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The sordid ghost of Foetry.com has stalked the internets this past week, with much being made of Stacey Lynn Brown’s tale of contest troubles with Cider Press Review.
According to Brown’s blog—and Cider Press’s Robert Wynne --Brown won Cider Press’s contest last year, but had her award subsequently “revoked” for reasons no one can agree on.
Brown says it was because the editor didn’t like her design ideas, and the editor says it was because Brown didn’t meet her contractual obligations (see Brown's comment below for clarification)—but whatever the actual reasons, the whole thing has caused many bloggers to weigh in on the strange mania that overtakes poets when contests are involved.
One of the commenters on Brown’s blog was Alan Cordle, a name inextricably bound to the Foetry saga.


Foetry, of course, was for a time the self-proclaimed “watchdog” for American poetry, honing in on the strange goings on in the contest world.
For anyone not immersed in the world of reading fees, finalists, and yearly judges, here’s a primer: Many poets submit unpublished manuscripts along with “reading fees” to contests put on by presses.
The contests offer the poet a chance to win publication from the press, oftentimes along with a cash award.*
A range of famous and not-so famous literary personages judge the various contests’ entries, picking the winners and sometimes providing lists of finalists. For most presses, the reading fees accumulated from all the poets who submit to the contest fund the winning poet's award (usually about a thousand dollars), along with the production and promotion of the winning poet’s book and the judge’s paycheck. Many times, the accumulated contest fees also fund the production and promotion of other books put out by the press.
Skeptics see these contests as ways for presses to profit from the abundance of poets desperate for readers—an obsolescence tax of sorts--and Foetry.com saw contests as nepotistic cabals through which poets like Jorie Graham got their students published and racked up fee after fee without giving honest readings to all who submit.
Devoted to documenting nefarious poetry publication contest activity in the United States through Drudge Report-style headlines and gossipy forums, the Foetry site caused quite a stir.
Articles appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other places, and poetry publication contests at the University of Georgia and the University of North Texas underwent intense scrutiny.
Detractors eventually unveiled the site’s anonymous crusader as, yep, Alan Cordle, a research librarian whose wife, Kathleen Halme, happened to have won the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series prize back in 1994.
The New York Times could hardly muffle its mirth when reporting the news of Corlde’s unmasking.
In the wake of the Foetry years (confidential to Cordle: you have my permission to use this as the title of your memoir), there has been closer scrutiny of the poetry publication contest system, and often a knee-jerk skepticism towards anything even remotely resembling publication nepotism (since, of course, no good poetry ever got published that way).
This week’s twist in the contest kerfuffles (confidential to Brown: see above confidential to Cordle) is the public airing of the usually private details of book publication. The tedium of the table of contents decisions, the author photo back and forth, the haggling over prize money--it’s a tawdry submitter beware, but it’s also pretty fascinating.
*Back in the day, mostly only unpublished poets sought out contests judged by “famous writers,” contests like the Yale Younger judged by Auden and the like, or the National Poetry Series judged by Mary Oliver, Ashbery, Lucile Clifton or the like. Now it seems the line between judge and contestant has become a bit blurred, with judges sometimes having only a few books to their names, and contestants often having a back catalog that would make Rod McKuen blush.

Originally Published: August 28th, 2008

Travis Nichols is the author of two books of poetry: Iowa (2010, Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (2010); and he is the author of two novels: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (2012) and The More You Ignore Me (2013). He has contributed to The Believer, Paste, The...

  1. August 28, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    So many of the comments on Brown's blog are of the "this is a horror story" variety. No it ain't. Getting fucking shot because you write poetry is a horror story. This is a boring soap opera.

  2. August 28, 2008
     Boyd Nielson

    The only benefit, I see, of controversies about poetry contests is that they (might) force us to examine what we really mean by fairness and equity. Brown’s blog aside (and this is neither to endorse or dismiss her complaints) I don’t see the point of 1) worrying about the unfairness of poetry contests or 2) thinking that if they were ever fair they would be just.

  3. August 28, 2008
     Matt

    Such a compassionate take, Michael, as always.

  4. August 28, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    I'd be mightily impressed if anyone could point to a single instance in which I failed to express compassion when the situation merited it.
    I just realized I used to know Stacey, so I'm not going to weigh in on this again. I wish her the best of luck & happiness.

