POBIZ ON LABOR DAY: My last post has caused quite a stir. Most people have been emailing me rather than posting here. A close friend has called me impetuous for making the post. Perhaps this is the case. I have to remind myself often about not getting too involved in the business of poetry (that's the "pobiz" referenced in the header), but the fact that another journal or mag is taking a turn toward exclusion goes beyond normal "pobiz." It's just sad, and a loss for the poetry community.

The same friend who called me impetuous asked if I was concerned about alienating myself out of the poetry community for being outspoken and rocking the boat. My answer to that is simple. If I have to smile, nod and play the game, I'd rather not play. There is already a faction of the poetry community in Atlanta that feels I'm just an upstart with no credentials, not enough education, etc. Talent as a poet and writer doesn't even factor into the equation. It's the fact that I haven't studied at a favored college or received an MFA. Just by injecting myself into the community, getting good press and reviews and selling a lot of books makes me an outsider to some anyway. One poet called me an "impresario," and that poet wasn't giving me a compliment. Somehow, success is seen as unseemly. Another poet even complained to me in a letter about how bitter he was that he had received no recognition despite his long career. What I've never understood is why some poets feel it's beneath them to promote their own work. You wrote it, don't you want others to read it? If poetry is going to survive and make inroads into the mainstream, poets are going to have to get off their academic high horse and be willing to promote themselves just like other writers. If you aren't willing to put yourself out there, then don't be bitter. If that somehow makes me a boat-rocker or impetuous, then I'm guilty as charged.

I took a break from editing the Java Monkey Anthology to make this entry. It's going to be a beautiful book full of incredible poets. I'm not getting paid for this. It's a pleasure to do it for free. I maintain two websites for organizations, compile a newsletter, host an open mic and put in more hours of volunteer work for the poetry community than I can even begin to tally. Ninety five percent of it has nothing to do with me, my book or my career. It's because I love poetry. It's because I believe that EVERYONE deserves a platform to be heard. Poetry is subjective...everyone has their own opinion about a particular work. I believe poetry should be judged on its creative merit for publication. For a particular journal to cut off even the possibility of the work being vetted is a step backward in the evolution of poetry. Is that statement rocking the boat? In some circles I'm sure it is. Consider yourself rocked.


David Herrle said…
Rock on, Collin! Again, I'm in full agreement with you. Squeaky wheels annoy most folks, granted - but sometimes such annoyance is useful. Maybe it'll wake up some folks who have been duped by the cult of "official" credit, the monopoly of celebrity, the missed-bullseye bull that has stolen the focus from genuine art.

A well-built chair is a well-built chair. A good poem is a good poem. No snooty elitist with a golden brain cell and an elbow raw from rubbing against "higher" elbows needed.

As for the self-promotion, perhaps folks envy your energy and effectiveness in that arena. I know that I'm not as gutsy or smooth when it comes to self-promo, so I consider it an important talent.

Worrying too much about how the "higher ups" will react to assertions like your last post plays into the "higher ups'" Rig: the undue awe of the bottom-feeders they reign over.

son rivers said…
rock on!
Anonymous said…
Here Here!

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