As everybody who’s interested in poetry  knows, The Poetry Foundation has banned me, Alan Cordle, along with Christopher Woodman, Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords, and who knows how many others.  So it seems odd that staffers there incessantly and obsessively read this blog and our side projects.

Granted, they seem to be out of ideas and desperately unable to encourage dialogue, and the statistics are certainly painful.  It’s no wonder they’re now “borrowing” from Scarriet.  And by borrowing, I mean “stealing.”

On December 8, 2009, The Poetry Foundation published the following article by Abigail Deutsch:


This would have been fine if Scarriet’s Thomas Brady had not published a post entitled The Good Bad Poem just 10 days earlier.



“This is no coincidence,” Thomas Brady tells me.

“My article originated because I happened to take an old book out of the library, it wasn’t from any current event . . . Abigail got her idea from Scarriet. Well, well, well. I’ve commented on it just now on ‘The Good Bad Poem’ on Scarriet.”

New Year’s Resolution for The Poetry Foundation and Harriet: stop preying on the intellectual property of Scarriet. After all, some organizations make plagiarists walk the plank.

Others just vaporize the opposition!

Alan Cordle


  1. bluehole said,

    December 31, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Don Share:

    LH: We’ve discussed the relative difficulties of comments streams and blog posts before, and I know that Harriet has made various attempts to reign in some of the more verbose streams…do you believe discussions that arise from those streams are valuable? Productive?

    DS: The magazine folks don’t run the blog, though Fred and I post there from time to time, and I comment on guest bloggers’ posts when I have something to say. I hope that discussions on Harriet are valuable; but we’ve learned that blogs comment boxes don’t always bring out the best in people.

    • Christopher Woodman said,

      January 1, 2010 at 4:27 am

      I think Don Share means like the best out of Noah Freed, Nick, Krista and Travis Nichols –the tragedy being that Travis Nichols is the actual Blog:Harriet Editor!

      Here’s a list of short comments from a single thread on Blog:Harriet that were not only allowed to stand but resulted in the banning of the individuals who were the target of the abuse.

      (Anyone who has ever been in prison, a boy’s boarding school or the army will appreciate the way the management not only sides with but encourages the bullies in the ranks. Indeed, there’s no better paradigm of power.)

      See if you can guess which of the following inane comments were by The Poetry Foundation Editor himself:


      “Why should I defer to the opinions of a second-rate poet who builds poetry on things he does not know personally?’”

      “Worse than “Thomas Brady”’s inane bloviation on every subject is your sycophantic championing of Tom’s lame causes, Christopher. The combination causes a foul miasma to hover over every thread. Why not take a summer vacation and let in some fresh air?”

      “Will you please be quiet, please?”

      “Internet fora that become dominated by 3-4 “regulars” almost invariably devolve into tedious snarkfests, where debate is constrained by the oversized personae of the regulars, which become targets: everything becomes personalized, everybody knows everybody else’s schtick; and those who don’t find the parade of hobbyhorses all that stimulating sit on the sidelines, silent.”

      “Hear, hear.”

      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.”

      “Man. This is classic… Two days later and I see that once again, and not on this blog alone, the topic has been turned aside by a certain attention junky.”

      “I believe “Christopher” does not exist. He is an alias of “Thomas Brady” — who also does not exist.”

      “Actually, I think the reason Christopher was kicked off of the AAP site was due to excessive use of aliases. Go figure.”

      “Tom and his suck-up Woodman — most probably an alias of “Tom,” which is an alias to begin with — have sucked the oxygen out of the room. Too bad. This could have been a nice little world.”

      “Shut up, he explained.”

      “Please stop raining on my parade.”


  2. thomasbrady said,

    December 31, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Abigail running out of ideas?

    Read Scarriet!

    When Orwell coined the notion, he did so without irony. The Scarriet piece challenged the reader to think about quality without irony. Abigail’s copy-piece got caught up in the usual ‘well WE know what terrible poetry is, don’t we?’ The poetry which Abigail quoted in her article was not ‘good bad’ poetry; it was wretched, and Abigail even found herself admiring the Malley in a highly pedantic manner. Orwell was not talking about poetry that is merely wretched. Abigail misses so many points. Oh how ironic.

    I’m not upset that the Poetry Foundation is stealing ideas from Scarriet, for that’s inevitable, given the quality of our work. The way Abigail bungled the whole idea is the annoying thing.

  3. Christopher Woodman said,

    January 1, 2010 at 6:35 am

    What Abigail Deutsch obviously means by “good bad poetry” is “bad” poetry written in what she regards as a “good” style — i.e. poetry which stays within the narrow confines of what wins you a modern poetry prize or gets you a modern poetry job in America today but is even more awful than usual.

    This is, of course, not at all what George Orwell meant, or what you, Tom, so provocatively explore in your list. “The Wasteland,” for example, is by any human standards a most unsatisfactory poem, dysfunctional, neurotic, contradictory and incomplete. Yet it is one of the greatest poems of the whole modern period — and I’m always prepared to put my money where my mouth is on that one.

    But at the same time I agree with your idea that the urge to imitate “The Wasteland” has misled countless modern poets, and wrecked a substantial number of modern poems!

    Hamlet might by the same token qualify as a “good bad play,” and the photograph we chose to head our article about T.S. Eliot’s views on it beautifully illustrates how awful it really is. Indeed, it makes you not know where to look!

    In one of the best Hamlets I ever saw, Joseph Papp cast Diane Venora in the role of Hamlet at the Public Theatre in the early 80s. Because the young actress was actually smaller than the mature actress who played Gertrude, the bedroom scene for once wasn’t an embarrassment, and boy, did they go at it on the floor!

    “Hamlet as a woman” sums it up, I’d say — and that’s as absurd a decision as it is politically incorrect, and what a mistake it would be to make a principle out of it, or draw up a manifesto! On the other hand, from what I’ve read of Abigail Deutsch I think she will almost certainly understand what I mean.

    The article just published by The Poetry Foundation is not her best. Perhaps trying to keep up with the awfulness of Scarriet was too much for her!

    Or the awful paradox that some of the poetry that is not new is newer and fresher than the bad poetry we admire because we think it’s quite something to be so new!


  4. thomasbrady said,

    January 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Another issue of the Good Bad poem which Abigail failed to note is the Popular v. Critical one. Abigail used examples of bad poetry that no one reads, and even found merit in a really bad poem because she found some echo of Pound and Eliot in it. Good grief. She really doesn’t get it. Not only did the Poetry Foundation Blog steal the idea of an article from Scarriet, it mangled the whole concept. Not very nice to your readers to do that.