New Address for Hernandez Family Fund

See previous post for details about this family's tragedy.

New fund address:

Hernandez Family Memorial Fund
c/o Commerce Bank
1098 Haines Road
York, PA 17402

If you already sent a donation to the address in yesterday's post, it will get to the right place.

York isn't that large.

Electrical Fire Last Thursday Night...

But we are so fortunate; we are alive and well and only lost part of a wall (and cheap paneling). The fire was contained to a laundry room and started inside a wall. An inside wire went haywire, and that was enough to set off a spark, which set off the insulation. We could smell smouldering, but we couldn't find the flames.
Then we saw the swirling smoke.
We called 911; two fire trucks and about six firefighters arrived, and they spent two hours putting out the hot spots. Just as they arrived, the fire was JUST to the point of igniting and would have spread rapidly. The chief said that the house would have probably burned to the ground.
Fortunately, we were home and it was early in the evening; had we been away, we would have lost our house. Worse yet, had we been home but asleep, we might have lost our lives.
Unfortunately, the very next night (Friday), the Hernandez family wasn't so lucky; four people (two children and their parents, the mother four months pregnant) died in a fire that started in their basement.
Unlike us, they were dealt a bum hand, and they had almost no chance. Three teenage girls did escape the fire, but they had to jump from a second and third story window.
My husband and I will be donating some money to a fund that will help defray their funeral expenses and the transport of their bodies to Mexico for burial.
If some readers of this blog could find it in their hearts to make a small donation to this family that has suffered so greatly, that would help them so much. This blog has about 50 readers a day (sometimes more, sometimes fewer), so every little bit would surely help.
The address:
Salvation Army
Hispanic Worship Center
257 E. South Street
York, PA 17403
Make out any checks to the Salvation Army, with a Hernandez family notation.
By the way, I don't know the Hernandez family at all, but I do feel a connection with them.
Most important: hug your children, family, and significant other.
And check your fire alarms. Tonight. Before you go to bed.
Best to all,

It's JUST War! Relaunched! Call for War Poems, Stories, and Essays

Check out our associated blog It's Just War!

We would like to read your war stories, poems, and essays and, possibly, even post them.

The comment section of It's JUST War! is open for creative work having to do with war; we may elevate works from the comment section to actual posts.

It doesn't matter if you're anti-war, pro-war, or neutral. We don't even care if you hate Foetry or Post Foetry.

We just want to hear your voice.

Best, Jennifer

Connection Between Ted Kooser and Claudia Emerson

From a correspondent whose identity I'm keeping secret:

I am very curious about this.

News from the Library of Congress: 2005 Witter Bynner Fellow Claudia Emerson Wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Claudia Emerson, the 2005 Witter Bynner Fellow at the Library of Congress, has won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her volume of verse titled Late Wife.

Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Ted Kooser had chosen Emerson last year as a Witter Bynner Fellow, along with Martin Walls. As fellows, Emerson and Walls each received $10,000, which was granted by the Witter Bynner Foundation, in conjunction with the Library of Congress.

Ted Kooser happened to be a juror for the prize that year. There were over 200 entries and the winner was...gasp... someone he actually knew personally and had previously assisted.

I also notice that Copper Canyon Press, the publisher of his Pulitzer winning book, is on your Watch List.

Curiouser and curiouser. I was thinking that someone may be aware of even deeper connections that might explain how such terrible poetry has won such important awards. (I'm still trying to figure out Franz Wright).

We welcome comments and debate.

Response From Former Editor of The Spoon River Poetry Review

A response from former Editor Lucia Getsi:

Hi there,

I am no longer the editor, having retired from that position after twenty years, but I am happy to answer. The fall issue, in a twice per year journal that has never been late in 25 years, has been published in December for the past 17 years. It is sent NFP mail, so it is usually mid December or even January before it gets to those on the mailing list, approximately 1200. I have seen the galleys--the winners are right in there, just like always. Does this contestant know that fall extends through the winter solstice on Dec. 21?

We have never, nor will we ever, announce the judges before the contest is judged and announced. You cannot imagine how judges are hounded if some people know who they are in advance, and most writers will not even consider judging a contest if their names are announced in advance. We try for blind judging, and keeping identities secret helps.

We've never had a complaint about our rules, after which many other journal contests have modeled their own. They are clear enough so that had I gotten such an email, I may have ignored it, but I doubt that our Publication Director did, as she answers everything. Many times, emails from those not in the computer address book are routinely routed to Junk Mail, and sometimes some slip into Junk even when they are.


Dr. Lucia Getsi
20 year Editor,
The Spoon River Poetry Review
University Distinguished Professor Emerita,
English and Comparative Literature
Illinois State University


Thank you for your quick response.

I still have some questions:
  1. If the judge is kept anonymous, how does he or she know that she/he isn't awarding a prize to his/her current student, a friend, lover/spouse, or family member? (See Jorie Graham Rule)
  2. Do you have a mechanism in place for avoiding this potential problem?
  3. If a finalist turns out to have a personal or professional relationship with the final judge, do you disqualify him or her? If so, is that entrant's fee returned? (In other words, it would seem unfair to penalize an entrant who doesn't know the identity of the final judge before submitting).
  4. I still don't see a link on your website about the 2006 winners, and our correspondent said he/she had entered the 2007 contest. Please clarify.


Jennifer Semple Siegel

Spoon River Poetry Review, Where are You????

Just when I think I'm "over it," someone reminds of why I got involved in Foetry and then Post Foetry...

Today, I received the following email from a poetry contest entrant:

I decided to e-mail you to ask about the Spoon River Poetry Review.

[Note from Bugzita: by the way, the SRPR contest rules seem waffly and incomplete, although offering a subscription in return is a step in the right direction, although it looks as though our correspondent has not been receiving his issues. In any case, the judge should be announced before entrants send in their money.]

