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News: Foetry.Com v.2 Forum Archive Through May 2007
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 on: May 29, 2007, 10:06:16 AM 
Started by Matt - Last post by Matt
Hi All,

The Last Words section is now locked and will remain as an archive.

If you feel an urgent need to contribute any last words, please contact me at, and we'll arrange something.

Thank you all again for helping make a difference.

My Best,

 on: May 25, 2007, 05:07:28 AM 
Started by Thewayitworks - Last post by Expatriate Poet
Thank you, TheWayItWorks--for all that you've said. Indeed you make the mission of this site as simple and inevitable as great poetry!

And as a small token of my own thanks, I'd like to dedicate this little Asian wedge-in-the-war-against-hyprocrisy to you, dear friend--to your fire and to your work.

.......[Forgive that it's written in poetry;
.........I don't know how to tell the truth in any other language, I'm afraid.]



...............What we offer to the world also what
...............we think the world has got
...............and what we really mean belongs to us,
...............our sense of what we have to give distorted by our sense
...............of what we're owed masks, or dresses up as lost,
...............the gentle gift!—
...............two sides of the mighty Self jealously defined and
...............finely pampered they become
...............our cause célèbre and raison d'étre
...............the only thing a man would die for a public war, after all,
...............yet stoops to hide in private,
...............locks-up, launders—then, phew, just in time
...............trots out as life's sweet truth
...............painfully discovered some dry dead-sea cave
...............or lent us, rent from an old saint's
...............threadbare life or wholly-
...............other gazer!

...............that delicate young monk
...............sitting cross-legged on the funeral mat
...............with coke and fan under
...............the cartoon clock just announcing on his microphone
...............what the Once-Born taught save you time!
...............Refrain from lies and too much sex,
...............he says, for evangelical success, even in death,
...............that's how we sell ourselves,
...............rushing to establish
...............what we're not
...............and will not stand for
...............but, of course, expect to stand in good stead!
..............................................Chiang Mai

 on: May 25, 2007, 03:19:45 AM 
Started by Wilson - Last post by Thewayitworks
Our man in Moscow, Wilson. One of the more reasonable and eloquent voices.

 on: May 25, 2007, 03:18:49 AM 
Started by Ed Dupree - Last post by Thewayitworks
      send me an e-mail at Let's get together. Steven Brown.

 on: May 25, 2007, 02:50:46 AM 
Started by alan - Last post by Thewayitworks
        in a lot of ways you were an idiot when you posted at before and unfortunately you're an idiot still.

I say this as someone who has perused your books and still believe that you are producing more poetry product than the market desires by poets that no one cares about (except the family and friend of the poet)

 on: May 25, 2007, 02:47:17 AM 
Started by Thewayitworks - Last post by Thewayitworks
Forgive. Written at 3:00 AM, this version corrects first version.

       And so closes its doors. But our friends at Foetry leave behind a library archive replete with documentation and legacy. My goodness, pretty amazing what a little righteous anger will do.
       If nothing else pulled back the curtain of the machinations of the poetry elite. Fairly astonishing stuff when you consider that Jorie Graham –increasingly agitated as she was confronted with “evidence” of her misdeeds from different parts of the country- was even confronted by a live caller to a Boston NPR show about her pattern of cheating in literary contests on behalf of her students and friends and lovers and denied everything. Others documented her cheating ways at the APR Prize, National Poetry Series, University of Georgia Prize, etc. And for Ms. Graham it would get worse: An Open Records request and resulting release of letters and list of judges at the University of Georgia Press contest series shed light on behind the scenes activities of Graham and, more importantly, director of the Poetry Series, Bin Ramke. Articles in major newspapers soon followed. Two notable U. Georgia Press letters from the Open Records request confirmed the unthinkable (major American poets were colluding to fix literary contests while a university press swept contest fees into their coffers): Bin Ramke’s letter to the editor of the Georgia Press (in which he stated he was throwing away half the contest manuscripts unread even as he selected Graham’s future husband to win even though he (the future husband) had never entered the contest and never paid a fee); Graham’s letter to Ramke/The University Press advocating for the selection of her future husband as a selection for the Prize.
     Stunning stuff. The list of judges at the University of Georgia Press Poetry Series finally cobbled together and clear conflicts documented between judges and winners further illuminated the issue. And some of the biggest names in the literary world were drawn in: CD Wright, Forrest Gander, Mark Levine, etc.
     Then there was North Texas Press and the Vassar Miller Prize. This contest centered on Scott Cairns and the University of Missouri and his buddies at the University of Utah and a few other places. Founded in Texas (birthplace of Miller) Cairns dragged the increasingly bedraggled prize from state to state as he set out on the usual professorial odyssey to climb the academic ladder. At least he had the cachet of being Director of the Vassar Miller Prize and could walk around AWP where the bookless could suck up to him. What was odd about the prize was when you went to the page about the prize you found a picture not of Vassar Miller but of Cairns. Also his bio (not Vassar’s). Even more amazingly, even though the prize was named after a Texas literary treasure, none of the judges or winners had been from Texas. As I mentioned at one point, you could just as well have named the prize after William Faulkner and have Romanian house painters judge the contest for all the connection the prize would have to Faulkner or the state of Mississippi. In fact, the Vassar Miller Prize had become increasingly little known and relevant to Texas as the focus of the prize shifted to the University of Utah and the PhD grads that matriculated with Mr. Cairns. But then North Texas Press loved the $10,000 (or more) the contest generated every year even as connections between director, judges and winners became increasingly intertwined. Connections were easy to document: judges and winners attended Utah with Cairns; worked with Cairns at Missouri (judge) and attended Missouri (winner who was student of same judge who was also her thesis advisor); two former nuns who are accomplished poets, one selecting the other; two writers who connected twice at different universities and then even co-authored several literary works together published in the same year as one picking the other to win the Vassar Prize. The losers: thousands of writers who paid fees to have their manuscripts judged in what they thought was an honest contest.
      And then there was Iowa and the University Press of Iowa which ran one of the more notable and crooked literary contest series. Closer examinations followed by telephone calls and e-mails to university press director and lawyers for the university revealed that screeners for the prize were graduate students in the Writing Program, all of the judges were current or former faculty of the Writing Program. There was no prohibition against students of faculty or employees or the formerly affiliated with the University of Iowa from entering the contest. And thus the year of note in which all four winners of the annual contest for fiction and poetry were, oh yes, affiliated with the University of Iowa. Four out of four winners were from the Iowa Writing Program or the University. And then there was the famous comment by the director of the press: “Gee, it’s a small world.”
   As I wrote once, when we all did not know, when we were stuck in the middle of our Dark Ages of Not Understanding the Machinations of the Literary Elite, many of us were puzzled by the seemingly unnatural collision of literary prize, student/friend/lover to judge who was also a former teacher. I remember when we (me and a few pals) sat in at café –the three of us- over coffee with napkins trying to sketch out the seeming impossible events: teacher + student/friend/lover + location (Midwest, East Coast, etc.) + manuscript stripped of identification + shipped to New York contest, etc. + first level screeners + judge + prize. Actual cheating by a distinguished professor was impossible we concluded. So we ratcheted up our theories: an eclipse of the moon during which inks on pages turned; mysterious manipulations by unknown persons that took place in mail trucks as they traveled from post offices to judges’ offices; radio impulses from outer space that affected brains and deliberations.
   And then we learned the truth. And it changed. It changed everything. Suddenly the Literary Elite just like the Businesss or Social or Political Elite: making backroom deals, jettisoning personal values, swooping off valuables while no one looked.
   As a teenager I drove the 30 miles from my parents’ house to a little bookstore in the nearest city to buy books by Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsburg, Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, William Carlos Williams, authors of books that informed my life, helped me grow as a person. As a youth I worshipped the authors as heroes. I could quote their words.
      So I got older and continued collecting books I loved and began to think of them as monks in the Temple of Literature. Writing this I think this morning of Beijing and the Chinese who gather in the city square to do their morning of holistic and yoga exercises. I sometimes think of writers I admire performing similar exercises in front of typewriters and computers or on the quiet front porch as minds and hearts and soul coincide to reside in a peaceful center and connect to the creative stream, to the magic river of insight and knowledge and truth that allows them to spring forth with books and words that set the world on fire with searing truth and vision.
     But life and culture are different now. Poetry and ambition collide. Yes, of course, there has always been literature and ambition. And the stories about writers behaving badly are many and legend, but those stories generally had more to do with who was sleeping with someone’s wife or husband or getting drunk at a reading or some otherwise uncivil behavior. But now the monks who write the eloquent and beautiful poems about truth and beauty piss on the Temple, steal money from the offering plate, and with their ambition ground other writers into the earth with lies and slander because they haven't joined the tribe of followers. So then the poetry  (the poetry) of the monks becomes an elevated actor’s voice that sets forth an act of the imagination not rooted at the center of self and values but in the act of ambition. Very easy indeed to say “war is bad, help the poor and homeless, save the world”. The audience hears these words and nods in agreement. And then the poet, the pseudo monk goes home to continue a plotting of a takeover of American poetry.
       Iowa City is unique in the poetry world as it is the oldest and most prestigious of American writing programs. There in the city the imaginary dance and yoga of the monks is part and parcel of the Midwestern flatness, of the cornfields and farms. Out there among the flatness of a landscape of farms and silos there is an entire field of ravaged corn stalks devoted to the archiving of unpublished manuscripts of the underachieving, the talentless, the unconnected from the Dancing Monks Workshop. Stacked high like fallow wheat after harvest. Unread like stone tablets hidden away in the caves of a forgotten people. Some nights you can see the blaze from the burning of the generations of unpublished manuscripts as far away as  Minneapolis.
       But still the self-appointed Literary Elite, the monks dance in Iowa City. And the Literary Elite of Iowa City make their annual selections, tapping on shoulders the favored students, anointing the new princes  and princesses of Iowa City.
   And so it goes.

 on: May 24, 2007, 05:51:57 AM 
Started by Expatriate Poet - Last post by Expatriate Poet

Dear Friends,

I hope I can be forgiven for venturing one more Foetry post—it’s not actually a farewell but more of a greeting, a hope even, a brave new world for those who are being left behind.

Two new ideas have been suggested to me in the last few days, and I want to try to address them because I’ve never seen either of them discussed on this site. Indeed, as we close down they both certainly do open up--wonderfully!

The first is that an uncompromised poet like myself should give up on conventional publishers altogether and do it himself. In this, my last Foetry post, I want to explain why I feel self-publishing can never be a viable alternative to conventional covers and blurbs and reviews, even for an old man like me.  For I feel strongly that with the exception of those blessed interventions that friends make in one’s personal life, the True Poetry I crave by my bedside will always  have an established Publishing House on its spline—which tells me the poems got verified in the first place, that they got out there, heard and reviewed, and of course that they got sold. For this simple reason  the job begun at Foetry can never be over until all the naked emperors have been laughed off the stage, and all the tin-pot cultural tailors and their sycophants, the Jorie Grahams and Bin Ramkes and Jeffrey Levines and Janet Holmes, have been sent packing.  Others will come running out of the woodwork at that point, of course they will, so I for one am prepared. Because as long as there are tenured positions that depend on what you publish, and students willing to pay to be trained in the skills you need to get one, there will always be unethical editors and publishers, and unethical poets too, mind you, sort of poets anyway, who will fiddle the lists in their favor!

So why, then, can self-publishing never take the place of house-publishing?

Start like this. The authorship of a poem is as much involved in its fineness as the provenance of a prehistoric bone or artifact. If you can’t be sure whether a bit of bone is human or simian, as in the case of the Piltdown Man fragments, for example, it has no intrinsic value. The same can be said of a newly discovered painting by a painter I much admire, the Sino-Cuban Wifredo Lam, because although the painting will undoubtedly be just as erotic and mystifying as any Wifredo Lam, it will almost certainly have been turned out by one of the numerous Cuban counterfeiters that manipulate the contemporary art market. And as soon as I know its not really by Wifredo Lam it’s no longer erotic or mystifying for me—in fact it doesn’t interest me at all anymore because it’s never been touched by him! And the same can be said of a previously unknown haiku by Basho, for example, or a fragment by Sappho—because we all know that such poems are routinely turned out by junior high students under the guidance of gifted teachers. Indeed, one of the most wonderful things about art in general, and poetry in particular, is that on occasion almost any human being can create a work as moving and profound as a master.. By the same token, we also know that any master is capable of dashing off an adolescent sketch on a wine-stained tablecloth,  yet you or I would give an arm and a leg for it and hang it on our walls forever if we could be sure. And the converse applies too, of course--if some other Tom, Dick or Harriet did it we’d throw exactly the same sketch  straight in the machine, and curse them!

The fact of the matter is that everyone self-publishes every time they open their mouths or doodle by the telephone, but what is created only becomes valuable as a created object if it can be tied irrefutably to the life-time struggle for perfection and meaning of a man or a woman with a name. I myself have a poem on this site—but because I am so little known by the poetry reading public it is only of value because Alan Cordle, the Founder of Foetry, pinned it up on his bulletin board in imitation of Jeffrey Levine (go for the archives if you’re so new here you don’t get that joke. Indeed, I was so slow myself I didn’t get the joke until a few days after the image appeared on Alan’s Latest News--I didn’t even see the pins!) If I had self-published the poem it would still be fun, I grant, but it would have only a fraction of the value it gained when both Alan Cordle and Jeffrey Levine chose it for their bulletin boards!

Poems need contexts, they need dates, they need provenances and they need to have been worked on by credible masters, and hard. It's as if they have to be notarized with a heavy stamp, certified as genuine articles—and that’s what publishers do, or at least that’s what we pay them to do. For publishers too must be certified over time. We have to come to trust them or we don’t pay them anymore, as we’ll never pay what-his-name at The Tupelo Press ever again for his services. Great editors win their reputations in time--little ones lose them, for sure and forever!

 And as a footnote to that I’d like to say again that it’s my fondest hope the good and worthy poets among those published by The Tupelo Press will not be damaged by their publisher’s subsequent fall from garce—but hear me, I for one would refuse my book to him now even if he could guarantee me a Nobel Prize in the deal!

A poem needs a pedigree—a found poem can delight you but it remains flotsam for the rest of the world if its provenance cannot be determined.

The other point has already been covered—that I should start up my own blog and write for the world as I am writing for you here in the last few moment of Foetry. But as a writer I too need the sense that someone is listening, indeed I need the sense that you are listening, my friends at Foetry and my borderline acquaintances that are still visiting (are you there Bob’s friend?) and my enemies even (Kate, are we still having fun?).

I’ll stop on this now—but should you approach me with a question or incite me, should you stand before me with a name, even if you made it up, should you be there in front of me as a person, I’d write, oh I’d write and I’d write. What did Jonathan Swift say about Doctors and Generals and Lawyers as opposed to Edward and Edith, that he hated the latter as much as he loved his dear friends with their own private  names? Me too!

So no blogs, thank you—round-tables maybe, and forums to good causes or among real people, but even then you’d have to come and get me, and by name!


 on: May 23, 2007, 12:38:52 PM 
Started by Bugzita - Last post by Bill Evans
Thanks, Joy.


The Internet has gone broadband - has become audio/video, a television medium.  Text-only sites like Foetry are technically possible, but no one will visit them.  How much poetry/foetry have you seen on TV in the last sixty years?  Even Google is in trouble.  Google's text ads - classifieds - are obsolete.  Google will have to put up TV ads, and soon, or Google is going the way of Foetry.

 on: May 22, 2007, 11:31:26 PM 
Started by alan - Last post by poetastin
I keep waiting for like the blooper reel to start playing; clips of Alan flubbing Jorie's name, Jorie's wig falling off between takes.

'Till then, you guys can reach me at poetastin at hotmail dot com. Send me tales of your latest works...let me know when that Foetry book's coming out.

To everyone who says they've lost their faith in / are finished with poetry / plan to stop -- please don't. I've read your stuff. It's quite good. I'd like to hold your book in my hand someday. (Matt, this means YOU).

Thanks, Alan. Thanks, everyone....


 on: May 22, 2007, 04:41:39 PM 
Started by Ed Dupree - Last post by Ed Dupree
It's been a pleasure, ya'll!

A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

your pal,

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