Saturday, July 08, 2006


k: So I was reading some older emails to put together a couple of posts for po’et’ship yesterday and that got me thinking about poetry critics and the you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours society that poetry lives in at the moment.

I don’t think this is the way poetry has always functioned in the media and in criticism. I think that there are plenty of examples of poets dissecting and understanding and even denouncing fellow poets’ work. That isn’t happening today, or at least there isn’t enough of it happening today. There are a few people who bear all and tell people when they do or don’t like something. There are forums for poets where you’re invited to post something specifically for harsher review. So maybe the problem is more with blogging? Or with those uber gracious rejection letters that say “hey, you’re stuffs really great, but it’s not *exactly* what we’re looking for”.

The main issue lies in the lap of blogger though. i think that there’s an all-to-easy to see reason for it as well; we only read the blogs of poets we really like. Why would we go about reading and criticizing someone’s poetry that we dislike? We wouldn’t. Simple. I gave out plenty of reviews of poems I didn’t like on the critical poet forums, but I only ever tell a poet of one of the many blogs I read that I dislike something if I feel it undermines or ruins the poem (and typically, I’ll only get into it if there is an easy fix that I can see, other time I will just leave the poem un commented on [[[disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that every poem I don’t leave a comment for is one that I dislike]]])

I don’t know that there’s any solution to the overwhelming niceties of blogger, but I thought I’d bring it up for discussion.

a: I think you bring up several good points. I agree that criticism hasn't always functioned as such, although I am sure there was always the risk of getting personally acquainted with the artist and consequently jeopardizing the "objectivity" of the criticism--hence the power of "networking". And I think that is precisely what is happening today with blogging, the formation of personal networks that limit criticism. As anonymous as blogging can be, I think most people don't use it as such: we end up knowing each other as individuals. But I hasten to point out that that is especially the case in our kind of "amateur" blogging. And within this model, I think you bring up another very observant point, that when we don't like something we tend not to comment rather than comment negatively. And that is a very prevalent, though more difficult-to-read, form of "criticism". Yes, that doesn't mean that every post we don't comment on we don't like, but I would argue that it is more likely than not the case. Again, as you pointed out, there are different sorts of "don't like": there's the "fixable" don't-like and the "I can't relate to" don't-like, and everything in between. And within the limits of our amateur status are the privileges of not having to read or comment if we don't care to. Which is why we end up reading what we like, because we are doing it for our own enjoyment ultimately, rather than out of duty for a magazine, say, or "the good of poetry" in general. I would hope that that isn't the way things operate in poetry programs, for example (though I wouldn't know; but I don't think so); or journals (even though it seems there is such a scarcity of poetry criticism compared to the abundance of its production). And it might be that amateur blogs simply aren't the most appropriate forum for critiquing poetry, that they are more of format where the critique is by "voting with the feet" (or rather the finger, in this case)--even though, first, I don't think such a populist system of valuation is very valuable (I do tend to be an elitist when it comes to the arts); and second, I think that a highly "influentiable" method. What do you think?

k: To the topic at hand then: (this is good, while we always have other things to talk about, I like to get my brain in gear and think critically about my pastime—I guess it justifies why I do some much of it).

No wait, an aside first. I have put up a poll on my blog (right below my profile, can’t miss it). What do you think? I said I was going to do it. As soon as poetisphere and poets101 are up and running again, then I’m starting my campaign for Billy as Mayor. I feel like, he does so much to bring blogging poets together that we all ought to do something for him. I think I’ll make a banner for people to put on their blogs and websites like a badge of support, or is that too tacky? I am going to have fun with it. It’s not serious, so why not take it a little bit over the edge? Hehe.

Okay, to blogging poets and criticism then… yes. Agree with you completely. That’s pretty much the end of the conversation, isn’t it? I mean, unless you invite people to criticize a poem of yours, people probably won’t. We read who we like, and we don’t speak out against poems of those people as an act of some sort of social obligation (aka politeness).

