TRAVIS NICHOLS, POETRY GLADIATOR

Travis BUS

TRAVIS Saturated_________________

Just as Thomas Brady was breathing new life into Blog:Harriet, and even being considered as a potential Contributing Writer by the Board, Harriet’s editor, Travis Nichols, published this article in Poets & Writers [click here to read the rest of the article].

Little could anyone have imagined how literally Travis Nichols envisioned himself as that “poetry gladiator fighting to the death” for his ideals, or how ruthlessly he would strike down those who did not share his vision of poetry on Blog:Harriet. It was certainly a shock to Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords, and Christopher Woodman when virtually out of nowhere a poster named ‘Nick’ popped up on Joel Brouwer’s “Keep the Spot Sore” thread to slam what he felt were people doing bad things on Blog:Harriet:

There are certain sorts of people–I will not indulge in sociological generalities about them, except to say that they are virtually always men–whose thirst for online bloodshed cannot be quenched. Such people ruined the Buffalo poetics list; ruined Silliman’s blog; etc……Michael, I imagine, knows the story. Good places for online discussion are few, and fragile. I’m out, as they say when leaving other forums/
POSTED BY: NICK ON JULY 7, 2009 AT 6:32 PM

Every blog and forum has such malcontents, but what was so different about this intrusion was that the Editor himself, Travis Nichols, actually welcomed the mole and his bile, and even went further in trashing those “certain sorts of people” — an obvious reference to Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman (who has been known as “Cowpatty Hammer” ever since!). Indeed, Travis replied like this:

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! -Travis PS: Clearly, no candy for me this round.
POSTED BY: TRAVIS NICHOLS  ON JULY 8, 2009 AT 9:00 AM

Thomas Brady wrote a critique of this post on the recent thread called  “Harriet Sees Nothing on Harriet” which casts so much light on Blog:Harriet and the mindset of its “Poetry Gladiator” Editor, Travis Nichols, we decided to elevate it to an actual post. So here goes:

~

Nick writes, “there are certain sorts of people…”  certain sorts of people…?? And then Nick tars ‘certain sorts of people’ with his brush, and then announces he’s leaving in a huff… Travis responds:

Hey Nick,

Hey Nick –note the familiar tone…Hey Nick…

I definitely hear you, but I don’t think there’s a formal solution to the problem you’re presenting.

I definitely hear you… in other words I completely ascribe to your ‘certain sorts of people’ tone of bitchiness and disrespect…  but I don’t think there’s a formal solution… Immediately Travis jumps from the bitchy complaint to…oh how can we come up with a solution to make things better for Nick?

Why does Travis have to jump when Nick says jump? How does Nick suddenly become the authority here?

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.

And now Travis slips in something that’s actually an intelligent and proper response to Nick (the angry and the deluded)  “THE ONLY WAY THE DISCUSSION BECOMES VALUABLE FOR PEOPLE IS IF THEY PARTICIPATE IN IT.” Bravo, Travis! But where did that come from? If only this had been Travis’ sole reply, the world might be different…

HEY NICK, THE ONLY WAY THE DISCUSSION BECOMES VALUABLE FOR PEOPLE IS IF THEY PARTICPATE IN IT.

But alas, Travis did not respond thusly, and, to please Nick, launched into the following:

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.

Now Travis makes this weird analogyposting on a blog is compared to sitting in a restaurant and TRYING TO READ while a conversation is going on at the next table…

Huh????

Oh…so Nick WAS TRYING TO READ…and Christopher, you and I were TALKING…so he couldn’t READ… LOL

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.

“Holding back for fear of the cow patty hammer…?” Yea…it’s called a METAPHOR, Travis…why would someone FEAR that? What’s to fear in another’s words and opinions? [Click here for some background on that metaphor.]

ANY discussion on the web offers the SAME THREE RESPONSES, cow patty hammer or not, Travis. You 1.) agree, you 2.) disagree, or you 3.) ignore comment X, –or some combination thereof. That’s it! Simple! You can ALWAYS do this–unless you are censored.

These are ALWAYS the choices, whether Christopher Woodman and Thomas Brady are part of the discussion, or not. Travis? Nick? You know this, don’t you?

Let me say it once more. In ANY discussion, you only have 3 choices: Agree, disagree, ignore. These are ALWAYS the choices–no matter who you are having a discussion with. It doesn’t matter if Woodman or Brady are in the discussion, or not. These are the 3 choices one ALWAYS has.

Your presence will help make things better. Promise. Maybe we can come up with a rewards system. Free candy for pithy on-point commentary!
-Travis

Christopher, I think Travis owes us a lot of candy.

Tom

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6 Comments

  1. thomasbrady said,

    November 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Attention!

    Anyone who is able to find some ‘pithy on-point commentary’ from Nick, please notify Harriet management immediately!

    Harriet is looking for ‘pithy on-point commentary’ from Nick.

    If you see anything resembling ‘pithy on-point commentary from Nick,’ please notify a Harriet official right away!

    Thank you

  2. cowpattyhammer said,

    November 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Or notify Scarriet, and we’ll publish it with an apology!

    Hey Nick, just one “pithy on-point commentary” and we’ll reconsider what Travis says.

    Or if Nick is too shy to blow his own horn, could Travis himself perhaps give us just one example of why he felt Nick was more valuable to have around than us?

    C.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    November 13, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Keep it down, Christopher!

    Nick is trying to concentrate.

  4. cowpattyhammer said,

    November 14, 2009 at 9:00 am

    CLICK HERE for the REAL Travis Nichols, and despair!

  5. cowpattyhammer said,

    November 14, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Another Harriet friend of Travis Nichols who went bananas for censorship was Noah Freed. Here’s what Alan Cordle replied to that:

    “A limit to the number and length of comments per day—per week even—is the only thing that might resuscitate Harriet. I’m out of here until that happens.” — Noah Freed

    One of the things that makes me most proud about the time I ran a little site called “Foetry.com” is that my moderation style was very light. If anyone looks through the archives, they can see that I allowed and encouraged dialogue, except, of course, when people (including me) were physically threatened. Disagree with me? Not a problem!

    It’s absurd that Mr. Freed believes that somehow a certain quantity of comments can ruin an experience for him. Is he unable to use the television remote too?

    When I was in graduate school, my thesis was a study of the “Poets in Person” project, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. This was pre-the-one-hundred-million-donation, I think, so my work was appreciated at the time (Joseph Parisi and Helen Klaviter may remember). I believe I was the first person to quantify the influence of library literary programing as an influence on poetry readership. Synopsis: it increases it.

    The more we talk about poetry (in person or online), the more people might read it. For every one Noah Freed we lose, Thomas Brady, Christopher Woodman, Annie Finch and other frequent posters bring in many more new readers, thanks to their intellect and provocative insights.

    It would be disappointing, to say the least, if the Poetry Foundation were to run its site like Poets and Writers. I’ve always admired that Poetry allows for a wide variety of voices. I hear rumors that the Foundation is devolving towards the status quo. I’m interested to see whose voice matters.

    POSTED BY: ALAN CORDLE ON JULY 10, 2009 AT 10:18 PM

  6. thomasbrady said,

    November 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Attention All Blogs!

    Noah Freed will be stopping in to count the number and length of comments posted to your site.

    Attention! Noah Freed will be inspecting your blog.

    Please take notice.

    Thank you.