Six Posts and Nothing: Travis Nichols

I would like to congratulate Travis Nichols on his single-handed ruination of Harriet. The previous six posts have fewer than five comments apiece.

My favorite is his own post about Jim Carroll.  Nichols doesn’t admit that he had never even heard of Carroll, but in the former’s paid position as the Poetry Foundation’s censor, he suddenly has lots more time to surf blogs.  Nichols hoped for cred with his Carroll post.  Best of luck next time.



  1. cowpattyhammer said,

    September 18, 2009 at 5:33 am

    I have very mixed feelings about coming in on this site because I don’t want to burn any bridges. Indeed, I still hope Blog:Harriet can be gotten back on track and that Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and myself can once again be part of it. We invested a huge amount in it this year, and I would say created a much happier and healthier environment than the sickly state it finds itself in now.

    I had a wonderful time on Harriet for 2 months from May until July 14th, 2009, the day I was put on “moderation.” From that day onward it took up to 3 days for any post of mine to be approved, by which time the conversation had moved on and my comment was buried under 15 or 20 subsequent posts. So it was a very effective form of censorship, and I was never able to participate as an equal again.

    Except for one day. On Monday, July 20th Travis Nichols had a day off (I was told that by the monitor that day) and I was reinstated with a friendly and encouraging note from the On-Line Editor. On July 21st the On-Line staff went on a retreat together, and Don Share, not a Harriet officer at all, filled in as monitor, and I posted a little. Then on the very next day, presumably with Travis Nichols back in the saddle, zap, the lights went off yet again. My very first post went straight into a very black hole and never returned.

    AND NOT A WORD OF EXPLANATION! From July 22nd until the present I have never had a word from Travis Nichols or any other Harriet staff member to explain why I was banned. I wrote 5 separate queries, all polite and on topic, and never had a single reply.

    Of course I also had over 20 posts deleted — you can see some of my deleted posts on Alan Cordle’s site , and little by little I will release others.

    So that’s a start — and do you think I burned any bridges?

    Oh, and you want to know why I’m proud to be Cowpatty Hammer? Stay tuned!

    Christopher Woodman

  2. cowpattyhammer said,

    September 19, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Here’s one, here’s a “cowpatty hammer” — i.e. a fertile blow if you take it, mull it over a bit, have another cup of coffee, read the paper, go out for a walk and come back in 3 months to find it’s all actually daisies!

    Got it?

    Here’s a really hard one, 16 pounds of iron and wet, green and slimey. Click on this URL for a most unpleasant revelation:

    What you see here is really frightening, because it’s how crowd bashings get started — hysteria builds up, the law’s taken into one’s own hand, then the tarring and the feathering begins, and then, close your eyes, the possibility of a lynching. And we saw that happen on Harriet, for God’s sake, on Harriet where we were all poets!

    Because, Travis Nichols, that was no “feedback” from Nick on the thread called “Keep the Spot Sore,” just ignorant heckling out of nowhere, just the ravings of a mole who speaks a few mealy words once a month, and then goes back into hiding.

    Your friend Nick, or was it Noah Freed?

    “Thanks for the feedback,” you say to Nick, and tell him how valuable his monosyllables are, and how you’ll clean up Hartriet to make him happier. That was the very moment when you mocked my “cowpattyhammers,” and said I sucked out all the air. And from that day you placed me on “awaiting moderation” — your eupemism for censorship.

    I’ll be more specific and actually quote your words in my next post — I want to work first at the metaphor. Then we’ll be ready for the details.

    ”Feedback” is an audio metaphor, Travis, and involves one communication morphing into another separate communication, a “reply,” we call it when its helpful, though it can be incomprehensible too. In the audio world, feedback is usually a distraction, because it replies with exactly the same tone and volume but is all scrambled up, and totally disrupts the original message.

    There was no constructive “feedback” from your mole friend whatsoever, unless you could call what those protesters on the video clip are giving to Barack Obama feedback. No, your little mobster did a Joe Wilson, pure and simple, and the sole effect Joe Wilson was looking for was to whip up contrary emotions that would bury anything cogent Obama might say.

    And that’s called not feedback but heckling.

    What bothers me is that you, Travis Nichols, the Administrator of the official Blog of The Poetry Foundation of America, came on-line to say that heckling had more content than the speeches that active members were trying to deliver from the podium. And the topic wasn’t easy either — Robinson Jeffers!

    Yes, that was the very hard thread on Robinson Jeffers, “Keep the Spot Sore” Joel Brouwer called it, and for you to dismiss everything I said as “boring” was no better than Joe Wilson saying to Obama, “You lie!” You have to listen first, Travis, you have to consider — then work to put together a considered reply. Takes time, but that’s what we were there for.

    And you didn’t.

    And Obama is not a liar any more than I’m boring, Travis. Yes, I’m many things but not that, I’m afraid — otherwise you wouldn’t get so upset with me. Because for some reason I make you very angry, and when that happens there’s always something very important going on behind the scenes.

    So what is it that I say that so troubles you?

    Christopher Woodman

  3. cowpattyhammer said,

    September 19, 2009 at 6:48 am

    You’ve been patient with me, so I can’t disappoint you. I just ask that as you read the following you keep that YouTube clip in mind, and hear the brilliance, the intellectual resources, and the wit of Barack Obama’s critics on the Washington Mall!

    Then just imagine that young interviewer soliciting the following pearls from Travis Nichols, the Poetry Foundation’s Administrator of Blog:Harriet!


    Hey Nick,

    I definitely hear you, but I don’t think there’s a formal solution to the problem you’re presenting. We have a couple different formatting changes in the works that I think will help people skip past commentary they have a stated distaste for, but beyond that the only way the discussion becomes valuable for people is if they participate in it.

    It’s a big responsibility in a lot of ways, and I completely understand using your time for other things, but I, for one, would greatly appreciate you hanging around and offering up your two cents from time to time. It can get a bit cult-like in here (let’s go ahead and talk about it like a room; it feels that way sometimes, like when you’re in a room just trying to read or write down a thought or enjoy a meal and some guy at the next table is going on and on and ON (sheesh!) about his medical experiences or his politics or how he totally almost scored on his last date, and it’s all you can do to not start yelling or making some kind of gag out of napkins and notepads and endpapers or just thinking the world is a terrible no good very bad place full of asshats and douchebags (as they say) . . . but, you know, really it’s not like that. All the time. Is it? Maybe it is. But it doesn’t have to be.), and simple one or two sentence sober thoughts can cut through the funk very nicely. As you have done upthread, I think.

    So a plea for you – and for others reading and thinking of chiming in but holding back for fear of the cow patty hammer or whatever: don’t leave. Your presence will help make things better. Promise. Maybe we can come up with a rewards system. Free candy for pithy on-point commentary!


    PS: Clearly, no candy for me this round.



    Well, he did hang around, and if you want to see what Nick’s “two cents” read like, go have a look at Blog:Harriet today. The “KEEP THE SPOT SORE” thread from which the above has been quoted had 103 comments in one week of activity, and it was by no means the most successful from the epoch in which Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and myself particpated — that would have been another one of Joel Brouwer’s threads on Hayden Carruth, over 250 as I remember!

    So do you think Travis Nichols was right? Did the new regime that got rid of us and gave Nick and Noah Freed a free space to post in work better?

    Christopher Woodman

  4. cowpattyhammer said,

    September 20, 2009 at 7:39 am


    Though BREAKING NEWS: Clattery MacHinery is in meltdown as of 09/20/2009 10.30 am, and much has been deleted. How much will remain in the end is anybody’s guess.

    BROKEN NEWS, I’m afraid. Clattery MacHinery has just (09/20/2009 12.35 pm) deleted this and all the following comments. We’ll try to reconstruct some of it for you eventually. Meanwhile you can read the above and guess!

    Or even better you can go back and check out the new Scarriet article, “Pee in the Pool of On-line Poetry.” That’ll get you more than started!


  5. November 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

    […] would someone FEAR that? What’s to fear in another’s words and opinions? [Click here for some background on that […]

  6. November 22, 2009 at 8:43 am

    […] a big one, and one for which I’m well-equipped with my humble “compatty hammer” [click here] to do […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: