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Poetry: Now with MORE PUPPY-ness.

 
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Vraith
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:38 pm    Post subject: Poetry: Now with MORE PUPPY-ness. Reply with quote

So...
A white guy pretends to be an Asian guy.
Wins a place in BAP 2015.
TELLS the guy "I'm not really Asian"
Guy KEEPS him anyway.
Shit ensues.
First link below: Selector explains why. Read the comments, too.
Second link: the poem in question [scroll down a little].
Discuss what makes you puke [metaphorically...it's poetry, right?] most.

EDITED TO ADD: Links didn't work. Here they are again:

http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2015/09/like-most-every-poet-i-have-viewed-the-publication-of-each-years-best-american-poetry-with-happiness-i-love-that-poem-je-1.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/isaacfitzgerald/yi-fen-chou-is-michael-derrick-hudson#.hjpNoNGv0D
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vraith wrote:
Discuss what makes you puke [metaphorically...it's poetry, right?] most.
Why don't you start that out vraith with what makes YOU puke the most?

If some of us aren't in the culture of people for whom this is connected to their livelihood, we won't automatically be like, "Yeah, I'll go click those links and read about these big conflicts / flamestorms, etc."

Personally, I hate needlessly knowning about flamestorms when I'm not going to really get involved in and try to influence things.

But it sounds like you care about what all happened there.
Granted if you do "first post" you'll bias us, buuuuut...
...then we also get to know your position on this matter so we don't horribly stick our feet in mouths.. because again, it has more to do with one of the most major parts of your vocation than it does with mine.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didn't think it was that bad. Laughing

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Vraith
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
vraith wrote:
Discuss what makes you puke [metaphorically...it's poetry, right?] most.
Why don't you start that out vraith with what makes YOU puke the most?


I don't know. I don't like any of it.
The poem itself probably the least bad---it wasn't great, but not terrible...and who knows what the competition was like?

I think what riled me up most was that there isn't any less pettiness and nastiness and such in the field as there is in other things.
I know, people are people...being an artist [great or small] doesn't mean you aren't also a major shit, creating art that celebrates life doesn't mean you aren't constantly tempted to introduce your brain to a bullet.

But the situation that started it, and the reactions too it---and the level/kinds of "arguments"---it was kind of like finding out that a mass of scientists out there don't actually believe in science.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While this is a disappointing thing to have happened it is not really surprising to someone who has any involvement in the poetry world. As you say Vraith, 'people are people', and so, ego will always be involved. That it should be present in poetry where there is so little of monetary value at play is simply an example of the idea that, the lower the stakes the more intense the infighting. (A very similar theme which is related to our discussion of the Hugos and Puppy-ness of your thread title).

As the anthology editor, Sherman Alexie (whom I'm not familiar with), says, influence has always been present in the poetry world. This is an example of that influence being gamed. However, influence, because of its very presence, has always been gamed. In the poetry world it can be as simple as consistently turning up at events and making youself known to people. Maybe you couldn't game the system anonymously before, but that didn't mean that you couldn't tilt it in your favour.*

What this means is that at any given time it is not the best poems that are being published, nor the best poets who are getting recognition. What is always getting represented is the best work of the people who are most interested in being involved in the game.**

Our engagement with a poem is naturally influenced by who has written it.*** In the case of this piece, it comes across as a poem of the bored/alienated Westerner. If it were really written by a person of Asian descent then that would add an interesting twist to the idea of immigrant energy/Western ennui. (And, you could argue that using an immigrant pseudonym is a clever extension of technique akin to using a title to expand a poem.)

The poetry that interests me is always inherently political (e.g. through its heightened awareness of the enmeshed nature of language and power). However, IMO, whenever politics becomes overtly involved, the real power of poetry is diminished.

u.

* While it is not impossible, it is highly unlikely that someone who dashes off a poem every now and again, is going to be motivated enough to go to the effort of gaming the system. And casual work is also unlikely to pass muster regardless of how well you play the game.

** That this is likely most of the best work being produced is probably the case, as those putting the most energy into their work are also most likely to be those most motivated in getting recognition for that work.

*** Although. there is a case to be made that poems for publication and competitions, should be read completely standalone, without any knowledege of the author's identity or background beyond what is in the poem itself.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:

The poetry that interests me is always inherently political (e.g. through its heightened awareness of the enmeshed nature of language and power). However, IMO, whenever politics becomes overtly involved, the real power of poetry is diminished.


Yes..and that heightened awareness and language and power is precisely what is missing from the kerfluffle.

Overt politics is almost always propaganda. And it sucks.
There is a very good reason why there are great poets that are patriotic [or even nationalistic or worse], but there are almost zero great poems that are such...even if they were supposed to be that, the well-executed tools, and the purposes of a great poem, by their very nature/essence, refuse to be confined to the narrowness and barrenness/aridity of those ideas.

Anyway, it isn't so much the conflict...it is the fact that so much of the text of contention is in the language and tone normally born from a bratty child.

[[[I wonder what you would think of Alexie. You should read some.]]]

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just talking about the poem. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
[[[I wonder what you would think of Alexie. You should read some.]]]

I had a look at some of his poems online and read some reviews and criticism. I didn't find the poems that interesting.* I found them very prosaic and narrative-based. And angry. He does seem to be an important writer though, and I can understand the power of work like his, which as he puts it, 'breaks the circle'.**

u.

* Alexie referenced a poem that I found good, "Elegy for the Forgotten Oldsmobile" by Adrian C. Louis.

** Travelling in New Mexico last year I was shocked at the level of poverty in the Reservations.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:

I didn't find the poems that interesting.* I found them very prosaic and narrative-based. And angry. He does seem to be an important writer though, and I can understand the power of work like his, which as he puts it, 'breaks the circle'.**

u.

Good. I wish he'd do more funny [and non-poetry]...I think that's his greatest strength, and there are others [some of which he insults fairly often] that do the anger and the art better.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the process of looking at Alexie, I was reminded of Billy Collins.* I'd never really read his poetry so I had a look at it. OMG! How does he get away with it! After I'd read two or three of the poems I could already feel the pattern, and it didn't seem to change in poem after poem after poem.

Reading some of the criticism (which, when you find it, is fairly scathing) I found that I wasn't the only one who was struck by the repetitiveness of his work. There's a funny incident in this video (it's at 1:14:00) of an interview with Collins at the Point Loma Symposium. The interviewer, Dean Nelson (a Professor of Journalism) reads out a poem he has written in Collin's honour. It's in the style of a Collins poem. It's quite good, and when he's finished Nelson says. ''it's easy, isn't it?' Collins is not a bit impressed and the laid-back, easygoing persona he presents slips a bit.

Another review I read described Collins as a 'stand-up poet', and that's not too far off the mark. There is plenty of humour in what Collins does and his patter is very similar to that of a stand-up comedian. In fact I'd probably enjoy Collins more than most comedians (if he didn't claim to be a serious poet).

There doesn't seem to be much of an appetite in the poetry world for criticising him though.** I suppose his status puts him in places (e.g. judging competitions, editing anthologies (he was editor of BAP in 2006)) where he can exert a fair bit of power. We have/had a similar situation with Seamus Heaney. He simply became uncriticisable. Now Heaney obviously has/had far more substance than Collins, but his status meant that he was in a position to exert a lot of influence. No poet or poetry should be above criticism, and when that happens it is, for me, a sure sign that something of off.

u.

* In relation to the small amount of money involved in poetry, he is the standout exception (that I know of), along with, maybe, Mary Oliver.

** A couple of friends of mine went to a workshop of his here in Ireland a while back. They enjoyed it. They found him very unassuming and approachable.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
In the process of looking at Alexie, I was reminded of Billy Collins.* I'd never really read his poetry so I had a look at it. OMG! How does he get away with it!

Heh...obviously, we just don't understand real poetry.
Collins is like really good karaoke to me.
Sure, the person has a voice. They aren't bad...
But they can't SING.
Or...somewhere sometime I ran across a quote [IIRC, it was a music critic talking about a concert pianist]. Said:
"Immaculate. But no conception."
[[[I love that...I've probably quoted it elsewhere around here]]]

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"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
I think what riled me up most was that there isn't any less pettiness and nastiness and such in the field as there is in other things.
Of course!

Vraith wrote:
I know, people are people...being an artist [great or small] doesn't mean you aren't also a major shit, creating art that celebrates life doesn't mean you aren't constantly tempted to introduce your brain to a bullet.
Right. Sometimes I think I put over-great burdens on individuals in the set of people who I think of as "the good examples of what I want to be."
There's a phrase I used to use/think regularly, and it goes like this: "people who are supposed to know better."

But the situation that started it, and the reactions too it---and the level/kinds of "arguments"---it was kind of like finding out that a mass of scientists out there don't actually believe in science.Amazing.

(and that's as far as I got w/ reading this thread just now. Ms. Obsessive-but-Distracted is gonna come back and read what ussssusssu said, and what u (Vraith) said to u (u) later.)
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deer of the dawn's anti-recommendation of "Gilead"
My anti-recommendation of the same. (hers is shorter!)
Both are on the Watch's excellent "Anti-Recommendations of your Favorite Books" thread.

'"He will wipe the tears from all faces." It takes nothing from the loveliness of the verse to say that is exactly what will be required.' -Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
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