A BURNING QUESTION FOR THE WORLD AND THE POETRY FOUNDATION TOO

Filipinos jpeg

So here’s a really big one, Barbara Jane Reyes. Isn’t the looseness in the creative souls of your Filipino poets, the flexibility, the disorder even in their language, isn’t that actually an advantage? And don’t they get that freedom precisely by being part of a marginalized, deracinated culture? Isn’t that their big reward as artists?

When you’re shut out, can’t you also feel liberated by not having to make sense in the eyes of the establishment? Can’t you even survive better by realizing you’re your own Cirque Soleil, and the sky is your tent and anything you say way up on a very high, and very shaky, high high wire?

Like Cockney humor when London was such a God-awful place to be a worker, or Puerto Rican street talk when so-called ‘Latinos’ were just a Westside Story? Or Gypsies anywhere in Europe, even now, or the really great Yiddish in the Ghetto. None of those people wanted to be understood, their language was their hidden treasure!

And isn’t the creative nonsense-genius you get in English from Latinos, Cockneys and Filipinos just the opposite of Flarf, for example, or Stephen Burt’s  ‘New Thing,’ both of which are so studiously the product of too much money, too much leisure, too much education, too much self-regard, and cultural cabin fever?

I hope you’ve had a chance to read Thomas Brady’s two essays on the Not A Radical Treatise thread (click here, and here). Isn’t the role of what he calls “Limits” applicable to all ‘overly-racinated’ cultures, not just mainstream American poetry — bound feet in China, for example, what a heart-breaking limit that was? And if you begin to feel too privileged with Franchisement, might you not begin to affect Disenfranchisement today, pretend to be a Revolutionary, and start another very self-conscious, very rarefied, very hard to understand and therefore very deep New Movement? (I almost said “fake” there, but the tragedy, of course, is self-delusion. Yes, it’s “new” alright,  but so what? The question is, is it genuine? Does it have any genuine human value?)

And the real thing, the diamond, Desmond Swords, isn’t he just the opposite of a Stephen Burt? I hope you’ve read Desmond too — he writes about his struggle as a working class Irish poet to get accepted by the British blog establishment (click here). He also reflects specifically on his experiences on Blog:Harriet  (click here)  and goes international on the Guardian Blog — quite a read, including the flabbergasted responses!

So what do you think it did to Desmond’s voice when he found out it was just being read as “blather,” Or getting booted off The Poetry Foundation’s site for that matter? How much pleasure did that give him do you think? How high did that make him fly?

Or even in a tiny little way, the three of us here on Scarriet, Tom, Des and myself, uprooted from Harriet and cast adrift by The Poetry Foundation of America? Aren’t we sort of lucky?

Christopher Woodman

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COMMUNICATIONS AND MISCOMMUNICATIONS

Barabara Jane Reyes

Click here to read the rest of this Harriet article by Barbara Jane Reyes.

Dear Barbara Jane Reyes,

Thank you for this rich and well-written article. I have lived in South East Asia for 15 years, and have travelled widely in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, my immediate neighbors — but never in Burma. (Aung San Su Kyi has asked me not to support the junta with my tourist dollars, and I’d do anything for her!) I haven’t managed Vietnam yet either, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I will find there one of the most vibrant, life-affirming cultures in the world. I also have no doubt that Vietnam will soon be the leader in continental SE Asia, and I don’t mean just economically either. I mean intellectually, artistically, and above all in the quality of life.

Having said all that, I have a strange confession to make: I’ve never been there but I still like the Philippines the best — just based on the people I’ve met from there all over the world, in America, in Asia, on ferries, in diners, students, bar girls, nannies, doctors, NGOs, roustabouts, one Shakespearean actor and even one Blue Grass guitarist! And yes, I’ve found a beauty, vibrancy, and sense of personal freedom in people of Philippino origin that’s quite unique. And the extraordiary thing is that the qualities I so admire seem to be in each and every one of them without exception regardless of their citizenship, education, or station in life.

And I love especially their wonderful kitsch, their glamor and mixing up of media, metaphors, metatarsals, moxies, munchies and feathers. I was brought up in New England and was taught there was such a thing as ‘Good Taste’ that ‘Everybody’ knew — well, that’s completely gone in me now, washed away with my Puritan birthright, thank God. Now I want fairy lights with everything, jingle bells on my hairpiece and funny little pandas on my desk and all over my altar. Indeed, what fills me with wonder is the genius of Filipinos wherever they live to make everything that glitters pure gold — and here’s your article and I can say, yes, including what I was also brought up to call ‘our’ English language. And now I just say PPPLEASE!

This is a wonderful poet, R. Zamora Linmark — how I wish Tom, Desmond and myself were there on Harriet to join you in the discussion.  And the whole topic of “communications and miscommunications” — truly wonderful.

