Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Contest #2

Simon makes the point below that everyone think they are geniuses that should be published. This example bring us to the sad truth and that is that poetry is a community, which establishes rules for what is good and bad (and ludicrous etc). Therefore it's important to look at that criteria.

In large part Joyelle and I started Action Books because we didn't like the criteria and wanted to expand it. We were horrified that poetry at that moment in America did not see it fit to publish my translations of Aase Berg or Lara's book. Among other things.

Of course the criteria is not just monoglossic elegance, but also social; ie certain kinds of behavior are rewarded (not threatening, submissive).

2 Comments:

Blogger Simon said...

Here is a remark from Amish from the earlier post:

"I believe your examples, other than going through the "slush pile" all include an implicit level of establishment. How does one manage to give a reading unless they are at some level recognized? How often are journals "closed to submissions"? Where does one go to get their foot through the proverbial door? Aren't there talented people who don't have friends who can "put in the good word" for them, for example?"

In a theoretical sense (I mean, in the sense that this would be an interesting question to examine in a dissertation) you are correct. On the other hand, there are many places that are "wide open". Typo, GutCult, and a number of other online journals were very receptive to my work, as were a lot of other places (check the left hand column of the rhubarb blog -- and of course, absent: we read all the slush pile and do not ask for or read cover letters.) I certainly didn't have the correct "social marks" to open those doors for me (the doors that might respond to my social marks [Ivy League education, etc. -- I don't mention it, but it's easily googleable] have been completely uninterested in me so far.)

Matt and Adam at Typo gave me my first reading, in the Burning Chair series, and it was really important for me to get that kind of recognition and support. I gave a poor reading, and in retrospect my work was not good enough to hold the attention of the audience, but there it is.

I think many things about the poetry world are broken, and I don't want to overstate how rosy things are. Johannes is correct that certain behaviors are rewarded.

While I myself am combative, outspoken, &c. -- I do recognize that "being a poet" as an educated, white, male author, is not threatening to people even if I do "behave badly". It sort of "fits" preconceptions and while I believe the editors I have worked with are authentic people, it is clear that other kinds of writers in my position do not have these properties, and that they are hurt by it in a sort of "death of a thousand cuts" fashion.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Adam and Matt are hardly indicative of poetry at large... They're very unindicative.

By the way I've been reading Matt's book and it's fantastic.

4:22 PM  

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