with Elizabeth Bishop at Harvard…
91. Seth Abramson Lawyer/poet who researches MFA programs and writes cheery reviews…
92. Amy Catanzano “My aim is to become incomprehensible to the machines.”
93. Cate Marvin VIDA co-founder and co-director
94. Jay Wright First African-American to win the Bollingen Prize (2005)
95. Albert Jack His “Dreadful Demise Of Edgar Allan Poe” builds on Scarriet’s research: Poe’s cousin may be guilty…
96. Mary Ruefle “I remember, I remember”
97. John Gallaher Selfless poet/songwriter/teacher/blogger
98. Philip Nikolayev From Fulcrum to Battersea…
99. Marcus Bales Democratic Activist and Verse Poet
100. Joe Green And Hilarity Ensued…
October 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm (Alan Cordle, Alice Oswald, Anne Carson, Ben Mazer, Billy Collins, Blog:Harriet, Brenda Shaughnessy, Camille Paglia, Charles Baudelaire, Christian Bok, Cole Swensen, Dan Chiasson, Dana Gioia, Dana Levin, David Lehman, David Orr, Dean Young, Don Share, Eileen Myles, Elizabeth Alexander, Frank Bidart, Franz Wright, Fred Seidel, Galway Kinnell, Garrison Keillor, Geoffrey Hill, Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler, James Tate, Jim Behrle, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Kay Ryan, Kevin Young, Louise Gluck, Lyn Hejinian, Marjorie Perloff, Mark Doty, Mark Strand, Matthew Dickman, Natasha Trethewey, Neilson Poe, Patricia Smith, Paul Muldoon, Peter Gizzi, Ron Silliman, Seth Abramson, Sharon Olds, Sherman Alexie, Stephen Burt, Stephen Dunn, Terrance Hayes, Tony Hoagland, Tracy K. Smith, X.J. Kennedy)
1. Natasha Trethewey Beautiful! Black! Poet Laureate!
December 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm (Abigail Deutsch, Adrienne Rich, Alan Cordle, Anis Shivani, Ben Mazer, Billy Collins, Bin Ramke, Camille Paglia, Dan Chiasson, Dana Gioia, David Lehman, David Orr, Dean Young, Derek Walcott, Foetry, Garrison Keillor, Gary B. Fitzgerald, Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler, James Tate, Jim Behrle, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Joy Harjo, Landis Everson, Louise Gluck, Lyn Hejinian, Marcus Bales, Marjorie Perloff, Mark McGurl, Mark Strand, Michael Robbins, Poetry Foundation, Rita Dove, Robert Hass, Seamus Heaney, Seth Abramson, Sharon Olds, W.S. Merwin, William Logan, Yusef Komunyakaa)
All ye need to know?
1. Rita Dove—Penguin editor reviewed by Helen Vendler in the NYRB
2. Terrance Hayes—In Dove’s best-selling anthology, and young
3. Kevin Young—In Dove’s anthology, and young
4. Amiri Baraka—In Dove’s anthology
5. Billy Collins—in the anthology
6. John Ashbery—a long poem in the anthology
7. Dean Young—not in the anthology
8. Helen Vendler—hated the anthology
9. Alan Cordle—Time’s masked Person-of-the-Year = Foetry.com’s once-anonymous Occupy Poetry protestor?
10. Harold Bloom—you can bet he hates the anthology
11. Mary Oliver—in the anthology
12. William Logan—meanest and the funniest critic (a lesson here?)
13. Kay Ryan—our day’s e.e. cummings
14. John Barr—the Poetry Man and “the Man.”
15. Kent Johnson—O’Hara and Koch will never be the same?
16. Cole Swensen—welcome to Brown!
17. Tony Hoagland—tennis fan
18. David Lehman—fun lovin’ BAP gate-keeper
19. David Orr—the deft New York Times critic
20. Rae Armantrout—not in the anthology
21. Seamus Heaney—When Harvard eyes are smilin’
22. Dan Chiasson—new reviewer on the block
23. James Tate—guaranteed to amuse
24. Matthew Dickman—one of those bratty twins
25. Stephen Burt—the Crimson Lantern
26. Matthew Zapruder—aww, everybody loves Matthew!
27. Paul Muldoon—New Yorker Brit of goofy complexity
28. Sharon Olds—Our Lady of Slightly Uncomfortable Poetry
29. Derek Walcott—in the anthology, latest T.S. Eliot prize winner
30. Kenneth Goldsmith—recited traffic reports in the White House
31. Jorie Graham—more teaching, less judging?
32. Alice Oswald—I don’t need no stinkin’ T.S. Eliot Prize
33. Joy Harjo—classmate of Dove’s at Iowa Workshop (in the anthology)
34. Sandra Cisneros—classmate of Dove’s at Iowa Workshop (in the anthology)
35. Nikki Giovanni—for colored girls when po-biz is enuf
36. William Kulik—not in the anthology
37. Ron Silliman—no more comments on his blog, but in the anthology
38. Daisy Fried—setting the Poetry Foundation on fire
39. Eliot Weinberger—poetry, foetry, and politics
40. Carol Ann Duffy—has Tennyson’s job
41. Camille Dungy—runs in the Poetry Foundation forest…
42. Peter Gizzi—sensitive lyric poet of the hour…
43. Abigail Deutsch—stole from a Scarriet post and we’ll always love her for it…
44. Robert Archambeau—his Samizdat is one of the more visible blogs…
45. Michael Robbins—the next William Logan?
46. Carl Phillips—in the anthology
47. Charles North—What It Is Like, New & Selected chosen as best of 2011 by David Orr
48. Marilyn Chin—went to Iowa, in the anthology
49. Marie Howe—a tougher version of Brock-Broido…
50. Dan Beachy-Quick—gotta love that name…
51. Marcus Bales—he’s got the Penguin blues.
52. Dana Gioia—he wants you to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, so what r u waiting 4?
53. Garrison Keillor—the boil on the neck of August Kleinzahler
54. Alice Notley—Penguin’s Culture of One by this Paris-based author made a lot of 2011 lists
55. Mark McGurl—won Truman Capote Award for 2011′s The Program Era: Rise of Creative Writing
56. Daniel Nester—wrap your blog around my skin, yea-uh.
57. Yusef Komunyakaa—in the anthology
58. Adrienne Rich—in the anthology
59. Jeremy Bass— reviewed the anthology in the Nation
60. Anselm Berrigan—somebody’s kid
61. Travis Nichols—kicked us off Blog Harriet
62. Seth Abramson—poet and lawyer
63. Stephen Dunn—one of the best poets in the Iowa style
64. Philip Levine—Current laureate, poem recently in the New Yorker Movin’ up!
65. Ben Mazer—Does anyone remember Landis Everson?
66. Reb Livingston—Her No Tells blog rocks the contemporary scene
67. Marjorie Perloff—strutting avant academic
68. John Gallaher—Kent Johnson can’t get enough punishment on Gallaher’s blog
69. Fred Viebahn—poet married to the Penguin anthologist
70. James Fenton—said after Penguin review hit, Dove should have “shut up”
71. Rodney Jones—BAP poem selected by Dove riffs on William Carlos Williams’ peccadilloes
72. Mark Doty—no. 28′s brother
73. Cate Marvin—VIDA and so much more
74. Richard Wilbur—still hasn’t run out of rhyme
75. W.S. Merwin—no punctuation, but no punk
76. Jim Behrle—the Adam Sandler of po-biz
77. Bin Ramke—still stinging from the Foetry hit
78. Thomas Sayer Ellis—not in the anthology
79. Henri Cole—poetry editor of the New Republic
80. Meghan O’Rourke—Behrle admires her work
81. Anne Waldman—the female Ginsberg?
82. Anis Shivani—get serious, poets! it’s time to change the world!
83. Robert Hass—Occupy story in Times op-ed
84. Lyn Hejinian—stuck inside a baby grand piano
85. Les Murray—greatest Australian poet ever?
86. Sherman Alexie—is this one of the 175 poets to remember?
87. Geoffrey Hill—great respect doesn’t always mean good
88. Elizabeth Alexander—Frost got Kennedy, she got Obama
89. A.E. Stallings—A rhymer wins MacArthur!
90. Frank Bidart—in the anthology
91. Robert Pinsky—in the anthology
92. Carolyn Forche—in the anthology
93. Louise Gluck—not in the anthology
94. Keith Waldrop—his Hopwood Award paid her fare from Germany
95. Rosmarie Waldrop—her Hopwood helpled launch Burning Deck
96. C.D. Wright—born in the Ozark mountains
97. Forrest Gander—married to no. 96
98. Mark Strand—translator, surrealist
99. Margaret Atwood—the best Canadian poet of all time?
100. Gary B. Fitzgerald—the poet most likely to be remembered a million years from now
By the time Alan Cordle and friends closed down Foetry.com in 2007, Cordle’s now famous website had managed to enrage a good number of distinguished poets, editors, professors, and critics. But the tide is turning; the truth is finally counting more than personal bitterness.
The following quote by Eliot Weinberger comes by way of a Spanish newspaper on “a crisis in worldwide literary criticism:”
The United States does not have the kinds of literary supplements that are common in Spain and many other countries. It has only one important frequent periodical of criticism–The New York Review of Books. There are no longer powerful American critics, as there were until the 1960s, writing in a prose that was intelligible to anyone, and inserting literature into the political, social, and moral issues of the day. So-called “serious” criticism has largely become the domain of academics, who write in a specialized jargon, under the bizarre belief that complex thought can only be presented in impenetrable sentences… Criticism, in the United States, has been reduced to “recommendations,” which come via reviews, blogs, and Twitter. Prizes have become the standard validation of literary merit–especially among those who are unaware how prizes are chosen. I can’t think of a single American critic to whom one now turns for ideas…
Foetry.com could not have put it better, or more bluntly: “Prizes have become the standard of validation of literary merit—especially among those who are unaware of how prizes are chosen.” This speaks volumes. Every sorry part contributes to the whole: “Criticism…has been reduced to ‘recommendations’ because “prizes have become the standard” and because there is a “belief that complex thought can only be presented in impenetrable sentences,” it follows “there are no longer powerful American critics,” and hence, “criticism has…become the domain of academics” and the historical record will show that the whole shameful Prize Apparatus came into existence in the 1940s, when the professor and the poet became the same animal, thanks to Paul Engle’s work at Iowa.
Engle was surely well-meaning when he said, ‘Why can’t a master’s thesis be a book of poetry?’ Unfortunately, this idea, which on the face of it, appeared to help poetry, essentially killed it.
Because unfortunately poetry reputations are made by humans, not the Muses. The system—now in place for about 75 years—in which living poets are able to make their own reputations, has resulted in nothing but folly. John Crowe Ransom became the most powerful editor, poet, and critic in the mid-20th century precisely because he was the leader, with a few of his Fugitive cronies, of the invasion of contemporary poetry into the academy.
Weinberger makes it clear: the public is out of the picture; poetry prizes are a fait accompli, and “recommendations” (puffing) has replaced Criticism.
Poe warned us about this, and look what happened to him.
What can you do?
We’ll fix this.
Poetry MFA graduates
The recent hubbub over the respectable poetry press which demanded their authors pay for the cost of producing their own book struck a real nerve.
Why? Because an uncomfortable truth was brought into the open: U.S. poetry market inflation is so severe, a book of new poems not only has no value–it has a negative value.
In today’s marketplace, a new book of poems represents not growth, but a grave—new poetry not only does not add wealth, it takes wealth away from the world.
The truth will be argued away by some, convinced their poetry is worth something.
But this rationale fails, since the economic fact of this uncomfortable truth is no less true for being a general truth.
At least when a publisher asks you to pay for your book’s publication costs, it’s better than the contest system—where you pay for the publication of someone else’s book, and unethically so, in the crooked contest system judged or run by once respected poets such as Jorie Graham and Bin Ramke, who were exposed by Alan Cordle’s Foetry.com.
The press which asked its own authors to pony up did so because it couldn’t stomach the contest system. Ironies such as this will breed when a market collapses—and the market for new poems has collapsed big time.
Hence, it is no wonder that financial aid is the chief criterion in rating MFA programs.
What other criteria could there possibly be? Earning an MFA degree in poetry is nothing more than an individual poet’s desperate gamble against inflation—even as MFA numbers add to that inflation.
The poets swim in the sea of their own doom, unable to be a poet unless they get wet.
A bunch of MFA profs and administrators have signed a letter of protest against the Poets & Writers rankings of MFA programs put together by Seth Abramson.
It’s unfair, say the protestors, who include relative titans such as Robert Pinsky and Tony Hougland, to weigh financial aid so heavily; there are other criteria, they protest, such as teaching methods.
Really? What teaching methods? Even the MFA programs themselves admit they don’t teach anyone to be a poet—the programs only give one time to make the attempt, with varying degrees of informal contact with peers.
Classical criteria, based on quantity and measurement, never did grace Poetry MFA curricula. The aesthetics of Plato, Aristotle and Horace would seem horribly old-fashioned in today’s MFA. Classical learning is not even included in a hybrid. It is the enemy. It is out. Byron is out, because he may have read a classical author once. The exclusion of the old is total. Intelligence is the only hallmark: intelligence left to swim on its own. This is poetry education: We can’t teach you is what we will teach you.
Modernists outlawed quantity about 90 years ago, and these same gentlemen established the MFA programs 60 years ago. The result? Inflation as the world has never seen.