  5. August 29, 2008
     peter freuchen

    Ms. Brown's updated blog announces that her book will in fact be published by C&R Press.
    I would love to hear Tony Hoagland weigh in on the matter.

  6. August 29, 2008
     Stacey Lynn Brown

    Hi, Mr. Nichols, and thanks for posting about this. But I need to clarify something: in the statement from the press, Wynne did not say it was because I didn't meet the contractual obligations. They backed off that claim very quickly because it was false. According to the contract, which was rendered void and can be disclosed, all I had to do before the book came out was give them the text, an author photo, and a bio. Obviously, I did all of those things, so they quickly switched the claim and made it about my attitude. It's an important distinction because they did not have legal cause to break the contract.
    Thank you.
    Stacey Lynn Brown

  7. August 29, 2008
     Lemon Hound

    Turning publication into a contest seems to me to signal the death of an art form. The mystery is how and why so many have embraced this as the status quo.

  8. August 29, 2008
     Jordan

    > Turning publication into a contest seems to me to signal the death
    > of an art form. The mystery is how and why so many have embraced
    > this as the status quo.
    Hi, Sina. Poets have always chased the laurels, yes/no/maybe?
    (Comments comparing support for the arts in Canada and the US deleted.)

  9. August 29, 2008
     Jeannine Hall Gailey

    I keep hoping more poetry presses will use open submissions (perhaps with a purchase of one of their books) instead of a contest model.

  10. August 29, 2008
     Lemon Hound

    Jordan,
    Yes, they chase, and it is nice to be awarded prizes and have one's work acknowledged. Quite another matter to have publication turned into a lottery though isn't it? And yes, we are fortunate in Canada to have funding for our poetry--tho with an elephant such as the US sitting next to us (even if it is downhill) we need that extra support. One does need to support small presses, and poetry publication is indeed a labor of love, but why not simply a reading fee? Or is that just not sexy enough?
    Yrs from the northern reaches of the imagination.

  11. August 29, 2008
     Joseph Hutchison

    "The sordid ghost of Foetry.com...."
    Let me get this straight–and I hope I'm not misreading you: Foetry unmasked the craven manipulation of the contest system by Jorie Graham and others, and it's Foetry that was "sordid"? If that's what you mean then I would say your ethical compass is cracked. I suspect it is, because you link to Ashbery's Some Trees as an example of a good book of poetry that saw print because of nepotism. (This is news to me: maybe you'd care to elaborate.) Surely the fact that good poetry has been published because of nepotism is no defense of nepotism, nor is it a defense of the emotional and financial fraud perpetrated on the "losers" of such a "contest."
    Of course, the roots of this fraud go deeper than contests, which after all are simply an expression of two distressing and conflicting forces: the indifference of the vast majority of Americans to poetry, and the lucrative system of writing programs whose administrators must be able to pretend that publication is possible for the thousands of poets it produces each year. Contests produce "winners"–i.e., poets who approval-stamp makes their work slightly more marketable–and feed the illusion poets seem to need that a large and appreciative audience awaits them.
    Contests also provide useful fodder for one's vita, which can help land a job within the writing program System itself. We now have a whole generation of poets teaching other poets only a few years younger than themselves. And what will most of these student poets do? Graduate, of course, and begin teaching other slightly younger poets. Clearly this Rube Goldberg machine can't chug along forever.
    I am not saying that writing programs are evil (I teach writing myself on occasion and was energized and inspired early on by the terrific University of British Columbia writing program), or that they damage poets or poetry. Nor am I arguing against contests per se. What I am arguing is that poets need to ask themselves if spending a lifetime in the bubble of the System is good for them or their work. And the denizens of the System need to ask themselves if there isn't some connection between the American indifference to poetry and kind of poetry the System validates and rewards.

  12. August 29, 2008
     Doodle

    Lest Canadians be too pleased about their arts funding, note that big cuts are on the way.

  13. August 29, 2008
     bill knott

    . . . Ms. Brown posted many responses on her blog,
    but she didn't run mine regarding his honor Judge Hoagland . . .
    (see it on my blog) . . .
    "kerfuffles"?
    Whatever Foetry's "sordid" effect was, at least it got rid
    of [censored] and [libel],
    so it did some good . . .

  14. August 29, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Joseph, both Ashbery & O'Hara were friendly w/ Auden, who selected the volume for the prize. Ashbery says that Auden learned thru a mutual friend that both poets had submitted their manuscripts & asked them thru this friend to send them over. Before learning that the two poets had entered the contest, Auden had declared that no book deserved to win the prize that year -- so presumably he at least glanced thru Some Trees without thinking it worthy of publication, before he knew who had written it. I think Travis's point isn't that fixed contests are OK but that it's pretty naive to think they've ever been fair. It reminds me of the liberal outrage after the 2004 election, when reports of fishy doings in Ohio began to appear. Wow, corruption in the American electoral system? Shocking!

  15. August 29, 2008
     Matt

    "...you link to Ashbery's Some Trees as an example of a good book of poetry that saw print because of nepotism. (This is news to me: maybe you'd care to elaborate.)"
    What happened was that Auden didn't like any manuscripts in the contest, so he asked Ashbery and O'Hara--both of whom he knew personally--for theirs, which hadn't gotten through the initial screening process. That's my understanding anyway.

  16. August 29, 2008
     Lemon Hound

    Doodle,
    Yes, we are always fighting to save our funding. That's part of our job description.
    One can never get too comfortable.
    That's probably a good thing.

  17. August 29, 2008
     bill knott

    these kerfuffs occur because poetry is the least-funded of all the arts . . .
    ideally of course, since those in all the other arts derive
    (steal/plagiarize) all their ideas from poets,
    then all their profits should be
    garnished taxed tithed sequestered
    to pay for all poetry publications–

  18. August 29, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Or, yes, the compassionate Matt is correct about the book's not making it thru the screening process.
    As for "The System": "The world avenges itself on those who would lose it by skipping over the due process of elimination, from whatever altruistic motive, by incrusting itself so thoroughly in these efforts at self-renewal that no amount of wriggling can dislodge its positive or negative image from all that is contemplated of present potentialities or the great sane simplifications to come."

  19. August 29, 2008
     Daisy

    Sina--But why is a reading fee better than a contest fee? Daisy

  20. August 29, 2008
     Lemon Hound

    Daisy,
    A reading fee isn't entering into a lottery...it's supporting a press for the service it's offering, which is reading through manuscripts. Not sure what other options there are, surely there are more.
    One hears of people entering contests year after year, ten years and more I have heard, rather than have something published without the contest stamp.
    Happy weekend all.

  21. August 29, 2008
     Travis Nichols

    Joseph,
    Though I do think the Foetry.com business was a sordid kerfuffle--often intentionally so--I also think it did some good at first. The contest system needed scrutiny, and perhaps the only way to get people to take the problems seriously was through agitation. After it's initial splash though, it seemed to me that it became a repository for poetry snark, gossip, and innuendo. Entertaining as all of that was, it became a parody of itself and little more than a distraction. From what, I'm not totally sure.
    Travis

  22. August 29, 2008
     Daisy

    Sina--
    But suppose a press already knows who they want to publish and uses the reading fees from over-the-transom submitters to fund the publication? Isn't it pretty much the same thing as the press that knows who they want to win the contest and charges fees to enter anyway? I mean that if someone wants to run things dishonestly, they're going to run it dishonestly, whatever they call their fees. And if not, not. Seems like it's possibly even more of a lottery, only without the cash prize. I mean, I agree, there's no reason for people to stick only with the contest system, but it seems like the main reason to submit outside the contest system is to expand your chances of winning the lottery.
    Best,
    Daisy

  23. August 29, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    >> Not sure what other options there are, surely there are more. One hears of people entering contests year after year, ten years and more I have heard, rather than have something published without the contest stamp.
    Did an angel speak? Are we really having this conversation? Here are just a few of the dozens of terrific younger poets writing in English one could name who have published very good books of poetry without winning (or even entering) a single contest: Lisa Jarnot, Jennifer Moxley, William Fuller, Tom Pickard, Michael O'Brien, Lisa Robertson, Doug Powell, Chicu Reddy, Anselm Berrigan....
    Some of these strike me as the best young English-language poets writing today.

  24. August 29, 2008
     Dorn Country

    "Lisa Jarnot, Jennifer Moxley, William Fuller, Tom Pickard, Michael O'Brien, Lisa Robertson, Doug Powell, Chicu Reddy, Anselm Berrigan...."
    You sure about that? That list? Methinks a few of them have worked the contest system, a bit. And beyond that, and perhaps to an academic such as you this doesn't matter, but how many on that list are striving for, or already have, tenure? Awards matter in that matter. But perhaps more importantly, presenting oneself as a "viable" member of the academic community matters when working the tenure system. So even if none of these poets has ever won a contest (which is not true), or even if none of these poets has ever entered a contest (which is also untrue), they still participate in the privilege of the system that rewards award winners, and I doubt, save perhaps Jarnot, that any of them would turn down an award their publisher entered them into. But enlighten me, M. Robbins, as you seem always prepared with the right way.

  25. August 29, 2008
     Matt

    The compassionate Matt is on top of things.
    As for The System, "All this comes as no surprise, it is even somewhat of a relief, and better than the dire sequel that those precocious moments seemed to promise, cataclysms instead of the ominous hush that now lies over everything. And who is to say whether or not this silence isn't the very one you requested so as to be able to speak? Perhaps it seems ominous only because it is concentrating so intensely on you and what you have to say."

  26. August 29, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Tell me, o Niemandes Klee, if you know, which of the aforementioned have won the contests. I might, as the bard saith, be wrong. And, yes, I know some of them (because I know some of them) have worked the contest system -- "or even entering" wasn't meant to apply to tout. But as far as I know, these are not winners.
    But, yes, they are winners: some of them have won awards other than contests. "They still participate in the privilege of" &c. Absolutely. I am not claiming for them garlands of purity. Nor am I denying the validity or severity of the charges that might be leveled against them! Write up the bill, I will deliver it personally, & ask them for their publishers' cell numbers.
    One understands there are those who have won, say, the Whitman who might be, ah, prickly about the subject. Let me say: I have nothing agin the entering & winning of these heroic contests. I only think it self-defeating & sad to imagine they're the only flame in town.

  27. August 30, 2008
     nick

    if reading/contest fees essentially cover book production costs, then what we have is a form of self-publishing: poets, collectively, fund their own publication; but those who appear in print do so as individuals.
    so why not self-publish directly? obviously, because only certain authorities are deemed capable of vesting a given book with symbolic power: Jorie Graham? Wesleyan UP? Ron Silliman? the subpress collective? all, for some poets, could be the right answer; all could also be the wrong answer. what do you want people to "know" about your book before they open the cover?
    if you want to "work" the university system as a poet, you can publish a book with a university press, you can get a PhD, or you can be "worked" by the system as exploited part-time labor (the first two being necessary but not sufficient for those who wish to avoid the third)...

  28. August 30, 2008
     jane

    MR, now yr seein' phantoms everywhere. Mine own thoughts on phaux and contests long-standingly summarized here (http://janedark.com/2005/06/almost_geniuses.html). Nor would I ever use a pseud involving that prick Dorn. I do think that "contests" misses the mark as a bogeyman, leaving free for example the welter of wunders who were simply placed by their mentor with a publisher (probably a higher number than dubious contest winners). Or and also, isn't payback the issue? It would be more interesting to have website tracking when poets make positive reviews of others who've blurbed their books, or etc. And are any of these more corrupt(ed) than purists persisting beyond the world of influence via inherited wealth? We can has systemic analysis?

  29. August 30, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    OK, Matt ftw.

  30. August 30, 2008
     Boyd Nielson

    Michael and Nick, that’s right: the poetry world is a rotten corpse, through and through. There is no (or hardly any) money in it, even for those (very very few) on top. Or, worse, there is tainted money everywhere, and every poet wants a slice of the award pie, a slice of the tenure pie, a slice of the now-obscenely-wealthy Poetry Foundation pie. Or, just as bad, they want to be virtuous and renounce their slice, and then we’re back to where we began. And this will continue with or without fair contests and, indeed, with or without contests at all. What is the point then of focusing so much attention and energy on 1) following, say, Cordle in obsessing over the fairness of contests or 2) following, say, Silliman in proposing alternatives to contests? Neither option, I insist, means that one is fighting the good fight or pushing for a relative improvement in a fallen world.
    But just because it makes no difference whether we are appalled by unfair poetry competitions doesn’t mean it makes no difference whether we are appalled by injustice and inequity. In fact, the former makes a fine distraction for poets to overlook the latter.

