THE DIGERATI SHOVEL BACK: Shoveling and Shoveling on Blog:Harriet..

Shovel Grab 0 copy

Today on Blog:Harriet, November 1st, 2009, marks The 60th day After the Banning of Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords, Alan Cordle and Christopher Woodman. To commemorate the occasion, we take the opportunity to examine the only thread in that period that has attracted more than a handful of desultory comments, and that is Kenneth Goldsmith’s rip-roaring, The Digerati Strike Back with a staggering 55 Comments!

To read the most recent of those comments and some even more staggering statistics, click here.

But don’t expect much about poetry, as even the posters themselves acknowledge it’s just shoveling, and because they are Travis Nichols‘ friends and colleagues, they’re obviously proud just to snip, snap and snuggle. Because that’s how you comment if you’re really on the  ‘in’ in the poetry establishment, unlike Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords or Christopher Woodman who actually read and write it, or Alan Cordle, so passionate and well-informed on the ethical and social issues, and a well-trained librarian.

But no passion please, we’re Blog:Harriet — no risk, no commitment, no challenge, no outrage or devotion, no Annie Finches, no Martin Earls, no Eileen Myles, no one who posts poems because they actually love them like Catherine Halley, or poets they would like to understand better like Joel Brouwer, and who give others both the space and the encouragement to explore difficult subjects in depth. Excellent Contributing Writers, and there are still some of those left, deserve better respondents — not just cynics and academics and a handful of groupies, insiders and glad-handers.

How sad, and nobody at The Foundation seems to care that Harriet is vacant. I guess that’s the way the Management  likes it, though how that serves Ruth B. Lilly’s larger mission remains to be seen!

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WHAT YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT on HARRIET: Another Post Deleted by Travis Nichols

The following Comment was posted on Blog:Harriet on August 25th, 2009 but was put on “Awaiting Moderation.” It remained invisible until it was deleted altogether on Banning Day,  September 1st, 2009.

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Blog:Harriet, a Reply to Eileen Myles’ “Post on the Post,” Aug 25th, 2009:
I read Ian McEwan’s Atonement just recently, and was very struck by the following, the brilliant ‘Rejection’ letter Briony Tallis receives from “C.C,” the editor of Horizon in 1941 — which shocked me into rethinking all sorts of things.

“You apologise in passing for not writing about the war. We will be sending you a copy of our most recent issue, with a relevant editorial. As you will see, we do not believe that artists have an obligation to strike up attitudes to the war. Indeed, they are wise and right to ignore it and devote themselves to other subjects. Since artists are politically innocent, they must use this time to develop at deeper emotional levels. Your work, your war work, is to cultivate your talent, and go in the direction it demands. Warfare, as we remarked, is the enemy of creative activity.”

Imagine believing that true artists aren’t political — in 1941!

Not so today, I hope. Certainly Eileen Myle’s recent POLITICAL ECONOMY thread [click here] was a very hot one politically, and a good many of the comments discussed local issues too, like the new voting system on Harriet — and sometimes in very critical language. And the management didn’t intervene either, even when requested to do so. So that’s good, and bodes well for the openness of Harriet toward political discussion.

On the other hand, I remain “on moderation,” and many of my posts get deleted.

What I suspect is different about me is that I discuss politics with a certain abandon and vividness of image that makes other posters as well as the management feel uncomfortable. For example, a while ago I compared a certain taste in poetry to a taste for bound-feet, and of course I was suggesting that although bound feet created an extraordinarily beautiful and refined environment the taste had a very sad effect on both the young crippled girls and the men who loved them. In a very recent post, now deleted, I combined a reference to female circumcision with an early memory of my mother confronting a big hairy truck driver who was eating his lunch parked by the roadside on Route 202 just outside our house in rural New Jersey in 1951 — outrageous, but I think in the context effective. Indeed, it seems to me that that those sort of inventions are key to truly effective political poetry as well as prose, that it does use wild ‘metaphysical’ imagery and is very often over the top. I would say all our most effective political satirists have always been over the top, even serving up babies as a way to reduce crowding in the home if you have to.

The answer to “C.C.” in the Horizon ‘Rejection’ letter must surely be that all poetry is political if the heart of the poet is engaged, because abuses will always stir up the heart of those who take the world seriously, and believe it can be changed. Perhaps the Poetry Foundation needs to re-examine its policy toward political discourse on Blog:Harriet. If it’s that poets should devote themselves exclusively to talking about the fine art of poetry as “C.C.” proposes,  and not about politics, and certainly not about politics in the house in colorful language, then they’re certainly going to continue to have a problem with me.

But I’m certainly not alone because, of course, brave Eileen Myles takes up political positions all the time as do such posters as Desmond Swords, Thomas Brady, Rachel, Bill Knott and Terreson, for example (see the latter’s recent courageous post about rape!), to all of whom I’m grateful for such vividness and candor.

Christopher

POSTED BY: CHRISTOPHER WOODMAN ON AUGUST 25, 2009 AT 9:38 AM [You will see that this URL has the comment # in it that it received when I tried to post it. The comment was deleted by the management before it became visible on Harriet.]

“START A SCHOOL OR SHUT UP?” ~ IS THIS HARRIETGATE?

Eileen Myles is educating Harriet right up to her last post! [CLICK HERE]

Yesterday we showed you how she blogged just how tiring blogging really is, a genius idea — and sure enough, the dutiful Harriet community took her literally and criticized her for doing exactly what she was trying to do, and doing so brilliantly. Today she’s on a bit further even than that, criticizing our eating habits, and sure enough, the posters are all taking it as a personal disorder not worth thinking about instead, of course, of sex. Oh dear.

A mole passed on to us this annotated typescript that was smuggled out of the Chicago office. It certainly helps to understand how the minds of the staff as opposed to the posters at Harriet work, and why Eileen’s pearls are such bitter pills to the swine! (Chaque à son gout, as the French say — i.e. if you shack up with a pig you get gout.)

YOGA PHONE BURT

EILEEN MYLES: Harriet Blogger Par Excellence!

We’re hard on Harriet — I mean, we got treated pretty shabbily! But there are a whole lot of people there we’d stand up for wherever, and I mean stand up for and fight!

And one of them is Eileen Myles, who is actually past her expiry date on Harriet and still blogging, hurrah! And the interesting thing about Eileen, of course, is that she always gets everything that matters right were it belongs, down on the bottom line. Like? Yeah, you guessed it. Apartments!

So this is a little thanks to Eileen from the denizens of Scarriet, who got such a lot from her, and want to sit down and talk with her about it a little bit more.

Eileen Site Grab
http://www.eileenmyles.com

Like this, hot in the old e-mail tray from you know whom:

“The only other thing i wanted to say, but thought i wouldn’t as it is one of those things like ‘racism’ sexcism, this ism that ism – basically, not focus soley on the actress. Mainly because chicks make us with dicks, often idiots drooling, so the best would be to cut her, she’s had the welcome, now bat on as usual, according all bores at the previous dump, equal showtime. ~ Des.”

And by contrast, look what Gary Fitzgerald replies to Eileen on Harriet: “Way past time to get over yourself, isn’t it, Myles?”

What I mean by this is why do you have to wear your homosexuality on your sleeve like it’s…I don’t know…the Medal of Honor or a big red ‘A’ or something? What do these personal details contribute to poetry, after all? I think most people are sick and tired of this ‘us and them’ bullshit: gay and straight, black and white, liberal and conservative, rich and poor, cool and uncool. Why would any poet want to compartmentalize and limit themselves like that? ‘Gay’ poet, ‘Feminist poet’, ‘Latino’ poet, ‘Political’ poet. Can’t we just be poets? Jeez, get over it.
POSTED BY: GARY B. FITZGERALD ON OCTOBER 4, 2009 AT 4:43 PM

So what do you think? Did we go over the top with Amber Tamblyn? And what do you think about the Barbie School of poetry? Does Jorie Graham’s hair matter, like in contrast, say, to Eileen’s? And do you think this will get discussed on Harriet?

IF YOU’RE JOHN KEATS YOU’RE NOT SAFE HERE

Keats by Tom Title

Keats Comment

Tom, Harriets, Everybody,

We’re also dying from the inability of poetry people in America today to believe in anything, to take a position like Keats did and then to cry out in disbelief and sorrow when nobody is moved or, much, much worse, there’s silence. Like the comments on the “Keats Lives” thread on Blog:Harriet — such wonderful material, crying out for commitment, and nobody in the whole community dares! Except our champion, Eileen Myles, of course, who despite all her toughness always wears her heart right on her sleeve. And I love that about her, and although I don’t always get excited by what excites her, I always get excited by what she stands for and the way she shows it!

Eileen BW

So what am I referring to specifically?  Eileen Myles most recent comment on Abigail Deutsch’s  “Keats Lives (for a while).” Wow!

Eileen on Keats

What I hear in this post is a huge cri du coeur, because Eileen is so fierce and articulate she can say anything, yet she’s not been posting real comments for weeks, and she used to be so involved. I think she just got fed up with all the adolescent posturing, the effete throwing up just a little in your mouth, the bon mots and the martinis. Because of all the Contributing Writers on Blog:Harriet, Eileen is, of course, the one who has attracted the most DISLIKE votes, can you imagine — indeed, there were a number of her comments that were actually shut down during the discussion on  “Post on the Post” (164 comments) and “Political Economy” (227 comments)!  On occasion you actually had to click on “click to show comment” to read Eileen Myles!

That was the worst of it, but I also think it was extremely inconsiderate to Eileen that some of the posters most engaged with her got shut down too, including Eliot Weinberger, Bill Knott, John, Kent Johnson, Dermot, Thomas Brady and myself, so that she had to “click to show comment” to read her own correspondence, so to speak. (The threads have been cleaned up radically since then, but many of you will remember the mess.)

Now that’s a huge embarassment for Harriet, to have an honored writer so mucked about with. It’s also a stain on The Poetry Foundation of America to let it happen, and I do hope the management is reading this (I’m happy to say we have a huge number of visitors on the site).

In fact, I count Eileen as an ally in our struggle against what’s happening on Harriet, and she’s a big hitter like Ireland’s Desmond Swords and the Red Sox’s Thomas Brady, and although I have no personal contact with her I feel sure she is following. And her little post, just 18 words, after all, cries out for a reply like the kind I would have written. Yes, had I still been on Harriet I would have written up such a storm in response, you have no idea. And that’s what would have annoyed Travis, Nick, Noah Freed and the other male regulars so much they would have howled for my banishment just like they did on Joel Brouwer’s  “Keep the Spot Sore” (then I was writing about ROBINSON JEFFERS!)

But of course, I wouldn’t have written up a storm against Harriet or Travis or the Like/Dislike thing, or anything like that. I mean, if I were still with you I would never have been banished, so I wouldn’t have needed to defend myself at all. I would be normal, in other words, I would be part of your community, one of your voices, Yes, I would still be older, and yes, still further away from any coffee shop or blackboard. What else? I would be unique in that I haven’t got a single invitation to a Poetry Reading or an Opening in my pocket diary, and don’t even own a pocket diary for that matter!

Out of respect for my friend Eileen I’ll put my face where my mouth is too:

Christopher2_2

And you still want to know what this guy would have said in response to Eileen’s little cri du coeur against tight-assed death in poetry? Read Abigail Deutsch’s original good article, read all those blurbs and the golden copy, look at the wonderful young actor in the photo and think of Jane Campion (!!!) — then read what Eileen says in just 18 words. And if you still feel blocked, go take a hot shower, stamp on your hat, eat something inorganic, do anything that makes you less tight-assed yourself!

After that, like Gary just go for it!

Christopher Woodman