Scarriet’s MFA Poetry program criterion is simple. Find one book of poems published by administration or faculty in the MFA program which has been purchased freely by a general reader. Then, check out the financial aid package.
When Thomas Brady, Alan Cordle, Christopher Woodman, and Desmond Swords were banned from Blog Harriet two years ago, there was no crying.
There was revenge.
Cordle sprang into action after the banning, creating a website called Scarriet—a well-deserved joke on the bumbling, mean-spirited site, Harriet, named after Harriet Monroe, the late 19th century blue-blood aesthete who raised enough money for a little poetry magazine, a toy in the very early 20th century of the idle rich who collected Asian art and swooned over haiku. She was fortunate to have an operator named Ezra Pound as her London editor, well-connected to the decadent ins and outs of the new art market machinations. A great wave of calculated anti-Romantic, anti-Renaissance fervor was in the air: Palgrave’s golden treasury was a great albatross around the neck of Progress; Plato’s measurement was being replaced by ‘blah blah blah,’ measured art was being replaced by art that said it was art, and art, like money, could now make money just for being whatever it was that someone said it had to be. This generated, as one might imagine, a lot of hustle and bustle. Art that had value for the middle classes was relegated to reprints, art seeking value now became a process of the rich seeking to distance themselves from the middle class. Imagism hopped on the back of haiku and Pound and Monroe were off and running. Pound and Eliot threw in their lot with fascism while Monroe’s little magazine, safely ensconced in the midwest, insinuated itself into the Modern Poetry graces of certain would-be poets, one being Ruth Lilly, who happened to have a fortune, and gave a lot of it recently to Harriet Monroe’s magazine.
Blog Harriet gave up on its great democratic experiment of allowing comments on its site about 6 months after banning the Now Famous Four.
Blog Harriet is now a dull cut-and-paste site (despite the Poetry Foundation’s millions) while the banned Brady writes the original bounty that is Scarriet, taking a true measure of poetry in all its aspects.
That’s our two cents.
June 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm (Aidan Wasley, Alan Cordle, Allen Ginsberg, Allen Tate, American Poetry Review, Arthur Vogelsang, Best American Poetry, Billy Collins, Bin Ramke, Chester Kallman, David Lehman, Eileen Myles, Foetry, Frank O'Hara, Janet Bowdan, Jeopardy!, John Ashbery, Langston Hughes, Reb Livingston, Robert Frost, Stephen Dunn, W.H.Auden, Wallace Stevens)
Poetic reputation: do we want to know how the sausage gets made?
Last year, the Scarriet Final Four, using David Lehman’s Best American Poetry volumes 1988 through 2009, was “That’s Not Butter” by Reb Livingston, “Composed Three Thousand Miles From Tintern Abbey” by Billy Collins, “The Year” by Janet Bowdan, and “The Triumph of Narcissus and Aphrodite” by William Kulik.
This year, using Berg and Vogelsang’s American Poetry Review’s anthology, The Body Electric, we got “Aubade” by Philip Larkin, “litany” by Carolyn Creedon, “Eileen’s Vision” by Eileen Myles, and “What They Wanted” by Stephen Dunn. How the Brit Larkin slipped in, we’re not sure, but he was included in the APR, and won his games fair and square to advance to the Final Four. Creedon, Dunn, and Myles are not exactly household words.
Last week Jeopardy! had an American Poetry category: Ogden Nash, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, and Allen Ginsberg were the five answers: Stevens‘ most famous poem, “The Emperor of Icecream,” drew a blank, as did Ginsberg and Hughes; only Frost and Nash were recognized by one of the three Jeopardy! contestants.
As we have watched a field of 64 get reduced to four, and then one, for two years now, we wonder if Scarriet’s March Madness Tourney is the only such competition in the world.
There are many who sneer at poetry and competition. But look, when a poet wins a major prize today, when a poet wins recognition, should we really be so naive or hypocritical in convincing ourselves that the renown of someone like John Ashbery is not the result of poems and poets competing against each other?
And if not, what the hell is it?
What pushes someone like Ashbery to the top?
I ask this, because to win a March Madness Tournament, you have to have a poem entered that’s good enough to beat other poems, in match-up after match-up, and I don’t know that Ashbery has one poem that has that ‘breakthrough’ quality to win against “litany” by Carolyn Creedon, for instance. Ashbery’s poems all read like clever jokes, and such poems don’t tend to win against the really accomplished poem of poignancy and beauty. I doubt an Ashbery poem could go very far in a March Madness Tournament, under the scrutiny of refs and rabid fans.
Ashbery defeated O’Hara for the Yale Younger Poetry Prize—one judge, Auden, played his own “March Madness Tournament,” after smoking a few hundred cigarettes, and Ashbery won that Tournament. From a just issued review:
Wasley’s book [The Age of Auden: Postwar Poetry and the American Scene, Princeton U. Press] vividly catalogues Auden’s social connections, friendships and influence among East Coast, Ivy League-educated, formal, emerging poets. Ginsberg and Ashbery wrote college essays on Auden; the pre-Ted Hughes Sylvia Plath adored Auden’s “burlap-textured voice”. We’re taken to parties and table talk, and to theatres where Auden explains a play’s reference to the entire mezzanine: “Shelley, my dears!” Still, must we learn who drilled the peephole to the toilet? Who looked?
This lineage study is redolent of smoking-jacket, anecdote and club. Auden dislikes the Yale Younger Poets submissions; he asks Ashbery and Frank O’Hara for manuscripts (or Chester Kallman, Auden’s lover, does); Ashbery’s poems are selected. Nowadays, if a public university manages its competitions this way, it will be exposed and condemned (as in the case of the University of Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series). Nearly everyone – poets, critics, even Wasley’s back-cover blurbers – is from the universities of Harvard, Yale, Columbia or Princeton.
Did you catch that? Both Ashbery (Harvard) and Ginsberg (Columbia) wrote Ivy League college essays on Auden.
Iowa wasn’t the only place where the U.S. Poetry Workshop formula was being pushed in the 1940s; Allen Tate, one of the leading figures in the Anglo-American Modernist Clique—which got its ultimate marching orders from Pound and Eliot—started the ball rolling at Princeton, and Auden was Eliot’s chosen trans-Atlantic successor.
Maybe Chester Kallman ran into Frank O’Hara, or John Ashbery, or Allen Ginsberg in a men’s room, and the rest is history?
Anyway, the point is, there’s always going to be competition—winners and losers—and to pretend this is not the situation, is silly. To pretend ignorance only make the “winning” that much more dubious, and perhaps, unfair.
Note, also, how the work of Foetry.com (which exposed the U.GA Poetry Series when Alan Cordle caught Bin Ramke cheating) is now part of the normal poetry dialogue these days. We hope you caught that, too.
Everyone in their hearts knows there are winners and losers in poetry; the question is, do we have the courage to make the process as transparent as possible?
Will this dubious po-biz hustle one day be a thing of the past?
Get used to this name: Anis Shivani.
Anis Shivani stirs the poetry pot like no one else these days, and bad news for foets: he’s coming after you. In a comment beneath his recent Huffington Post article on how poetry contests ought to be done away with, Shivani writes:
After publishing this article, I was happy to be contacted by Al Cordle, who ran the Foetry.com website in the mid-2000s (see info. about Foetry’s exposure of rigged contests here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foetry.com). Al suggests pursuing legal action against demonstrably corrupt contests where a relationship between a judge and a contest winner can be shown. I think this is an excellent idea, and maybe the only way to bring down the contest model, delegitimize it, and replace it with a better alternative. Aggrieved poets who know of clear conflicts of interest or improper means of selection should consider pursuing for damages through legal means. I’m all for it.
Meanwhile, still waiting for a direct response from Brian Turner and Lory Bedikian as to whether there was a prior relationship/friendship/connection of some sort which helped Lory become the winner of the contest, despite the fact that both judge and winner attended the same MFA program at Oregon, when entries must have been received from all over the country.
—Anis Shivani, Huffington Post
Why is Foetry.com still making itself felt in po-biz after Alan Cordle’s site closed four years ago? The front page story in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Stephen Burt hit piece in the Boston Globe, the Joan Houlihan attack in Poets & Writers have apparently made Foetry famous forever.
Foetry is an attractive theory because in a poetry world of crackpot theory—a legacy of Modernism’s clique-y, reactionary, manifesto-ist, post-war takeover of the university (think: Ezra Pound, a core of associates, and their associates)—Foetry effectively reifies a number of tropes at once, bringing persons back into the poetry mix in an accessible post-Romantic manner. “Naming names” was Cordle’s cry on the old Foetry.com, and this is what makes Foetry so volatile (and exciting): it may have begun as Cordle asking poetry contest moderators to play fair, and, in many ways, Foetry.com was simply a consumer protection site causing cheaters to howl; but a serendipitous expansion has occured in which Foetry is coming to stand for an explanation of all aspects of poetry, if not for life itself.
What is foetry? Foetry is not just a noun, but a verb: it refers to a whole range of things which persons, on behalf of poetry, do. Foets are poets who are foes of poetry in various ways, insidious foes of poetry because they appear to be friends of poetry, chiefly acting in the paradoxical manner of either making poetry more expensive, and because of this, cheapening it, or cheapening it, and thus making it rare.
There are two basic kinds of Foets: the social kind, who secretly pick their friends in public poetry contests, and the theoretical kind: the windbag theorist who makes poetry more “difficult” and ends up making poetry an elaborate game for simpletons.
Foetry is more concerned with persons than poets or poetry, but then every theory on poetry is a sly attempt by the theorist to stack the deck in his or her favor: please read poetry the way I write it. But since Foetry is concerned with sly behavior in a reified manner to begin with, it ends up self-reflexively hitting the jackpot of a method that historically, socially, and psychologically is able to see through the rubbish of post-modernist, theoretical over-kill, to arrive at inclusive, grounded, practical answers to what poets as human beings are doing.
Read Scarriet, the sudden, inspired brain-child of Alan Cordle. Watch and learn. Monday Love of Foetry.com is now Thomas Brady.
Censorship, bullying and banning by Blog Harriet produced Scarriet.
Former Scarriet editor Christopher Woodman’s pocket was being picked by Tupelo Press when he read about the scam in Foetry.com.
Woodman ditched Scarriet a year ago because he could not stomach attacks by his Scarriet co-editor on Red Wheel Barrow modernism. Woodman has a weak stomach. He ate too much fallen High Modernist fruit. He got high on High Modernism and lost his way. But the point isn’t whether you like the Red Wheel Barrow or not—it’s whether you can handle criticism.
Poetry is not a lame feel-good exercise. You may find things you like in poetry, but poetry itself is not a feel-good exercise. The coterie-mind thinks: “you are a poet, so you must be my friend.!” The coterie-mind sucks Criticism out of poetry. The most boring (and most tyrannical) people are those who won’t accept Criticism. Development requires Criticism. The world needs Criticism—not censorship.
If Foetry can be summed up as a philosophy it might be this way: Art is not an object, poetry is not a text; art and poetry are what people do to each other in the widest sense.
Brian Turner and Lory Bedikian, what do you think?
David Orr, a refreshingly smart, honest, and independent critic—and kind of sexy, too.
Scarriet’s Thomas Brady used to be Monday Love on Foetry.com, Alan Cordle’s poetry consumer protection site that warned poets against rigged poetry contests.
Foetry.com came to my attention in a Boston Globe piece by Stephen Burt in 2005. Despite Burt’s attempt to discredit Cordle’s site, I knew immediately that Foetry.com was something new and different, and as soon as I began reading the site, Cordle impressed with his honesty and tenacity. Po-biz corruption obviously meant something to Cordle, and he was doing something about it by ‘naming names.’
A few thought it was wrong that Cordle exposed ‘foets’ anonymously—but I thought of Foetry.com’s anonymous nature as similar to an anonymous suggestion box in a workplace: the anonymity of Foetry.com was simply a method to uncover deeply entrenched wrongs: poetry contest cheating.
Academic poetry contests were important. Why? Because a public for poetry no longer existed, academic ‘fame’ was the next best thing, and winning an academic poetry contest was not only the step to academic renown, but contest entry fees paid for the publication of the winning manuscript. Judges were choosing their friends and their students. It was easy to find this out, and it was easy to see this wasn’t fair.
The self-righteous, indignant responses made it easy to see that a nerve had been struck.
The art of poetry was never supposed to be about private contests and academic awards. It was supposed to be about fame and genius. I had sent my poems to magazines and had some published, I had an advanced degree and had taught, but reading contemporary reviews, criticism and poetry and comparing it to the way poetry used to be, I knew, from a critical point of view, that something was rotten; Alan Cordle’s work—which quickly made him famous in po-biz—made sense to my whole way of thinking. I knew there were ambitious poets who mailed out more poems to magazines than anybody else, who earned advanced degrees and got to know the right people and were shaping po-biz through personal influence. I knew that I was probably lazier than these people. But poetry was poetry and truth was the truth.
And the truth, it seemed to me, was this:
1) Poetry was still an important academic credential.
2) Reaching out to the public (‘selling books’ the old-fashioned way) was no longer possible.
3) An art form once popular and prestigious was now only prestigious.
4) The game was now controlled by a relatively small number of networking academics.
When opponents of Foetry.com uncovered Alan Cordle’s identity, it turned out the ‘masked crusader’ was a librarian. His wife was the published, contest-winning poet (uneasy in fact, with his crusade, and not signed on to it) and this only confirmed that Foetry.com’s crusade was indeed a chivalrous one.
