A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Kevin Larimer

What has changed, in the last few years, is that the advice to at least act in a positive way has taken on a harsher edge. The penalty for nonconformity is going up, from the possibility of job loss and failure to social shunning and complete isolation.
—Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

This review-essay was perhaps triggered by the rejection of my request by Poets & Writers to list The American Dissident with other journals listed. Notice of its existence was sent to P$W staff members, not one of whom responded. Unfortunately, I could not locate the email addresses for the magazines 24 board members, so could not inform Celia Currin, CEO of WhisperStreet.biz; Allison J. Davis, Director of Communications and Media for The Riverside Church; Lynn C. Goldberg, CEO Goldberg McDuffie Communications, Inc.; John W. Holman, Jr., partner at Hintz, Holman, & Robillard, Inc.; Ellen R. Joseph, attorney/partner at Kaye Scholer, LLP; Susan D. McClanahan, entrepreneur and education specialist; Theodore C. Rogers, general partner at Private Equity Investments American Industrial Partners; Shen Tong, president of VFinity; or Galen Williams, founder of P$W, Inc. and owner of Galen Williams Landscape Design, Inc.

Nor could I inform P$W ‘s Secretary of the Board, Helen Macioce, former President of Merrill Lynch Bank & Trust Company. Merrill Lynch and poetry? Yep! Evidently, reviews were never objective, even when reviewers would like us to believe they were. Just the same, a number of objective observations were included in this particular review and culled from the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Poets$Writers.

Perhaps nonprofits like P$W, receiving thousands of dollars in public monies, ought not to be in the business of blacklisting literary journals like The American Dissident, a non-capitalist magazine of democracy-friendly poetry, writing, and debate. Well, P$W’s “Literary MagNet” rubric reported on certainly more “worthy” journals, including Monkeybicycle, which was “considering submissions of one-sentence stories,” Literary Bird Journal (i.e., LBJ: Avian Life, Literary Arts), and McSweeney’s known not for its ideas or original focus, but rather for its “innovative packaging.” Evidently, those journals would likely please and certainly not upset the easily offended bourgeois clientele nourished every other month by P$W. Yet should “pleasing” be the purpose of writing? Wouldn’t writing better serve society if it questioned and challenged and otherwise went against the grain of entrenched politicos, business leaders, and their poet/writer/professor puppets content with the intrinsically corrupt status quo?

Of the myriad poetry magazines and journals in America, Poets & Writers magazine certainly best represented the business of poetry and writing, which was, of course, precisely what was wrong with poetry and writing. In fact, that thought provoked me to Google “business poetry.” Numerous entries, of course, were listed. “Nick has visited various company websites, found the closest thing to a Corporate Overview, and then set about rearranging the words into poetry,” stated Nick Asbury, who included the following poem to illustrate his book, Corpoetics:

I am strong.
I am vibrant.
I am committed to a vision.

I am tremendous.
I am quality.
I will lead people to excellence.

I am delighted.
I am respected.
I am very greatly valued.

What am I?
I am the best.

In any case, the well-remunerated staff of Poets $ Writers had to confront, every several months, the task of filling the 140-plus pages of the next given issue of the magazine. Well, pages 79-140 actually consisted entirely of ads, while even pages 1-79 contained many full and partial-page ads. So, how to fill perhaps 20-30 pages with actual writing that, at least on the surface, might appear to be minimally fresh? Hopefully, subscribers weren’t simply content reading through the mountain of ads and celebrity-writer rehash, though it was quite possible they were. Part of the likely role of P$W was to act as a social community like Tweeter or Facebook, thus serving to comfort the many poets and writers, especially of the younger tie-and-jacket set, for whom solitude was unbearable. But the main role of P$W was to obviously push and bolster the academic/literary established order of writing for the sake of writing.

On New Year’s morning, I’d picked up the copy of P$W off my table and began leafing through it, which immediately provoked a flurry of negative thought. It had been hanging around on my table for over a week and was the last issue of J’s subscription which, thanks to me, would not be renewed. I’d avoided opening it… because deep within me I didn’t feel like tangling with the inevitable crap I knew I’d damn well find within it. Even a battler like me needed a moment of peace.

What certainly characterized that issue, more than anything else, as mentioned above, was the plethora of advertisements. Indeed, more than anything else, the magazine constituted a compendium of money-making ads pertaining to the writing industry. It would have been interesting to discover how much P$W raked in every year from advertising revenues, subscriptions, and taxpayer monies in the form of grants, etc. Perhaps each issue pulled in well over $100,000. In any event, the cover illustration was so bland that I didn’t even notice it until reading Kevin Larimer’s editorial on just how “stunning” it was. Self-vaunting (thinly-veiled or straightforward), backslapping, and positivity had become the prime traits of the literary established order today. Negative critique of poets and writers was simply not permitted. Larimer informed that Chip Kidd, the artist, always created “prize-winning ideas for book jackets.” Larimer was too far indoctrinated (his career depended on it) to ponder what “prize-winning” so often really implied, including base popularity and bourgeois-friendly. Sadly, most poets and writers simply groveled for prizes. Few wondered about thee often intrinsically corrupt nature of prizes. The writer today had become an amazingly incurious, conforming creature. In any case, Larimer’s editorial was as innocuous as it got and ended with the following happy-face message: “When inspired, you are an inspiration.” Moreover, his little interview with Kidd informed that the latter had been designing book jackets for the last 24 years. “I’m mainly seen as a book-jacket person,” noted the latter. Not a word of wisdom in that interview—just 100% filler fluff.

When I first opened the magazine, I noticed the first two pages were full-page ads. Now, that was honest in a sense. One of the ads was for Norman Mailer’s Writers Colony in Provincetown, MA. That spurred me to say something to J since we’d visited PTown less than a month ago. I’d mentioned how the Writers Colony served to further Mailer’s name and image more than anything else and that as a nonprofit it also served to shield his estate from taxes. A lot of dubious money issues were involved behind the glorious doors of the 501 c3 nonprofit designation. A large picture of Mailer was featured, not as the old guy with two crutches I’d seen several years ago in PTown, but as a much younger man. That kind of ageism was rampant in our society and was intrinsically fraudulent. I’d much rather see the wrinkled face of life than the young face of yesteryear. But youth oblige was the name of our society’s deceitful mask.

Page 3 was also a full-page ad, featuring the big smiling goateed face of a Fairleigh Dickinson University student praising the university in an egregious example of thinly-veiled academic self-vaunting business as usual. Indeed, was it not aberrant that colleges and universities spent so much money today on fortifying and distorting their images? Was it not aberrant for them to actually have majors in PR and even worse yet, to use students to push their smiley-faced messages?

“Juan, you’re the first student we’ve asked to be in our new ad campaign,” asked FDU.
“I’m honored,” replied Juan Gaddis.
“Do you know why we asked you?” asked FDU.
[“Because I have black skin and a Latino name?” said I.]
“Because I’m a gifted writer and a fine human being,” said Juan.

And on and on went the cutesy ad. Page 4 featured the first page of the table of contents with the photo of a nameless Latino face with the words: “Poetry gives a sense of beauty… It reminds us to feel human again.” Nothing like banality spewed from the mouths of happy-faced poets and writers! On the bottom of the page was a smiling young black female with no words. The next page was yet another full-page ad! P$W evidently incarnated the happy-face nature of writing today. That thought led me to hunt for an appropriate quote to preface this review. Then it was time for more java. In the kitchen, I thus microwaved a cup and suddenly found myself bellowing out a tune, no doubt out of tune: “Inspiration shoves me into negative phases! Inspiration shoves me into nay-gative phases! Always I am inspire-errred by craaaaaaap!” I chuckled aloud, then walked back to the writing table or rather chaise longue in the alcove where I wrote. Ah, then I noticed “INSPIRATION” written on the front cover of the magazine. Truly, the cover’s blandness had somehow de-highlighted that highlight.

Cecilia Ward Jones’ essay was featured in what editor Larimer announced as a new rubric, “Why We Write.” So, I forced myself to read through it only to discover Jones wrote because at first she was bored, then now because she was simply compelled. No wisdom at all was to be found in that essay—just an autobiography of an underachieving positive “perseverer.” Would editor Larimer be open to the negative as inspiration? If so, that would have certainly turned off his advertisers! Imagine him publishing this review under that rubric, as an example of why I write. No way, Jose! “Discover the Writer’s Life in New York City,” noted the full-page ad purchased by The New School, which was of course nothing but The Same Old School. “You’re Not in Iowa Anymore,” noted the next page, another full-page ad, purchased by Emerson College, which then simply listed its writing faculty. Thus, beaver poetling debutants would hunt through the names in search of a literary icon and when they found him or her, they’d send off an application form.

What one found in P$W, more than anything else besides the ads, were names, tonnage of names and banal cutesy one-liners like Ashbery’s famous “Writing is a meatloaf sandwich.” One would be hard-pressed to find anything remotely touching on unique ideas, including the shoving of steak knives into the heart of flatulent poetry. Instead, it was the ole name-game celebrity at its basest: Gluck, Pinsky, Dove, Wright, Angelou, Hall, Collins, Ryan, Ashbery, etc., over and over again, raking in the huge bucks on their names, not on anything unique they had to say. It was as if filling an article with well-known poet names, backslapping, and general positivity somehow made it good or rather worthy as a P$W contribution.

From every page I turned, the crap jumped right out at me trying its best to suffocate me. “There were two kinds of truths, good truths and hurtful ones,” noted T. C. Boyle under the “Page One Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin” rubric. Oh my, hurtful truths! “It was the cruelest winter,” noted Joshua Ferris. Et alors? In today’s New York Times, one of the headlines read: “When Everyone Is an Honor Student.” Well, the same was evidently applicable today to the poets in P$W: “When Everyone Is a Prize Winner.” Kevin Nance informed that TriQuarterly had eliminated the (well-remunerated) position of longtime editor Susan Hahn and would cease publishing as a print journal, and we were all supposed to be deeply saddened. Hahn of course was deeply saddened. But why didn’t Hahn, if she was really passionate, offer to run the journal for nothing? Hell, I did that with The American Dissident. The passion kept me publishing it… even if at a slight monetary loss. When there was sincere passion, there was no need for expensive paper and paid staff.

There was truly just so much crap I could bear reading, but I pushed myself onwards just the same. John Dufresne’s essay, “Writing Your First Novel,” began with a load of banality: “Where do you begin writing a novel? At the desk, of course. And how do you begin?” And blablabla. Why couldn’t I write essays like his for money? Evidently, money didn’t sufficiently compel me to do so. What compelled me instead, as mentioned, was crap or in more presentable terminology, “I write because there is some lie I want to expose” (Orwell). Embedded in Dufresne’s essay was a list: “Nine Ways to Begin Writing.” What so many needed instead were “Nine Ways to Stop Writing… Crap.” Yet the established order certainly depended on filler crap—tonnage of filler crap—, opium of bourgeois poets and writers. Dufresne stirred us to think of intriguing ideas like the “taste of Play-Doh” and “Happy Puppet Syndrome” to help inspire us to write… more crap.

Next I waded through an article on—surprise!—writer’s block, “How to Get Unstuck.” There must be anthologies now on writer’s block. Dennis Cass, author of the article, specialized in the psychology of writer’s block. Soon, if not already, we’d have specialists in the neurology, sociology, anthropology, and mulitculturalology of writer’s block. There was no end to the writer’s inanity rainbow as long as cash, prizes, and tenured posts lay awaiting in a golden bucket at the other end. If one could get over the tediousness, one would likely discover the sad hilarity. But how to get over the tediousness of the history of academic scholarship in creativity and writer’s block? Sorry, I couldn’t. “If you’re experiencing mechanized thought, then the answer might be as simple as going for a walk or reading poetry,” suggested Cass. “If you’re struggling with functional fixedness, the answer might not be so clear.” Now, if that incited you to read more of his essay, then surely there must be an academic post with tenure waiting for you. Next, Drew University and Lesley University presented themselves in two full-page ads.

The special section in this issue was on inspiration. Managing editor Suzanne Pettypiece, who thought up the brilliant idea to interview “Five Writers Who Practice Other Arts,” posed some pretty fluffy questions: “Do you paint as you’re writing or as you’re revising?” “Are there certain periods in which you dedicate more time to painting or writing?” “Do you ever feel pulled between the painting and the writing?” I mean, who gave a damn? In fact, I’d feel bad for the writer, Michael Kimball, who had to answer them, if he weren’t starving for publicity and fame. And what about the writer who cooked or was it the cook who wrote, Michelle Wildgen? “How does cooking play into your writing process?” “Do you ever use cooking when you’re stuck in a certain spot in a story?” “Are there certain periods where you turn more to cooking or more to writing?” “I cook in the same way that I write,” brilliantly responded Wildgen.

