Monday, October 01, 2007

poetry and feminist dick-tater-ship

Okay, that’s it.

I have tried to be civil and engage the argument on rational premises. Did not bat an eyelash when it was implied I have three books because I’m a woman, basically, and it’s harder for men to get published. Did not pounce on the condescending & personal little digs against myself, Brandi, or Danielle. Did not point out, that while he seems to enjoy playing the victim here---that no one allows him to disagree, that he had to know he would bring down some serious shit when he started bashing niche presses when two of the people who regularly read his blog happen to run them. Did not say that really, from someone who regularly bemoans his lack of success in the publishing arena ad nauseum, it does seem a bit like sour grapes to attack the presses that won’t publish you and the people who HAVE had the success you so desperately crave. I tried to play nice.

afternoon addendum, a summary:

I realize now that sounds a little harsh and overly personal, but really, his points are shaky, not backed with fact, and the tone behind them whiny and self-entitled. I think this is the central argument: CA seem to think niche presses are exclusive of people who do not fit into the group, not only as writers, but as readers and audience. I do not agree, given my experience as a publisher and as a reader myself, who reads all sort of books by presses that would not publish my work for whatever reason--aesthetic divides, race, location ,etc. I tend to seek things out because I like the poet or have seen their work somewhere, not because of who published them. For all of his arguments on why niche presses are detrimental to poetry, I can give you a reason why they are actually better for poetry, or if not better, then certainly not harmful to it, whatever their particular leaning. I can give you a list of the people who buy our books, 1/3 of whom are (gasp!) men. I have no idea whether they are feminist males only that they apparently read & enjoy poetry by women in the same way I read and enjoy poetry by people of other genders, races, sexual orientations, than my own.

And now, really, that I think about it, at least in regard to feminist presses (which he was not solely referring to, though he admits that's what spawned the initial post), even if, say, his theory was correct (and it so obviously isn't) that our books will only appeal to a narrow demographic of women writers. 50% can hardly be called a niche. Now that I think about, to even make the gesture of calling poetry written by women a niche is putting in place a male paradigm where anything that falls outside of that, or excludes it, is therefore an "other" or a specialized niche. And that sort of thinking, I'm afraid, is why we need feminist presses.


Anonymous said...

eek I applaud your prudent response

I couldn't get to the link you posted but this one worked here

Juliet Blood Pudding said...

Quite a conversation.

I agree with Brandi's comments that if he doesn't like so many niche presses, he should start a press of his own that promotes the kind of inclusive writerly space he personally envisions.

I also agree with many of your comments about niche markets.

I personally prefer niche markets (not only markets for women-centered writing, but sometimes even narrower or weirder niche markets based on some strange little pop culture angle or something), because I find them interesting and exciting, not because I find them exlcusionary.

And even if they ARE exclusionary, so what? There are thousands of other presses and journals out there.

To me, it only makes sense that such entities would assert their own unique individual visions and paramaters and definitions of what kind of poetry works for them.

I am a person who sometimes bemoans or complains about certain publication-oriented rejections or frustrations, but my complaining does not involve resenting the editors. It involves disappointment that some publication I really fancy did not accept me. But it only makes sense that my work is not going to be a good fit everywhere and there are so many more venues that I can try. Any process that involves a lot of rejection is going to be discouraging at times, but I don't agree with blaming it on individual editors, who I think should feel free to do whatever the heck they want with THEIR publications, into which they are investing so very much time and energy and effort and money--and to which their name and reputation is attached.

If they started something, taking it in whatever directions they so desire and for whatever reasons should be their prerogative. Why in the world shouldn't a person's (or small collective's) small press it reflect that person/group's personal interests and visions?

Frankly, the idea of some communal, universal, all-inclusive poetry community that does not assert its own unique identity at all does not even appeal to me.

On a side note, I read as part of Brandi's comment how long she had been submitting her manuscript and to how many sources and realized that I need to do a better job of sucking it up or keeping my own frustration at bay. Apparently, I am an impatient little bugger.

I could go on...

Juliet Blood Pudding said...

Yes! They have different special paper on the inside, too. I'm excited to start designing them, but I decided to get them all printed out first (all the contributor copies plus five extras) so I could design them in one huge glorious session ('huge glorious session'? I sound like I'm talking about overly dramatic soap opera sex here)--and then after that, I can print and design more extras in smaller batches if/when I sell them. I just wish my printer would pick up the pace, but oh well. Since this is my first publishing project that involves other fabulous poets, I figure they deserve to have some extra-special love and attention lavished upon it. Ok, I shall now stop typing, as apparently some sappy cheeseball has overtaken my fingers.

Juliet Blood Pudding said...

'Now that I think about, to even make the gesture of calling poetry written by women a niche is putting in place a male paradigm where anything that falls outside of that, or excludes it, is therefore an "other" or a specialized niche.'

Excellent point.

Effing Press said...

i'm confused as to what is meant by "niche" press. it's all niche, no? what's the big deal with dude? exclusion is a necessary part of editorship. thankfully.

Pelletier said...

an apology:

No, I'm not saying men's poetry is the standard and everything else is a niche. But if I started an All-male publishment, that would be a niche. Defining what you want so close the vest that the public is damn sure whether or not to even submit.

I also apologize that writing about each rejection is sickening to anyone who reads about them. I don't see it as whining. I don't mind writing about each rejection. Why would any writer admit to such failure unless they were after something more than mere "Woe is me, life's unfair." I should take into account who is reading the blog more. Of course, that's hard to do when various other posts that called for conversation went uncommented on.

I am shocked that it was taken in condescension that I don't admire your effort, Kristy, because I REALLY FUCKING do. I may not love your work,I do like it, but I understand you earned it. I don't know how stating that within my blog was taken as condescending. Both you and Brandi are hard working poets. Talented poets. I forgot this in my blog, because I assume it is known. You're talented. I know from Brandi and reading your blog that you busted your ass. Not once, in private amongst non-poet friends or to myself, have I questioned that you earned your status. Or Brandi hers.

I mean that. I'm sorry if the posts came off as otherwise.

Pelletier said...

AAHHH, I meant, that I DO admire. I DO.

kristy bowen said...


Not the rejections sickening (actually I commiserate with any poet on rejections. I don't talk about them, since I get tired of moping, but they are very much there) but what made me sick that perhaps their presence and whether or not they are the reason for your stance on this discussion and attack on niche presses. (which I seriously hope not).

I don't begrudge you your right to an opinion, and I agree it's an interesting discussion and perhaps even something to be considered when thinking about starting a press. Of course, I can offer you a hundred reasons from the other p-ov, however, how it is a good, sound basis for starting a press. I can offer you a hundred instances in which there is still a need for presses/publications devoted to marginalized work. Maybe they'd change your opinion, maybe (probably) not.

Agh..perhaps all this blogging is rife with miscommunication and snipiness..I think we all need a nap.