Wednesday, March 05, 2008

some clarifications

Now that I have some free time, I just have to address a few things to this rebuttal of my argument from Monday...

Gee, if I’d known that all the support I’d gotten from came with a stipulation of one day having to pay up at some point, I certainly would have thought twice about participating in their readings. Actually, the facts are a bit wrong…I very readily tossed a few bucks in when they passed the hat at the Poetry Crams, even donated to the Poetry Fest one year. In fact, after I had donated, and heard that another poet had been denied participation because he wouldn’t cough up the same money, I wrote an email that expressed the fact that the whole paying to read scenario made me uncomfortable. I backed down (a poor choice in hindsight) and participated, when I was convinced it was otherwise. It became a bit harder after that convince myself.

Of course, shortly thereafter surfaced Chicago’s American Open Mike anthologies, which for a large reading fee, and very few editorial standards, would ensure publication . Now, of course, he may have rejected a few—and this is not to say that by happenstance perhaps some quality poetry by good poets made it in there, but it looked organizationally a lot to me like those scams. Even now the “Thank You” anthology markets itself as a way to get published, touting " is visited by over 500,000 people every year, so if you want your name seen and your poetry read by a lot of important people, this is your chance.” Yeah, not dubious at all. I just didn’t want to be associated with something quite so shady. CJ may insist that paying a contest fee is akin to what he’s asking of poets but I, and most people, don’t exactly see it that way.

In fact, his response only illustrates my point, a illogical rant equating his actions with Time Out charging for subscriptions and Poetry Center event tickets—so completely not the same thing. It’s one thing to charge for a finished product or reading--simply supply and demand. Entirely another to dupe poets basically into paying you to publish their work, no matter how good and well-published they are otherwise. As for him singling people out for wrath, one need only to look at the repeated angry e-mail blasts that have been fired off quite frequently over the past five years and there are all the names you need. Of course, it all plays itself out as him being the victim of these malicious forces that are out to get him. Yeah, right…. Perhaps Laity has not provoked this discussion because he dares to disagree but the way in which he does it, declaring himself spokesperson of the Chicago Poetry Scene and professing to speak for a legion of small local presses none of which has surfaced…sort of like the legion of people he thinks are out to get him.

As for calling me unpleasant, I oddly never had any sort of beef with CJ during the time I was participating in his events. I tend to be rather quiet and reserved in general, so if he interpreted that as unpleasantness, that's his problem. As for being egocentric, probably no moreso than any poet, and since, as he claims, I very rarely spoke to him, I wonder how exactly he was putting up with my ego. Yes I did win 1000 dollars from the Poetry Center years ago. In fact, used that money to start dancing girl press which has since thrived and tripled in the number of books we publish. I don’t get paid for any of it and our authors only get paid in copies. I do not however, expect them, by my publishing them, to fork over cash to pay my rent, nor do I feature them in readings and expect anything in return.

What e-mail?
The initial one from Wayne Allen Jones when he took on the responsibility of organizing it. I said yes to that one, the proposed Chopin Theatre event, which is how, I assume dancing girl wound up in the line-up. The next thing I heard was that the Poetry Center had taken on the task. I hardly would support an organization I disagreed with merely because they'd given me money, even if it wasn't years ago and under an entirely different PC administration. As for Boeing, there are sadly very few corporations that don't somehow contribute to the war directly or indirectly, however much we may disagree it. Hopefully, their karma is a bit better by supporting poetry, but who am I to say. If your problem with the Poetry Center were merely based on sponsorship, I could at least respect the opinion. Since we've established that it's based on that AND a healthy grudge at not being included...well, not so much.

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