Thursday, January 26, 2006

foetry business

Katy, here is that article I told you about.

The following appeared on
Poetry world shocker!
Date: July 18, 2004

"DOES POETRY NEED muckrakers? The secretive operators of the website Foetry (, a self-described "American poetry watchdog," certainly think so. They promise, from behind a cloak of anonymity, to uncover scandals among the publishers of contemporary poetry, dishing dirt on "fraudulent contests," as their homepage has it, "tracking the sycophants," "naming the names," and generally cleaning house."

K: so poetry stuffs...

when i was a mere fledgling i fell for the scam up to the point where they began asking for money. i was without debit/check/credit and therefore without means of buying my way into a big ol' mess.
perhaps then, some 8 years ago, i may have been more interested in a discussion on fraudulent poetry websites that this foetry site might be, or might be exploiting.

what does interest me at this stage of my poetry-life is the contests. i've submitted my poems to many a contest and never heard any results. my short story was submitted to a collection, yay me, but my poems don't seem to stand up on their own. they might be gems, but who buys gems when they can buy the ring or pendant with he rocks glued in already? i don't think the contests i've submitted my work to have ever been bias or corrupted, at least i'd not hear of any such allegations.

as for industry... i covered pretty much all of my thoughts in that very first long email about my feeling towards publication. so that covers it.
one last thing about the article though, it was really nice to see umass amherst all over the place. it kind of made me miss it. i kind of want to go back... go back and feel like a poet among poets again...

a: I think it is quite different from the deal (which you alerted me to). They might be both faces of the same ailment, but I don't think they should be lightly fused together. I don't think ever achieved the "legitimacy" of ( was actually featured in the New York Times in an article on the best literary sites on the web: The way I see it, while relies on the desire of quick satisfaction and "vanity" of its "victims" that are the making of the indiscriminating world of the "vanity press", come relies on the frustration that the "highly discriminating" world of literary contests and presses relies on for credibility. I think I forgot to mention that the author of was outed last year as the husband of a frustrated aspiring poet. He took down the site for a couple of months after that and then resumed it (with increased or decreased legitimacy?). I think it is all too easy to dismiss both websites, though I think they bring up a more important, profound and fundamental set of issues in poetry: Is poetry the easy and cheap art of the unachieved (think Hallmark poetry, and the general masses of Is it the new 15 seconds (not minutes) of fame? And who determines what is good (or legitimate) poetry (and I think that is the importance of I am not arguing to add a link to it (I don't think it's a site that would need our little blog to link to it; it's rather the kind of site that our little blog would wish for a link from). In fact, I probably would agree with you that it might be just a safer bet not to link to it since it has proven to be so controversial. However, I do think it seriously questions the state of contemporary poetry, its little and exclusive world that has perhaps become a tad too inbred (or so foetry, I think legitimately, asks)? Don't get me wrong: one of my all time favorite poets, Mark Strand, was named in one of its lists. Does that diminish him in my eyes? Not a bit; I think he's still one of the greatest. And I understand the almost incestuous student-teacher relationship in the world of modern academia (trust me, I've had my own share of fantasy crushes on academic mentors). But I also think there is a lot of crap out there that is passed as good, if not great, poetry that is being published by established and esteemed presses, and I think there is a lot of great poetry, like yours, that gets passes on... That is not to say that there isn't any good poetry being published by the "great" presses, but that is to say that that is not as simple of a relationship.

K: after doing some thinking and some reading on the matter of foetry, i find i am confronted with two conflicting positions on the subject.

the controversy only lingers on in me. i suppose. and i agree wholly with this statement: "Foetry is an odd beast." from the scoplaw web blog. in fact, i pretty much agree with everything said in this article (

i think is the first subject we've come to where i didn't already have a somewhat developed opinion previously. so i had to go about doing a lot of reading and after about three or four articles, i am most impressed with the arguments and balance of this one on scoplaw. i agree with the idea that what foetry is good in principle but seems to have taken off in a rather unnecessary direction. (however (a big however), i can't form my own opinion on the site, other than the mission statement, because most of the website is down at the moment. which really erks me, because i'm making judgments based on second hand information and developing an opinion based on other people's opinions)

on the one hand, no, it isn't fair, and make a fine effort to get people, at the very least, thinking twice about the quality of published work and the reality of politics within the world of poetry. (i wish there were another word for politics, because it's more human relationships ... it's playground politics, it's grown up acting like 4 year olds, chasing each other with buckets full of sand and handing out gummi bears to everyone except for the one kid they might not like, etc.)

on the other hand... knowing people is what gets you places, has always been the way of the world, no matter when or where. though, i don't know how much i like this, though i believe it is the truth. what i would prefer to be the truth would be that those who deserve it shoudl get it. unfortunatly that isn't the way.

A: I am glad we're getting to grounds where you don't already have a somewhat developed opinion previously; I guess it puts us on a somewhat more equal footing (not that I display any scarcity of opinion!). I loved your description of politics (it's playground politics, it's grown up acting like 4 year olds, chasing each other with buckets full of sand and handing out gummi bears to everyone except for the one kid they might not like, etc.) and I completely agree with you there: politics might not be the word, but as long as we're both talking about the same thing... And it is true that such is life, and nothing much can be done about it. But I also think that we tend to extend our playground attitudes to the larger civic space when we "punish the rat". I still haven't had the chance to read the articles you sent the links to, but I'll get to them eventually.


Brian Boutwell said...

Katy, arch., I read the Frank O'hara post above...came to this, and thought I'd post this link to Louis Bourgeois' interview with the, I think, creator of




katy said...

hey brian! thanks for reading our ramblings. i'll have to check that interview out. while we're on it though, what's your take on


(i'm going to start a list soon)