Complaints against Foetry.com inevitably took three forms:
1. The Witch Hunt Charge.
Foetry.com’s investigations were mild—they used documents in the public record: who judged a contest, who went to what school, the contents of a mass-mailed letter to potential contestants in a poetry contest. Perhaps the guiltiest foet, Jorie Graham, didn’t lose her job at Harvard, or any prestige, really, and she probably gained a few book sales from all the excitement; Bin Ramke stepped down from a Contest Series (that was crooked) but life goes on the same for every foet. Public awareness was raised—and this was important, because of the very issue that made Foetry.com necessary in the first place—poetry has a small public, and so: Alan Cordle’s consciousness-raising and public shaming was huge. The net amount of ‘pain’ was the moral humiliation of those who were guilty. If the anonymous Foetry.com was the Dark Knight, he was gentle, and performed a much-need service for poetry.
2. With all the wrongs in the world, why focus on pettiness in poetry?
But this question is unfair. If a wealthy, corporate criminal, for instance, gives to charity, are they the moral authority in every other sphere? If a person with little means wishes to do some small good, should this be resented?
3. Haven’t the great poets always networked and helped each other?
Not really. Byron and Shelley were companions, but neither judged the other a winner in a poetry contest, or wrote fawning notices in the press for each other—their pride would have found this abhorrent. Poe and Alexander Pope attacked puffery, mediocrity and self-serving cliques with glee.
Pound, Eliot and their friends at the Dial Magazine, however, did give each other (Cummings, Williams, Moore) annual Dial Prizes of $1,000 (equal to a year’s salary for Tom at Lloyd’s bank).
American poets Edgar Poe, Amy Lowell, and Edna Millay were attacked by the Pound clique, and naked ambition was the cause, even historical revenge, as Eliot’s New England roots trace directly back to the hatred between Poe and “English Traits” Emerson. Scarriet is the first to investigate this.
Scarriet has moved closer to solving Poe’s probable murder.
Scarriet is Foetry.com with a highly historical and critical perspective.
And Scarriet will not ban or censor or silence anyone for their views.
Foetry.com closed down and was archived in 2007. One day in September of 2009, without warning, Thomas Brady, Alan Cordle, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman were banned from making comments on Blog Harriet. The always amusing, ‘don’t-get-mad-get-even,’ Alan Cordle set up Scarriet.
So who are these poets, anyway? Orr says they suffer from the fact that “even if most people don’t know what poets do, the average person feels that whatever it is, it must be spectacular.” Orr cuts them down to size, an exercise that turns out to be bracing for all concerned. Poets spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in front of computers typing, or else reading, or else worrying over the fact that they can’t muster the concentration to read or write. When not writing, poets also preoccupy themselves with “sending dozens of envelopes filled with poems to literary magazines read by, at most, a few hundred people,” mostly fellow poets.
No wonder their world is what Orr calls a “chatty, schmoozy, often desperate reality.” There are, as you’d expect, the drunken book parties and the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conventions, which are more like returning to college—or is it high school?—than anyone would like to admit. And Orr reports at length on a full-blown scandal, “the Foetry eEpisode,” capitalizing on the gossip while also issuing a cautionary tale: Inbred cultures beware! Between 2004 and 2007, the Web site Foetry.com, run by a man named Alan Cordle, took aim at corruption in the supposedly anonymous book contests that land many poets their small and university-press-publishing contracts. Orr describes the site “stocked with outraged allegations of favor-trading, creepy insinuations about people’s personal lives, and buckets of name-calling (including my personal favorite, ‘foet,’ which referred to careerist poets).” People got hurt, at least one prize was shut down, and targeted poets like Jorie Graham basically stopped judging contests. It was ugly, often petty, and it made headlines outside of Poetryland. It was enough to make you forget that what poets really are is craftspeople: They make intricate little things out of very carefully chosen words, presumably at least in part for other readers to examine.
Alan Cordle has come a long way since he got mad and decided to do something about it.
The art of poetry has been treated shabbily by “the new.” It sometimes seems the dollar has been replaced by the Pound. But we can always find some good in the new: we have the internet now, and it wasn’t all that long ago that all the news came from sources like Walter Cronkite, or Understanding Poetry by a couple of crotchety old Southern Agrarians turned New Critics.
We celebrate the new, too.
November 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm (Alan Cordle, Ben Mazer, Billy Collins, Charles Bernstein, Charles Simic, David Lehman, David Orr, Derek Walcott, Donald Hall, Eileen Myles, James Tate, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Marcus Bales, Seamus Heaney, Seth Abramson, Sharon Olds, Tony Hoagland)
1. Billy Collins -a poet of wit and popularity
2. Dana Gioia -his famous essay still resonates
3. David Lehman -BAP takes the pulse better than prizes/contests do.
4. Louise Gluck -the new Jorie; has stepped down as Yale judge.
5. John Ashbery -the most famous unknown person ever
6. W.S. Merwin -emerging as the e.e. cummings of our time
7. David Orr -elegant critical manner, writes poetry, too
8. Helen Vendler -when the dust settles, what has she done, exactly?
9. Paul Muldoon -as long as he’s at the new yorker, he’ll be on this list.
10. Harold Bloom -will he ever live down his nutty hatred of Poe?
11. Glyn Maxwell -a one-man british invasion
12. G.C. Waldrep -he’s all the rage, and deserves it
13. Anne Carson -managed to secure that all-important ‘classical’ rep…
14. Robert Hass -he sort of reminds us of Paul Engle…
15. Mary Oliver -popular ’cause she feels, rather than thinks, nature poetry.
16. James Tate -founder of the funny/absurd/surreal/realism school
17. Dean Young -James Tate lite?
18. Sharon Olds -nobody does frank sexuality so morally and deftly
19. Charles Simic -perfected the small, vivid, cinematic poem
20. Marvin Bell -long time U. Iowan
21. Donald Hall -our Thomas Hardy?
22. Karen Solie -2010 Griffin Poetry prize and good poet
23. Terrance Hayes -beautiful, black, and a National Book Award…
24. Robyn Schiff -Jorie love-blurbed her madly, UG Iowa Wrkshp dir…
25. Adrienne Rich -for the sisters
26. Barbara Hamby -rides the new ‘excessive’ style
27. Lucia Perillo -2010 BAP; rocks the newly minted ’A.D.D. School’
28. Matt Donovan -2010 Whiting Writers award
29. Ron Silliman -this is his time
30. Amy Gerstler -2010 Best American Poetry editor
31. Henry Hart -found a poem I liked by someone on the web, damn!
32. Sandra Beasley -this gal is worth checking out!
33. Shane McCrae -warning: this poetry may actually be good…
34. Philip Gross -2010 T.S. Eliot Prize
35. Simon Armitage -the closest brit who possesseth any wit
36. L.S. Klatt -2010 Iowa poetry prize winner
37. Margaret Atwood -she’s never boring
38. Carolyn Forche -that ‘bag full of ears’ poem, seems like only yesterday…
39. Matthew Yeager -2010 BAP, “Go now, my little red balloon of misery!”
40. Stephen Burt -one day vendler’s empire will be his
41. Barrett Watten -selling Language Theory to British academia
42. Cole Swensen -Iowa City/Paris gal
43. Christopher Reid -first poetry book to win Costa since ’99 (Heaney)
44. D.A. Powell -seems to be making all the right moves
45. Frank Bidart -actor James Franco digs his poetry
46. Carl Phillips -one of our most understated, thoughtful poets…
47. Rachel Hadas -writing, judging…
48. Alan Cordle -the david who slew goliath
49. Bin Ramke -has that ‘Bladerunner’ fallen angel look…
50. Donald Revel -the blue twilight school
51. Jorie Graham -has her move to p.c. extremism doomed her?
52. Natasha Saje’ -we like her poetry
53. Paul Hoover -tortured, philosophical poetry, but good…
54. Conor O’Callaghan -Bess Hokin winner
55. Terri Erickson -exploded onto Scarriet, and won Nooch’s heart…
56. George Szirtes -Hungarian Brit
57. Abigail Deutsch -Poetry magazine’s 2010 reviewing prize…
58. Jason Guriel -poet/reviewer making his mark with Poetry…
59. D.H. Tracy -fastidious, not fawning, as Poetry critic…
60. A.E. Stallings -studied classics in Athens!
61. Dan Chiasson -belongs to new crowd of poet/critics
62. Mark Levine -the David Foster Wallace of workshop poetry…
63. Katherine Larson -2010 Yale Younger, Gluck’s last pick…
64. Dara Wier -workshop queen at Amherst & has a Selected…
65. Joseph Donahue -”the angel’s jibe would harry the glitter from the dew”
66. Robert Casper -poetry society of america, jubilat
67. Ben Mazer -Man of Letters: poet, editor, critic? He has first two…
68. Eileen Myles -will not self-edit, thank you…
69. Derek Walcott -his Pure Style, like buttah…
70. Bob Hicok -the school of manly sentimentalism…
71. Janet Holmes -’ass hat uh’ press is how you pronounce it, I think…
72. August Kleinzahler -he chased Garrison Keillor away…
73. John Barr -runs the Evil Empire? Blog Harriet: zzzzzz
74. Philip Schultz -his 8 year-old son told him he won the Pulitzer…
75. Seamus Heaney -his iconic Bog-status is nearly blinding…
76. Kevin Young -curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library…
77. Charles Bernstein -his school producing a new generation of folly?
78. Tony Hoagland -he dares to write like Billy Collins…
79. Ilya Kaminsky -the spirit of translation…
80. Matthea Harvey -carries a flag for a style which others do better…
81. Mary Jo Salter -the most respectable force in poetry ever!
82. William Logan -if his critic ever reads his poetry, he’s done…
83. Alice Quinn -20 years picking poems for New Yorker
84. Julianna Spahr “MFA is under-realized, under-theorized…”
85. Rae Armantrout -one of the greatest little poem poets…
86. Rita Dove -Clinton was prez, she was poet laureate, Oasis was cool…
87. Seth Abramson -ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client’s poetry…
88. Adam Kirsch -the Harvard kid who made good…
89. Daniel Nester -We Who Are About To Die is a funny website…
90. Meghan O’ Rourke -poetry’s audrey hepburn
91. Jim Behrle -funny, creative, but can’t get laid!
92. Martin Espada -”Latino poet of his generation” says his website
93. William Kulik -scarriet march madness final four
94. Patricia Smith -slam queen, rattle prize winner
95. C.D Wright -tickled by the Elliptical…
96. Philip Nikolayev -where’s Fulcrum?
97. Carl Adamshick -latest Walt Whitman winner
98. Dora Malech -everything going for her but poetic talent
99. Eleanor Ross Taylor -best 90 year old poet around
100. Valzhyna Mort -beautiful russian-american…uh…poetry.
101. Marcus Bales -anybody like skilled verse?
July 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm (Alan Cordle, Allen Ginsberg, Billy Collins, Jorie Graham, Percy Bysshe Shelley, POETRY, Poets & Writers, Robert Lowell, Sharon Olds, Walter Benjamin, William Logan, William Wordsworth)
Take the official Scarriet Poetry test and find out!
1. You have graduated from, or are in, an MFA program.
2. You mostly read poems written by your teachers and friends.
3. You mostly read poems by moderns and post-moderns.
4. You have published at least two favorable reviews of work by your friends.
5. You have published in some form the work of at least two of your friends.
6. You have organized readings for at least two of your friends.
7. A friend has published a favorable review of your work.
8. Your work has been published by a friend.
9. A friend has organized a reading for you.
10. Your friends are mostly poets.
11. You never argue about poetry.
12. You only have friends in your poetry circles.
13. You have little interest in quibbling about the definitions of poetry.
14. You admit to strangers pretty quickly that you are a poet.
15. You consider yourself a poetry critic.
16. You wish poetry conversations were more civil.
17. You prefer John Ashbery to Walt Whitman.
18.. You prefer Charles Olson to Edna Millay.
19. You prefer Ezra Pound to Edgar Poe.
20. You prefer Geoffrey Hill to Percy Shelley.
21. You prefer Tony Hoagland to Rae Armantrout.
22. You prefer Allen Ginsberg to Robert Creeley.
23. You prefer Charles Bernstein to Charles Bukowski.
24. You prefer Jorie Graham to William Carlos Williams.
25. You prefer Jennifer Moxley to Billy Collins.
26. You prefer Walt Whitman to Alexander Pope.
27. You prefer Robert Frost to Wallace Stevens.
28. You prefer Emily Dickinson to William Wordsworth.
29. You prefer Dante to Robert Lowell.
30. You prefer Pound’s Cantos to Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
31. You prefer Li Po to Leslie Scalapino.
32. You prefer 20th century translations to Tennyson.
33. You read more poetry than prose.
34. You read more poetry criticism than poetry.
35. Your favorite part of ‘Poetry’ magazine tends to be the poems.
36. Your favorite part of ‘Poetry’ magazine tends to be the commentary.
37. The first thing you do when you see a new anthology is to check to see which poets have been published in it.
38. When you look at any poetry anthology, it matters to you how many poems/pages are allotted to each poet—whether or not the poets are living or dead.
39. When you look at any poetry anthology, it matters to you which poets have been left out/included—whether or not the poets are living or dead.
40. You are naturally more interested in living poets than dead ones.
41. You generally think poetry as an art has improved since 1900.
42. You generally think poetry as an art has improved since 1960.
43. You generally think poetry as an art has improved since 1990.
44. Over half of the books on your nightstand right now are books of poems.
45. Over half of the books on your nightstand right now are books of poems by living poets.
46. You would rather read a new, self-published book by an unknown poet than a book of reviews by William Logan.
47. You would rather read a new book by an unknown poet published by an establishment press than a book of reviews by William Logan.
