Harriet strip grab

Travis strip

Fall is here, which means ponderous Hollywood movies, funky potpourri, [W]ild [T]urkey, and of course, lots of new bloggers on Harriet to make up for all those we lost in September.

Today, we say our goodbyes to Thomas Brady, Christopher Woodman, and Desmond Swords.  They’ve done a wonderful job here on Harriet, and we hope they’ll share a thought or two with us on their exciting new blog, Scarriet.  From everyone here, let me offer them a hearty thanks for their dedication and service.  Huzzah!

I know.  It is sad.  But all is not lost!  We still have John Oliver Simon, Terreson, Noah Freed, Nick, Bobby, Krista, and of course me, Travis Nichols, to help transition us to this new season.  And!  We have a great new river with a great wave and a really, really great run. No more boring comments on Harriet anymore — hey, we’re blogging!

Travis Nichols


  1. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Dear Travis,

    There were 37 articles on Blog:Harriet in the month of September immediately following our banishment, 37 articles generating 322 comments with an average of 8 comments each. Joel Brouwer’s “SpeedReview TM” (28) and “Boox” (29) were by far the most active. A staggering 14 articles got 5 comments or less.

    There were also exactly 37 articles in the month before you introduced the disastrous Like/Dislike scheme, i.e. June 20th to July 20th, but back then there were a total of 1,399 comments with an average of 38 comments each. The most popular received 255 comments, but there were four others with well over 100!

    And just to be very clear about this, Travis — it wasn’t at all the quality of the articles in September that generated so little interest, as our commentaries here on Scarriet showed very clearly (we loved them!). It was the bad atmosphere you created on the site that discouraged participation, as simple as that.

    An expense of spirit in a waste of shame, I’d say – and the real shame is how many of the great voices that contributed so much to Harriet in June and July got discouraged when the Red Thumbs got stuck in their eyes, and they’re now gone altogether. And some of those were not posters I found easy either, like Michael Robbins. On the other hand, Michael Robbins voluntary absence has made me respect him a whole lot more, and his participation in one of the heated discussions about Blog:Harriet immediately after we left has made me really like him! (click here for that exchange)

    That’s the way it should have been, Travis. Your small-minded measures only made people hate each other!

    Christopher Woodman

  2. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Re. Some statistics as a basis for banning the system, not the people!

    There were 255 comments on the Joel Brouwer’s “Hayden Carruth” thread. The spread was as follows:

    1.) Desmond Swords: 3 comments ( 1.2 % of the thread [0 closed down])

    2.) Christopher Woodman: 17 comments ( 6.6 % of the thread [1 closed down, 5.8% of his comments])

    3.) Thomas Brady: 20 comments ( 7.8% of the thread [8 closed down, 40% of his comments])

    4.) Bill Knott: 47 comments (18% of the thread [9 closed down, 19% of his comments])

  3. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 2, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Some examples of posts that got closed down on the “Hayden Carruth” thread (the first from each of the offenders):

    1.) Thomas Brady (-32)
    (click to hide comment)
    Oh, poop, this is all wrong.

    Poetry shouldn’t be some ‘impersonal’ mission to make us feel intimidated and stupid.

    Is this the sort of blurby hyper-praise we’re supposed to dole out as we genuflect our way into the academic priesthood?

    ‘Of Distress Being Humiliated…’

    Will I be whipped if I say I’m not impressed by its disjointed prose and its scattered utterances of half-truth on the state of reality and tense and time?

    I assume this poem is an ‘11′ on a scale of 10. What’s “Ode On A Grecian Urn,” then?<

    If Carruth wounds me with 11 lashes, does Keats murder me with a thousand?


    2.) Bill Knott (-10)
    (click to hide comment)
    and that anthology he edited is a perfect example of arrogance and elitist condescension—

    he had the chance to create a low-priced (Bantam mass paperback) alternative to the costly Norton Modern,

    and he flubbed it bigtime—

    he could have chosen the famous canonical poems by the big names,

    he could have created an anthol of standards which

    teachers (I was one of them) could have assigned their students

    in lieu of the egregious Norton edited by the two Irish guys—

    Carruth could have saved hundreds of thousands of students from having to buy that overpriced monstros,

    he could have put together a “Modern” which would have been affordable

    not only to cash-strapped students but to

    general public readers who might

    have appreciated a low-priced handy
    pocketsized compendium of the best Modern poems,

    but no,

    Carruth had to smarm the editing and eccentricize his selection——

    leaving most teachers with no option but the Norton—

    “The Voice that is Great Within Us”—

    huh . . .

    what an arro


    3.) Kent Johnson (-8)

    (click to hide comment)
    Well, Bill. I suspect you are joking. But sometimes it’s hard to tell when you are or you aren’t. So in case you aren’t, that last comment does kind of beg the question:

    When will your more affordable anthology be done?

    You will probably make some good royalties from it.



    4.) Christopher Woodman (-12)

    (click to hide comment)
    I’ve been following this thread with some interest because Hayden Carruth has always seemed to me just a little too good to be true. And the poem above, I’m afraid, adds to my discomfort–it’s all just a bit too masterful for my tastes, a bit too wise and good. For me it reads too much like the face in the photo you chose for the article, Joel Brouwer. I mean, we all have our bad hat days, goodness knows–but why choose this particular day to represent a great deceased poet? Of course it’s a famous snap, but it’s also such a pigeon-hole–Johnny Appleseed just back from Shanghai and now doing hard labor at Stanford. It’s so dour too, formidable even–a bit of a nightmare I’d say.

