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HATING THE OTHER KIND OF POETRY

Originally published in Copper Nickel, this is a fascinating short article by Robert Archambeau about poetry wars and poetry politics: who is accepted and why. Well worth the short time it will take to read.
1. This is not a how-to guide
It isn’t quite a how-not-to guide either, but I suppose that’s closer.
2. “What you should be doing,” or: the limits of disinterest
A few years ago, when the Conceptualist poet Kenneth Goldsmith was making big waves in the little demitasse cup of the American poetry world, I wrote an essay that tried to explain what his work had to offer and what it didn’t. The email I received in response was gratifying in quantity, if bewildering in content. I’d tried merely to describe Goldsmith’s work, but I found I was condemned for having praised him, praised for having condemned him, praised for having praised him, and condemned for having condemned him—all in roughly equal measure. The uniform distribution of responses on the chart of praise and blame gave me some reassurance that my attempt at mere description hadn’t unintentionally become a clear act of advocacy or disapproval, but it also confirmed my suspicion that people were not particularly inclined to view as innocent an essay that did its best to remain neutral: an agenda, the thinking went, must lurk just below the surface. I am not so na├»ve as to believe that truly disinterested inquiry is possible, but the notion that we may approach disinterest asymptotically—like a curving line that comes ever closer to another line without ever touching it—was clearly alien to a literary audience that had been through several decades of the hermeneutics of suspicion. Only M, a critic from whom I had learned a great deal over the years, and who had always been kind to me, saw the essay for what it was, or tried to be—and she didn’t like it. “What you should be doing,” she told me, “is making a strong case for the poetry you believe in, and against the poetry you don’t.” She’d been doing exactly that for decades, and I knew people who revered her for it. I also knew people people who all but spat when they said her name. More.

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Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg 
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either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to
let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet 
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Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline, concis, Gargoyle, The Westchester Revie…

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Hi all. As you can tell, things have been quiet around here in the last six months. Heather and I have had the most exciting of lives--he said sarcastically--which has  hindered progress, let's say. We haven't gotten many submissions either, as I think poets assumed the market died. Nope. Still alive, just coming out of a lull. Look for more frequent updates going forward, as we expand back into poetry news and links from around the web as well as original poems from the small cadre of writers who follow us.

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