Then there was the list of 50 celebrity living authors who were supposed to “shake us awake.” Let’s see, for example: “Tom Wolfe—The white suit” (Yes, that was all!); “Billy Collins—He’s made accessible a dirty word…”; “Kay Ryan—The quietness and measured quality of her poetry…” [did that imply that unmeasured quality of poetry was bad?]; “Cormac McCarthy—He made it okay for literary snobs to read bloody westerns…”; “John Ashbery—One of the best and most enduring poets that this country is lucky enough to have. Period.” (Yes, best unquestioning and unchallenging poet cheerleader for the literary established order. Period.); “Lawrence Ferlinghetti—The last bohemian [multimillionaire]… his audience treats him like a rock star [because it has been Beatnik and celebrity-indoctrinated and didn’t want to know that he acted as grand censor at City Lights Bookstore]; and “Frederick Seidel—Sure, he’s filthy rich, but the man knows how to spend his money. He owns four Ducati motorcycles and writes poems about them.” Number 50 was the darling of the Democrat-party-lining, PC-herd Barack Obama. Give me a freakin’ break! Could we imagine George W. on the list for his book? Of course not!

Okay, I was beginning to feel as if I were toiling as a specialized skin-diver trying to unplug a massive blockage in a great literary cesspool. Well, the last time I enjoyed (more or less) such skin-diving was back in 2008 when I ripped out a 15-page plug on Best American Poetry of 2007 (see www.theamericandissident.org/Reviews-BestAmericanPoetry2007.htm).

Under the rubric “First Things First,” editor Larimer as poet-god chose 12 poets, noting that over the past four years he’d “shined a spotlight on fifty-four poets at a crucial moment in their careers: the beginning. For some reason, each “beginner” possessed an MFA. Perhaps Larimer had struck a deal with his many MFA advertisers to highlight their MFA grads. The verse highlighted was quite innocuously bad in general. Unsurprisingly, none of it questioned and challenged the status quo… even remotely. Indeed, these were up-and-coming poets of the literary-septic system here to spread diversion. Some of the worst verse was perhaps the following: “Spring-stink, the world heaves with lust” (Kate Darbin); “I Google myself,/ and I’m a racecar driver” (Justin Markes); “Thomas Edison loved a doll/ with a tiny phonograph inside/ because he made her speak” (Robin Ekiss); and “the gold rope, the wick pierces a flower’s heart/ to be blue this way of flame is to be new always (Ish Klein). As for the advice these “beginners” gave, not one of them mentioned questioning and challenging. Instead, the advice tended to be, well: “it may sound hypocritical, but try not to fixate on contests” (Darbin); “read book contest winners and the work of the poets who selected them” (Kristin Naca); and “just keep writing and revising your work” (Kiki Petrosino). Yes, brilliant student-poetlings indeed!

Unsurprisingly, the final essay of this issue, “Inside Indie Bookstores,” pushed the commerce of writing. “Once the authors, agents, editors, publishers, and salespeople have finished their jobs, it’s up to these stalwarts to get books where they belong: into the hands of readers.” The essay highlighted Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books bookstore. As for the last rubric, “Bullseye,” one literary journal (Subtropics—University of Florida) got a free ad (unless of course it paid for it) and was highlighted vis-à-vis how to submit to it. Not much in that little article with the exception of the same-old, same-old celebrity name droppings—we published blabla and blablabla. Didn’t anyone besides me get tired of seeing that same-old, same-old crap?

Finally, more amazing than the writing stuff in P$W were the readers of the stuff, who far from rejecting the crap as I did, ingurgitated eagerly and thankfully. Cite Mike Powell: “I stumbled upon your publication and felt compelled to reach out. Within your pages, I felt sincerity, pride, and truth. The type of sincerity that makes you feel accompanied, the type of pride that only the proud can possess.” And blablabla. Cite also Erin Steeley: I just finished turning the pages of Poets & Writers Magazine and was astounded when I saw the black bar at the top of the last page informing me of your nonprofit status and mission. I had chosen the magazine originally for its quality writing, but found this to be a great treat at the end. I am glad that I unknowingly chose a magazine that is doing something as meaningful with its profits as you are.” Steeley was yet another reader who never learned to question and challenge. Indeed, some nonprofit organizations paid their CEOs six-figure salaries. Perhaps P$W paid its CEOs six-figure salaries. Other nonprofits backed America’s wars all the time. P$W as a nonprofit backed the established order, which backed war all the time… currently orchestrated by #50, Obama. Yes, P$W “supports the all-important work of cultivating literary activity in urban and rural communities throughout the United States.” Sadly, however, the type of “literary activity” it supported would always be the kind that did not question the established order.

