OPEN LETTER TO JOEL BROUWER

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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 What about all those passionate amateurs, those unpublished poets and poetry lovers that are also avid readers all over the world?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

More Keats with No Heart, No Risk, No Fancy!

LISTEN!

So much lost on Blog:Harriet! When I read the new article about the Keats film with all those seductive reviews and then saw virtually no replies, I was staggered. I mean, how could this have happened? Because it’s such a wonderful article, Abigail Deutsch’s, a sheer delight including the illustration, but where are the souls that can rise to it? Why the stilted silence?

How much I learned during my 3 months on Blog:Harriet, and oh, how grateful I was to be part of such a diverse, passionate, unselfconscious community. And look at it now? A pale shadow — just chickens pecking in the dust, and of course keeping not too far away for fear of foxes, big RED ones! Nobody dares to dance anymore, nobody dares take chances.

How I loved Annie Finch’s contributions, for example, and how they flew.  109 comments she got after “Why I Am a Woman Poet” —  CLICK HERE and your heart too will be broken.

Yes, there is Terreson’s comment after Abigail Deutsch’s article, but he’s just repeating things he’s said a hundred times before. Earlier on Harriet he was much better. Go to “Why I Am a Woman Poet” and see how he could write when he wasn’t trying so hard to sound professional. Indeed, click here for Tere’s longest post on the “Woman Poet” thread, 792 words, if you can believe it — of course a distant second to dear Desmond Swords who hit almost 2000.

Here’s what Desmond said right at the end, and needless to say, there weren’t any grumbles!

“The post contains no satire or smart-assery, but picks up on Terreson’s comment on Eisler, because this theory of a 50/50 Poetic is something which all my learning has led to and this post is merely my latest try at clarifying what is essentially one of the central planks to a Phd equivalent of my own bardic brand which culminates at grade seven ollamh (poetry professor), which i have another 4 years to go before finding out if i got there or not.”

And then I did my best to rise to all of that as did we all. Here’s what I said, and it hurts to read it again because now I’m not allowed to write on Harriet at all!

Christopher Woodman

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