Sunday, August 1, 2010

If you want validation for your poetry in the L.A. "community", you're likely to starve to death.

I don't remember the exact quote at this moment, but Lillian Hellman said something still-resonant about the House Un-American Activities Committee (and testifying before it): "I do not believe in cutting my conscience to fit this year's fashions."

Don Kingfisher Campbell was panned by G. Murray Thomas awhile back in the electronic pages of  Don apparently found it important for Murray to look at a subsequent volume of poetry so Mr. Thomas could evaluate whether or not Mr. Campbell had improved sufficiently.

The results are here (reviews for August 2010):

Speaking for myself, I'm beginning to find the search for validation from members of the Los Angeles/Orange County poetry communities by way of accolades-in-print to be something as hollow as a Cadbury chocolate Easter bunny.

The LA/OC communities can often be layered with egotism, posturing, punishing enemies and chasing what's currently the coin of the realm (in the 90s, it was the strength/articulation of one's political activism; now, it's MFA-craziness, evidenced by the buzzphrase "sufficient imagery or metaphor").

If one does subscribe to the slogan "LONG LIVE SUFFICIENT IMAGERY AND METAPHOR!  NO FLAT STATEMENTS EVER!", then perhaps it's best to submit your poems or chapbooks to other learned poets/reviewers outside Southern California (be it for literary review or contest consideration).

That way, you can be assured of a review--good or harsh--free of bias, favoritism and/or the reviewer following the trend of the moment or the temporal self-appointed "leader."

Adding this statement I wrote on Facebook earlier today:
I'm sorry to be the odd person out but I don't think anyone should give Murray the keys to the Poetry Oracle-mobile. During the dozen years I've been involved with poetry, I've seen tectonic shifts in what's considered au courant. I don't think that Don's poetry needs to be put in a context where it does battle with Peggy's for Murray's monthly crown. There's validity to both of their approaches--and, ideally, a reviewer should evaluate in terms of how successful each is in what he/she is striving for. Not this nonsense of "layers of meaning" and metapnors and imagery thrown around as look-at-me tinsel.

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