    And here’s where my doubts really come up, I think–the pressures on a lesser American poet to look deeper than he is (usually male!). Seamus Heaney never does this, does he, to try to look or dress the part? Or Tomas Tranströmer? Because in this photo I see someone who is not at all unflattered to realize he looks a bit like Pound at St. Elizabeth’s, at least as Pound wanted to be seen, or Whitman at the end—and with a bit of raw red-neck thrown in to show the vitality that’s supposedly the true American grit. I mean, if your car broke down in the woods and this face looked in your window with an offer to help you if you would just get out, would you? In the dark?

    So too the poem itself leaves me in a mixed mood. It’s just a little too precious for my tastes, a little too wise and multi-cultural—too aristocratic for a backwoods poet, too folksy for a “master.” Alright, you say he was both, but I just don’t believe it, I’m afraid. I mean, at a certain point you’ve got to make up your mind. Unless you have some sort of ‘Chinese master’ fantasy you want to live-out in your own life, but then Chinese masters were never slovenly or in-your-face in their person (do any still exist who aren’t already in a suit in the west?). This is just the fantasy of an over-developed and over-educated denizen of a western great power—no one finds dirt or poverty romantic anywhere in Asia!

    I doubt very much that Gary Snyder, whom I much admire as a person and a poet, would expose himself in a poem like this one. I don’t think Gary Snyder sought kudos either, or even to look good, at least not much–perhaps you could comment on that, John Oliver Simon. Whereas “Of Distress Being Humiliated by the Classical Chinese Poets” smacks a bit of the old pose, I’m afraid. Even the title sounds like words “too deep for translation”—you know conjured up by whom!

    I’m so sorry to say this—I used to be such a fan before!



    Personally, I would have loved to have had the chance to tear into that silly comment of my own, and I did very much modify it subsequently, I’m pleased to say. But as the basis for a black eye, what is more to be thumbed down in the arena and then left for dead?

    Ditto both Thomas Brady’s and Bill Knott’s comments — but what sort of interesting debate is there without those sort of challenges?

    Come on, Travis, give us a break — you were just doing this because you didn’t like the loss of control that inevitably comes when posters of this quality have views, and are not afraid to express them!

    Well, the alternative is the Harriet you’ve got.



  4. thomasbrady said,

    October 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks very much for having me, Travis.

    I’m sure you won’t miss me, though, Harriet scored the famous actress, Umber Bumber, as a guest writer, and her first post is getting lots of keen responses!

    Hey, just to talk about me for a moment, did I really get 32 negative votes? Impressive.

    Whatever you do, folks, NEVER say you don’t like a poem by one of the chosen poets! The chosen poets are untouchable.

    (I’ll provide a list for Umber, lest she make this horrendous mistake herself.)

    What’s really cool is that Umber has a cool comedy boyfriend and, he MUST be helping her write, because this is hilarious:

    (Guest Harriet blogger talking to herself)

    “You’re gonna read at Prairie Lights Book Store in Iowa. That shit is for real! You are real this time. Why open yourself up to the judgments of a prestigious poetry website?”

    Comedy gold!

    “None of the writers at the Poetry Foundation will take your writing seriously. Seriously. Stay in your safe zone where your publicist can help control your image and do stuff like “photo kills” so your flabby Scottish arms don’t look like over-cooked Tagliatelle in fashion layouts.”

    None of the writers?


    Honey, you obviously don’t know Travis Nichols or Terreson! (It’s French) Or Kent Johnson! (And they’ve got flabby arms, too! Flabby all over…)

    These are SERIOUS dudes.

    They’ll take you seriously.

    For real.


    Thomas Brady

  5. poetryandporse said,

    October 4, 2009 at 12:59 am

    And now, the end is near
    So you face, a final curtain

    Your friends, it is unclear,
    who they are, you are uncertain.

    You’ve writ a life that’s dull
    You’ve travelled on, an unhappy highway;
    And more, much more than this,
    You did it my way.

    Regrets, you’ve had a few;
    It’s plain, because you mention
    You did what I thought you’d do
    And banned us all, without exemption.

    You planned each charted course;
    Each careful step along the slyway,
    But more, much more than this,
    You did it boring.

    Yes, there were times, Im sure you knew
    When I wrote more than you’d want me to
    But through it all, when there was doubt,
    I ate it up and spit it out.
    I faced it all and I stood tall;
    You did it my way.

    I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
    I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
    And now, as tears subside,
    I find it all so amusing.

    To think you did all that;
    And may I say – not in a shy way,
    No, oh no not me,
    I did it my way.

    For what is a man, what has he got?
    If not himself, then he has naught.
    To say the things he truly feels;
    And not the words of one who kneels.
    The record shows I took the blows –
    And did it my way.


  6. November 16, 2009 at 3:34 am

    […] CLICK HERE for more on what happened on September 1st, 2009 at High Noon. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)TRAVIS NICHOLS – FALL and FALL! […]