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Community, Awaiting Moderation, & Why I Heart Truong Tran
in some ways, many of the posts from the current cohort of Harriet bloggers is about community: reading series, the commons, literary magazines, criticism, ethnic and gender organizations, humans and nature, academia. even Harriet itself is a kind of community blog.
as i mentioned in a previous comment field, there is always a dark side to community formation, always an exclusion, always the haunting of what a particular community will not embrace.
this dark side is rearing its ugly head again…
kent johnson writes:
One of the liveliest, most interesting discussions to take place at Harriet in some time unfolds under _________ post on __________. I participate in that quite actively, calling some rather ugly things out, though always with decent politeness and, I dare say, good humor. One of the topics bandied about there has been “policing of boundaries” in the “post-avant” sphere. I’ve just been told that all my comments will be held until further notice. Ah, creamy ironies of our poetic climes…
John Latta writes:
Post’d about fifteen minutes back to Harriet, under the ________ thread: “Public question: why have Henry Gould and Kent Johnson been put on moderation status for their contributions to this thread?” In my cyber house, said post just sits there with: “Your comment is awaiting moderation” smirking above it. Harriet’s a purgative.
another john writes:
I’ve been put on moderation at Harriet too! And it came . . . with no notice, after I’d posted a reply to _______. Except by the time my comment went up, ______’s comment had disappeared, which made my comment nonsense — I was talking to someone who wasn’t there — a ghost! And so I immediately posted a reply to my comment, explaining what happened — and that reply, explaining my embarrassment, has been in moderation limbo! Speaking of editing: the phrase should be, “Your comment is awaiting review by the moderator”; there was nothing immoderate about my comment.
henry gould also:
They do seem to be having sort of a meltdown over at Harriet. I gauge it as less high-handedness & more an identification with [Harriet's] basic attitude. [Harriet] seems like a nice person who has a genuine anxiety-aversion to intense verbal debate & disagreement on matters of principle. It’s viewed as inherently “negative”, rather than a battle of 2 positives. It endangers the projected Harriet audience of poetry-loving little-furry-animal-loving vegetarians. The next step we will probably see is a notice saying “this comment thread has been closed.”
and if you think Harriet only moderates men, here’s what ‘rachel’ wrote:
I tried to post a comment on Harriet this evening in the translation thread and received a reply saying my comment is being held for moderation. I guess I am one of the aggressive, non-male responders referred to in ______’s updated initial post to the thread. Wow. I wrote to [Harriet] and told [her] I withdrew my comment. Even before I stopped by here and learned some of you are also being moderated, I knew my comment wasn’t going to see the light of day.
ah, community. personally, i’ve been enjoying the lively debate here on Harriet & the occassional sarcasm, and the fine combing of what ‘ad hominen’ means. so i DEMAND that the ‘awaiting moderation’ stigma be lifted on henry, the two johns, kent, and rachel (tho you can keep the ‘awaiting moderation’ on michael robbins because he’s always teasing me)!
TO SHOW MY SOLIDARITY, I AM GOING ON A BLOG STRIKE. I REFUSE TO POST HERE AGAIN UNTIL THE ‘AWAITING MODERSATION’ IS LIFTED FROM THESE GREAT MINDS! I AM ALSO STARTING A FACEBOOK PETITION!
Questions: who’s with me? why is harriet trying to stifle community? is harriet truly a community of bloggers? is travis a fascist? what can we, as a community, do to create productive dialogue here?
in a recent blogpost, johannes goransson wrote:
I’ve blogged a bit about my troubles with the valorization of “the community” in a lot of American poetry discussions. This strain of thought is perhaps most extensively expressed in my mentor Jed Rasula’s book American Poetry Wax Museum, which I think captures the essence of the pro-”community” rhetoric: the wax museum is fake, kitsch, “vocal prosthesis” (that phrase I think is about Plath); while the community is real, real interactions, real men and real women making real natural children.
obviously, this a simplification of ‘pro-community rhetoric,’ but i want to end this post with a valorization of community.
i heart truong tran because he was an important mentor to me during my mfa. he was also my first ethnic creative writing teacher. he also taught me how to take risks, in terms of exploring the relationship between ethnic identity & aesthetics. after i graduated, he continued to support my development as a poet & a publisher.
truong is well known in the bay area: he has taught at the university of san francisco, mills college, and san francisco state university–as well as the community organization kearny street workshops.
i was so inspired attending his art show because so many writers whose lives he affected in positive ways showed up. young poets from diverse parts of the bay area writing community (from all the dif programs) came through. former students drove hours to support his work. one former student flew all the way from new york city to be there; she said she wouldnt miss it for the world.
i carpooled to the gallery with poets oscar bermeo and barbara jane reyes, and after we left the gallery show (must have been 100-200 people who came through) we talked about how important truong was to all of us, how generous he has always been, how he’s created such a strong sense of community for so many of us.
thank you, truong.
Questions: do you heart truong tran? have there been any poets in your life that have taught you about community? who has been an important mentor to you as a poet? for the poets of color out there, did you have a similar experience the first time you were taught by another poet of color?
some pics from the art show: