Saturday, April 22, 2006

Poetry Snark Starts a New Journal

Announcing the formation of a new brand-spankin' new literary journal:

Crony: A Journal of Friends

Inspired by the recent "Legitimate Dangers" anthology, Poetry Snark has decided to follow suit with a similarly-organized literary journal -- Crony: A Journal of Friends. Crony will be instigating a new publishing schedule; we will be the world's first "quarterly quarterly." That is to say, we will be publishing a new issue one out of every four quarterly periods. To those who say, why not just call it an annual then, we say, poo! "Quarterly quarterly" sounds way cooler.

We will also be instigating an innovative new way of dealing with submissions. Everyone knows that wading through ever-renewed slush piles of hopelessly inept submissions sucks. Big time. That's why journals foist the job off on starry-eyed undergrads who think that if they read enough of that shit, someday the journal will reward them by publishing one of their own incompetent versifications. But we don't have any undegrads, and there's no way we'd publish their shit anyway, so we've devised a new method: we're going to charge you to submit!

That's right, just send Crony: A Journal of Friends your submission with a $25 check made out to "Poetry Snark," and I promise that one of our crack staff will at least skim the first line or two. This is a whole new deal, man, and we've found a way to beat the system! I mean, even photocopies get expensive, you know, and we've got like no money whatsoever! All of our contributors can be assured that any money in excess of publication costs will be spent on good causes: beer, pornography, and online gambling, mainly.

Also credit card debt. And unpaid parking tickets. And carmel-covered long johns. Also we'd really like to have enough money to buy a 21-inch flat screen monitor to play Civilization IV on. And if there's any left over, I'll use it for submissions checks to poetry contests for underprivileged writers (us). We're all just in it for the art.

You might think that this "pay to play" system itself stinks of corrupt poetry contests, but we've got a new twist: tiered submission fees. If you send the minimum $25, we'll read a line or two. If you send $50, we'll read an entire poem (40 lines or less). If you send a hundred, we'll read up to three pages of poetry. If you send $200, we will mail you a complementary back issue of Crony: A Journal Friends. $400 gets you a subscription and we'll add you to our masthead page, as one of the "Friends of Crony: A Journal of Friends." $600 gets you all this and an inflatable raft. And if you send us a thousand dollars, we'll actually be your friend and publish you in our journal. Can you beat that? With poetry contests, you can send them as much money as you want, and there's no guarantee you'll get published. Crony is changing all that. If you send enough money, you WILL get published, and we WILL be your "friend."

To keep costs down, we're going to be an e-journal. In fact, our journal is going to be the first e-mail journal. Basically, I'm going to cut and paste all the poems into an email and hit "send all" to our list of subscribers. A regular subscription, without us having to read your poems, costs $300. Just send me your email address and, like I said before, a check made out to "Poetry Snark." Our first issue is nearly finished. Contributors include Poetry Snark, his girlfriend, Ginger Pennebacker, his girlfriend, Agent Trochee, Bill Blood, my mom, my mom's friend Yolanda, and Bill Blood's little brother "Scratch."

So get ready poetry world, the winds of change are huff, puff, puffing, and we're going to bring this whole house of syncophancy and back-scratching down. Get ready for Crony: A Journal of Friends.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Evolution of the Poetry Wars

Remember the poetry wars of old? Those were the days of "the raw and the cooked." The academic poets I described previously as "the old academicism," along with others, somewhat less academic, but still fairly refined in their aesthetics--poets like Robert Lowell, Hayden Carruth, maybe Elizabeth Bishop, and others--were set at odds with the Beats, mostly, but to some extent also the early New York School and the Black Mountain poets in a poetry war commonly referred to as "the raw and the cooked." That was the old, bullshit dividing line: poetry that mostly resisted traditional form and poetry that toyed with it, that conserved it. Never mind that some of the supposedly "raw" poets were also writing in form, just different kinds, and that the supposedly "cooked" poets also wrote in loose free verse. Form was just the most mentionable of differences. This was about other cultural divides: refined East Coasters, Bostonians, post Robert Frosters and T.S. Eliotites versus shaggy west coasters and Greenwich Village cruisers and outcasts; Whitman lovers versus Dickinson lovers; Surrealist afficionados versus neo-symbolists; would-be rock star, neo-populist romantics versus involute, Victorian romantics; dope smokers versus scotch drinkers. It was easy to see the difference, and critics like Lionel Trilling and M.L. Rosenthal reinforced the divide (predictably, they sided with "the cooked").

It's a different poetry war today, Snarkophiles. Today it’s not the raw and the cooked but the smart and the sincere. Nobody is "raw" anymore. We're all sophisticates now. And almost nobody is uninfected with the academia bug--we're all mostly nursing off the same tit (there are exceptions on both sides of course--Silliman, for example, and, until recently, our new poet Laureate, Sir Kooser). But some of us would still be known more for our brains, and some of us for our hearts. It's the scarecrows versus the tin men (the cowardly lions are both camps when they put on their "poetry reviewer" hats). The scarecrows have a little more money and a few more readers, and the tin men have more academic critics on their side and a growing insurgent youth group as allies. Geographically, the fight is decentered--with both sides scattered--though there are recognized schools of the smart (Brown, SUNY Buffalo) and of the sincere (Stanford, Wisconsin, Nebraska). Iowa, a former bunker for scarecrows has become diversified with the inclusion of Swenson (an uber-tin woman) and Dean Young (a fence sitter or throw back to the "raw" school). And what is the war over? The role of theory (or lack thereof), the role of lyricism (or the lack thereof), subject matter (or lack thereof), the role of allusion (what audience should "get it"?), poetic lineages (Whitman for the sincere and Dickinson for the smart; Frost and Williams for the sincere, Stein, Pound, and Oppen for the smart).

What a stinking load this war amounts to. Silliman likes to call the scarecrows the "School of Quietism." Gag me with a Marxist spoon--as if he and his ilk really made a damn bit of difference in the real world with their "politics." The scarecrows, in turn, have become anti-intellectual dipshits and intellectual/cultural isolationists. Can we get over it already? Why choose between thought and lived experience, lyricism and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E? You call this a war? I got a war for you Scarecrows and Tin Men: Poetry Snark versus all of your lame asses.

[Reposted from May '05--because I'm lazy and I felt like it]

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mas Doggerel!

A bunch of you thought my comment about getting hired by the local paper to write satirical doggerel was a joke. That's understandable. But it wasn't. Here's the link.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Poetry Snark Exposed!