But don’t worry, even though we’re not there we’re still following on Scarriet. So stay tuned here too!

Christopher Woodman

NOT A RADICAL TREATISE.

What do these two people have in common that would most help them to succeed in a poetry career in America?

Alan-&-TOM-Goggles

1.) They’re both men.

2.) They’re both polite.

3.) They’re both good looking.

4.) They both like to have a good time.

5.) They both have extremely limited vision.

6.) They both work in fields unrelated to poetry.

7.) They both have been banned from Blog:Harriet.

FOR THE ANSWER AND A TREATISE ON IT , CLICK HERE.

THE MERCHANDIZING OF POETIC GENIUS

GENIUS 2 Grab copyClick here to go on reading this fine article. Like all Abigail Deutsch’s contributions to Blog:Harriet, you’ll find it skillfully written, fun and thought-provoking, and I wish I could comment.

So we all know the history, we all know how the Industrial Revolution led to the invention of the Artist, and how Art came to be regarded as superior to Trade. We all know why the Artist then chose to starve in the attic, the advantages of that, the creative clout of being ‘alternative,’ and we all know what Leo and Gertrude Stein then did with that on the Art Market in Paris. We also all know how the same take-over took place in the Poetry Market in America about the same time, how American Poetry became a viable business masquerading as a higher calling, how the writing and teaching of Poetry emerged as a sinecure after the War, and why as a result poetry is no longer read by anyone at all. What we don’t seem to notice is how we’ve also commercialized the mental faculties involved in writing that poetry. We’ve so sold ourselves a bill of goods and actually believe those faculties are something called ‘Genius,’ whereas they are just quite ordinary skills, how to cut, how to paste, and how to market. And chutzpah, of course, lots of that, and sometimes that’s truly entertaining. But not poetry, unless you mean like Sarah Palin’s wardrobe is pure poetry, or even Miss Venezuela!

Do you think that might get talked about on Blog:Harriet, or just the daimon and the primitive vision that have become so respectable? Keats actually did have the daimon and the vision, in abundance — but how much talk was there about that in response to what Abigail Deutsch and others said on Keats Lives about Jane Campion’s new film ?

And oh yes,  do you think John Keats would have won the MacArthur?

Christopher Woodman

IF YOU’RE JOHN KEATS YOU’RE NOT SAFE HERE

Keats by Tom Title

Keats Comment

Tom, Harriets, Everybody,

We’re also dying from the inability of poetry people in America today to believe in anything, to take a position like Keats did and then to cry out in disbelief and sorrow when nobody is moved or, much, much worse, there’s silence. Like the comments on the “Keats Lives” thread on Blog:Harriet — such wonderful material, crying out for commitment, and nobody in the whole community dares! Except our champion, Eileen Myles, of course, who despite all her toughness always wears her heart right on her sleeve. And I love that about her, and although I don’t always get excited by what excites her, I always get excited by what she stands for and the way she shows it!

Eileen BW

So what am I referring to specifically?  Eileen Myles most recent comment on Abigail Deutsch’s  “Keats Lives (for a while).” Wow!

Eileen on Keats

What I hear in this post is a huge cri du coeur, because Eileen is so fierce and articulate she can say anything, yet she’s not been posting real comments for weeks, and she used to be so involved. I think she just got fed up with all the adolescent posturing, the effete throwing up just a little in your mouth, the bon mots and the martinis. Because of all the Contributing Writers on Blog:Harriet, Eileen is, of course, the one who has attracted the most DISLIKE votes, can you imagine — indeed, there were a number of her comments that were actually shut down during the discussion on  “Post on the Post” (164 comments) and “Political Economy” (227 comments)!  On occasion you actually had to click on “click to show comment” to read Eileen Myles!

That was the worst of it, but I also think it was extremely inconsiderate to Eileen that some of the posters most engaged with her got shut down too, including Eliot Weinberger, Bill Knott, John, Kent Johnson, Dermot, Thomas Brady and myself, so that she had to “click to show comment” to read her own correspondence, so to speak. (The threads have been cleaned up radically since then, but many of you will remember the mess.)

Now that’s a huge embarassment for Harriet, to have an honored writer so mucked about with. It’s also a stain on The Poetry Foundation of America to let it happen, and I do hope the management is reading this (I’m happy to say we have a huge number of visitors on the site).

In fact, I count Eileen as an ally in our struggle against what’s happening on Harriet, and she’s a big hitter like Ireland’s Desmond Swords and the Red Sox’s Thomas Brady, and although I have no personal contact with her I feel sure she is following. And her little post, just 18 words, after all, cries out for a reply like the kind I would have written. Yes, had I still been on Harriet I would have written up such a storm in response, you have no idea. And that’s what would have annoyed Travis, Nick, Noah Freed and the other male regulars so much they would have howled for my banishment just like they did on Joel Brouwer’s  “Keep the Spot Sore” (then I was writing about ROBINSON JEFFERS!)

