DO NOT GO GENTLY... I should have held off and used the "lawd, mo drama" tag line up here, because there's been a bit of that in the last day or so. I want to go back to Sunday for a moment to give some context to my upcoming comments. During the dinner for Maureen Seaton, we (meaning me, Cherryl, Cecilia, Lisbeth and Kodac) fell into a conversation about whether we worried about offending or alienating people with our words or comments, both in poetry and in our ongoing mission to "de-clique" the poetry community in Atlanta. We all agreed that we will not be quiet and we will not keep our mouths closed. You have to be willing to take risks with your art and to further art in general.

That same evening, Kodac mentioned an article Teresa Weaver had written for the cover of the Atlanta Journal/Constitution's Arts section. It was basically a review of David Bottoms' new book, but it went on for hundreds of words, not talking about the poetry community here in the city, but quoting Nikki Finney and NEA director Dana Gioia about poetry. The article pissed us all off a bit because there are poets in this city who have national and international reputations. Several of us wrote letters to Teresa taking her to task for this and encouraging her to delve more deeply into the poetry scene rather than looking elsewhere. Teresa wrote me back and said she planned to do a larger piece in the spring, which was encouraging. She basically admitted she was trying to review Bottoms' new book, but the AJC doesn't publish reviews of poetry, which is moronic. While I don't have a problem with Bottoms' work, his commitment to the greater community is sorely lacking. If I've heard tales of him not showing up to readings, I've heard it a hundred times. When he read at the Poetry at Tech festival in 2003, he breezed in, read for 20 minutes, and left. No interaction at all. That doesn't speak well for the state's poetry ambassador now does it?

I sent out an email to people in my address book encouraging them to write their own letters to the AJC. One of the responses I received back boggled my mind. I like this poet, but the response was indicative of something very wrong in the poetry community. The response was supportive of my letter campaign, but the poet also mentioned that they didn't do "self-promotion." This brings me back to a rant I had on the blog a few months ago: if you're not going to "self-promote" your work, who do you expect will? If you're writing for yourself, that's fine, but if you want a wider audience to connect, you are going to have to get up from the desk and do some work. There remains this stigma that any poet who self-promotes is unseemly and not a "real poet." This misconception is not only a lie, it's just plain bullshit. It reminds me of a poet here in Atlanta who was bitter about not receiving any recognition, but then admitted they had done nothing to further their own career. Whether you do spoken word and free verse or write in formal or "academic" styles, getting your work to an audience is not unseemly or wrong, in this day and age it's VITAL.

That brings me to last night, I found out that local poet Bob Giannetti had read my blog and was very upset about me calling him out. I wrote the post months ago and don't feel like searching for it now, but I basically chastised him for not being more supportive of all poetry in the community. He seemed to have no problem dismissing the art of spoken word and questioning the need for a slam team, but gets his back up when someone challenges him. I would have been happy to discuss it with him. Instead he tattled like a schoolboy. Since you've found your way to the blog, Bob, I'm still waiting for the call, email, smoke signal, carrier pigeon. I believe you are a man of reason, Bob, and I would hope you would have the respect, or at least the nerve, to talk to me directly rather than through a third party. I await your communication. My personal email address is at the top of the page.

I am working with a group of people who are moving the world of poetry FORWARD in the city of Atlanta. This is not a clique. We want the doors of poetry thrown wide open to anyone who wants to participate...regardless of your style, your education or experience. We have no plans to be quiet or kiss ass to bring our message to the community. I encourage all the poets in Atlanta to let go of your prejudice, your fear, your preconceived notions and join the evolution.


BLUE said…
woahhhh ... now you've really got a file (and a followiing). i hear so much frustration in this post. it's warranted, mind you. but we've got so much more work to do. let's hope the city/world of Atlanta is ready for it and us. if they aren't, too damned bad. the guard (if there truly ever has been one) is changing, and i love it! light! ~BLUE
Anonymous said…
LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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