I have received no word from that publication since I submitted poems to its annual poetry contest. I e-mailed them to find out and did not get an answer. It has been since April 15th since the deadline, meaning it is now going on eight months. Maybe that is typical of poetry contests?

I understand that things take time but since SRPR does not allow for simultaneous submissions I can't submit my poems elsewhere in the meantime. Why do they take their merry old time to get back and keep me from submitting elsewhere? It doesn't seem fair to me. Or else I should "get over it" as that may be the world of poetry - slow as glacial ice!!

I have noticed that there has been no Fall issue of SRPR in which the contest winners will be published. Winter comes and the Fall issue is nowhere to be found. None in the mail and none posted on SRPR's website. I guess I'm either impatient or a sucker. Do you have any insight into this?

Thanks for your time and indulgence.

First of all, you're not a sucker; you have done all the right things: followed the rules and waited patiently for an announcement of 2007 winners. Secondly, I think that the "no simultaneous submission" rule is complete and utter BS, which is mostly ignored, anyway. Trust me, as a former editor, I have first-hand knowledge of this.

However, if your personal ethics dictate that you follow contest rules that dictate no simultaneous submissions, then I would say that you are off the hook after six months. It's your work, after all. Who are editors to say that you must wait an eternity for their answer?

Evidently, they have yet to announce the 2006 contest winners, so, my friend, you may have a very long wait.

It troubles me that your email was ignored--if the people running this contest are taking money from entrants, then they owe their paying-customer base answers. At the very least, the editor or other representative should post a message on the website, explaining the reason for the backlog and apologizing for the delay. Otherwise, they just look like another fly-by-night outfit.

How about it, Spoon River Poetry Review?

1. Answer your customers' questions.
2. Post an explanation/apology on your website homepage.
3. SRPR editor: feel free to email a response to me, which I'll post here.

In the future, contest entrants should take care and consider contests that incorporate these guidelines.



A New Direction for Post Foetry?

Here's the deal: this site is not going to be a watch dog--it never really was.

Foetry was unique because Alan and his outrage were behind it. Alan has decided to pursue other directions in his life and is no longer on the Post Foetry team. I wish him the best as he pursues his myriad other interests.

While I understand that cronyism, etc., etc., is going on, I no longer feel the outrage I once did. I have simply made a personal commitment to avoid fee-based contests and stay away from publications that are insider friendly/outsider contemptuous. Why should I waste my money and time?

Others will do what they will do, although I hope that Alan allows the Foetry archive to remain on the internet, but if he doesn't, there are certainly enough other warnings around the web.

I'm also pursuing other interests of my own, so I won't be posting here regularly.

Having said that, I'd like to see Post Foetry remain, but I'm not quite sure what form it will take. I would to see more articles like Anca Vlasopolos' "Silencing Writers in the Corporate Nation," articles that touch upon important issues in writing.

I know. That topic is fairly open ended, and I don't care if you're friend or foe, I'd like to hear what you have to say, as long as your essay is well-written and well-reasoned.

You may submit your essays, unpublished or previously published, directly to me.



The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I am finally reading this novel. Ironically, I was offered free tickets to a screening of the movie last week, and knew that I'd want to read the book first...Well, I'm at chapter 17, so please post(tell me) nothing about its ending.

I'm not sure if I can comment about this without cliches. A friend had told me that he couldn't "get into it" and so my expectations weren't high...It's not light reading, but it's compelling. My son read the back cover and asked why I'd want to read something so horrible. ! Blurbs gone wrong!

Some times a bestseller is deservedly so.

I think the narrator and I were born in almost the same year...into such extremely distinct settings...I don't know where my ex husband is, but this is the kind of book we talked about and led me to fall in love. is Now Resolving Completely

I don't know what was up, but there was a glitch in which was going to a construction page, while was resolving here, but now both are resolving properly.

According to Blogger, and will still work, so no need to change your bookmarks.


Offline for 24 Hours...

As some of you may have noticed, we were off line for 24 hours. I was attempting to change the blogspot URL into; I was partially successful, except for, which still resolves to a construction page. I'm still trying to figure out why. My other blogs are resolving just fine.

People who know me that I have arrived to the internet age, kicking and screaming, and that the techno aspect makes me want to curl up into the fetal position.

Anyway, I should have announced the planned website outage issue beforehand; I thought we'd be offline for about an hour (which is why I chose a Saturday night for the change).

Anyway, over the next few days, I may be tinkering with the site to how I can resolve the issue, so we may be offline for brief periods. In the meantime, the should work okay.

I hope.

Best, Jennifer

National Poetry Series Called Out

How do you think moral compromise happens? Sometimes one person decides to do something appallingly, flagrantly corrupt. (Note how well the corruption of poetry fits my general theory - the National Poetry Series is, indeed, not what it appears to be.) But more often, what happens is a general decline in ethical standards across an entire field of human endeavor. Typically driven by a "race to the bottom" in which only the unscrupulous survive.
The author of the blog, Unqualified Reservations continues,
But this is a little like finding a pubic hair in your soup. "Waiter," you say, "there's a pube in my soup." Your waiter comes over and inspects. "Indeed," he says. And fishes out the hair. "Sorry about that. Enjoy your meal, folks.

The long, but very engaging entry can be found at Tryfon Tolides: an almost pure empty poetry

Lisa Starr, Poet Laureate of RI, reads December 2.

I don't know if I'll be there. Quite possibly not.

If my attempted link is too frail, just google Lisa's name and Cranston Public Library or The Writers' Circle.

Lisa was friendly on the phone during our one 4 minute conversation...(many distractions on both ends).

There's a poster of her and a dog that makes me smile. Will the dog attend the reading? That would be cool.

Speaking of Jeffrey Levine...

I received this message in an email:

Tupelo Press is extraordinarily pleased to announce that Rhode Island Poet Laureate (1994-1999) and Guggenheim fellow C. D. Wright will be the judge for the 2007 Dorset Prize. Ms. Wright's books include Steal Away: New and Selected Poems and Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil.

No comment.

Search the archives and judge for yourself.

Actors' Equity: Actors Support Stagehands

I was in New York City over the weekend for the NCTE conference, and picked up this flier (sorry for the wrinkles--I obviously didn't pack it too well).
I spoke with one of the strikers, an equity actor who was picketing in support of the stagehands. He noted that stagehands, a critical part of any theater production, often must work two and even three jobs just to make ends meet.
As of this writing, talks have resumed, so we'll see. The theater and restaurant owners are worried because the prime season starts over Thanksgiving.
Having spent four days in NYC, I can attest first hand that prices are outrageously high (though we did find a great Chinese buffet, lunch $7.95).
A few off-Broadway shows did go on, but we didn't attend any shows this trip; instead, we visited Ground Zero (which I couldn't do on previous trips)--a very chilling experience. It looks like a massive construction site (which it is, I suppose); one can see the subterranean infrastructure taking embryonic shape.
But I can't write much about my Ground Zero experience just yet; I'm still trying to make sense of a senseless act. Six years later, I still feel that sick thud in my gut.

GUEST WRITER: Silencing Writers in the Corporate Nation (Anca Vlasopolos)

(The following article has also been reposted in permission from its author.

In this article, the author discusses the systemic silencing of writers by corporate America.

As writers, both published and unpublished, think about the ways you and your works have been silenced by corporate America and academic presses.

Feel free to post your comments.)

I come by my interest in silence and silencing honestly—I grew up in Communist Romania, where the price for speaking out, as my father found out, was imprisonment without the right of habeas corpus. In fact, I know specifically where the U. S. sent the "extreme rendition" prisoners when it sent them to Romania. But that’s not the silencing I will be discussing. For a long time during my academic career I pondered the meaning of silence and silencing in women’s writing, not just in the case working-class writers or writers of color, where the problem was exacerbated by class and race, but in women’s writing precisely because that silencing cut across color and class lines, and the most aristocratic women were in many instances as definitively silenced as the milkmaids walking up the path of the estate. But since stellar scholars and writers, whom we in our general cultural amnesia now neglect, such as Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women’s Writing) and Tillie Olsen (Silences), have brilliantly examined the subject, I will not be discussing that either.

The subject of my essay is the corporation-owned publishing media and the non-free-market economy that govern the present silencing of writers. I also want to address how academia, itself increasingly a corporate mimic, furthers the aims of the manacled and gagged market place. This paper is not a social-science analysis. I do not profess to practice social science without having been trained in its disciplines. But I am a writer and continue to be a voracious and eclectic reader, so I hope to entertain while edifying you, in the ancient manner, with lots of anecdotes and observations.

The most effective way of silencing a writer is not giving him or her an outlet. I’m not talking about the necessary winnowing that goes on constantly in a culture in which many more people write and submit their writing for publication than read and have any appreciation for literature. I’m talking about people who are experienced, published writers, for whom each new book presents the same dilemmas, problems, and humiliations as the first, each time without the hope that one still clings to in one’s writerly youth. We know that publishers commit colossal mistakes; this is not a recent phenomenon. We need only mention James Joyce, whose Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was rejected multiple times before it rose to become a classic. Proust’s first volume of A la recherche du temps perdu was rejected so many times that he ended up publishing it himself. And I could go on to myriad examples.

What I’m addressing here is the systematic, systemic silencing that goes on in what has become the ultra-capitalist business of publishing. About ten years ago, The Nation magazine did a feature on the remaining handful of independent presses in the country, small presses that were not subsidiaries of the petroleum industry or the Disney or Warner entertainment empires. Of those presses, fewer remain today. Picador has been swallowed. Dalkey Press has bit the dust. Coffee House, Milkweed, and Graywolf still limp on, they too trying so hard to find the best seller that they rarely publish the distinguished books that used to make their fame—if not their fortune, and there’s the rub. In the days of independent presses, when the Penguin "group," for instance, didn’t stand for a huge multi-national conglomerate, presses expected to make 8% profits on successful publications. Today, anything less than 25% is considered a marketing failure, and the writer whose book doesn’t see those profits can kiss his/her next advance goodbye and can go back to the starting line in terms of getting a publisher for the next manuscript.

The dominant presses, themselves subsidiaries of larger global corporations, control the market in various other ways that make it difficult for all but the most persistent and informed readers to be exposed to any books but those the publicity departments of these presses want them to see. The presses control the display at your local Borders, Barnes and Noble, and even independent bookstores. They pay for shelf space, so that their books will occupy prime space near the entrance to the bookstore, in the most eye-catching location, and that their books be placed with the cover rather than the spine in the shelves facing the browser. These presses control signings and readings. The pressure has become so great that even independent bookstores are reluctant to set up signings and readings for any but the major presses, even for such presses as Archipelago, with its high-quality and well-regarded international list. So, basically, unless you walk into your local bookstore determined to order the book you want even if it’s not on the shelf, you’re going to buy something on display that catches your eye. Even when you order a book, as I’ve done many times, the bookstore personnel forget to notify you that the book has arrived. They send it back to the publisher, who then charges the author for returned books against royalties, so that through creative accounting, such as that practiced by one of my presses—Columbia University Press, a writer is always in deficit; this despite my memoir having been kept in print for the last seven years (thus clearly making money for CUP).