But of course, I wouldn’t have written up a storm against Harriet or Travis or the Like/Dislike thing, or anything like that. I mean, if I were still with you I would never have been banished, so I wouldn’t have needed to defend myself at all. I would be normal, in other words, I would be part of your community, one of your voices, Yes, I would still be older, and yes, still further away from any coffee shop or blackboard. What else? I would be unique in that I haven’t got a single invitation to a Poetry Reading or an Opening in my pocket diary, and don’t even own a pocket diary for that matter!

Out of respect for my friend Eileen I’ll put my face where my mouth is too:

Christopher2_2

And you still want to know what this guy would have said in response to Eileen’s little cri du coeur against tight-assed death in poetry? Read Abigail Deutsch’s original good article, read all those blurbs and the golden copy, look at the wonderful young actor in the photo and think of Jane Campion (!!!) — then read what Eileen says in just 18 words. And if you still feel blocked, go take a hot shower, stamp on your hat, eat something inorganic, do anything that makes you less tight-assed yourself!

After that, like Gary just go for it!

Christopher Woodman

“NAME THAT GOON!” The WHOLE HARRIET Show.

GOON NAME Title

Here’s how the NAME THAT GOON SHOW works.

First you make a scathing little comment about somebody who gave your friend a bad review, or who doesn’t own an apartment building somewhere, or whose writing job at Harriet you covet, or who posts comments with such ease and frequency you get poster-block just thinking about it. Then the Administrator at the controls that day, who may or may not be Travis Nichols, gets you -7 Red votes pronto, which is not because he disapproves of what you say, just that “NAME THE GOON” is his show, and his job is to keep it in the groove!

So what Travis does is simply blindfold what you say, just like when you were a child. And that’s fun, I mean, you’re having fun — even if it is at The Poetry Foundation of America’s expense, you’re having fun like this:

Goon Comments Closed Best

The next step is up to you. Do you want to play along with Travis and keep it clean, or do you want to have some fun at you know who’s expense? I mean, do you want the dirt? Because if you do you just hit (click to show comment) and all the clothes fall right off and everybody gasps. Oh it’s all so wonderful and funny and, you know, it’s so unexpected!

And Ruth B. Lilly gave a lot so you could do this. I mean, look at this pretty little snit:

Goon Comments Open

In the next post on Blog:Scarriet we will give you a sampling of Eileen Myles’ and Bill Knott’s posts that got “blindfolded” like this by Travis Nichols, and hidden out of sight to protect your feelings. At the same time we will give you some examples from Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman too, though of course in their case the game got deadly serious. I mean, like now we’re dead!

And don’t forget the Name That Goon Show is always on the air, 24/7, and so is Blog:Scarriet. Stay tuned on both for all the dirt that’s fit to click!

OPEN LETTER TO JOEL BROUWER

SpeedR Title 3SpeedR just Reviews

SpeedR jusy label

Hayden Carruth Grab Title

Hayden Carruth Grab LabelKeep the Spot Grab Title

Keep the Spot Grab Label___________________________________________________________

Dear Joel Brouwer.

You’re a fine writer and a very positive presence on Blog:Harriet, both in the articles you write and in your participation in the discussions.

The “Keep the Spot Sore” article was your first as a Contributing Writer, and I admired you both for the humility with which you presented it and the challenge you offered — fantastic! Indeed, you must have been astonished by the diversity and passion of the responses, but little did you realize that the fate of your three most enthusiastic respondents, Desmond Swords, Thomas Brady and myself, was hanging in the balance. Indeed, all three of us have now been banned from Blog:Harriet, and it was in the context of your first article that Travis Nichols made it clear we were no longer wanted.

Nevertheless, despite the shadow, there were 103 comments, and a great deal was accomplished. I personally loved it.

Your 2nd article, “Hayden Carruth,” was an even greater hit with 255 responses, including a most interesting tussle over the meaning and value of anthologies — not strictly on topic but worth every minute of it. What you may not have realized is that that was the first thread under Travis Nichols’ new Like/Dislike voting function, which wrecked havoc. I was very embarrassed to see dozens of posts closed down so that you had to “click” even to see them!  I’m sure you were aware of that, but what you probably didn’t realize was that the sole purpose of the function was to bury one poster, Thomas Brady, and boy did it ever.

I myself was simply placed on “awaiting moderation,” and because I live so far away and it took up to 3 days for my comments to get passed by the censor, I was effectively out of the discussion.

Yet I still enjoyed it!