48. You would rather read essays by Stephen Burt than by William Logan.
49. You prefer the prose of Walter Benjamin to the prose of Coleridge.
50. You would rather read essays by Robert Hass than letters of Byron.
51. You would rather read an anthology of contemporary female poets than a book on Shakespeare’s London.
52. You would rather read the latest book of poems by Peter Gizzi than a recently published anthology of essays by New Critics.
53. You would never read a poetry textbook if you didn’t have to.
54. You prefer Charles Simic to Philip Larkin.
55. You would rather read a book of poems by Sharon Olds than an anthology of WW I poets.
56. You would rather go to a poetry reading than attend a movie.
57. Everything else being equal, you would always choose a poet for a lover.
58. Your poems never rhyme.
59. You teach/have taught in the Humanities.
60. You teach/have taught poetry, exclusively.
61. You administer poetry contests.
62. You enter poetry contests.
63. You have won a poetry contest.
64. You have won a major award.
65. You have published in mainstream publications.
66. You’ve met Franz Wright on a blog.
67. You think Jim Behrle is hot.
68. You have a private method or trick to writing poems.
69. Ron Silliman has good taste in poetry.
70. You read ‘Poets and Writers’ from cover-to-cover every month.
71. You read books of poems from cover-to-cover in one sitting.
72. You are proficient in at least one other language beside your native one.
73. You have a degree other than in English or Creative Writing.
74. Jorie Graham deserves her prestigious Chair at Harvard.
75. Poetry is ambassador to the world’s peoples.
76. You have a secret crush on Alan Corlde.
77. Metaphor is the essence of poetry.
78. You want to sit at Daniel Nester’s knee and have him tell you the ways of the world.
79. You understand what the post-avants are talking about.
80. Flarf is really cool.
81. Conceptualism knocks your socks off.
82. Poets turn you on.
83. You want desperately to have a wild affair with a poet.
84. Your secret goal is to teach poetry.
85. When you are published in a magazine you buy copies for friends.
86. At least one of your parents is an artist.
87. It really bugs you that poetry has become prose.
88. Marjorie Perloff is the bomb.
89. Poetry is a way to explore political identity.
90. Poetry is the best way to communicate the deepest truths.
91. Humor for a select audience is poetry’s most important function today.
92. The bottom line is that poetry helps nerds get laid.
93. Poetry contributes to the dignity of the human race.
94. Slam poetry is a great antidote to bookworm-ism.
95. Your favorite poetry event is a slam poetry fest.
96. You are wary that you might be a ‘school of quietude’ poet.
97. You dig Language Poetry.
98. You look for trends in poetry, but just so you can be informed.
99. You write songs/play songs/are in a band.
100. Poetry breaks your heart every day.
February 14, 2010 at 5:06 am (Alan Cordle, Blog:Harriet, Boyd Nielson, christopher woodman, Desmond Swords, Gary Fitzgerald, Harriet, Henry Gould, John Oliver Simon, Kent Johnson, Michael Robbins, Poetry Foundation, Scarriet, Travis Nichols, Uncategorized)
We don’t read Harriet anymore. It’s too dreary, too artsy-fartsy-friends-puffing-artsy-fartsy-friends, too boring. But our man Gary Fitzgerald was kind enough to email us today to let us know that John Oliver Simon has not forgotten us.
Thanx, Gary Fitzgerald, John Oliver Simon, u rock.
Harriet, the Poetry Foundation Blog, who banned Thomas Brady, Alan Cordle, Desmond Swords, and Christopher Woodman at one stroke on September 1, 2009, is going through a little identity crisis at the moment: how shall I moderate? How shall I banish? Are those who post on my site a community? Can posters police themselves? What is my responsibility towards them, if any?
Before we start equating the firing on Fort Sumter (THE UNION IS DISSOLVED!) to the sarcastic squabbling between Kent Johnson, Michael Robbins, and Henry Gould and the current crop of boy scouts and girl scouts on Harriet, let’s remember that once a self-infatuated twit, always a self-infatuated twit.
Boyd Nielson suggested in a comment on a Harriet post recently that Harriet is a private blog and can therefore ban and delete as she pleases. But instead of embracing this reality, Boyd Nielson continues, Harriet is failing to make her authority transparent, hiding behind proxies such as ‘thumbs up/ thumbs down voting’ and ‘report this comment’ to punish, to delete, to ‘hold for moderation’ and ultimately to ban, in a faceless manner that is irresponsible, cowardly, and weak.
Scarriet (ya got somethin to say, say it) is blissfully free of this.
To Harriet’s “identity crisis,” and to all the winding, administrative hair-splitting discussion it might elicit, we say: pffft.
Self-important Harriet, and other blogs like it, will 1) banish, 2) delete posts reporting the banishment, and 3) delete posts complaining of those deletions and 4) practice this for infinity, a black-hole-ish, whirling cesspool of censorship.
Paul McCartney will play a concert for Harriet, and their devoted acolytes will sing:
Well, the rain exploded with a mighty crash as we fell onto a limb,
And the first one said to the second one there, I hope that you can swim!
Banned on a whim! Banned on a whim!
Private enterprise is wonderful and Harriet’s status as a private club allows her to throw bums to the curb with impunity. But merely being private is not the great thing, by any means.
Private enterprise is not wonderful because it allows Harriet, the private club, to throw to the curb whomever she chooses, for if it stopped there, ‘private’ would be synonymous with ‘tyranical.’
Scarriet’s existence fills out the formula of private enterpise as something truly good. The private by itself is not good, nor is the private masking itself as the public good, either.
It is only competing private entities which allow for something truly wonderful: real freedom, real debate, sweet discovery, hot thrills, trembling chills, and freezing kisses, warm and exciting.
Ya got dat?…Travis…ya dirty rat…
January 16, 2010 at 3:55 am (Alan Cordle, Byron, Dante, Edgar Allan Poe, Foetry, Franz Wright, Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler, Joan Houlihan, John Keats, Longfellow, Monday Love, Philip Sidney, r perlman, Robert Creeley, Scarriet, Thomas Brady, Uncategorized)
Pardon us as we take a fanciful page from the book of George Gordon, Lord Byron.
……………………….WHO KILLED ROBERT CREELEY?
……………………….Who killed Robert Creeley?
……………………….Twas I, Foetry. Yes. Really.
……………………….Now exiled here by the site that bans
……………………….We’ve dealt a mortal blow to Franz.
……………………….You cannot know where your reputation’s laid,
……………………….Or who pays you, at last, and who finally is paid.
……………………….Beware, you swaggerer, with cred and name
……………………….Who comes to quell: first, you lose, then, you swell our fame.
Franz Wright’s recent visit to Scarriet reminded us of the time when Robert Creeley came calling on Foetry.com shortly before he passed away in March of 2005.
John Keats was treated so rudely by the press a rumor began that a harsh criticism had killed him. The poet is the most vulnerable to criticism since the poet and the critic both use words. Poetry, by its very nature, has a It is so because I say it is so existence. Words are cheap, and the poetry world is small. Poetic reputations are fragile and can disappear overnight.
Longfellow was a wealthy titan whose poems were widely read in expensive and beautiful volumes. Poe was a poverty-stricken, contentious critic who insulted and berated poets like Longfellow; Poe was reviled by many literary elites of his day. Poe, however, now towers over Longfellow and poets who are utterly forgotten. Those who ‘go about their business’ and who are ‘above’ the sort of battles Poe indulged in usually sink into oblivion. The trouble-makers survive.
Alan Cordle’s revolutionary Foetry.com turned po-biz on its head almost overnight with his controversial claims. Controversy is catnip to fame. Perhaps Creeley and Wright knew what they were doing when they jumped in the Foetry dirt.
Flowers (and fame) need dirt to grow.
Thomas Brady of Scarriet was obviously out of his mind, temporarily, let’s hope, when he wrote the following as Monday Love on Foetry.com:
And what’s this crap about how a “librarian” [Alan Cordle] can’t express an opinion on poetry or the poetry world? Jeez, what a lot of snobby rot. Since when did degrees and publishing creds and ‘official poet’ stamped on the forehead decide who can or cannot speak on poetry? Did Keats have an MFA? Philip Sidney, one of the world’s most prominent poets, never published a poem. And what of Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler? I can’t find any of their poems, but the world bows to their opinion. If some twit gets an MFA and publishes a few books of obscure poetry scribbles, that twit should then have some kind of authority because of his CV?
No, poetry is naturally fitted for something more democratic and honest. R. Perlman [since discovered to be Joan Houlihan] disgraces himself [herself] when he [she]indulges in this ‘poetry-cred’ nonsense–99% of the time such a gambit is merely an attempt to paper over stink. I have never asked what his [her] creds are, nor do I care. Those who come here trailing the glory of their creds in their wake tend to get slaughtered. We don’t care who they are. Robert Creeley came here and was treated like anyone else–in other words, a bit roughly. We don’t care for that phony ‘respect,’ which the pompous desire. Only the argument you make here counts.
Poetry was invented so that the learned could speak to the unlearned. Poetry is for the unlearned ear, because it had its origins, as Dante points out in his Vita Nuova, in the following circumstance: the learned fop was mad for some illiterate serving girl and therefore had to remove all that was phony and elevated in his speech to reach her heart. The opinion which the poet craves is always the simplest and heart-felt one. The ‘learned’ opinion is not to be trusted, finally. Every poet in secret knows this. This does not mean the poet writes simplistic twaddle, for the poet still must impress in a powerful manner, but that manner is not learned fops stroking each other’s learned egos, which only ruins the art.
—Monday Love, Foetry.com 2007
It is not our intent to dance on anybody’s grave.
We salute Mr. Creeley for not going gentle into that good night.
And God bless Franz Wright, too.
January 1, 2010 at 5:03 am (Alan Cordle, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, Allen Tate, Anne Sexton, Ben Franklin, Ben Mazer, Billy Collins, Blog:Harriet, Brook Farm, Byron, Charles Bernstein, christopher woodman, Cleanth Brooks, David Lehman, Delmore Scwartz, Desmond Swords, Dial Magazine, Dial Prize, Donald Justice, Edgar Allan Poe, Edmund Wilson, Edna Millay, Ellen Wheeler Wilcox, Emily Dickinson, Emma Lazarus, Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Ford, Frank O'Hara, Gertrude Stein, Haiku, Harold Bloom, Harriet Monroe, Helen Vendler, Iowa Writers Workshop, John Ashbery, John Berryman, John Crowe Ransom, Jorie Graham, Longfellow, Mark McGurl, Phillis Wheatley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Southern Agrarians, T.S.Eliot, Uncategorized, W.H.Auden, William Blake, Yone Noguchi, Yvor Winters)
1650 Anne Bradstreet’s The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America: By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts published in London.
1773 Phillis Wheatley, a slave, publishes Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
1791 The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is published in Paris, in French. Ben Franklin’s Autobiography appears in London, for the first time in English, two years later. Had it been published in America, the Europeans would have laughed. The American experiment isn’t going to last, anyway.
Franklin, the practical man, the scientist, and America’s true founding father, weighs in on poetry: it’s frivolous.
1794 Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey make plans to go to Pennsylvania in a communal living experiment, but their personalities clash and the plan is aborted. Southey becomes British Poet Laureate twenty years later.
1803 William Blake, author of “America: A Prophecy” is accused of crying out “Damn the King!” in Sussex, England, narrowly escaping imprisonment for treason.
1815 George Ticknor, before becoming literature Chair at Harvard, travels to Europe for 4 years, spending 17 months in Germany.
1817 “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant appears in the North American Review.
1824 Byron dies in Greece.
1824 Lafayette, during tour of U.S, calls on Edgar Poe’s grandmother, revolutionary war veteran widow.
1832 Washington Irving edits London edition of William Cullen Bryant’s Poems to avoid politically offending British readers.
1835 Massachusetts senator and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier mobbed and stoned in Concord, New Hampshire.
1835 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow appointed Smith Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard.
1836 Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes 500 copies of Divinity School Address anonymously. He will not publish another book for 6 years.
1838 Poe’s translated work begins appearing in Russia.
1843 Transcendentalist, Unitarian minister, Harvard Divinity School student Christopher Pearse Cranch marries the sister of T.S. Eliot’s Unitarian grandfather; dedicates Poems to Emerson, published in The Dial, a magazine edited by Margaret Fuller and Emerson; frequent visitor to Brook Farm. Cranch is more musical and sensuous than Emerson; even Poe can tolerate him; Cranch’s poem “Enosis” pre-figures Baudelaire’s “Correspondences.”
T.S. Eliot’s family is deeply rooted in New England Unitarianism and Transcendentalism through Cranch and Emerson’s connection to his grandfather, Harvard Divinity graduate, William Greenleaf Eliot, founder of Washington U., St. Louis.
1845 Elizabeth Barrett writes Poe with news of ”The Raven’s” popularity in England. The poem appeared in a daily American newspaper and produced instant fame, though Poe’s reputation as a critic and leader of the Magazine Era was well-established. During this period Poe coins “Heresy of the Didactic” and “A Long Poem Does Not Exist.” In a review of Barrett’s 1840 volume of poems which led to Barrett’s fame before she met Robert Browning, Poe introduced his piece by saying he would not, as was typically done, review her work superficially because she was a woman.
1847 Ralph Waldo Emerson is in England, earning his living as an orator.
1848 Charles Baudelaire’s first translations of Poe appear in France.
1848 James Russell Lowell publishes “A Fable For Critics” anonymously.
1848 Female Poets of America, an anthology of poems by American women, is published by the powerful and influential anthologist, Rufus Griswold—who believes women naturally write a different kind of poetry. Griswold’s earlier success, The Poets and Poetry of America (1842) contains 3 poems by Poe and 45 by Griswold’s friend, Charles Fenno Hoffman. In a review, Poe remarks that readers of anthologies buy them to see if they are in them.
1848 Poe publishes Eureka and the Rationale of Verse, exceptional works on the universe and verse.
1849 Edgar Poe is murdered in Baltimore; leading periodicals ignore strange circumstances of Poe’s death and one, Horace Greeley’s Tribune, hires Griswold (who signs his piece ‘Ludwig’) to take the occasion to attack the character of the poet.
1855 Griswold reviews Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and calls it a “mass of stupid filth.” The hated Griswold, whose second “wife” was a man, also lets the world know in his review that Whitman is a homosexual. Whitman later includes the Griswold review in one of his editions of Leaves.
1856 English Traits, extolling the English race and the English people, saying it was English “character” that vanquished India, is published in the U.S. and England, by poet and new age priest Ralph Waldo Emerson, as England waits for the inevitable Civil War to tear her rival, America, apart.
1859. In a conversation with William Dean Howells, Emerson calls Hawthorne’s latest book “mush” and furiously calls Poe “the jingle man.”
1860 William Cullen Bryant introduces Abraham Lincoln at Cooper Union; the poet advises the new president on his cabinet selection.
1867 First collection of African American “Slave Songs” published.
1883 “The New Colossus” is composed by Emma Lazarus; engraved on the Statue of Liberty, 1903
1883 Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler Wilcox rejected by publisher on grounds of immorality.
1888 “Casey at the Bat” published anonymously. The author, Ernest Thayer, does not become known as the author of the poem until 1909.
1890 Emily Dickinson’s posthumous book published by Mabel Todd and Thomas Higginson. William Dean Howells gives it a good review, and it sells well.
1893 William James, Emerson’s godson, becomes Gertrude Stein’s influential professor at Harvard.
1897 Wallace Stevens enters Harvard, falling under the spell of William James, as well as George Santayana.
1904 Yone Noguchi publishes “Proposal to American Poets” as the Haiku and Imagism rage begins in the United States and Britain.
1910 John Crowe Ransom, Fugitive, Southern Agrarian, New Critic, takes a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University.
1910 John Lomax publishes “Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads.”
1912 Harriet Monroe founds Poetry magazine; in 1880s attended literary gatherings in New York with William Dean Howells and Richard Henry Stoddard (Poe biographer) and in 1890s met Whistler, Henry James, Thomas Hardy and Aubrey Beardsley. Ezra Pound is Poetry’s London editor.
1913 American Imagist poet H.D. marries British Imagist poet Richard Aldington.
1914 Ezra Pound works as Yeats‘ secretary in Sussex, England.
1915 Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology published. Masters was law partner of Clarence Darrow.
1917 Robert Frost begins teaching at Amherst College.
1920 “The Sacred Wood” by T.S. Eliot, banker, London.
1921 Margaret Anderson’s Little Review loses court case and is declared obscene for publishing a portion of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is banned in the United States. Random House immediately tries to get the ban lifted in order to publish the work.
1922 T.S.Eliot’s “The Waste Land” awarded The Dial Prize.
1922 D.H Lawrence and Frieda stay with Mabel Dodge in Taos, New Mexico.
1923 Edna St. Vincent Millay wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1923 William Butler Yeats wins Nobel Prize for Literature
1924 Robert Frost wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
1924 Ford Madox Ford founds the Transatlantic Review. Stays with Allen Tate and Robert Lowell in his lengthy sojourn to America.
1924 Marianne Moore wins The Dial Prize; becomes editor of The Dial the next year.
1924 James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children opens.
1925 E.E. Cummings wins The Dial Prize.
1926 Yaddo Artist Colony opens
1927 Walt Whitman biography wins Pulitzer Prize
1930 “I’ll Take My Stand” published by Fugitive/Southern Agrarians and future New Critics, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, Allan Tate defend ways of the Old South.
1932 Paul Engle wins Yale Younger Poet Prize, judged by member of John Crowe Ransom’s Fugitive circle. Engle, a prolific fundraiser, builds the Iowa Workshop into a Program Writing Empire.
1933 T.S. Eliot delivers his speech on “free-thinking jews” at the University of Virginia.
1934 “Is Verse A Dying Technique?” published by Edmund Wilson.
1936 New Directions founded by Harvard sophomore James Laughlin.
1937 Robert Lowell camps out in Allen Tate’s yard. Lowell has left Harvard to study with John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon College.
1938 First Edition of textbook Understanding Poetry by Fugitives Brooks and Warren, helps to canonize unread poets like Williams and Pound.
1938 Aldous Huxley moves to Hollywood.
1939 Allen Tate starts Writing Program at Princeton.
1939 W.H. Auden moves to the United States and earns living as college professor.
1940 Mark Van Doren is awarded Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
1943 Ezra Pound indicted for treason by the United States government.
1946 Wallace Stegner founds Stanford Writing Program. Yvor Winters will teach Pinsky, Haas, Hall and Gunn.
1948 Pete Seeger, nephew of WW I poet Alan Seeger (“I Have A Rendevous With Death”) forms The Weavers, the first singer-songwriter ‘band’ in the rock era.
1948 T.S. Eliot wins Nobel Prize
1949 T.S. Eliot attacks Poe in From Poe To Valery
1949 Ezra Pound is awarded the Bollingen Prize. The poet Robert Hillyer protests and Congress resolves its Library will no longer fund the award. Hillyer accuses Paul Melon, T.S. Eliot and New Critics of a fascist conspiracy.
1950 William Carlos Williams wins first National Book Award for Poetry
1950 Gwendolyn Brooks wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1951 John Crowe Ransom is awarded the Bollingen.
1953 Dylan Thomas dies in New York City.
1954 Theodore Roethke wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1957 Allen Tate is awarded the Bollingen.
1957 “Howl” by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg triumphs in obscenity trial as the judge finds book “socially redeeming;” wins publicity in Time & Life.
1957 New Poets of England and America, Donald Hall, Robert Pack, Louis Simspon, eds.
1959 Carl Sandburg wins Grammy for Best Performance – Documentary Or Spoken Word (Other Than Comedy) for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.
1959 M.L Rosenthal coins the term “Confessional Poetry” in The Nation as he pays homage to Robert Lowell.
1960 New American Poetry 1945-1960, Donald Allen, editor.
1961 Yvor Winters is awarded the Bollingen.
1961 Denise Levertov becomes poetry editor of The Nation.
1961 Louis Untermeyer appointed Poet Laureate Consultant In Poetry To the Library of Congress (1961-63)
1962 Sylvia Plath takes her own life in London.
1964 John Crowe Ransom wins The National Book Award for Selected Poems.
1964 Keats biography by Jackson Bate wins Pulitzer.
1965 Horace Gregory is awarded the Bollingen. Gregory had attacked the poetic reputation of Edna Millay.
1967 Anne Sexton wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1968 Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, directed by Zeffirelli, nominated for Best Picture by Hollywood.
1971 The Pound Era by Hugh Kenner published. Kenner, a friend of William F. Buckley, Jr., saved Pound’s reputation with this work; Kenner also savaged the reputation of Edna Millay.
1971 W.S Merwin wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1972 John Berryman jumps to his death off bridge near University of Minnesota.
Berryman, the most “Romantic” of the New Critics (he was educated by them) is considered by far the best Workshop teacher by many prize-winning poets he taught, such as Phil Levine, Snodgrass, and Don Justice. Berryman’s classes in the 50′s were filled with future prize-winners, not because he and his students were great, but because his students were on the ground-floor of the Writing Program era, the early, heady days of pyramid scheme mania—characterized by Berryman’s imbalanced, poetry-is-everything personality.
1972 Frank O’Hara wins National Book Award for Collected Poems
1975 Gary Snyder wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1976 Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow’s novel on Delmore Schwartz, wins Pulitzer.
1978 Language magazine, Bernstein & Andrews, begins 4 year run. Bernstein studied J.L Austin’s brand of ‘ordinary language philosophy’ at Harvard.
1980 Helen Vendler wins National Book Critics Circle Award
1981 Seamus Heaney becomes Harvard visiting professor.
1981 Derek Walcott founds Boston Playwrights’ Theater at Boston University.
1981 Oscar Wilde biography by Ellman wins Pulitzer.
1982 Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems wins Pulitzer.
1984 Harold Bloom savagely attacks Poe in review of Poe’s Library of America works (2 vol) in New York Review of Books, repeating similar attacks by Aldous Huxley and T.S. Eliot.
1984 Marc Smith founds Slam Poetry in Chicago.
1984 Mary Oliver is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1986 Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, a novel in verse, is published.
1987 The movie “Barfly” depicts life of Charles Bukowski.
1988 David Lehman’s Best American Poetry Series debuts with John Ashbery as first guest editor. The first words of the first poem (by A.R. Ammons) in the Series are: William James.
1991 “Can Poetry Matter?” by Dana Gioia is published in The Atlantic. According to the author, poetry has become an incestuous viper’s pit of academic hucksters.
1996 Jorie Graham wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
1999 Peter Sacks wins Georgia Prize.
1999 Billy Collins signs 3-book, 6-figure deal with Random House.
2002 Ron Silliman’s Blog founded.
2002 Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club wins Pulitzer Prize.
2002 Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems published.
2004 Foetry.com founded by Alan Cordle. Shortly before his death, Robert Creeley defends his poetry colleagues on Foetry.com.
2004 Franz Wright wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
2005 Ted Kooser wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
2005 William Logan wins National Book Critics Circle Award
2006 Fulcrum No. 5 appears, featuring works of Landis Everson and his editor, Ben Mazer, also Eliot Weinberger, Glyn Maxwell, Joe Green, and Marjorie Perloff.
2007 Joan Houlihan dismisses Foetry.com as “losers” in a Poets & Writers letter. Defends the integrity of both Georgia and Tupelo, failing to mention Levine is her publisher and business partner.
2007 Paul Muldoon succeeds Alice Quinn as poetry editor of The New Yorker.
2008 Poets & Writers bans Thomas Brady and Christopher Woodman from its Forum. The Academy of American Poetry On-Line Editor, Robin Beth Schaer, is shortlisted for the Snowbound Series prize by Tupelo at the same time as Poets.org bans Christopher Woodman for mentioning the P&W letter as well.
2009 The Program Era by Mark McGurl, published by Harvard University Press
2009 Following the mass banning of Alan Cordle, Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman from Harriet, the blog of The Poetry Foundation, a rival poetry site is formed: Scarriet.
As everybody who’s interested in poetry knows, The Poetry Foundation has banned me, Alan Cordle, along with Christopher Woodman, Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords, and who knows how many others. So it seems odd that staffers there incessantly and obsessively read this blog and our side projects.
Granted, they seem to be out of ideas and desperately unable to encourage dialogue, and the statistics are certainly painful. It’s no wonder they’re now “borrowing” from Scarriet. And by borrowing, I mean “stealing.”
On December 8, 2009, The Poetry Foundation published the following article by Abigail Deutsch:
This would have been fine if Scarriet’s Thomas Brady had not published a post entitled The Good Bad Poem just 10 days earlier.
“This is no coincidence,” Thomas Brady tells me.
“My article originated because I happened to take an old book out of the library, it wasn’t from any current event . . . Abigail got her idea from Scarriet. Well, well, well. I’ve commented on it just now on ‘The Good Bad Poem’ on Scarriet.”
New Year’s Resolution for The Poetry Foundation and Harriet: stop preying on the intellectual property of Scarriet. After all, some organizations make plagiarists walk the plank.
Others just vaporize the opposition!
December 19, 2009 at 9:09 am (Alan Cordle, Blog:Harriet, Catherine Halley, christopher woodman, Desmond Swords, George Orwell, Poetry Foundation, Politics and the English Language, Scarriet, Thomas Brady, Travis Nichols, Uncategorized)
“…to-day the editor of Harriet holds a show of his own, and wins applause by slaying whomsoever the mob with a turn of the thumb bids him slay…”
……………………………………………loosely adapted from Juvenal, Satires (III.36)
For a beautiful example of everything George Orwell tried to expose in Politics and the English Language, read The Poetry Foundation’s letter just posted on Blog:Harriet [click here]
In the Letter, the Editors try to cover up the appalling mess Travis Nichols made out of what had been one of the most vibrant poetry discussion sites in America.
Today Harriet is at Zero!
Yes, the Like/Dislike thumbs are down at last, having served their purpose — which was simply to remove four figures, Thomas Brady, Alan Cordle, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman.
Now with Harriet on her back in the blood soaked dirt, weakly raising her left hand for mercy, Travis’ hysterical fans indicate no mercy — and the stunt becomes a fait accompli. Harriet is dead now for sure.
Of course there’s no mention of any of that in the letter. Just spin, faulty figures, bluff, and bravado — like the last administration on the state of Iraq in the months following the invasion!
Indeed, not one word of this Poetry Foundation letter is truthful. Like the stats in it — foully cooked! Everybody knows you can cut the stats on a blog in a thousand different ways, and not one of them will give you a true figure. Travis has cut the Harriet stats all in his own favor — and just look at him up there in the picture to see where he’s at!
And dear Catherine Halley, the On-Line Editor at The Poetry Foundation, you should be ashamed to add your signature to that letter. You did your best to prevent the debacle, we know that, and are tremendously disappointed in you for capitulating now.
We’d love to post a list of the myriad voices who have vanished from Harriet since the ugly puscht, lending us their support through their silence. Those of you who know the Blog can trot out their names with ease. Their absence cries shame on you, Travis and Catherine. Shame on your petty vendetta.
And shame is the word.
December 14, 2009 at 4:17 am (Alan Cordle, Bin Ramke, christopher woodman, Colrain Manuscript Conferences, Contemporary Poetry Series, Dorset Prize, Foetry, Jeffrey Levine, Joan Houlihan, Jorie Graham, Poets & Writers, Poets.org, Tupelo Press, Tupelo/Crazyhorse Graduate Program at Charleston, Uncategorized)
An Open Letter from Alan Cordle.
This just arrived in the Scarriet inbox, and I’m still confused. Initially, Jeffrey Levine drew up the most ethical guidelines of them all, yet he still slipped up terribly, and hurt a lot of people. I also don’t get the ”non-profit” angle. So the Tupelo Press gets 1,000 manuscripts at $25.00 each, that’s $25,000 for each contest, right? So how can this be called “non-profit,” even when you subtract $3,000.00 for the prize?
And did Tupelo Press actually manage to match that $30,000.00 matching grant this year? I know some people offered to contribute to the fund if Jeffrey Levine would just clear up some doubts about his ethics, but I don’t think he did. Also, why do you only get $3,000.00 now for winning a Tupelo prize, whereas it used to be worth $10,000.00? Yes, things are getting more expensive as Tupelo says, but nothing like that much more. It makes you wonder how they managed to pay that astonishing sum when they were first just getting started?
And what happened to Jeffrey Levine’s sister-in-law, Margaret Donovan, I think her name was, the advertising executive who used to be Tupelo’s Managing Editor? Why is she no longer an officer at the Press?
It shouldn’t be forgotten that it was, of course, Foetry.com that pressured contests into specifying in their Guidelines that no “former students” of the judge are eligible. It’s hard to believe, but there was even a time when Foetry.com was derided for insisting upon just this, and now it’s routinely part of all poetry-contest guidelines. “The Jorie Graham Rule,” it’s called, for obvious reasons.
Tupelo Press Guidelines
I’m still confused about the Tupelo Press Guidelines. This is what they say. “Readers” reduce the 1,000 submissions to 175, but as to who those “readers” are we are told nothing by Tupelo. The “readers” also put comments on the manuscripts they like, and then “the editors” take the roughly 175 manuscripts and reduce the pile to 25 which are “ranked” for the Final Judge along with the supporting arguments from the “readers” and “anonymous” editors, so it’s hard to know who is who when it comes to responsibility for following the guidelines.
It could even be argued that the Final Judge makes no judgment at all, theoretically speaking. For if the 25 manuscripts presented to the Final Judge are “ranked,” no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, etc., “editors” have essentially picked “the winner,” haven’t they, and the Final Judge, who is in the employ of Tupelo as well, presumably, is under no obligation to do anything more than automatically choose No. 1 as the winner of the contest.
What bothers me is that there are no clauses in the Guidelines that address the relationship between the poets who submit their manuscripts and the “readers” and “editors” who are so crucial in choosing the winner.
Still, in perfect keeping with the published Tupelo Guidelines, couldn’t a personal friend, even a spouse of a “reader” or an “editor,” submit their manuscript to the Dorset Prize competition and “win”? The Final Judge, who does not personally know the wife, let’s say, of a Tupelo editor, and who receives the manuscript anonymously, sees that the manuscript is ranked No. 1 out of the whole slush pile sifted by the “editors” before him. So what’s wrong with that?
Well, Bin Ramke selected winners at Georgia who were known only to Jorie Graham, and in at least one well-documented case who hadn’t even entered the contest. And, of course, there was that other well-documented case of someone else’s otherwise unrelated almost husband who still managed to win and is now also a professor at Harvard.
Yes, I do worry that a published, well-known poet who submits to a Tupelo contest, and is known to a “reader” and/or “editor” at Tupelo, will have the same advantage. The “anonymous” character of the judging is suspicious, isn’t it, since the Tupelo editor winnowing the manuscripts down to a “ranked” 25 can “know” the poet who is submitting, and Tupelo can have an overriding wish to declare “a known poet” the winner? Isn’t that exactly what was also done year after year by Graham and Ramke at Georgia? Indeed, there’s nothing in the Guidelines that says the Tupelo editors can’t directly let the Final Judge know which manuscripts they (the Tupelo “editors”) “admire.” It doesn’t take a corporate lawyer to set that one up!
Colrain Manuscript Conferences & Crazyhorse/ Tupelo Press Graduate Program: Matters Arising
I’m also concerned about the students who have paid such a lot for the intimate editing services offered in both the Colrain Manuscript Conference retreats and the Crazyhorse/Tupelo Press Graduate Programs — they even advertise what a large number of their graduates get published. Hasn’t the work of these poets been discussed in fine detail by some of the same people who will winnow down the field in other contests? Does it say anywhere that these “students” are ineligible for the contests, because it ought to, shouldn’t it?
The only interdiction is they can’t be a personal friend or student of the Final Judge. But the Tupelo or other editors can easily make sure that all 25 or so manuscripts the Final Judge reviews are submissions by 1.) their friends, 2.) well-known poets they are keen on recognizing, and 3.) their own Colrain/Crazyhorse students. So it becomes a fait accompli, doesn’t it? The 999 other contestants who have paid their $25.00 fee, or more, and including you and I, won’t have a clue that the game has potentially been rigged as described above—even while observing the rules set out in the guidelines.
And don’t forget that Joan Houlihan, the director of the Colrain Manuscript Conferences, was published by her colleague in the business, Jeffrey Levine, just as she was defending Jeffrey Levine and Bin Ramke in Poets & Writers — and of course trashing Foetry.com as “losers.” (A lot of us are still waiting for her to address that horrendous indiscretion, and until she does, it’s likely to go on haunting her.)
Also Robin Beth Schaer, the On-Line Editor at The Academy of American Poetry, was shortlisted for a Tupelo prize just weeks before Christopher Woodman was banned for mentioning Joan Houlihan’s P&W Letter about Jeffrey Levine in a comment on the Poets.org Forum. (Robin Beth Schaer appears to be no longer in the job, whether because there was an actual or perceived conflict of interest will probably never be known. The Site Administrator also resigned during the scandal — she was quietly reinstated after all the threads involved were deleted and there was no one and nowhere left on Poets.org to discuss the matter.)
And of course, Carol Ann Davis, the editor of Crazyhorse, was published by Jeffrey Levine just as Carol Ann Davis announced a new course, The Crazyhorse/Tupelo Press Publishing Institute graduate program at the College of Charleston – taught by Jeffrey Levine. The program also selects the Tupelo Press First Book Prize, and awards yet another $3000.00, and of course, gets you the cred that will really get you the job — which explains why you bite the bullet of the bill!
Ouch, that last one is particularly gratuitous. We addressed it in some detail on Foetry.com, but apparently students still continue to sign up for it, which is disturbing.
Do Jeffrey Levine and Joan Houlihan Care For Poetry?
Of course Jeffrey Levine and Joan Houlihan care for poetry, and both believe they are working hard on behalf of the art—I don’t deny that. But obtaining money from, or for, poetry is simply not an act in which the end can ever justify the means. Faith must finally reside in the public’s reception of that poetry, whether one is a poet or an investor. If you are producing a product no one wants, put it out there with private money. If you have to defraud part of the public to put that product out there, you shouldn’t be putting it out there at all.
Thomas Graves, a.k.a., Monday Love, a.k.a. Thomas Brady–poet & oxygen-sucking blogger.
Alan Cordle was the mind of Foetry.com. Christopher Woodman was its heart. Monday Love was its soul. Monday Love’s anonymous poems on Foetry.com have received over 74,000 hits–and counting. The impulse of the true poet–who cares who wrote them?
The following poem, in which ‘telling all’ destroys the poet, is more than just a confessional poem; in the new post-foetry climate, the paradoxical reigns: self-pity turns into a boast; anonymity is the way to be more revealing.
…..Poetry Is Where You Tell All
…………Poetry is where you tell all.
…………It takes no talent or skill.
..……….Make yourself small
…………By telling all.
…………Poetry does not take learning.
…………It is but a fury, a burning,
…………A passion which makes you small
…………By telling all.
…………You enter rooms watching your back,
…………Your life in place, your pride intact.
…………But you must burn, crash and fall
…………By telling all.
November 15, 2009 at 8:47 am (Academy of American Poetry, Alan Cordle, AWP, BAP, Blog:Harriet, christopher woodman, Colrain Manuscript Conferences, David Lehman, Foetry, Joan Houlihan, Modern Poetry, Poetry Foundation, Poets & Writers, Poets.org, Pw.org, Scarriet, Seth Abramson, Travis Nichols, Uncategorized)
It’s like all attacks on orthodoxy — if a criticism contradicts a tenet of faith it’s not only inapplicable but invalid!
Ask Barack Obama about that one right now, ask any Israeli or Palestinian, ask a Urighur or even the Dalai Lama. But hey, why not ask yourselves about your Poetry Faith too, the cards you carry as a Poet, the cabals and clubs and cartels you belong to, the schools, schedules, scores, deals, bonds and promisory notes you honor, even as poets? Ask around your Department, for example, or ask down the corridors of poetry power. Because even when there are such good people involved in such good work, so much good will and so many good reasons to make sense out of such good, good intentions, in Alabama, Chicago or the Upper West Side — oh, watch the Big Sheriff in you take over, the Travis Nichols right under your big cowboy hat and the “peacemaker” strapped to your hip.
Let’s look at this.
If the tenet of faith is that guns make you free, then guns are a non-negotiable matter. If it’s a tenet of faith that sex is bad then sex-education is a non-negotiable matter. If it’s a tenet of faith that men have a much higher sex drive than women, as it is in a great many cultures in the world today, including where I live, and that true men are truly driven by sex, then you get boys taken by their fathers to brothels at 14 while the mothers wait at home with the daughters until they can be married off as pure virgins–and the crowning irony of that absurd tenet of faith is that in addition to brothels on every street corner you get men who are butterflies and women who run the whole show!
The tenet of faith in American poetry is that the true poet is the product of not just higher but higher and higher and even higher “learning,” and that the more a poet pays (or gets paid) for it the more right he or she has to be called “successful,” and the final arbitrator in doctrinal disputes!
Anyone who suggests that the poets, critics, editors or publishers who are running this extravagant industry are self-interested, or even, God-forbid, in it for profit or life insurance, is considered not a real poet. Indeed, I myself have been mocked as a jealous “loser” a number of times, and dismissed as “the product of a willful misunderstanding of the process of editing and publishing poetry in America!”
And you know who used those specific words? A famous contemporary “poet” and “critic” who is also involved in the business of getting poets published. [click here]
And you know where she spoke those words? In Poets & Writers magazine, that bastion of our contemporary Faith in exactly what sort of training you need to get published in America today, plus the retreats, conferences, camps, travel groups, summers abroad in castles and wine tastings and weekends you have to attend– and what they cost!
But you say you think the son should at least wash the dishes before he goes out to the brothel at 14 with his father?
Just ask the mother for an answer to even that question. “You must be joking,” she’ll reply. “Any true mother would keep her daughter carefully cleaning as well as clean at home so she can attract a true man for a husband!”
Ask David Lehman about Stacey Harwood. Ask Stacey Harwood about Seth Abramson. Ask Joan Houlihan about me!
So that’s a problem, both for the sex where I live and for poetry in America.
Yes indeed, ‘tenets of faith’ always polarize, always lead to intolerance, always lead to abuse.
There’s nothing wrong with virginity per se, of course there isn’t, any more than there’s anything wrong with sex. But oh the heart-ache when too much stock is placed in either!
There’s nothing wrong with training poets either, even in castles, it’s just when you make a religion out of it, install priests at all the altars, and charge an entrance fee not only to get into church but heaven!
And, of course, excommunicate those who say it ain’t necessarily so or, God forbid, come up with some statistics that don’t quite fit in like Seth Abramson!
Poets and Writers magazine published Seth Abramson’s (middle left) MFA program rankings in the last issue of 2009 [click here]. Stacey Harwood (bottom left), wife of Best American Poetry series editor, David Lehman (top left), wrote on the BAP blog that Abramson’s ratings are “based on bogus research methods. The author of the rankings has no credentials as a pollster.”
In the comments field she says, “we have received several comments from Mr. Abramson, which we cannot post not only because they are far too long but because they are inappropriate and defamatory.”
One wonders if the “inappropriate” comments mentioned that Lehman published Harwood as one of the best American poets without acknowledging their relationship.
Now Seth Abramson’s blog is missing.
Luckily, I saved his response to Lehman, which reads in part,
Three years ago I objected (as an artist) to the editorial work of David Lehman on the Best American Poetry series on the grounds that habitually and indisputably publishing your friends, co-workers, students, assistants, and family members in a nationally-publicized, highly-selective annual anthology is not a creditable editorial policy per se–and is therefore an affront to art . . . more than two years ago–I became embroiled in a Wikipedia-editing debate with Mr. Lehman’s wife (Stacey Harwood) about whether the Wikipedia entry for Best American Poetry should acknowledge that, historically, the series has been criticized in the poetry community for cronyism.