  31. August 30, 2008
     Boyd Nielson

    Michael and Nick, that’s right: the poetry world is a rotten corpse, through and through. There is no (or hardly any) money in it, even for those (very very few) on top. Or, worse, there is tainted money everywhere, and every poet wants a slice of the award pie, a slice of the tenure pie, a slice of the now-obscenely-wealthy Poetry Foundation pie. Or, just as bad, they want to be virtuous and renounce their slice, and then we’re back to where we began. And this will continue with or without fair contests and, indeed, with or without contests at all. What is the point then of focusing so much attention and energy on 1) following, say, Cordle in obsessing over the fairness of contests or 2) following, say, Silliman in proposing alternatives to contests? Neither option, I insist, means that one is fighting the good fight or pushing for a relative improvement in a fallen world.
    But just because it makes no difference whether we are appalled by unfair poetry competitions doesn’t mean it makes no difference whether we are appalled by injustice and inequity. In fact, the former makes a fine distraction for poets to overlook the latter.

  32. August 30, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Boyd: Agreed. But I still want my slice. Look into my slice for me. Please. No, really.
    Jane: Sorry! But it's yr own damn fault for being so many phantoms.
    Put me down for systemisch anurlysize. We await ur instrucsions.

  33. August 30, 2008
     Lemon Hound

    Daisy,
    I suppose so, sure, all things can be tampered with. But as the woman who won and had her book revoked realized, she had no idea who was she giving her manuscript to and why when she entered and won. What does one support when one buys into that model? And buying in continues to give the contest model weight and meaning to be sure--more contests every day. If one thinks of poetry as a conversation, the contest model seems less relevant. Do you want to have a conversation, to dialogue in poetry, or win a prize?
    As someone pointed out, there are many who don't take that route to publication. It seems what those poets have in common is a belief in poetry and publication as community and conversation.
    It's complicated, yes? It needs to be interrogated.

  34. August 30, 2008
     Boyd Nielson

    Speaking of phantoms: it appears I was shadowed by myself. And a figure that resembles me in the fantasia wants to recommend that everyone read Jane’s fine comments on the phaullabaloo, especially this bit: “In short, the shocking revelations that phauxetry achieved via a close inspection of the territory are exactly what anyone who isn’t severely mentally deficient could determine by taking the measure of free market capitalism.”
    That, to me, seems right on. That is, in fact, the beast foetry heralded as Bigfoot. And surely having a website tracking when poets make positive reviews of others who have blurbed their books, or etc. would not be a meaningful or interesting place to begin either. No kind of watchdog website whatsoever would make any sort of difference. If the problem is the free market, you’re not going to shame it into a corner. And without a doubt it is the problem.

  35. August 30, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    Josh Clover said:
    >Nor would I ever use a pseud involving that prick Dorn.
    Nor would you probably say something like that, I'd wager (knowing what was best for your posty-avant theoretical fanny), if Dorn was still alive and kicking...
    Kent

  36. August 30, 2008
     bill knott

    "the problem" is that the funding for the arts
    in this country is being misappropriated:
    the other arts are getting most of the
    money, and poetry is getting the least . . .
    my solution (sit-ins, pickets, boycotts and all the other forms of protest
    used by underclasses to gain their rightful share)
    (see my blog for further fulmination)
    may not work
    but i don't see any practical ideas from anybody here
    for how to fix this shameful inequity . . .
    climb down from your theory clouds and come up
    with some dollars and cents schemes . . .

  37. August 30, 2008
     bill knott

    . . . don't know if you'll run my previous comment . . .
    the date of the "fulmination" entry mentioned is August 27 on my blog–––
    i'm appending it below, but it's probably too long and too splenetic to reprint here:
    How I Created and Then Published My Collaborative Chapbook with My Own Micropress and Made All My Chapbook Dreams Come True
    is the headline of a long post today in the blog of young poet Reb Livingston (google "Home-Schooled by a cackling jackal")––
    I should admire and applaud her efforts,
    but I'm sorry to say I think private individual projects like hers are largely shortsighted and misguided:
    one might say they treat the symptoms, not the disease.
    The problem is systemic, and should be attacked on a systemic level––
    poetry is the least-funded of the arts,
    and that underfunding occurs in a culture/society
    which of course underfunds all the arts to some degree,
    but poetry suffers the worse––
    in today's NYTimes Arts section, extensive reports appear on the New York City Opera and the MTV Video Awards etc, in other words the important arts are covered in depth and detail,
    whereas as usual not a word about poetry or poetry news (Cider Press brouhaha, anyone?)––
    page B2, below the fold:
    "Guggenheim to receive $1 Million Award"––
    "The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced that it has been selected for a $1 million special award from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its coming exhibition 'The Third Mind: American Artists contemplate Asia . . .' at the Guggenheim Museum" . . .
    Livingston in a recent post estimated the amount paid by USA poets (USAPOs for short) to enter book contests is yearly one million dollars . . .
    USAPOs whine complain about paying these fees to little-press publishers . . . the publishers whine complain about having to charge these fees in order to pay for the cost of printing the books . . . it's a vicious circle-jerk where no one gets off . . .
    and nobody in USAPO it seems gets frustrated enough to actually attack the root problem,
    which is the normative underfunding of poetry by the cultural powers and dominions . . .
    The foundations and institutions have the money, but they're not giving it to poetry––
    that's the basic cause. And USAPO won't do anything to change that––
    they won't unite and fight for their due.
    They won't picket the Guggenheim Museum/Foundation (or the NEH) in protest, they won't urge a boycott of this exhibit, they won't plaster this event with leaflets demanding equal funding for poetry––
    which incidently I'm only mentioning because it's in today's paper, it's only an illustration, an example of so many other misappropriations––
    Yes, misappropriation, because this million bucks should be the million bucks Livingston speaks of––
    this million (and so much more) should be going to USAPO––
    but hey, USAPOs don't want that money, really, do they, they want to live via the old virtues of self-reliance,
    look at Livingston for example––
    she's not a lazybum welfare-queen waiting for a handout from the government, she's not sitting on her duff waiting for a topdown endowment,
    no, she's doing it the good-old-fashioned American way,
    the "small business model," the "mom-and-pop shop" that made this country great,
    she's doing it solo, she's being an entrepreneur . . . and how apt the title of her blog:
    "home-schooled" . . . home-schooling: yes, that's the philosophy advocated by the Christian Conservatives that lead this nation,
    isn't it? (check next week's Republican convention for further extollments of this ideal.)–
    As opposed to public enterprise, collective economy . . . ?
    *
    as I say above, I'm plucking the Guggie exhibit out of today's paper and using it as an example
    (check tomorrow's paper for more news about the nonfunding-of-poetry: it's a daily feature)––
    and ditto I'm using Reb Livingston as an example plucked out, for which I apologize––
    and I hope she won't be offended when I say I think that that million dollars now going to the museum
    should instead be going to her
    and to other young poets like her––
    *
    PS.
    and to those of you saying, What good is picketing the Guggie going to do––
    see the opening of this exhibit, our Borgias there in their Medici masks,
    in their pride,
    and that's where you have to hit them, in their pride––
    because their pose is to be patrons of the arts,
    they self-esteem themselves on how highminded how elite that patronage proves they are––
    it's part of their PR–
    but now a picketline of poets screams curses at them,
    a gauntlet of poets hurls leaflets and posters and gets handcuffed mass-arrested
    for disturbing the hauteur of smug Maecenas––
    for puncturing that complacent aura of Kultur––
    and if you reply, Well that won't work, that will just make them hate poets––
    really? Hey, they already hate you, in case you didn't notice––
    or did you imagine their policy of having poetry be the worst-funded of all the arts
    is because they love you best of all the arts,
    is that your ironic theory?––
    Attacking them with protests at the museum or the concert hall or the opera house,
    lying down in those aisles and galleries with passive resistance nonviolent refusal to move (we shall not be moved)––
    no, that may not work––
    but what you're doing now, does that work?––
    sucking up to them, petitioning them, filling out their insipid applications, is that effective––
    is that getting poetry funded at the level it deserves––?
    Instead of kissing their asses, start kicking them––
    they'll never love you, but maybe you can make them fear you––
    and if they fear you, they'll fund you ––
    maybe.
    *
    I say unto the Guggenheim Museum:
    If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poets.
    *

  38. August 30, 2008
     Doodle

    Sounds like we need a state publishing house and a Writers' Union.

  39. August 30, 2008
     Alan Cordle

    Mr. Nichols,
    Please! I'm not a poet. Where'd you get that?
    And though I like the Foetry Years suggestion, I actually prefer Foetry! Get it? Faux-etry!
    Mr. Knott,
    It would be an honor to use your [censored] and [libel] comment as a blurb for my forthcoming memoir.

  40. August 30, 2008
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Well, as for me, I just self-publish. Always have. I have four books now and people actually buy them.
    Here are some of my 'non-contest' colleagues:
    Alexander Pope
    William Blake
    Walt Whitman
    E. E. Cummings
    Ezra Pound
    T.S. Eliot
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Robert Bly
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    Robinson Jeffers
    Alfred Lord Tennyson
    Percy Bysshe Shelly
    Robert Service
    Carl Sandburg
    Not to mention,
    R. Kipling
    H. D. Thoreau
    W. E. B. DuBois
    W. Cather
    T. Hardy
    N. Hawthorne
    E. Hemingway
    V. Woolf
    O. Wilde
    D. H. Lawrence
    Jeez! Go figure.

  41. August 30, 2008
     Gary B. Fitzgerald

    People who read poetry make poets great, not publishers.

  42. August 30, 2008
     Travis Nichols

    Sorry, Alan. My mistake. And please, no more Mr. Nichols! That's my cousin's name.

  43. August 31, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Also, none of the writers Gary mentions had Facebook accounts. Nor, to my knowledge, did any of them take Zoloft or enjoy The Sopranos.

  44. August 31, 2008
     Doodle

    It's Alan Cordle's wife who's the poet - Kathleen Halme.

  45. August 31, 2008
     Daisy

    Sina--The contest system should be interrogated, of course!
    Stacy Lynn--congratulations on your book getting picked up elsewhere; I'm glad there's a happy ending to this story.
    Best to all,
    Daisy

  46. August 31, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    I'd said to Josh Clover, in response to his somewhat sophomoric insult of Ed Dorn:
    >Nor would you probably say something like that, I'd wager (knowing what was best for your posty-avant theoretical fanny), if Dorn was still alive and kicking...
    I actually have nothing against Josh's, or anyone's, employment of theory, so I withdraw the "theoretical" adjective, with apologies.
    Much better just to say "knowing what was best for your posty-avanty fanny."
    Kent

  47. August 31, 2008
     jane

    Kent, who doesn't seem to know my name but wishes for some familiarity, has a curious measure of the "somewhat sophomoric" – perhaps the word arouses in him a youthful feeling. Be that as it may, Ed Dorn remains the dude whose journal awarded Steve Abbott the "AIDS Award for Poetic Idiocy"; Steve died of AIDS a few years later. As Kevin Killian wrote, far more eloquently than I could:
    I write on behalf of one on whom a beaker of poisoned blood was
    poured by the talented staff artists on "Rolling Stock," one who on his
    deathbed still strove to understand the motives behind this attack, one who
    tried to forgive, one who tried so hard to forgive it broke my heart. He
    is no longer alive, but I am, and why shouldn't I say exactly what I feel?

    Kent, you can choose your own suitably mature adjective for that prick Ed Dorn, and ascribe it to whichever sphere or intellectual tradition intrigues you.

  48. August 31, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Kent, you know you my dawg, but Dorn was a particularly vicious bastard. I was at CU during his last years. He was a coked-up misogynistic narcissist, & good riddance to him. (I think some of Slinger is pretty great though.)

  49. September 1, 2008
     Dale Smith

    A little more "coked-up misogynistic narcissi[sm]" might help keep whining over poetry contests and career platforms to a minimum. But Michael, if you were at CU during Dorn's "last years," it was probably the chemo and not the coke making it seem as though he were treating you like a man-bitch.
    "Jane," here, here: keep kicking against it....
    Dale

  50. September 1, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    Joshua (sorry to have gotten your name wrong, there),
    Who said Dorn, a great poet, was a nice guy? Do you think I endorse his abhorrent statements about AIDS (which he didn't hold at end of life, by the way)?
    I'm talking about the silly sanctimonious smear language, which takes one down a slippery road, indeed. Want to score some more "prick" points and show how really righteous you are? Williams snidely cheered the bombing of Hiroshima; Stein was a Vichy sympathizer; Spicer was an anti-Semite (also hooray for half of radical Modernism); Neruda (along with all kinds of hallowed poets) was a hard-core Stalinist (aided Siqueiros in first plot on Trotsky); Villon was a murderer and scumbag; Olson a misogynist coke-head and drunk; Rimbaud an arms merchant and slave trader; Whitman a champion of the Indian wars and the conquest of Mexico; Baraka an anti-Semite; Zukofsky a misogynist philanderer (forced Niedecker into aborting their child); Allen Ginsberg a defender of pedophilia; Pound, Eliot, Yeats, well, forget it; Stevens a racist; Brecht a misogynist, Stalinist hack; Marinetti a fascist; Sexton an abusive drunk; Wilmot a perverted creep, Spencer an unapologetic promoter of genocide; Jeffers a fascist sympathizer; Larkin a racist, misogynist jerk; Millay a narcissistic, manipulative drunk; Badiou (one of your heroes, I believe) an apologist for the Cultural Revolution; Popa a Serb nationalist avant la lettre; Burroughs a pederast and nihilist; Kerouac a cheerleader for the bombing of Indochina; and etc. etc. (Let's not get into the avant's sacred cows from the other arts!).
    This is all old, tired stuff. Talk about it, yes; criticize, yes. But avoid the sophomoric self-righteous language.
    Kent

  51. September 1, 2008
     Boyd Nielson

    To be sure, Dorn’s “award” for Steve Abbott was monstrous. That needs to be clear, and it can never be too clear. Just as obviously, using it as a measure of his poetry or, it may be, anything more than his chance of being a posthumous presidential candidate is misguided. I was tempted to say something earlier, but I was sure that Kent was more than capable of response. Perhaps Kent’s most incisive observation is that “Spicer was an anti-Semite (also hooray for half of radical Modernism)” etc. To put it differently, when can we has systemic analysis?

  52. September 1, 2008
     jane

    Yes, Kent, many people have been unpleasant. Some of them poets. One of them Ed Dorn, a prick ("a man regarded as stupid, unpleasant, or contemptible"). Nothing you've said changes that. Don't know what you're talking about. But if it makes you feel more grownup to say "homophobe" or "gaybasher," neato. Done with this. By all means continue, though. Good comedy.

  53. September 1, 2008
     Michael Robbins

    Thom Gunn was a fan of the TV show Friends...
    (what is Badiou doing in that catalog?)

  54. September 1, 2008
     Matt

    He can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Clover was talking about poetry when he called Dorn a prick. He was talking about online pseudonyms, and how he wouldn't use one associated with someone he thinks was not a nice person. What's the big deal? Besides, Kent, since you named all those other people's faults, do you deny the prickness of Dorn?

  55. September 1, 2008
     Daisy

    Chelsey Minnis, Preface 1 from Bad Bad:
    "The poet I worship is Edward Dorn, because I adore his disgust."
    --Daisy

  56. September 2, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    Some suggested reading on Dorn:
    Special issue of the Chicago Review, *Edward Dorn: American Heretic*, from a couple years back.
    (from web page) This triple issue features a long overdue 250-page section on the late Edward Dorn, entitled EDWARD DORN, AMERICAN HERETIC, which includes:
    late poems by Dorn
    correspondence with Jones (Baraka), Raworth, and others
    an interview
    transcript of a 1977 poetry workshop
    Jennifer Dunbar Dorn on ROLLING STOCK
    Alastair Johnston on Zephyrus Image
    Dale Smith on THE SHOSHONEANS
    David Southern on Dorn's correspondence
    Keith Tuma on Dorn's late poetry
    John Wright on interviewing Dorn
    Kent

  57. September 2, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    Sorry, meant to provide URL for that Dorn issue:
    http://humanities.uchicago.edu/orgs/review/index_4934_501.shtml

  58. September 2, 2008
     Kent Johnson

    Well, FYI and to get back to the topic of Travis Nichols post above:
    Bookforum website links today to this interview on Foetry in Left Curve magazine:
    http://www.leftcurve.org/LC30WebPages/Foetry.html
    Kent

  59. September 2, 2008
     bill knott

    the house slaves squabbling with the field slaves,
    name-calling and casting ass-persion–––

  60. September 2, 2008
     Travis Nichols

    Would it be casting aspersion on foetry's persons to say that they all sound a little like Ron Paul supporters?

  61. September 2, 2008
     bill knott

    on the other hand, it's no wonder poets won't unite
    and fight their common enemies,
    when they have so much fun attacking each other––

  62. September 2, 2008
     Travis Nichols

    Who/What/Where are our common enemies?

  63. September 2, 2008
     Joan Houlihan

    Bill Knott is right. I have a Modest Proposal here:
    http://joanhoulihan.blogspot.com/2008/09/modest-proposal-for-poetry.html

  64. September 2, 2008
     Ron Paul Supporter

    oh for pete's sake

  65. August 10, 2009
     Lee Stern

    Cider Press Review has published three of my poems over the years. I think they are very nice people. They never did anything bad to me.