Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why do fools fall in love?

What holds message boards together is the need for praise. For all the blather about how poets just want straightforward criticism so that they can grow (you can do the same thing at The House of Pies, and it tastes better) (are there still Houses of Pie?), what they really want is acclamation. So they forum shop till they find a place where other posters either like what they write or are willing to say they like it, in exchange for reciprocal tub-thumping.

Anyone reading through poetry websites/message boards/forums will find himself saying over and over again, "Anyone who likes that would like okra boiled with Gummi Bears." But the answer is pretty obvious, really: today's gushee is tomorrow's gusher. And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. Workshop-wise.

It's a nicely-nice thing, I suppose: a place for everyone in the internet poetry universe; and if the stomach sometimes recoils when drivel is overpraised, well, our turns will come, too, when we have found the right foster family----change places, and handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?


Tence said...

Tub-thumping? Something to do with Corday or Morphy perhaps?

You are right about poetry forums, of course. Supposedly there are serious ones for serious poets, and the social ones where talent and skill are optional. But, the distinction can blur. The fiasco at one of the more serious sites where a person-whom I call Crab Man-was bounced, comes to mind.

It's good to come to RHE poems and read poetry without all the headache inducing congeners in the mix.


RHE said...

On the whole, of course, there's no wrong with poets rubbing each other's tummies to keep their spirits up. Something has to. A poet has to sustain himself most of the time, but the culture is so indifferent, that there are certain to be down times. (We're told that more people than ever are writing poems. That may be true. But all indications are that the only poems they're reading are their own; and they acknowledge the existence of other poets only to motivate reciprocal attention.) It's just that sometimes the praise of mediocrity is so fulsome, the heart--and stomach--rebel. Yes, a poet who purports to be a "formalist" should be able to manage metre with falling over his own iambs. But that's a starting point, not an end in itself. Sometimes it feels like praising a 2 year old because he has managed to drink some milk without dribbling all over himself. Competence should be assumed. It's a baseline, not a destination.