MONEY would always be detrimental to the health of poets and writers, for MONEY would always be distributed by organizations like P$W, Academy of American Poets, Poetry Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts to those not questioning that MONEY or those organizations. MONEY would always serve in the interests of the established order to bury the rare voices of dissidence. Business would always thrust its controlling fingers into everything. Just take a look at the board of directors of P$W!


mather said...

Very good essay! These magazines with their headlines HOW TO GET UNSTUCK or HOW TO GET THAT NOVEL STARTED! remind me of fashion/lifestyle magazines you see at the grocery store. They are the same, except on the fashion magazines it says: WHAT MEN REALLY WANT IN BED or TEN TIPS FOR A TIGHTER TUMMY.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks, M! How about TEN TIPS FOR A TIGHTER MOUTH and WHAT POETS REALLY WANT FROM THEIR BUSINESS MANAGERS? Hey, we could get creative here! In the beginning of the essay, I just added the names of some of the board of directors, including one former CEO of Merrill Lynch, for chrissakes! To me, that really says it all... in the proverbial nutshell!

Carol Novack said...

Excellent essay, though I do happen to appreciate John Ashbery and other writers who focus on language. It's all business as usual: MFA starlets and starlettes, the same old best-sellers, accepted literati. Ho hum, ho hum. What can one expect from a mag like PW? Or for that matter, the AWP conference, with its special hero features? America's heros don't make waves.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks Carol for the comment! Now, this is a great thought: "America's heros don't make waves."

Charlotte said...

Very interesting Tod. You put a lot of work into that critical essay. It sure is a good warning to anyone who is unfamiliar with that publication.

Carol wrote and you mentioned:
"America's heros don't make waves."

Well, that claim depends upon who you ask. I'd guess that the heroes selected by many upper class people and upper class wantabees probably don't or didn't make many waves.

It may be a comforting thought for comfortable people to think that the public agrees with them. Dare we tell them that there are still some people whose heroes DO OR DID MAKE WAVES?

I wonder who Carol would choose as a "hero"? Maybe I would be surprised but I doubt it. (I checked her profile page.)

Diana Manister said...

I'm amazed at the hard-hitting no-nonsense targeting of issues in this article!

Who was it who said that anything that exists in a context of capitalism is capitalist, including religion? Look at how churches operate; I'm being non-denominational here. Gurus ride around in limos as well as bishops.

Why should poetry escape being capitalized? Even Language Poets get co-opted into joining the system.

Individualistic behavior is a function of capitalism...buy that new car or dress to express yourself! This imperative infects poetry too when the individual "voice" is sacralized. All these boring I-centered poems expressing the poet's personal feelings account for most of the bad poetry being published. Express yourself! Buy SELF magazine, write a poem about your feelings, buy a McMansion and the same expensive sneakers everybody else has.

Thanks for your courage and accuracy in describing the problem!

I'll wager that a lot of writers who agree with your basic premise will argue for the preservation of the "personal voice," not realizing perhaps that literary history includes radical impersonal writers like Beckett who don't center their work on themselves.

Diana Manister

G. Tod Slone said...

Yeah, the essay took a lot of time... I always reread and re-edit and always finds something. Even now, I know I'd find something. Yesterday, I noticed I forgot the apostrophy in a possessive, so had to reedit. Where to send it? I thought. No where! was my eventual answer. So, I posted it before it got two old. In less than two months there'll be a new issue out. Well, I did send it to Underground Literary Alliance. It would have been nice, however, to get a few coins for the work. But they don't pay and that kind of thing evidently just doesn't sell. I did by the way get a $50 check last month for my essay on being censored by the Academy of American Poets. Now, that was nice and in a sense a kick in the face of the Academy. Journal of Information Ethics was the kind mag that paid me. The editor normally doesn't like it when I include REAL NAMES in my writing. So, that's what I made in 2009 on freelancing: $50. And that $50 will go to pay for The AD website which costs $39 each year. I've also emailed it to several academic journals, knowing of course they'd NEVER publish such a thing. I send it to them as a spur.
As for Carol, I don't know who she is, nor did I check. Somehow, her email is on my list--the bad one, I think. I thought I'd just leave it like that.
What she was really implying is that America's heroes, the ones who get the intense publicity, don't make waves, and she's definitely right: the Brad Pitts, the John Ashberys, Robert Pinskys, Sandra Bullocks, Barack Obamas, etc., etc. America's heroes are propagated and used as a great cloud of diversion to keep the citizenry from focusing on the intrinsic corruption ever weakening democracy in society. Even anti-hero Bukowski really didn't make waves. Look at Warhol: he made Campbell's, not waves.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks much for the comment! Excellent point and thought on capitalism. Wish I had that quote! Very true on religion. In fact, I read that some of the mega-churches promoting you too can be rich have even stopped depicting Christ on cross because that interfered with positive thinking.
The language poets are all tenured—academic stifled, see-no-evil, hear-none-either turners of blind eyes. I tried reading Bernstein once upon a time but couldn’t get anything out of him/it at all. In fact, language poetry is a linguistic diversion a la Ashbery’s toying with words, thus capitalist (business) friendly. I think I once jousted with Bernstein a decade ago. He too refused to list The American Dissident… on Buffalo U’s electronic poesy website. Los Passos (?) refuses to even respond to my queries.

mather said...

Individualistic behavior is a function of capitalism...buy that new car or dress to express yourself! This imperative infects poetry too when the individual "voice" is sacralized. All these boring I-centered poems expressing the poet's personal feelings account for most of the bad poetry being published. Express yourself! Buy SELF magazine, write a poem about your feelings, buy a McMansion and the same expensive sneakers everybody else has.

This confuses me. It seems like you're arguing against your intitial statement. And also, what the hell do you mean by "sacralized"?

Carol Novack said...

Geeee Tod -- You sent me the link to the blog, and I doubt that I'm on your hit list. I publish/edit Mad Hatters' Review. We probably would've accepted your essay.

I have no heroes. Make no assumptions, Charlotte with no last name, whoever you are. Assumptions are often dangerous and unfair.

Hi, Diana!

G. Tod Slone said...

Yes, I'm fully aware that I'd sent you the link. I didn't think you popped up out of no where. I just don't recall why I included MadHatter in that particular list. I'm sure if I did some research, however, I'd be able to come up with the reason. But I've got other things I'm working on right now.
You mention "hit list," which seems to be a cheap shot at perhaps valid criticism and valid "hits." Instead, why not ask me why the particular list had been formed? Contrary to your assertion, I highly doubt MadHatter would have published this essay. In fact, why don't you publish it? Hell, I'll remove it from this blog if you'd like. As for assumptions, we all make them. What is important, however, is that we make them based on pertinent experience. Thus, from my experience, I can assume that not one person contacted at P$W will respond to this blog. Of course, the possibility still exists that one might respond. But I'm talking about probability here. And so far my assumption is on target... thanks to the pertinent experience. Thanks again for your comments.

mather said...

Well, they can't publish it NOW, Slone, because now it's PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED! I'm pretty sure I can get in trouble for even saying that without permission, but I'm crazy that way.

G. Tod Slone said...

The truth is that magazine simply would not have published it. Punto, senor. Punto. Glad you're still truckin, M!

Charlotte said...

First of all, I'm glad to see new people enter into the comments even if someone comes in that I don't like. And, like most other people on earth, its always possible to guess wrong about a newcomer. No problem, I'm sometimes surprised by what I learn later.

I'm not going to argue with Carol at this point but I sure saw enough via Google about her that could inspire a zesty discussion.

I'll just share a non-critical review of a CD in which Carol reads some of her work. It sounds absolutely bizzare to me.

Here's the url to the review, its a doozy. But, thanks Carol for dropping in and allowing us dissidents to take a peek at you.


G. Tod Slone said...

Good points Charlotte! Carol is angry at me now. She sent me an email. All I'd stated was her mag wouldn't publish the essay... and so far that assumption is right on the bull's-eye. And so what? That assumption did not mean I didn't like her. It had nothing to do with it. I did thank her, as you can note, for her kind comment on the essay and for commenting in general. Democracy needs thick skin, not thin skin. Hopefully, she'll realize that and return. I wrote her a long email explaining these things and mentioning that The AD door remains wide open to her.

G. Tod Slone said...

PS: I didn't look her up on the net or the other one up either. I was just happy, as you were C, to see some new "faces."

mather said...

I've noticed that a lot of people like to swoop in on blogs and make what they think is a great comment and then swoop out again like batman, never to return, or at least never to return and back up anything they've said. They're just going to move on to greater plains of wisdom and wait for you to figure it out for yourself. Mad Hatter Review is run of the mill. The other gal seemed so silly I didn't even google her. Those two were probably "slumming it" here for some reason, who the fuck knows...maybe there was a contest...

Carol Novack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Novack said...

George -- It's time for you to come clean about your baseless assumption about me. You admitted you were wrong, so state that publicly, please. Or don't. I'll manage. :-)

Charlotte -- The fact that you deem my work, "bizarre," based on a review of my cd, reinforces my opinion of you as totally mainstream-closed-literal in your "aesthetic" tastes. In fact, my CD is full of "political" poetics, but not the type you're used to. Like most other literal-minded, "accessible" "poetry" the average American can easily "get," so-called "political" poetry is most frequently cliche-ridden, with unsurprising rhythms and a complete absence of irony, wit, and exciting, surprising imagery. Talk about conventionality! And by the way, if you knew or wanted to know anything about me (certainly not de rigeur), you would never by implication categorize me as a non-dissident. A dissident, btw, questions what is facilely digestible by the majority of her or his Philistine society. S/he doesn't categorize what s/he can't readily understand as "bizarre." I refer you to Sartre, Kafka, and Camus.

Mather -- Your comment that my journal is "run of the mill" made me laugh. My unconventional, collaborative, avant-gardish multi-media journal has never been accused of being run-of-the-mill.

I have no more time to spend here, all due respects to G. G's fine essay should not have inspired such baseless, absurd nastiness.


G. Tod Slone said...

We all need to take a step back here, take deep breaths, make sure our spines are in shape, toughen up, etc. Carol has indeed KINDLY placed this essay on her website. My assumption was, however, not baseless. As mentioned several times, I make assumptions BASED on experience. Everyone does that. In this particular case, my assumption was wrong. And as mentioned I have no problem admitting wrong when wrong. Thus, I admit wrong here. Carol was KIND to place the essay up on her website. And I'd rather have the essay on someone else's site or in someone else's magazine because evidently that reinforces. Again I did state to you in an email that I would back away from this discussion, which as usual has goten way off target.

G. Tod Slone said...

Carol just informed me that the essay was not posted on MadHatter's but rather on her personal blog. Therefore, my assumption is still right on target: MadHatter will likely not publish the essay! Surprise? Of course not! Am I pissed off? Not in the least. Business as usual in the lit milieu.
MadHatter publishes the likes of Simon Perchik, a lawyer who is content with censorship as long as he is not being censored. Excuses abound! Carol says one of Perchik's poems made her cry. In other words, that's an excuse for not protesting against censorship. Excuses abound! No thanks.

mather said...

What is so "unconventional" about being "collaborative" and "avant-gardish" and "multi-media"? 90 percent of all online journals/blogs are collaborative and multi-media, and as far as I'm concerned anybody who uses the tired old meaningless term "avant-gard" can't possibly have any idea what "edgy" means. When I look at the content, it's run of the mill. I didn't say it was complete garbage. Just average, with a slightly above average level of snob.

G. Tod Slone said...

It's amazing. I wrote back and forth with Carol a handful of emails. I tried my best not to upset her, for she is amazingly thin-skinned. Then I get a final email from her... deja vu.

"i find you bitter, knee-jerk hostile and angry. that was my first reaction ... when i read your diatribe against the poetry establishment, though i agreed with much of what you said. but not the way you said it and the manner in which you handle criticism. you don't know how to communicate effectively without alienating people left and right and you've fooled yourself into thinking that you haven't labeled me negatively or done anything to justifiably alienate me. you have, just as you've alienated others."

So, the essay which she thought was really good is now a diatribe. These people are so similar it's really amazing... and it all has to do with how easily they're offended.

"it's telling that only three people, aside from me, bothered to go to your blog to comment."

What to say about that? Well, I'm a terrible marketer, for one thing. And for another I'm sure Brittany Spears is getting more hits than MadHatter! But that's reason. These people cannot deal with reason.

"and this is the end of this non-interaction. i can't waste time trying to communicate with you when it's a hopeless endeavor, george. i won't read or respond to further emails."

Amen. Finito. No, I won't bother writing her back. Thin-skin and I don't mix well.

Well, anyhow, we got a little debate out of it... for what it's worth.

mather said...

Hell, I think four commentors for a blog post isn't too bad...but the spirit of her message is loud and clear and grounded solidly in herd mentality: you are not popular, therefor you suck.

G. Tod Slone said...

Oh yeah, back to square one. That is why, as I had assumed in the very beginning, MadHatter would never publish the essay. Thus my assumption based on experience was right on target. And obviously the only way to "communicate effectively without alienating people left and right" is to avoid criticizing them, especially when so many of them have thin skin.

mather said...

I took a look at Carol's blog and she did post your essay there. What I thought was funny was that since December 1, 2009, she has received 3 comments in total in response to all the blogs she has posted, and one of those comments was in response to your essay. I can't blame her for not being unpopular, but it seems strange she would use that as proof of your own inability to communicate or your worthlessness or whatever the hell she was trying to say.

mather said...

Oh, shit, before some proofreader comes in and wipes me off the planet, I meant to say: I can't blame her for being unpopular."

G. Tod Slone said...

Trying to comprehend a person like Carol is simply not within my means. Good luck to any man or woman giving her a whirl! You were and are right on target. Actually, I didn't see any comments regarding that essay on her site. I'll have to look again. I did thank her for putting it up there, but that was not the same as publishing it in MadHatter. She did write: "so now there's another person who appreciates your article ... some guy who commented at MY blog because i posted the article. and there are others who agreed with much of the article and said so, cause the blog link trickled down to facebook."

G. Tod Slone said...

This of course is the crux: "i agreed with much of what you said. but not the way you said it." How many times have I heard that one? It is aberrant. They must have all taken the same college course. I agree with what you say, but not in the way you say it. It's insane. What the fuck does it matter how I say it? But, no, that's not it. The key is that if I were to say it in an "acceptable" manner, it would no longer be the same thing. I've done this one over and again: THE TONE IS THE MESSAGE IS THE TONE. Alter the tone and inevitably you alter the message.

Charlotte said...

Tod, what would be any big deal about being included in just an on-line website? I bet she would not allow any critical comment of her Mad Hatter site to be included, any more than some of the other publications that you criticize.

I think I read some where on the MH website that her big on-line only publication is just once a year. Big deal. Did you see something different?

I about puked when Carol wrote this part of her last post before she flittered away.

"Like most other literal-minded, "accessible" "poetry" the average American can easily "get," so-called "political" poetry is most frequently cliche-ridden, with unsurprising rhythms and a complete absence of irony, wit, and exciting, surprising imagery."

Take a quick peek at that review of that nutty CD she created that I posted earlier. .. her "flutey" voice.... omg!!

If she is a new cutting edge of poetry its no wonder most people hate today's "poetry".

Exciting? Surprising imagery? Wit? Irony? --- all of which can add up to a glop of words that make no sense. Maybe I am misjudging her wit and irony and excitement and excitement, but I would be mighty surprised to find anything she wrote that I would like or think was exciting or etc.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, I did make a bona fide effort to bend and "get along" with her. But you're right, Charlotte. No big deal at all to get the essay on her blog, though it was a positive step in manifesting openness and as mentioned I did thank her. Why she thought my assumption that she'd never publish the essay in Mad Hatter was so wrong is odd... because it's still a valid assumption. Perhaps it angered her, and she saw it as my stating she was likely as closed minded as the bulk of other poets out there.
That is aberrant, isn't it... flutey voice... as if somehow that's a compliment? And he's got a trombonic voice! Is that a big compliment? Or she writes like a jazz guitar. Is that a compliment? Well it is in today's world of poesy.
And you're right also how she disses political poetry. The whole established order political poetry because inevitably it and she are implicated. Very good points, Charlotte. Thank you. Perhaps I'll have to do something on her. Already, I've put together a poem.

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