Since Alan Cordle’s Foetry.com got major media attention and made Foetry a household word, a quiet revolution has taken place. Publishing and prizes are no longer assumed to be pure. The ‘Cred Game’ has been exposed.
Here’s a random example from the world of poetry bloggers: http://irasciblepoet.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-makes-me-want-to-vomit.html
From the list of 10 things that makes this poetry blogger “want to vomit:”
Vomit #4: I want to vomit when presses that are vanity exercises continue to publish their friends and exclude new voices.
We think it’s wonderful, thanks to Alan Cordle, that new understanding and outrage exists, but further education is needed.
What made Alan Cordle so dangerous and hated, was that he named names. He was not content to just bellyache. Foetry.com named, and brought low, big names, because, as more and more realize today, “vanity” in po-biz goes all the way to the top.
Big names intimidate, allowing foetic practice to continue where ‘the gods’ play.
But not everyone is intimidated by big names. And the word is getting out that Foetry did not begin with Jorie Graham. The word is getting out that many of the icons of Modernism–which so many people worship because they learned about them in school–were foetic frauds.
It takes critical acumen to detect foetry in history, foetry in the canon, and foetry in contemporary big names.
This is what Scarriet is here for.
All that juicy and critically acute stuff.
The poetry blog which I quoted at random is called ‘The Irascible Poet,” with the following quote on its masthead:
“I Have Never Met a Poet Worth A Damn that was Not Irascible” –Ezra Pound
Here’s what we mean by education. Our blogger needs to be educated. The foetic Modernists really brought very little new to the table that was not merely crackpot. We really hate to keep going back to Poe, and making this an issue of Pound v. Poe, but this did fall into our lap.
Before Pound recommended “the irascible poet,” Poe wrote the following:
That poets, including artists in general, are a genus irritable is well understood, but the why seems not to be commonly seen. An artist is an artist only by dint of his exquisite sense of Beauty – a sense affording him rapturous enjoyment, but at the same time implying, or involving, an equally exquisite sense of Deformity or disproportion. Thus a wrong – an injustice – done a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which, to ordinary apprehension, appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice – never where it does not exist – but very often where the unpoetic see no injustice whatever. Thus the poetical irritability has no reference to “temper” in the vulgar sense, but merely to a more than usual clear-sightedness in respect to Wrong, this clearsightedness being nothing more than a corollary from the vivid perception of Right, of justice, of proportion. But one thing is clear -–that the man who is not “irritable” is no poet.
This is from Poe’s Marginalia. Is it not a rapturous paean against foetry? And as we close this post, let us quote Poe again from his Marginalia, and this, too, could be a pledge against all foetic affliction.
Take heart, my friends!
Literature is the most noble of professions. In fact, it is about the only one fit for a man. For my own part, there is no seducing me from the path. I shall be a litterateur, at least, all my life; nor would I abandon the hopes which still lead me on for all the gold in California. Talking of gold, and of the temptations at present held out to “poor-devil authors,” did it ever strike you that all which is really valuable to a man of letters, to a poet especially, is absolutely unpurchaseable? Love, fame, the dominion of intellect, the consciousness of power, the thrilling sense of beauty, the free air of Heaven, exercise of body and mind, with the physical and moral health which result, these and such as these are really all that a poet cares for. Then answer me this: why should he go to California?
November 1, 2009 at 2:41 am (Alan Cordle, Annie Finch, Blog:Harriet, Catherine Halley, christopher woodman, Desmond Swords, Eileen Myles, Foetry, Kenneth Goldsmith, Martin Earl, Poetry Foundation, Scarriet, Thomas Brady, Travis Nichols, Uncategorized)
Today on Blog:Harriet, November 1st, 2009, marks The 60th day After the Banning of Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords, Alan Cordle and Christopher Woodman. To commemorate the occasion, we take the opportunity to examine the only thread in that period that has attracted more than a handful of desultory comments, and that is Kenneth Goldsmith’s rip-roaring, The Digerati Strike Back with a staggering 55 Comments!
But don’t expect much about poetry, as even the posters themselves acknowledge it’s just shoveling, and because they are Travis Nichols‘ friends and colleagues, they’re obviously proud just to snip, snap and snuggle. Because that’s how you comment if you’re really on the ’in’ in the poetry establishment, unlike Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords or Christopher Woodman who actually read and write it, or Alan Cordle, so passionate and well-informed on the ethical and social issues, and a well-trained librarian.
But no passion please, we’re Blog:Harriet — no risk, no commitment, no challenge, no outrage or devotion, no Annie Finches, no Martin Earls, no Eileen Myles, no one who posts poems because they actually love them like Catherine Halley, or poets they would like to understand better like Joel Brouwer, and who give others both the space and the encouragement to explore difficult subjects in depth. Excellent Contributing Writers, and there are still some of those left, deserve better respondents — not just cynics and academics and a handful of groupies, insiders and glad-handers.
How sad, and nobody at The Foundation seems to care that Harriet is vacant. I guess that’s the way the Management likes it, though how that serves Ruth B. Lilly’s larger mission remains to be seen!
October 28, 2009 at 3:07 am ("Make it new", Alan Cordle, Blog:Harriet, christopher woodman, Desmond Swords, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Foetry, Modern Poetry, Poetry Foundation, Scarriet, Stephen Burt, T.S.Eliot, Thomas Brady, Uncategorized)
I never had a chance to see your draft before you pulled it. Don’t be too self-critical — I sort of like it when we post a howler. It’s part of our style, isn’t it? I mean, we don’t even know what we’re going to post next ourselves!
I like the ‘LangPo v. Official Verse Culture’ just up because that’s IT in a nutshell for lots of poets these days. We’ve got to simplify it like that if we’re going to be popular at all. We’ve got to mine this whole Modernism thing–it’s pertinent, it’s relevant, it’s got legs, it’s known, it’s familiar to many, it’s sexy, and it’s Foetry-city, and it’s horribly sexist, in my opinion, and fascist, to boot, so if we can get people stirred up about it, we’ll have a huge audience.
I’m not a ‘knee-jerk’ leftist, Christopher; I like to think I transcend political labels, but right now I’ll do anything to get a discussion going. People who would otherwise be horrified at the true politics of the Modernists have given it a pass for the sake of ‘experimentalism’ and ‘aesthetic radicalism’ but I want to prove to the next generation of good people that we’ve been ‘had,’ and open up their eyes and tie it all into Foetics and then see where it leads, in a kind of Socratic manner: don’t know where the truth is exactly, but we’re looking for it…
You were at Cambridge, and I want to do an in-depth look at how American Modernism came out of the U.K. It’s really exciting…Bloomsbury and the Cambridge Apostles and the Aristotelian Society…all the New Critics were Rhodes Scholars, including Paul Engle…I’m sure the Plan was formulated in comfortable, cozy rooms above the green lawns of Cambridge University…some British Empire planner took a moment from his busy schedule of running the world…”Oh, what to do with Poetry? Well, let’s see…give me a moment…How about this and this and this?…very good, then!…carry on…”
So what was the Plan for Poetry? What is the Plan for everything? Consolidate power among elites, and I’m guessing the take-over works this way:
1. First, sow confusion in a ‘crisis’ atmosphere (Oh gosh what the hell is poetry, what is reality, anyway?)
2. Hand-pick those who are best equipped to respond to the ‘crisis’
3. Let these hand-picked be of two kinds: conservative and radical and let them feign disagreement while working towards the same end.
4. Stamp the hand-picked crisis-responders as the ‘new thing’ and have hand-picked associates in the press and in academia sound the alarm, but with grudging respect.
5. Relevance established, the ‘new thing’ is crowned savior and becomes the new status quo.
The whole thing ‘works’ precisely because the role of poetry no longer exists as poetry, but has been narrowed down into a kind of ‘movement’ which is ‘managed’ by a subsidized group; it is this ‘narrowing’ which provides the ‘energy’ that gains them advantage; they use poetry, instead of the other way around, they tie it into the current ’crisis,’ and so the mere passive ’appreciators of poetry’ don’t stand a chance–they’re slaughtered like cows.
I wanted to make this point to Des in our recent comments exchange on Scarriet. Destroying culture is like killing people. It’s serious business. Our mission to save poetry is not just about one’s individual right to write without criticism–it’s deeper than that
Alan’s got to be happy at how Scarriet is doing.
A poet friend of mine from Canada who I only talk to occasionally just sent me an enthusiastic message re: Scarriet. I’ll quote a part:
“Hi Tom, the Scarriet is amazing! we need something like this in Canada as its pretty lame here and no one is “kicking against the pricks” (sorry for my rather off colour language but this is an actual phrase that was popular in Canadian literary circles years ago) And I am not someone who can speak up unfortunately due to being shy! So congrats again on your feisty spirit and thats a lot of good work.”
Terreson & Gary are united by their ‘love of the earth’ which is OK, but it’s not finally interesting…eco-awareness has been played as much as it can possibly be played in the mainstream press, and now it’s become a matter of policy and implementation. Poets playing it up seems a little beside the point, like saying education matters…
October 26, 2009 at 11:09 am ("Make it new", Alan Cordle, Blog:Harriet, Charles Bernstein, David Ignatow, Delmore Scwartz, Don Share, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Foetry, Ford Maddox Ford, Fugitives, Gerald Stern, Harold Bloom, Helen Vendler, Iowa Writers Workshop, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, Louis Simpson, Modern Poetry, Monday Love, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poetry Foundation, Stephen Burt, T.S.Eliot, Thomas Brady, Uncategorized, Wallace Stevens, Yvor Winters)
BAMA PANEL IV: SURVIVAL OF THE DIMMEST?
The Alabama Panel 25 years ago this month was essentially a high-brow rumble: LangPo taking on Official Verse Culture.
Two heavyweights of LangPo, 53 year old USC Comparative Lit. professor Marjorie Perloff and 34 year old L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E editor Charles Bernstein took on U.K. poet Louis Simpson, 61, former Nation poetry editor and Black Mountain associated poet, Denise Levertov, 60, David Ignatow, 70, poet and poetry editor of The Nation, Harvard professor Helen Vendler, 51, and Iowa Workshop poet Gerald Stern, 59.
Perloff and Bernstein were on friendly turf, however. 35 year old Hank Lazer, the ‘Bama professor host, was in Bernstein’s camp, as was 30 year old Gregory Jay, punk ‘Bama assistant professor.
Charles Altieri, 41, professor at U. Washington and recent Fellow at Institute for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto, ostensibly had a foot in each camp, but you could tell his heart was with Perloff and Bernstein. The match-up was actually 5-5, so LangPo should have counted itself fortunate.
Also at the table 25 years ago was the elder statesman, Kenneth Burke, 87, a coterie member of the original Modernists–winner of the annual Dial Magazine Award in 1928 (other winners of the Dial Award in the 1920s: T.S. Eliot in 1922 for ‘The Waste Land,’ Ezra Pound, WC Williams, E.E. Cummings, and Marianne Moore.) Burke, chums with figures such as Malcolm Cowley and Allen Tate, was an editor at The New Republic 1929-1944, a radical Marxist, and a symbolism expert–if such a thing is possible.
The poet Donald Hall had been invited and could not attend–submitting in writing for the conference his famous ‘McPoem’ critque of the Workshop culture.
We already looked at how Gerald Stern embarrassed Bernstein by asking him to ‘name names’ when Bernstein raised the issue at the 25 year old panel discussion of ‘poet policemen’ enforcing the dictates of ‘official verse culture’ and Bernstein only coming up with one name: T.S. Eliot.
Then we looked at Vendler asserting the crucial modernist division between timeless criticism and “abrasive” reviewing–with Simpson retorting this was nothing but a status quo gesture on Vendler’s part, with Vendler weakly replying she was fighting the status quo in working to make Wallace Stevens more appreciated. Then in Part III of this series, we saw how Levertov roared ‘you parochial fools are ignoring race/unprecedented crisis/human extinction.’
Levertov, taking a no-frills Leftist position, and Simpson, with his no-frills aesthetic of pre-interprative Vision, proved too much for the LangPo gang.
Levertov became incensed with professor Jay’s post-modern argument that human language and interpretation are at the heart of human experience: “Bullshit!” Levertov said. Levertov and Simpson (with Ignatow) argued for universal feeling as primary.
Levertov argued for universal access as the very nature of language; Perloff countered that a small group of people might find meaning in something else.
Louis Simpson came in for the kill, asking Perloff:
“Suppose you found some people who were using bad money and thought it was good money. Would you be mistaken to point out then it was all forged?”
The audience roared appreciatively with laughter.
Bernstein, with his training in analyitic philosophy, was shrewder, finally, than Perloff.
Rather than confront the dinosaur Levertorous head-on, the furry little Bernstith sniffed around and devoured her giant eggs:
Bernstein: “We’re not going to to resolve philosophical & theosophical, religious differences among us. Religious groups have these same disagreements. I think the problem I have is not so much understanding that people have a different veiwpoint than I have–believe me, I’ve been told that many times (laughter) and I accept that.”
Here’s the insidious nature of Bernstein’s Cambridge University training–he seeks disagreement as a happy result; he embraces difference as a positive quality in itself. Bernstein gives up on universals sought by pro and con argument. Now he continues:
“What I do find a problem is that we say ‘poets’ think this and ‘poets’ think that–because by doing that we tend to exclude the practices of other people in our society of divergence.”
