The lesson is this: The world of poetry is huge, and it's best to seek out the tribes who appreciate you both as poet and as a person--and stop trying to please and/or redeem yourself with the poets who reject you.
I've been corresponding with someone in the LA/OC poetry community backchannel on Facebook. Yet again, I'm hearing that I'm bitter and awful because I don't like some of her friends in the tribe she belongs to. And yet again, I don't see myself as bitter--just hurt and disappointed by certain of these people's behavior towards me--people I started out having lots of respect for. I have been known to be indelicate and sometimes too callous with my choice of words--or merely guilty of saying things people don't want to hear. But the person on Facebook (like others in her tribe) chooses to believe that it's All My Fault and her friends are wonderful and beyond reproach. That's her opinion--which is likely to never change a bit.
I'm aware that her friends are likely great friends to the people they choose to show their best behavior to. But, at the same time, I'm puzzled that people who can write nuanced, sometimes technically complex poems can also harbor the belief that their friends are flawless Paragons that have to be defended as if they were gods walking the Earth. I can stick up for a friend, but at the same time, I'm aware that people can behave differently to others.
What I'm concerned about is the kind of poetry tribalhood in SoCal where shared aesthetic values of a tribe turn into both "I'm a better poet than you" and its corollary "I'm a better person than you--especially if you don't agree with me."
And maybe that's my problem as a poet--I don't think I'm better than anyone else. Just someone who knows he has a lot to learn in the years to come. Even if some folks persist in believing I've learned absolutely nothing as poet and person.