You also bring up the matter of blogging as being anonymous/not anonymous. We’re friends, we text message each other. That’s anonymity completely broken down and ground to an electronic pulp. I hardly knew Yasmin a day before she started telling me about her love life (which, somehow, was in no way awkward). Not that I think I’d recognize her if I saw her on the street, not right away, but I know where she is, why she is, what she’s doing (am starting to sound creepy, hehe) because the barriers were instantly knocked away. I get the feeling that this is happening all over. Scott Glassman, another example for me… he’s opened up completely in emails without any prompting and now I feel as though I know every motivation behind every line of every poem of his. I can’t criticize that; how could I? It would be as if I were criticizing my own work—for which I didn’t have to do any of the work.

Am going to go make that banner/button now… or watch doctor who… or both.

a: So, we're back to our former momentum? :) See, with these e-mails, when I'm trying to respond to more than one e-mail in one, I never know where to start or how to go about it: earliest to latest? other way round? (I tend to dwell on the insignificant.) But what really amazes me is, how do you keep up with everyone?

First, Billy's campaign. I have actually already voted for him on your new poll thingy. (I was vote #2). I don't think it's over the top at all. I think it is quite gracious of you, and I am sure it'll mean a lot to him. He does, after all, put a lot of effort into this whole poetry blogging thing. And people have a choice to put the buttons up on their sites or not. I don't think you can be tacky even if you tried!

Regarding that anonymity thing, I have a question for you: do you find that lifting that veil of anonymity ruins the experience of reading that person's poetry for you? Or heightens it? Or not affect it at all? (You know, that whole question of magic and autobiography that we approached before.)

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for further reading please see

they shot poets - don't they?
zen moon

more to come on the matter of audience and critique later. stay tuned!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

on ringing

k: I field everything through you, this is no different. Especially if my intent, in the end, is for this to grace the sails of the po’et’ship. I want your input too. In order to make this all make sense (and to keep myself from rambling on and on and on and on about the bagel sitting in my back yard, yes, the bagel) I am going to put it in titled segments. I like titles, you like titles, everyone likes titles.

Without further ado and muckery…

Signing up

Or more like, why I signed up to host the carnival. There are a couple of reasons. The first being the fact that I feel I owe Billy these sorts of favors. You link me and I link you sort of favors. What he calls “paying it forward”, which I think is from a film. The other reason is down to the reason (as I discovered through a little reading) for the blog-carnival having been formed in the first place—to gain readers. It’s essentially just a link fest. Links everywhere. I do a lot of linking. But this is super duper linkage. There are other smaller reasons (sub-reasons) why I decided to host. I didn’t want to see the carnival finish before it’d started, so I took the first week (more to do with my replying the favor to Billy). I had the silly idea of giving all the poets roles as if in an actual circus or carnival, and wanted to follow through with it. Lastly, I wanted to learn what a blog-carnival is, why it is, and most importantly how it is.

As far as actually signing up, alls it took, as you know, was that email to Billy.

How it is (how it should be)

Am still not so sure I’m doing any of this right. I’m bending the rules a bit, doing things a bit backwards. What’s meant to happen is everyone magically finds out where to send their submissions to (this is no act of magic, but it does rely on people reading and running into the announcement every week). Other carnivals have a specific email address for all submissions and the hosts are given the password by the lord over-seer the week before they host in order to accumulate submissions and compile a carnival post. This is a nice idea; I think the hosts should be the ones doing more of the work. If there’s a designated email address then it doesn’t matter so much when anyone submits a poem, if it’s too late for one week, it might get picked up for the following. Also, if someone has a few too many submissions, that person can leave them to the next host. Perhaps the person prior to me didn’t like a poem, or it didn’t fit into his scheme, I could then use that poem in mine. Better for all, I’d say.

Regardless of the email addresses, though, basically, people are meant to submit links to recent (within 2 weeks of carnival date) to the host. I think the reason for the 2 weeks or younger thing is to make sure that the people getting linked to are people who still update their blogs. There are many many blogs out there that are not getting updated regularly. Also, I think, it encourages people to write specifically for the carnival; this is the case, I’m sure, when a carnival has a specific theme.

