Wednesday, June 18, 2014

When poets use friendship with other poets as excuse to punish poets.

In a way, my ongoing Ugly Mug banishment (and my various--sometimes pleas for forgiveness, sometimes open irritation at the situation stretching out for years) could be compared to the principal's office scene in John Hughes' THE BREAKFAST CLUB where principal Paul Gleason and student Judd Nelson keep at each other, ensuring that the web of anger and recrimination becomes as hard as iron.

Given the two-dimensional definition of me (by the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry and certain friends of theirs as a highly unpleasant person who doesn't write "good" poetry), there are times when I don't care whether I ever return to Orange CA--except to, perhaps, go window shopping in the old-neighborhood downtown area.

On some level, the hosts and the owner probably know that I learned my lesson from the unfortunate outburst of almost a decade ago and wouldn't misbehave and/or be disrespectful at the venue.

But, as has been made clear to me by one of the hosts in recent years, it's less about what I mentioned in the previous paragraph and more to do with what I write on this blog (before that, on certain listserves).  And, apparently, beyond the wish that I don't write anything critical of the reading or the hosts, lays the edict that I can never enter the Ugly Mug again because I have caused offense to friends of theirs.  This offense has been due to written words of mine (some of which I would never write again; others, I would restate in a more thoughtful, considerate--but still dissenting--way).

Ideally, even someone like me should be able to attend any kind of poetry reading as long as I'm not verbally or physically threatening to anyone--and quiet and respectful to the hosts, features and open-mike poets while they are on the podium.

It's understandable that people get hurt and have reflexive reactions if they feel their friends are being regarded unfairly.  But, as long as the disputed conduct exists far away from the venue, no poet should have a reason to feel wary of even outcast poets.

In the SoCal poetry community, banishment should not be used as a tool to silence unpopular speech that happens in other areas than poetry venues.

Most local poets will stand up for causes national and worldwide.  Just not (alas) how the power given to poetry hosts by reading attendance (and money given to features and venue owners) can be sometimes wielded in a less than poetic fashion.

No comments:

Post a Comment