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.

Christopher Woodman
Alan Cordle
Thomas Brady
Desmond Swords


  1. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 18, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Just in case some of you don’t have enough background to understand the intricacies of this post, I’d like to point out that Alan Cordle was asking in the first post if the new Like/Dislike regime would allow me (i.e. Christopher Woodman) to function as a normal poster again.

    Alan wrote: “Will you continue to moderate comments for select individuals? Or does your new feature re-open real-time posting to everyone, so they can participate in discussions as they unfold?”

    Travis Nichols answered by saying, “The stated comments policy is still in place,” and then quoted the Poetry Foundation Rules. The implications were obvious, that Christopher Woodman was not welcome to post on Harriet without censorship because he did not abide by the Rules as follows:

    1.) do not post comments that “contain offensive language”

    2.) do not post comments that contain “personal attacks.”

    So yes,” Travis Nichols, the Poetry Foundation Editor in charge of Blog:Harriet, concluded: “we will continue to moderate the comments of individuals who violate the comments policy.

    If this were a more serious issue, like an African American being excluded from a white country club, for example, or a Mexican from a fire department, lawyers would have a field day!

    So can you understand how this makes me feel, everybody? Can you understand why I’m still here picketting Harriet, waving my banners, posting my placards? And why I won’t stop, however cold it gets, or lonely?

    Christopher Woodman

  2. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 18, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Can you imagine what George Orwell would have made of all this, or Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell or Jonathan Swift?

    I just can’t imagine how John Barr, the President of The Foundation, can accept a policy that leads to the banning of possibly the only active posters who are not in the Poetry Business. I mean that’s a disaster for The Foundation, isn’t it? Isn’t that a scandal?

    Here’s what I said about that right at the beginning:

    (click to hide comment)
    …It’s obvious that quite a few posters have clicked ‘red’ out of protest, or perhaps just to show what could happen if the system were abused. You can’t judge anything by the ‘reds’ and the ‘greens’ on this thread, it seems to me, except that a simplistic dualism has no place in evaluating views about poetry. Indeed, a binary scale creates opposing factions–fans generational flames, hardens critical defenses, widens the divide between those within the academic enclave and without. Since Harriet belongs to the people, let’s work toward a more holistic dialogue.

    As a community we seem to like best discussing the ‘odd-men-out,’ like Robinson Jeffers, Philip Larkin and, yes, Elizabeth Bishop, poets who refuse to join any clique but, like all gifted eccentrics, “keep the spot sore.”

    Would that some of this interest in the peripherals of modern poetry rubbed off on our tolerance for each other.


  3. thomasbrady said,

    October 18, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    It makes you wonder where all those votes came from, since so few people read Harriet these days.

    And why, with the ballot-stuffing in their favor, did the Harriet-eers still feel so paranoid they had to resort to outright banning.

    Just checked Harriet. They can’t manage any sort of real discussion. All they’ve got is chatter. The best they can do is a minor gab fest.

  4. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 19, 2009 at 2:58 am

    Both Gary and Terreson pointed out to Travis Nichols on the initial Like/Dislike thread that the voting system was open to abuse. By actual experimentation Gary proved that you could, in fact, vote more than once for a post if you just waited a day, and a number of posters also remarked how quickly vote counts could change, really in just a matter of a minute or two. This led some posters to suspect that the voting could also be manipulated in some way behind the scenes.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the really large, totally biased numbers as demonstrated by the comments following Don Share’s REAL LIFE article [click here to see that] must have been the result of a concerted campaign.

    It’s also interesting to note that with but two exceptions, every comment on the Like/Dislike Thread panned the idea, and most expressed dismay and astonishment. Travis Nichols did not reply after the very early stages of the discussion, but the Poetry Foundation On-Line Editor, presumably his supervisor, posted this toward the end:

    Hello Harrieteers–
    Humans are still reading and reviewing posts! So never fear, we hear and appreciate your thoughtful responses to this experiment. We’ll let it go a while longer and see how things shake out. Thanks, Cathy


    A while longer has meant three whole months, the banning of four very active members, and the disappearance of every member of the Harriet community who expressed dissatisfaction with the system — and most of the other regulars as well. There are three exceptions to that: 1.) Gary B. Fitzgerald, who shouted louder than anybody else against the tyrrany of the Reds, but who still continues to post his poems for some reason known only to him; 2.) Terreson, who made a big philosophical stink but was too entranced by his own wise thoughts to step off the stage, and is now the dominant poster on Harriet — and, irony of ironies, scoring many brownie points with the On-line Poetry Board Management; and 3.) Margo Bedeshevsky — who disapproved of the scheme but was so bothered by the noise made by others that she initially agreed they ought to be silenced. But she did come around in the end:

    The thumbs are certainly reductive, and the lions are always hungry. (And the recent game-boy matches for scores are adolescent, but one can try to ignore them.) But the blatherers–are deadening to the mind and to the spirit. One could hope that they have ears to notice how much dead space they can create. But if not, Harriet, please do listen to pleas for a different experiment. This one is not succeeding. Like/dislike are really not adequate words for poets.


    Even Harriet’s most entrenched conservatives, John Oliver Simon and Colin Ward (Kaltica), both of them the only really staunch proponents of the system, seem to have drifted off elsewhere, probably because they miss the very action they so sanctimoniously condemned!

    And there’s still no sign of Noah Freed, though the site is all nice and clean now and crying out for his sensitive contributions.


  5. thomasbrady said,

    October 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Interesting development on “Tree Inside My Head” thread on Harriet….

    There’s a great comment by Javier Huerta, a subtle response to O’ Connor’s post on racism, vindicating what I said on Harriet this past summer re: Paz: he’s more a Modernist in the vein of Pound, Ford Madox Ford, John Crowe Ransom than a true writer of Mexico.

    Kent Johnson, back in the summer, when I was on Harriet, crudely accused me of ‘quasi-racism’ during the Paz discussion. I believe that’s just when Bill Knott stepped in and he and Kent had their long fight.

    Ah, the glory days of Harriet…

    Now Kent Johnson, on “Tree Inside My Head,” just came on and linked a post of his on Baird’s site, DE: where Kent has written on Poetry Foundation John Barr’s book, published many years ago, making quasi-racist accusations there, too. Hmmm.

    Kent Johnson, living in a world of quasi-racism…

    I’m not going to comment on the Barr book, because that sort of writing holds no interest for me.

    Oh, I’m still waiting for an apology from Mr. Johnson.