The host then puts these links up onto their blog. Billy introduced all the poems in turn as he does with his highlights for the lists of 100 bloggers at a time. This is the only carnival I’ve been involved in, and I’m going to do things similarly to Billy (though adding a few small elements). What I think could be interesting is if someone wrote a poem with the titles of all the other poets in and hyperlinked them within the poem. A really straight forward carnival might have short segments of each poem with a link below and the name of the poet. I like the idea of this, a teaser, then go to the blog for the rest.

Reverse Submissions

It all started with you, dear. Instead of sitting around waiting for poets to email me with links, I actually reached out to some of my favorite poets and asked them to send me a poem or, if they’d prefer, I’d take the reigns and chose a poem myself. You, Brian, and Hardy complied to my request to chose a poem for myself. Cecilia requested I use an older poem, and Yasmin sent me a poem from wet poems, which I am more than pleased to support as I am a member of the poetesses of the wet. I am waiting to hear from Travis, from Glenn, Denielle, Shirley, and Geek Poet (who I just ran into last night, not sure of his real name yet) oh and I asked Russell of Yuckelbel’s Canon to submit something too. I am hoping to get some surprise submissions, and am really hoping to hear from all the people I asked to submit. [addition: glenn just emailed me after reading this thinking that i'd not heard from him yet; this was written a few days ago, though. today, i have indeed heard from everyone i was hoping to, and a few lovely surprises fell into my email box too!]

Yeah, so I went out, I asked people outright to send me something, there’s nothing wrong with that, right? ^_^ pro-active carnival fun!

POETRY carnival, katy, not a PICTURE carnival

Erm, yeah. I asked my friend Michelle if I could use a picture as part of my carnival. Also, I just emailed the Blackpool Circus School if I could use a picture on their site for my blog carnival too. I have been doing a lot of writing to pictures lately. It’s my tool against block, I guess. Those exploding dog drawings inspire me to at least write something. The last post I did with them in went over quiet well, and a few others wrote poems to them too. Can I say, I love what I did with that sleeping woman picture. Miss Sam Duffy liked them too. I am really proud of what happened there. I think that, more and more, photos are impressive companions to words. There’s an added element. Something about human nature draws us to visuals. Therefore, I wanted to include a few photos to the festival.


Yes, my carnival has sponsors. They aren’t real sponsors, I’m not getting anything out of this (except maybe a free ice cream?). I am tying these sponsorships into the photos. Michelle is letting me us a photo, so I’m calling her a sponsor. The photo was taken at the polar cave, so I’m calling them a sponsor. The same will go for the Blackpool Circus School if they agree to let me use their picture.

Obviously, will be included in this list.

Carnival Theme

I’m not doing a theme with the poems I’m featuring, instead, I am framing my highlights with a carnival/circus theme. You get to be the Ring Master—especially now that you’ll be hosting next week, hey, can I put your email up for people to send stuff to?—Cecilia I have made into the cotton candy stand poetess. Yasmin is a siren, Shirley wants to be a face painter. I think I will make Brian the Chicken Geek. I haven’t got something for everyone yet, I want to wait to see how many poets I hear from before I decide just how far I can go. I need a lion tamer, a clown, a tight-row walker, and the world’s strongest man or something to that effect.

The bagel in my back yard

I threw it out for the birds. It’s right outside the window that I look out of to my right. The birds haven’t touched it. It’s a nice bagel, whole wheat. I had to through it out because there was mold on it. Maybe birds don’t like mold. Or maybe they know I’m watching.

There is probably more to this, any thoughts? Maybe you can prompt me with questions about how I’ve done things or how I’m planning on doing things?

a: Wow! Somebody's all excited about the Carnival and has been thinking about it quite a bit! I can't say that I have any questions that you didn't cover (though you did cover many that I didn't even know I had; thanks).

So, I guess I'm going to need my top hat after all! I think I have a picture for that; I hope I can find it.

And please feel free to use my Yahoo e-mail address; you're a pioneer, going first! I'm afraid my carnival will pale in comparison to yours ;)