Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sensitivity Training


Few if any poets are really interested is having real discussions about Poetry as an artform and fewer are willing to express their ideas clearly for fear of I don’t know what? There was a time when poets who differed argued but that is not the case any more. I have never been able to understand American poets hypersensitivity to critique

The crux of the issue however is that poetry and poets are too sensitive and are in fact not engaged enough. Few are willing to take a risk and to lay their cards on the table. If you don’t like a book or a poem you should be able to say so and make your intentions clear without fear of repercussions on your own poetic publication chances.

There are many poets with whom I do not agree aesthetically for example Simone Muench, Joshua Clover, Jerome Rothenberg, Kristy Odelius, and Garin Cycholl but I still admire them as people and as artists.

My critiques are not personal they are critiques. I can critique their work just as I critique work by poets like Wallace Stevens or John Ashbery without it being an attack of them personally.

In fact it is out of respect for them that I even spend time reflecting on their work. A real poet who is confident of their skill and vocation is not afraid of critique. I may write about Peter O’Leary or Jennifer Moxley or Arielle Greenberg critically but it is out of respect for their excellence that I do this and you can be sure that the greatest insult is to be ignored not to be critiqued.


Last month I received an email regarding a Chicago anthology being published by someone here in Chicago. Ten minutes later I got another email saying that the site was interested in women poets “but might publish a man or two” if they were appropriate.

I was really steamed.

What I cannot stomach or understand is when editors are not clear about their intentions.
I know for example that if I submit to Poetry Magazine or Denver Quarterly my work will be rejected because I do not fit their aesthetic.

I know not to submit to Belladonna because their mission is to publish women poets. So if I have done my homework I spare myself wasted time and effort. But if an editor does not make this clear and then asks for submissions the poet wastes her time.

Is your magazine a vanity exercise? Or a serious forum?

As someone who submits often I know that simultaneous submissions are unacceptable and that when editors are not honest and clear about their editorial positions and you send fine work to a journal only to find out that it was never going to be considered it is a frustrating thing.

What I argued in my post on was that editors should be clear about their desires and requirements. The result of this mild critique was a reaction that I was “attacking people” and that I was “insensitive”. I did not attack anyone. I tried to create a discussion about an issue that I think is important; editorial honesty.

People have died for writing poetry.

Today in China poets work in labor camps.

Poetry is important and is not a toy to be played with.

When a Poet sends work to a magazine that is a sacred act and the poet should be afforded the respect of knowing where she stands editorially.

Am I insensitive?

to this kind of thing....Completely….

but at least I can sleep at night.