What are these “practices of other people?” He doesn’t say. But we can imply that these “practices” are radically different and reconciliation is impossible. Now Bernstein goes on to make a stunning leap of logic:
“And I think it’s that practice that leads to the very deplorable situation that Denise Levertov raised: the exclusion of the many different types of communities and cultures from our multicultural diverse society, of which there is no encompassing center. My argument against a common voice is based on my idea that the idea of a common voice seems to me exclusion.”
Bernstein’s Orwellian thesis is that the One does not include the Many; the One is merely a subset of the Many. Bernstein rejects the universalizing social glue necessary for Levertov’s democratic commonwealth of social justice; Bernstein promotes inclusion while positing inclusion itself as exclusion(!). Multiculturalism interests Bernstein for its severing qualities–Bernstein wants to break but not build. Logically and politically, he is unsound, and later on in the discussion–after Vendler breaks from ‘official verse culture’ and goes over to Bernstein’s side (thus giving Langpo a numerical 6-4 victory) with her ‘poetry makes language opaque’ speech–Levertov strikes the following blow:
Bernstein: My poetry resists the tendencies within the culture as a whole. What poetry can do is make an intervention within our language practice in society.
Levertov: I disagree. Language is not your private property. Language has a common life.
October 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm (Alan Cordle, Annie Finch, Charles Bernstein, David Ignatow, Foetry, Gerald Stern, Helen Vendler, Iowa Writers Workshop, Modern Poetry, Scarriet, T.S.Eliot, Thomas Brady, Uncategorized)
BAMA PANEL I: Charles Bernstein does NOT name the ‘Official Poetry Policemen.’
The first in a series of 5 articles on the 1984 University of Alabama Poetry Conference by THOMAS BRADY.
Gerald Stern: “Names…of the policemen.”
If this October 20, 1984 panel discussion had taken place in London or Paris, or one of America’s major universities, it might have struck a mythic chord in American Letters. If poetry mattered more to the American public, we might still be discussing the poetry session which took place 25 years ago this month.
Helen Vendler, Marjorie Perloff, Charles Bernstein, Denise Levertov, Kenneth Burke, Louis Simpson, David Ignatow and Gerald Stern put on a show in sleepy Tuscaloosa, as post-modernism faced off against modernism in a throat-ripping dog fight
Modern poetry’s factions exploded in the flesh, as po-biz insiders erupted in a spontaneous public quarrel.
The more dignified members of the panel probably regret their trip to U. Alabama in those controversial days of the 1980s culture wars. I’m guessing most of the participants would prefer this conference be forgotten, but we at Scarriet would hate to miss an opportunity to see big players like Helen (of Coy) Vendler and (Prince) Charles Bernstein naked.
We want to thank Annie Finch for finding the transcript of the panel discussion–we would have missed it otherwise.
Scarriet will do a series of posts on the ‘Bama Panel, as we observe its 25th anniversary. There’s too much great stuff here for just one post.
So here we are back in 1984. When asked a bland question by the conference host:
“What do you perceive the function of poetry to be, Charles?”
Bernstein, the unemployed ex-editor of the magazine, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, quickly got himself in a foetic tangle:
“[it] has to do with audiences, distribution, jobs, professional networks, things like that, which I think we tend to underrate. It seems interesting to me that professional academic poets are making this particular issue apparent in this context…”
“I think it’s unfair not to realize that it’s actually poets who are the policemen of official verse culture in the United States. And so from the perspective of a poet outside the academy and from the perspective of many people that I know who are not associated with academics, cannot get teaching jobs…”
Iowa Poetry Workshop teacher and poet Gerald Stern broke in:
“I don’t think you’re right, Charles. Who? What poets are the policemen? Would you like to name some poets who are the policemen?”
This was the defining moment of Bernstein’s career. Had Bernstein “named names,” backing up his claim that ‘policemen poets’ were oppressively enforcing ’official verse culture,’ he might never have found a job in academia.
Bernstein replied, “Yeah, I’ll give you a group, I’ll give you a group.”
Stern was a bulldog. He would not let the matter drop.
“Names…of the policemen.”
Bernstein: I’ll give you a group. You want me to? No, I’m not going to, I’m going to give you institutional groups, I’m going to say those poets, those poets who…
Stern: I’ve got the names of thirty-seven hard, fast Communists in the State Department…McCarthy never named one…
Hank Lazer, ‘Bama host, and friend of Bernstein, attempted to smooth things over by leading the discussion back to the ‘function of poetry’ question. Lazer must have been thinking: ‘My conference is going to destroy the career of my friend!’
But Stern wouldn’t quit: “Would you tell me who the policemen are, please, Charles? Would you give me a list of names?”
Bernstein answered foetically: “Yeah, I’m talking about those poets who are involved in the award networks, the creative writing programs, and the major reviews.”
Charles Bernstein was explicitly talking foetry 20 years before Cordle and Foetry.com.
The only difference between Cordle and Bernstein was Bernstein was not naming names–and not naming names was, to the poet Gerald Stern, an even worse McCarthyist offense.
Stern had won the Lamont Poetry Selection 7 years prior, when Stern was 52: judges Alan Dugan, Phil Levine, and Charles Wright. Doors had obviously opened for Stern since then, leading to his job at Iowa, and his invitation to this conference.
Did Stern think Bernstein was going to name Dugan, Levine, and Wright? Who did Stern think Bernstein was going to name? Who did Bernstein have in mind back there in 1984?
In the end, after more McCarthyism talk from Stern, Bernstein saved his career and meekly mentioned one poet, a dead one:
Bernstein used another dead poet to save himself:
“I would give you as a central instance the person that William Carlos Williams called the great disaster for our letters, T.S. Eliot…”
Bernstein made a non-answer.
Eliot’s “officalizing role” as a poet is a truism.
Everyone knows Williams and Eliot shared many mutual friends, including Pound. Williams and Eliot both gained credentials by their accentuated differences: Williams’ obscure career was made to seem more ‘popularly American,’ while Eliot was assured high-brow points in the comparison to the Jersey scribbler. The whole matter is the very opposite of the played-out platitude in the po-biz press. Rather than shedding crocodile tears for Williams, was Bernstein instead playing on the opposition between revolutionary secular Jew and conservative Christian? This is more likely.
To the Eliot v. Willams charade, Ignatow said, “You’re right there.”
Bernstein: “Thank you.”
End of Part I.
Part II will examine Helen Vendler’s role in the same 1984 panel.
CLICK HERE to continue reading John S. O’Connor’s fine article, ”The Tree Inside My Head” — I chose it to illustrate my point because it is so direct yet sensitive and subtle, and I thank him for it:
CLICK HERE to continue reading Travis Nichols’ ill-conceived and boorish “Like/Dislike” presentation;
CLICK HERE to open Alan Cordle’s Comment to see what he said that got -67 Red votes;
CLICK HERE to read Christopher Woodman’s final comment on the Like/Dislike thread and to see how many votes his proposal actually got! (I mean, if you had read that plea, would you have passed it by in silence? And should I have been banned for that sort of writing and attitude?
Do you think I look frightening like a Mexican? Do my metaphors threaten to cut Travis Nichols’ grass or to wash his car? Does my language threaten his English Literature establishment?
Well of course it does, all of the above, but do you not think Harriet is the healthier for it?
Finally, do you think Martin Earl, Annie Finch, Joel Brouwer, and Eileen Myles, such wonderful Contributing Writers, felt limited by my presence? Did they feel cramped or threatened by my contributions? Did they feel the management needed to put me on censorship for almost 2 months and then to banish me altogether?)
CLICK HERE to go to The Poetry Foundation Contact Page to register your dissatisfaction with Blog:Harriet’s discriminatory policies and editorial mismanagement.
October 16, 2009 at 5:53 am (Academy of American Poetry, Alan Cordle, Blog:Harriet, christopher woodman, Desmond Swords, Foetry, Poetry Foundation, Poets.org, Pw.org, Scarriet, Thomas Brady, TomWest, Travis Nichols, Uncategorized)
Why are we doing this? Is this just more watchdog barking, is this just Foetry II? Indeed, what do we hope to achieve on Scarriet?
Because it comes at a price, this work of ours, and if you read the comments following the last article just below you can see how much. Desmond Swords is ready to move on because he feels we’ve achieved a lot, and isn’t willing to limit his own huge creativity to such a parochial little struggle. Tom and I are veterans, on the other hand, we’ve been banned from Poets & Writers, The Academy of American Poets, and now The Poetry Foundation, so we’re running out of legitimate space to write in as legitimate travellers. I mean, we’re writers, not Black Panthers — and if you don’t understand how depriving creative people of their voices creates that sort of nightmare, you know nothing about the history of protest. Nor how tragic it can be, and particularly for those who have the gifts to be heard — how that hurts, how that rankles and drives them on!
The previous article just below, The State of the Onion, was posted to help anyone who cared to re-examine what happened last year on Poets.org, and we may or may not choose to comment on that ourselves. We’ll see. But whether we do or not, it’s up to all of you to decide about each one of us individually, and add your voices to ours if you feel what we’re saying deserves to be heard.
As to myself, do you feel I’m a libellous cad whom any self-respecting on-line venue ought to shun, indeed worse than Jack Conway [Lola] — as Kaltica [Pirvaya] suggested? [click here -- passim] Or am I simply uncontrollable in any other way than banning. Is that why the lights went out for me so quickly on Blog:Harriet? I mean, I was placed in the hands of the Foundation Censor way back on July 14th, just days after the Like/Dislike function was introduced, and Thomas Brady, who writes twice as much as I do, and is far more influential, survived until September 1st!
And just look at those accusations levelled at me — yes, yet again that I wrote “abusive letters to the staff” and “hi-jacked threads,” exactly the same accusations as Chrissiekl, the Site Administator at Poets.org, had levelled at me the year before — even though Kaltica admitted it was really because I spoke about people who “weren’t there.” [click here --passim]
So who were those people, and why couldn’t the Academy Administrator just ban me for libel? I mean, that’s clear, isn’t it, if I attack others in a groundless slur, the Academy just steps in to protect them? So why was I dismissed for writing abusive letters to the staff instead of for libel? Why the smoke screen?
Was it that my remarks were already well-established in the public domain, that I was referring to material that had already been published in Poets & Writers, for example, that everybody knew what I was talking about but that the individuals involved still had enough clout on the inside to hush me up? [click here]
Copycat or what, “abusive letters” and “hi-jacking?” I mean, everybody knew there were no abusive letters at all on either venue, and none has ever surfaced, or ever will. And there are no hi-jacked threads either. Or is there something else, perhaps “clique and manipulation” as John Sutherland calls it in The Guardian article. And if so, what are those towering pillars of the poetry establishment going to do about it? Because Scarriet has no bones to pick with The Poetry Foundation or with The Academy — except that both seem to turn a blind eye when special interests are so obviously able to manipulate some of their employees’ editorial decisions, and that’s where it matters!
So where does that buck stop?
You all know by now about my little incident with the Poetry Foundation. In addition to deletion of politely written and signed posts by me at Harriet, a staffer banned several other posters, without explanation, and finally trolled my personal site, searching for my name, along with the words “dumbshit” and “asshole.”
One suspect, Travis Nichols, has more reason to hide his tracks than the second. The second suspect turned our inquiry about Harriet policy into his own little pity party. Reluctantly, I took his name off of my blog . . . for now. If he’s truly not involved with what happened, he should have, at the very least, advocated for us. As far as I know, he didn’t. Not all librarians are proponents of free speech.
I’d admired Poetry (the paper version) for its willingness to print negative reviews and dissenting views. Harriet is the party-line opposite, the super-suck-up-fest. And it’s dying. I mean, come on . . . Amber? Shall they invite poets Leonard Nimoy and Ally Sheedy to guest blog too?
It’s no surprise that Scarriet‘s been getting substantial traffic since its launch. It’s even less of a surprise that the Poetry Foundation person is monitoring our every move. As you can see below, on October 8 he visited my personal blog, and bungled his effort to mask his identity with a web-based proxy called “hide my ass.” Sorry dude, it didn’t.
October 10, 2009 at 3:04 am (Academy of American Poetry, Alan Cordle, Blog:Harriet, christopher woodman, Desmond Swords, Poetry Foundation, Poets.org, Pw.org, Thomas Brady, Travis Nichols, Uncategorized)
Writers keep blogging about the end of writing [and brilliantly, Abigail Deutsch. It's a most wonderful article, and would we were there to honor it. Indeed, this one could be well over 100 comments in a few days, and really be worth saving as a resource too. So we apologize for the satire, but what can we do?].
There’s just one problem: no one gets into details. We want to know exactly when and why poetry croaked. Did it happen in bed or on the beat? Did poetry die in peace, or in the ambitious twilight schemes of on-line editors in the back rooms at the American Academy of Poetry or the Poetry Foundation? Did Travis Nichols get short-listed for a prize like Robin Beth Schaer, or did they all get together for a ‘Compleat Retro Refit’ in Stockbridge or Lake Forest?
And so, in the style of the solemn journalism covering this crisis, we offer a few speculative reports for a nonexistent newspaper (call it The Daily Travesty).
They Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Chicago Gang Takes Over, Ghetto Population Soars.
BOSTON– [on schedule]
PORTLAND– [evening edition]
CHIANG MAI– [Sunday magazine section]
[STAY TUNED. The samizdat articles are coming in hot off the underground press -- and if you don't receive your copy it means you're part of the problem! ]