Now you are posting articles in a very different environment, and there’s no longer any passion at all, just shop talk. 10 comments on “SpeedReviews (TM),” no hits, no runs, no errors. P-c. but cliquish, full of little fetishes and in-jokes — just a pale shadow of what you engaged with before.

So what has happened to Harriet, and why are you, such a good writer,  now addressing such a small, introverted, parochial community? What about all those passionate amateurs, those unpublished poets and poetry lovers that are also avid readers all over the world? For what Thomas Brady (Boston), Desmond Swords (Dublin) and myself (Chiang Mai) all have in common is that none of us have a professional or academic relationship to poetry, so a topic like “SpeedReviews (TM)” is unlikely to engage us. “How many review copies of poetry books do y’all receive?” you ask. Well, nobody has ever sent me a book to review in my life what is more reviewed one of mine. So how many people are you talking to beside the small circle of colleagues in the poetry profession? Does that make poetry in America?

10 comments you have here and, I wonder, how many readers? I go back and look over “Keep the Spot Sore” and “Hayden Carruth” just for pleasure, and each time I’m enriched. Yes, “SpeedReviews (TM)” is still a fine piece of writing, Joel, but it’s not enough to make Blog:Harriet universal or interesting. Indeed, no blame, but I’m afraid it’s mostly just cynical!

Christopher Woodman

Is Speedwriting Comments on Harriet a Summer Factory Job or a Fetish?

POETRY READING GRAB

The question is, what do you make of these comments? Is Greg clever or is he trying to get banned? I mean, I never said anything as provocative as that to Travis Nichols, though almost everything he posted was a fetish, and he obviously loved it. Like this one, do you remember, the guys laid out on the parquet floor under the big blackboard? Or this one, the guy with the hair and what’s her name with the big mouth and the penis? I personally enjoyed both posts, a lot, but when that’s all you get you start asking questions — and when you get banned by the same guy it really matters!

The other aspect of this post that might be worth a comment — the voting. So what do you make of it? Now I just voted once for each myself, but I won’t tell you which one or how I voted, one up, one down, both up, or both down in the dumps and deflated. So how did I vote, and what did I mean? That’s a serious question because voting on such matters at all is yet another of Travis’ fetishes!

And Thomas Brady got banned because all his posts got buried in Red and still he remained not only cheerful but enormously creative right to the end. He was never scolded or warned or given any explanation by the management but just simply exited (that’s in the passive voice, take note, and that’s where it’s at!).

Ditto Desmond Swords with his huge, irrepressible  talents — what a contrast to these two little comments, or to anything that has been posted on Harriet since he left. And how does The Poetry Foundation of America feel about that?

Well, that’s why we’re here having a lot more fun on Scarriet than anybody seems to be having on Harriet.

Christopher Woodman

NOW HERE WE REALLY GO!

Poetry Reading 2

Now let’s say you’ve got 2 or maybe even 3 days before you’ve got any competition from Harriet, unless of course Terreson doesn’t Pass Go, doesn’t Go to Jail,  and wins the Beauty Contest anyway. What would be your caption (20 words or less, and don’t bother if this is your 2nd post today — because that would put you way over the limit!)?

Oh go on, have a try. It’s only a little blog, and you know you’re a poet!

And to show you we really care, we’ll post a reply to anything you offer, however au courant or mumbled.

Like this, for example: Click here to read Thomas Brady’s response to Stephen Cope’s comment  on Tonya Foster’s ‘Ramadan’ thread. I mean, the appetite for what you all are doing on Harriet is insatiable!

MAVERICK BECOMES A FLAMER, POOL EMPTY, PEE ON FIRE

Lights out, melt down, last stand, taps, whatever you want to call it, the great “Pee in the Pool of On-Line Poetry” on Clattery MacHinery has closed down the lid.

The great man himself, our Terreson, has not only cut off his nose inspite of his face but banned his supporters inspite of the cause. His friends, Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman, have all been banned from Clattery MacHinery, and all their last posts deleted.

In the end, Terreson the reformer has betrayed everything he believed in. And why? Simply because his principles proved to be much less important to him than owning his one small idea — On-line Poetry Board Management was his thing, and his alone.

How absurd, what a waste — like a civil rights organization dedicated to protecting illegal aliens in America going to war with Amnesty International!

No more struggle for awareness on Clattery MacHinery then, no more high-minded action. Private ambition has retreated into the backroom to plan out a terrible reinvention. The maverick is now morphing into an establishment regular who will write anywhere as long as it makes him look good.

And you say you have troubles with cyber vandals, spammers, or critics and poets who won’t toe the line? Blog on fire? Give him a shout.

CLICK HERE to get in on the real On-line Poetry Board action.

Red in Michigan 1974

Terreson, On-line Fire Fighter, Poetry Hero

And for a whole lot more of Terreson’s secret talents, CLICK HERE.


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