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Dandelions, cake, and absinthe
In the conference dining room, the werewolves gathered, teeth dripping saliva and blood. Time to figure out why no one can get the proper amount of literary satisfaction for the bite or, at least, their fair share of readers gumming over their meaty tomes. Hugs spread disease, candles singe the fur, dandelions evoke sneezes, and cake efs up the cholesterol—if washing it all down with several shots of absinthe mollifies. Several complain about the fact that so-and-so is so popular and has received so much recognition and prizes because his/her mate is editor of one of the most influential magazines in the business. Others carp about the unfair influence of a long-surviving New England periodical that looks about as readable as mold on bread. Another group riles against that fang-burger who declared, in a major newspaper, that reviewing poetry was a waste of good printer’s ink and paper. Then the usual complaints about their unregulated pursuit flew: why were they so largely ignored by the public media except during times of tragedy and during presidential or gubernatorial inaugurations? When laid out, the topics went:
1. Students reviewing teachers in unfair extremes.
2. Teachers awarding prizes to students on the QT.
3. Teaching poetry when one doesn’t understand it and is afraid to admit it.
4. Awarding poetry when one doesn’t understand what one is reading and is afraid to admit it.
5. Encomiums, encomiums, encomiums.
6. One with a modicum of sense understands what one likes and therefore anchors oneself to that—to the detriment of those brainier.
7. Applying principles selectively, with awareness of the complexities and nuances of difference.
8. Fear of strong sexuality, strong language, strength period.
9. Fear of the establishment. Fear of criticism. Fear of retaliation.
10. Fear fear fear.
When the flesh-rending and flagellation ended, a new president of the pack had been elected—one who promised meatier forums in the future, if no significant increase in honoraria or perks, with apologies that the same tired names—the safe and the dead, as well as the safe because they’re dead—will keep appearing in whatever book reviews survive the current technological paradigm shift, and that conferences, workshops and festivals, while more inclusive of werewolves with stripes, patchwork coats, and ringed tails, will continue in the same whiny mode, all significant change on hold with the exception of night sniping.