In addition to the raw rapacity of the multi-corporate presses that dominate the market, the process of publishing with the multis as well as with the independents who fashion themselves in the image of the multis, such the venerable Knopf and Farrar Strauss (the latter no longer an independent), silences writers. No major, and a good deal of minor, presses will look at unagented manuscripts. This barrier between writers and presses sets up yet another profit-making enterprise that depends on the generation of capital, not on literary excellence and lasting power. Agents become agents to make money. They will represent writers who write what’s been written, published, and proved successful. They do not seek fresh, original voices and authors who may create a "market" for their work over time. Agents look for works that fit present, proven, money-making niches. So, apart from the rapaciousness of the corporate publishers, writers have to deal with the cupidity of agents, some of whom moreover have the arrogance to regard themselves as literary critics and to force writers to make major changes in order to make a sale. I had an agent tell me that the political content of my detective novel was too disturbing and that I should make it into a screenplay, which he offered to represent, because he felt the political content would be muted in such a treatment. A famous agent told me that my most recently published book, The New Bedford Samurai (from the small, independent press Twilight Times Books), which she received in manuscript, was a "deliberately noncommercial" production and that I should bide my time and wait for her to read it when she had time because, she said, she was in the business to make money. On one occasion, when my colleague Christopher Leland and I participated as invited speakers at a writers’ conference at Oakland University, we sat at the same table for lunch as other invited speakers, among them two agents from New York. While it’s indisputable that at my age young people look very young, these two were, by their own admission, in their early and mid-twenties. Chris and I asked them what they were looking for when they shopped for manuscripts, and they said: "Edgy young fiction." The publishing industry, like others, depends on the wisdom of people who have hardly lived long enough to have read the literary masterpieces and the discovered treasures that make up expanding canons. They are the gatekeepers.

In the same crass and often ignorant way in which agents manipulate writers toward commercial success, editors at presses regard themselves as great stylists in the mode of Ezra Pound and Toni Morrison, to name but two illustrious editors. With a handful of exceptions, they are not. They’re people whose jobs and renewals in those jobs depend on their finding, the same as the agents, works that fit an already fabricated and commercially developed niche into which they snugly fit, without disturbing readers or upsetting reviewers or making trouble for the bookstores. The phenomenon of Harry Potter, a series that is at least well written and imaginative, nevertheless is exemplary of a book piggybacking on many equally inventive and well-written fantasy novels that made the niche for Harry and were not even mentioned as predecessors by reviewers largely ignorant of a genre they generally treat with contempt.

Which brings me to the reviewers: It is as rare to have a major newspaper review a book by an independent press as it is to spot a wild orchid in Michigan. Local papers will review books by writers who live in the area, thereby bringing the book to the attention of at best 5,000 readers, and major metropolitan newspapers like The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News no longer even have local reviewers—they pay for syndicated reviews from national sources, like the Associated Press. A half a page advertisement in The New York Times Book Review section costs over $22,000 for a single time, so no independent press can afford to advertise the books it publishes in venues where the reviews make or unmake a book. A review in The NY Times Book Review does in fact make or break a book in terms of the agent’s interest and the next publishing contract. The definitive biography of the poet Rilke, for instance, published by Farrar Strauss, had a lukewarm review in the Times Book Review, and although it received a glowing review in The Nation, neither publisher nor agent accepted the writer’s next project, original fiction. This despite translation rights FS sold to Germany, France, and China. In Germany, the book became a best seller, and the writer was invited (travel and honorarium) to present in Europe, repeatedly, for this book as well as for his critical work and translations of Hesse; clearly, the European market is still more inclined toward writing of substance than the American, but our multi-corporate practices are beginning to take hold overseas as well. Shopping for a new agent and publisher in one’s late seventies had effectively silenced this writer for several years.

As for me, I engaged in an email exchange that got increasingly more acrimonious with the book editor of the Seattle Times. I had a limited number of review copies that my publisher expected me to send out—she dutifully sent out her copies to the biggies—and I sent queries as to whether papers such as the Seattle Times or The Providence Journal would be interested in seeing the book because of its Pacific- and Atlantic-rim subject matter. The Seattle Times editor objected to my calling my book a nonfiction novel. I told him that the genre had been so dubbed by Truman Capote for In Cold Blood, and that, if anything, my book as even more of a hybrid than Capote’s. He then riposted that he knew about Capote, which I doubt, but that it was the kiss of death to call a book a nonfiction novel because it would confuse readers as to whether it was fiction or not. I explained to him that parts of my book were fiction and others were research and meditative essays based on science, cultural anthropology, and the most recent ecological data about the Pacific Rim. He, however, got to have the last word. My book has not been reviewed by the Seattle Times. It has a snowball’s chance of being reviewed by any of the well-known newspapers in the U. S., even though it got a great review in the Cape Cod Chronicle and in the Grosse Pointe News.

So, writers battle demographics ("edgy young fiction"), genre (call it something we can easily place on a labeled shelf), agents, who nowadays regard themselves as literary critics, editors at presses who do the same with generally few qualifications other than an M.A. in English, to the corporate structure whose whole interest in literature is to make its 25% or more, to the bookstores that are being owned by the corporate structures in the way that they display, advertise, and order books. In addition to all these modes of silencing, writers must confront academia.

I’ll begin this section of this "j’accuse" by quoting Flannery O’Connor, who, when asked if academia silenced creative writers, responded, "not enough of them." It may seem paradoxical that a writer delineating modes of silencing would side with the need to silence others. However, the problem with creative writing in the academy is two-fold: creative writers who have jobs in universities and colleges become the "wives" of the publishing world, that is, they put out without having to be paid. Forgive the vulgar analogy, but I’m following Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s examination of wives versus prostitutes in her Women and Economics, where she states that wives cheapen and undermine the labor of the sex workers, who at least have the freedom to choose and to be paid piecemeal, so to speak, as opposed to the wives who have been sold or have sold themselves to a single master. So, to some extent, the writers in academia, only in the sense that they have a master—the university, which exacts publications for tenure, promotion, contract renewal, and salary raises. The writers, in turn, can offer their wares for free to the market and generally do. If anyone here takes offence, do please remember that I number myself in this category. The condemnation includes me. I have published over two hundred poems and short stories, two chapbooks of poetry, a collection of poems, a detective novel, a memoir, and a nonfiction novel. The only advance I ever received was so small that I was barely able to cover the upgrade to a newer computer.

If I added up my income from my writing, I’d have made perhaps $5,000 over a lifetime of writing. I’m not counting, of course, the salary increases and the promotion, which are vastly greater than the direct earnings. But what does this practice do? It offers yet another subsidy to the corporate publishing world. Excellent work for free—can anyone get a better deal?

To go back to O’Connor’s quotation: while writers in the academy cheapen the labor of writers who should be able to support themselves through their writing, academics also depend on attracting and retaining students and on getting good evaluations from them. Consequently, professors of creative writing encourage students to submit for publication even when these students have not lived enough to have much to say, have not had time to think enough to have anything worth saying, and have not read enough to have developed skills that outshine or at least rival their predecessors. Thus the market is flooded with free work by a huge amount of scribblers whose white noise drowns out the few genuine talents and the occasional genius. Add to that the fly-by-night or fly-by-screen journals run by equally unformed and uninformed "editors," and the possibility of true talent to be heard becomes more and more remote.

Unlike the corporate publishing world, however, which pays no mind to where a person has published, only to how much, academia worships addresses. Not content, not style, not the felicitous merging of the two, but merely addresses, and this form of worship applies to scholarly as well as to creative endeavors, but I am convinced that the system of peer review that to some extent justifies, though only in part, address worship for scholarship has no counterpart in the world of creative writing. It’s not other fine writers who judge a dossier of a novelist or a poet to say how s/he is doing—it’s the address, and the prize. We know from scandals such as the one that led to the website that contests in creative writing harbor outrageous examples of corruption and nepotism. Grant giving at the NIH, while subject to fads in science, has never approached the utter cynicism of the giving of prizes in creative writing.

The corporate market silences creative writers by looking, always, not at plot, characterization, formal structure, etc., but at the bottom line, which rhymes only with excessive profit. It surrounds itself with safeguards for the production of successful sameness, with agents at one end and influence buying at the distribution end. Independent presses mirror the corporate publishers because the weak desire to emulate the strong. Academia provides shelter for writers who in turn through their own labor and their unwise encouragement of fetal writing from students flood the market with free labor, thereby exacerbating the economic difficulties of any writer of genuine power to be able to count on his/her literary talent to make a living. The result, ladies, gentlemen, and scholars, is the dross we find on the tables of our local branches of the Exxon Mobil bookstore and the mute inglorious Miltons and Jane Austens who write deliberately noncommercial books that remain forever silenced in some hard disk or flash drive or, even in our day, yellowing somewhere in an attic trunk. The system should be a public scandal, but for that to happen we would have to have non-corporate, independent press and media in this great country of ours.

This essay has been posted here with the writer's permission.
Copyright 2007 by Anca Vlasopolos.
Guest writer Anca Vlasopolos was born in 1948 in Bucharest, Rumania. Her father, a political prisoner of the Communist regime in Rumania, died when Anca was eight. After a sojourn in Paris and Brussels, at fourteen she immigrated to the United States with her mother, a prominent Rumanian intellectual and a survivor of Auschwitz. Anca is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is married to Anthony Ambrogio, a writer and editor; they have a biological daughter, Olivia (a graduate of Oberlin College and a PhD candidate at Tufts University), and an adopted daughter, Beatriz, who came to them from Guatemala in 2000, when she was 10.
Her publications include Missing Members (1991), a police procedural; No Return Address (2000), memoir; Penguins in a Warming World (2007), poetry; The New Bedford Samurai (2007), non-fiction novel.
Professor Vlasopolos presented this essay at a symposium on Silence and Silencing at her university.

Look, before submit !

My post about the Utmost Christian Writers site/contest was not an endorsement. Neither is it intended as a snarky or hostile one.

I found them via the Winning Writers site-- the people who created the Wergle Flomp poetry contest which I admire greatly.

I will attempt to post a link to them.

Not being a Christian, I'm not submitting anything, but the "research" I did yesterday would not discourage me from sharing this resource with friends.

I agree completely with Jennifer here. If ANYONE has had a personal experience with these folks or is aware of any relevant reliable reporting about them, I welcome those comments.

Alas, we receive all too few comments.

Unrelated question: Why do I receive so much spam in Chinese or other languages whose alphabets I cannot decipher? Is it simply about erectile issues? Do people in China receive equal quantities of Spam in English?

Always Check Out ANY Writing Contest Before Submitting...

Just a question: has anyone had any experience with the Utmost Christian Contest?

It's a good idea to check out any contest before submitting to it; legitimate contest sponsors will welcome your questions and strive for transparency.

When doing a Google search, use the terms "Contest Name" + "Warning" in your search. One warning does not necessarily mean that it's a bad deal, but several warnings, well, watch out!

Judge for yourself here (Rule 12):

Poems will be judged by an independent committee of poets under the administration of Utmost Christian Writers Foundation director, Barbara Mitchell. Under no circumstances will Utmost Christian Writers or the judges enter into discussion with any contestant.



"...we always pay the prizes that we promise."

They don't give Alan any recognition, but I think it's intriguing...

Poetry Contests Gone Wrong

Ok, the second link (below) will take you to the home page; if you click on the Poetry Contest link, you will find an underlined Poetry Contests Gone Wrong which is what I was hoping to link to directly. [DONE!]

Home page:

Utmost Christian Writers

If Jennifer or Alan or anyone can fix this, please feel free. :)
[DONE!] -- Fiction Headquarters

Woo! I picked up at a GoDaddy Fire Sale, thinking that I might develop it at some point, but I then discovered that it had already been an active user-generated content fan fiction website, and my parking stats bear this out.

I wonder why the original owner let the site drop? It IS a natural for such a site.

If any original Fiction HQ members of this now-defunct site are out there and would be interested in seeing this website rise from the ashes like the Phoenix, let me know through the comment feature of Post Foetry.

Such a site would have to be user-generated because I'm already stretched thin in this blogging and domaining enterprise.

I just have to learn how to set up a user-generated site (which is why you'll see a similar post on my domaining blog).



Not-So-Random Quote: Edmund Burke

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

--Edmund Burke

Random Quote: Alan Sillitoe

"A writer is liked if he is loyal to the system. But it is the writer's duty in a sense to be disloyal...He can speak up in many ways; the best way is to write a book."

Alan Sillitoe
The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner
(Quote from The Nation, 1969)


by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

I found this when I googled "George W. Bush poem" (or poetry, perhaps)
For references, check this:

I believe that the person who orchestrated this poem is a cartoonist for The Washington Post, Richard Thompson.

Djelloul Marbrook, contributor to wins!

Poems in response to 9/11
Win coveted Kent State prize

Anyone who doubts the value to society of our aging population should take heart in the example of a 73-year-old retired newspaperman who has just won one of the nation's most coveted poetry prizes for a book of poems he was inspired to write after the attacks of September 11, 2001,

Djelloul Marbrook, whose first newspaper editor renamed him Del, is the 2007 winner of Kent State University's Tom and Stanley Wick Prize for his book, Far From Algiers.

Stuffing sky-blue notebooks in his pockets, he began walking around Manhattan determined to affirm his beloved city and country in the wake of the insane and murderous attacks. Marbrook had started writing poems in Manhattan when he was 14. In his thirties he abandoned writing poetry after publishing a few poems in small journals, but he never stopped reading and studying poetry.

Then at age 67, appalled by the terrorist attacks, the poet in him awakened. He had no idea of making a book or even pursuing a theme, but sometime in 2006, as he considered his work spread on a dining table, the underlying sensibility of more than 100 of the poems emerged. The clue was the title of one poem, Far From Algiers.

Marbrook recognized that he had been writing about belonging and unbelonging. As he examined this emergent idea he saw as a veteran journalist that the massive population dislocations caused by poverty and globalization rendered alienation a pressing issue of our time, an aspect of its Zeitgeist.

He saw that his own experience in America--having been born in Algiers to an American artist and a Bedouin father--foreshadowed the post-war experience of millions of people uprooted from one place and struggling to set down roots in another.

Marbrook had arrived in America a gravely ill infant. A doctor warned his grandmother and aunt, with whom he spent his first five years, that he probably would not survive. But his grandmother was determined not to allow him to die on her watch.

That he was American he never doubted. He played baseball and ice hockey creditably and served honorably as a Navy volunteer. But there were inklings from his maternal family that perhaps he wasn't quite as American as they were, the same sort of signals emitted today by people who wrap themselves in the flag.

Complicating matters for him, his mother invented a romantic story that his father had died in a hunting accident while she was pregnant. It wasn't until 1992 that he accidentally discovered his father had lived until 1978. The truth was that Djelloul had been conceived behind the back of his father's girlfriend. His father chose the girlfriend, and Djelloul and his mother departed for New York.

In this milieu of lies and otherness--far from Algiers--Djelloul strove to become his kind of American. "I owe it to the Navy that I have any idea of who I am," he says. "The Navy was my first family. Its acceptance was unconditional and unalloyed. Any danger being in the Navy might have posed seemed an inconsequential price compared to this. I finally knew the name of the game."

Learning of the prize, Marbrook sent flowers to Toi Derricotte, the highly regarded poet and University of Pittsburgh professor, who made the award. Derricotte wrote back, "Thank you so much for the flowers of Emily Dickinson; and thank you even more for that exciting, wise, sad and unique manuscript of your poetry. I am 66, so maybe the sad and ironic humor that I'm developing spoke to me from those poems, and also the way you embody the painful paradox of social and spiritual violence. And then to read more about the history of Algiers and see how colonialism is the same always and everywhere! Thank you for your poems and your philosophy!"

Kent State University Press will publish Far From Algiers next year, and Derricotte and Marbrook will read their work at Kent State together. Marbrook lives in Germantown, NY, and Manhattan.

1093 Woods Road, Germantown NY 12526, 518 537 3833
Djelloul's blog and web site
His mother Juanita Guccione's art
His aunt Irene Rice Pereira's art:
His e-novel, "Alice Miller's Room"

Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

How about that Al Gore being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

I must admit: I didn't see it coming.

But it's about time that an environmentalist would win this prize.

From "Al Gore 2008 Draft Compaign": Al Gore's statement.

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize

One thing I know: she was not on the list of odds-on favorites. I have to admit that I haven't read her books, but I've certainly heard of her.

I'm sorry I've been such an errant blogger.

I get a kick out of their awarding this to a person of her age.

Any thoughts out there?

NOTE: Thanks, Nomi. Hope you don't mind, but here's a partial blurb and link to the story:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Doris Lessing, author of dozens of works from short stories to science fiction, including the classic "The Golden Notebook," won the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. She was praised by the judges for her "skepticism, fire and visionary power."

The Swedish academy's announcement was stunning even by the standards of Nobel judges, who have been known for such surprises as Austria's Elfriede Jelinek and Italy's Dario Fo.


I didn't see this coming either, but I'm glad to see that this noted writer was awarded this prize.

Best, Jennifer

Pavement Saw Press and David Baratier

In recent research I’ve been conducting, I came across the following post on the Poetics listserv out of Buffalo. It’s from David Baratier of Pavement Saw Press, from April of this year. I would post this correction on the listserv itself, but my membership has not been approved yet. Maybe it won’t ever be.

It frustrates me to see someone so self-righteously denounce’s work, particularly in light of the fact that I did not write _one word_ of the paragraph he attributed to me. Another forum member, Monday Love, wrote it. Baratier was completely careless in this post. And no, I’m not against all contests either. And I’m pro Monday Love too.


Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 22:35:21 -0700
Sender: UB Poetics discussion group
From: David Baratier
Subject: Agni needs a spine
In-Reply-To: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1The situation with foetry affects all of us. It is apparent from my
interactions with foetry that Alan Cordle is against all contests, even an
honest one. Foetry first went after me insinuating that I appeared in the
Denver Quarterly because I had Bin Ramke as a judge. That statement sat on
their site for many months even after the timeline was shown to them that
proved that the accusation was false. I am not sure why we were brought
onto their site except for an apparent need of Cordle to attack Ramke and
anyone who used him as a judge. The passage below written by Cordle is yet
another instance of his making things up without evidence:
————————- Let’s see. Please tell me if I got anything
wrong. David Baratier’s letters and poems have appeared in the Denver
Quarterly, editor Bin Ramke, professor, University of Denver. Baratier is
editor of Pavement Saw Press, in Ohio, which gets money from Ohio
taxpayers in order to establish, according to Pavement Saw Press’s mission
statement, a “non-university affiliated press” which helps Ohio’s economy
by attracting outside attention and publishing “works of national
signifiance.” Dana Curtis, Ph.D. University of Denver, wins Pavement Saw
Press Prize, picked by Ramke. Curtis is founder & editor-in-chief of
Elixir Press, based in Denver. Jake Adam York, director of creative
writing, University of Colorado at Denver, and Colorado Council on the
Arts fellow, wins Elixir Press Prize. Sounds to me like
university-affiliated Denver is the cat and the Ohio taxpayers are the
cream. It looks like, so far at least, there’s a nice little Denver system
in place here. Very nice. ———————————————-
Ok, Back to my side again The above written by Cordle is a total
fabrication. York and Curtis didn’t know each other in fact, at the time
Dana was in Minneapolis, not Denver I did not know Bin except for asking
him to judge the contest and I asked him because I called to find out if
they were going to run a interview I did with Simon Perchik (which
appeared as a feature in an early issue of Jacket) and while he was on the
line I asked if he would be interested. I’ll just stop here. The whole
thing is starting to bother me again. Our contest is blind judged, the
manuscripts are stripped of the name and publication credits, if we can
afford a judge, the judge is sent 25 manuscripts out of all recieved. If
not I end up judging the batch I am sent back from the readers. If I am
able to afford publishing two books (1000 run each) from the entries I do.
Then we pay to mail everyone at least their entry fee worth of books we
have published. I think we run one of the fairest contests there is, I
challenged Cordle to come up with a place that did better. I am still
waiting. Anyway, my experience is that we would have something false
written about us with no evidence, and once that material appeared on the
foetry website it became my job to “prove him wrong.” I should also
mention that Levine is one of our authors. And that (for the record, as to
avoid more wild speculation) his book won our contest before Tupelo was
publishing. I also do not see why Levine being accused of a problem with
the way he runs his press should affect the acceptance of his poems into
journals. This is heading into an ugly direction, what is next? Will AGNI
apologize about publishing poems if a poet is accused of running a
red-light? Maybe AGNI should apologize for all of the poems they publish
until they get a spine. Considering the student teacher problems with
poetry awards and with contests who have chosen a winner beforehand, my
amazement with Cordle is how inflated he is over the little he has
revealed. Be well David Baratier, Editor Pavement Saw Press PO Box 6291
Columbus, OH 43206

A Response to AWP's Call for Money

Dear David W. Fenza,
Thank you for your interest in my money.
It is certainly admirable that AWP is working so hard for its membership by increasing your "honoraria" for your contributing writers.
In addition, I am quite certain that your numerous prizes are helping out many new writers, although I, as a totally non-connected "emerging writer," have not personally benefited from your award programs.
However, I have, in the past, often "donated" to these programs.
I am particularly puzzled by your assertion that you "have provided a supportive network and community for writers who often feel isolated in their devotion to a difficult and lonely art."
Hummm. I don't remember any AWP representative reaching out to me in any way, except at renewal time and during times of your organization's own financial need.
You probably do introduce "many writers to one another"--I believe it is called the yearly AWP Conference.
"We live in a silly, vulgar, and destructive culture," you write so stridently. I agree 100% with this statement.
It's silly, vulgar, and destructive when your organization and Poets and Writers turn a blind eye to--and even support--the current non-transparent contest model perpetuated by esteemed universities and literary journals.
If the writing community were truly interested in rising above our vulgar culture, it would work toward developing a strong code of ethics for fee-based literary contests and the general awarding of literary prizes funded by federal and state tax money.
Fee-based contests should offer a level playing field for all entrants and should never be weighted to pump up the academic careers of well-connected mediocre writers.
After careful review, I'm afraid I must pass on your plea for my money; should your organization decide to take action on what is really good for the profession, then I will reconsider my financial decision.
Good wishes,
Jennifer Semple Siegel

On Achieving Happiness: Acceptance, New Direction, and Attitude Readjustment

Recently, I discovered a charming website called Rate Your Students (RYS), a place where academics, both the privileged and unprivileged, can come together and bitch about the unfairness of having to put up with college students one level above, say, a peanut butter sandwich and conniving colleagues who would torpedo one's tenure-track career.

This post pretty much sets the tone of RYS.

Boo, hoo!

Personally, I'm having a great semester--though it helps having only one class. My students seem engaged, respectful, and smart, so I look forward to going to class and engaging in our literary discussions. Yesterday, I yanked a few unsuspecting souls from the class, and we did an impromptu (and unrehearsed) reading of Susan Glaspell's Trifles (1916), a proto-feminist play. They were all good sports and did an amazing job. In fact, one young lady did such a fine job of delivering dialogue that I encouraged her to consider trying out for one of our college productions. Last semester, I had a full load (four classes), and I have to admit that even then I had a good semester--not perfect, but when one has 75+ students, one is bound to end up with a few slackers.

I'm just overall happier these days.

How can this be? I'm still on the lowest possible rung on the academic ladder--the next step down is called "out." Thus, my situation is, at best, tenuous. I should be wailing and gnashing my teeth, but I'm not.

For one thing, I don't have time to whine. My domaining enterprise, albeit profits still hooked on life support, takes a long time, and I'm still low on the learning curve.

Also, while jumping into a new profession can be confusing and frustrating, it's enriching to stretch one's mind in a totally different direction; I learn something new every day, and that is satisfying and fun, especially when those AHA! moments come.

I'm no longer defined by a certain standing in academia because I have made my peace with the fact that I am now a "true" adjunct: one who comes to class, does her job (well, I hope), and then leaves and pursues her real job. As a result, I am a better teacher because I have left any residual bitterness behind.

Also, I have finished I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment and am in the process of shopping it around. There, too, I have decided that I will not be defined by what the establishment publishing industry thinks of me, and, thus, my work. These days, there are too many options open to writers, including self publishing and/or blogging it (with adsense plastered on each page). The establishment publishing industry can twitter all they want--see if I care.

Lesson learned: always have plan "B" in mind--and maybe even plan "C."

Now, about Post Foetry. I don't have the resources to turn this into a true investigative site. I'm basically one person with limited energy and funds.

My call for team members has fallen flat. Evidently, writers are very fearful folks who are afraid of rocking the literary boat (even anonymously), so good folks do nothing while contest fraud continues. So be it. Sometimes one learns best in the school of hard knocks...

Of course, for better or for worse, I will continue to post here. I will continue to speak out against literary contest fraud and warn the naive and young, but I'm not going to dabble in investigative work.

I'm just going to post what I think about various topics in the publishing industry, so feel free to view this blog as Bugzita/Jennifer's form of literary masturbation.

Don't worry, be happy.

Jennifer, Bugzita, Ms Domainer, Ms. Siegel

Poet Paul Muldoon: New Poetry Editor at The New Yorker

In November, Poet Paul Muldoon will assume The New Yorker poetry editorship, replacing Alice Quinn who is leaving to edit and research the journals of Elizabeth Bishop.
It will be interesting to see how the magazine's poetry department evolves from this change.

Apology to Alan and a big DUH to Me!

In Alan's 9/25 post about Donald Hall and poetry.scam, I totally missed the word "inadvertent" and was off and running when I posted my 9/26 response, and I just caught it today.

So, Alan, I offer you a public apology. Hope you can forgive me for being such a dunderhead.



Donald Hall's Words Twisted Around by Poetry.scam?

I had a scathing post all written up, and I was ready to hit the "publish" button, but I decided to take another look at the press release.
Yes, that "lovely" piece of prose is not a real journalistic piece, but a poetry.scam press release that was designed to make it look as though Donald Hall is endorsing poetry.scam, when, in fact, he merely says that children should submit their poems to publications. Notice that he doesn't specifically refer to Poetry.scam at all; the writer was very careful NOT to state explicitly that Donald Hall was referring to poetry.scam; otherwise, Donald Hall could possibly sue them and cause all kinds of grief for that company; this company is known for operating just inside the law.
However, the authors of that press release want the reader to make that association. Evidently, poetry.scam has hired a fine rhetorician who knows how to plant associations, where, in fact, there may not be any, into the reader's mind through insinuation and juxtaposition of two slightly related facts: Donald Hall's take on children writing and submitting poetry and poetry.scam pushing their bogus contest. It is a well known fact that if two instances are placed side-by-side, without a bridge or explanation, observers will assume the two are related, when, in fact, they may not be. Poetry [dot] com wants you to believe that Donald Hall has endorsed them, but they haven't overtly stated this, which leads me to believe that Hall has NOT endorsed poetry.scam. Otherwise they would have trotted him out big time. Hall may be totally unaware (and, perhaps, even horrified) of how his rather benign words to school children were appropriated and woven into that insidious text.
In addition, the press release appears on a valid site--in this case, the KCRA 3 website, offering it yet another level of respectability.
This company plasters the dunderhead media with its press releases, which gives the impression that this company is a non-profit that has only goodwill toward small children and old ladies, when, in fact, it is a multimillion dollar for-profit shark corporation.
I don't know why the media continue to give this outfit free advertising, but they do, and I can't tell you how many times I have had to deflate my students' egos when I tell them they have been scammed.
Because we are a bit of a watchdog site (perhaps a lot more tepid version of Foetry), we do have to weigh our words carefully; we should not hurt anyone needlessly. I can see how the press release could be interpreted in the wrong way; I, too, had my finger triggered on that "publish" button.
So based on what I read in this press release, I have no reason to believe that Donald Hall has endorsed poetry [dot] com.
If there is evidence to the contrary, send it to me tomorrow; I have saved the other post on my Word Perfect.

Kick an Ex-Laureate When He's Down

Donald Hall's become an inadvertent shill for Check it out.

Spam Lit Poem: In Winter Haven, the Baseball Players are Stretching

In recent days, I haven't felt much like posting here--maybe it's because I have been busy, but mostly I'm just tired of griping.

I need some positive forces in my life, so I felt it was a good idea to chill for a few days, which I did.

In fact, tonight I logged onto my email, intending to email the team that I was going to take a break from this blog for another week or so, but then I found this Spam Lit poem that is somewhat extraordinary, at least as Spam Lit poems go. Our spammer went to great lengths to cobble together a "poem" that actually has merit. In fact, I'm going to cut this person a break and not nark him/her out.

This poem reminds me of Cal Ripken, Jr. I'm not an avid baseball fan, but I adore Cal and go to great lengths to attend Oriole games when I know he will be there. My husband and I were there when Baltimore honored him on his last day as an Oriole (October 6, 2001). We were there when Baltimore sent him off to the Hall of Fame last July, and we got an unexpected treat when B.J. Surhoff was inducted to the Baltimore HOF: Cal showed up to deliver a speech in Surhoff's honor. Shortly after his speech was delivered, the heavens opened up, and it rained for two solid hours--the rain wouldn't dare crash down on Cal...

Quite simply, Cal is a class act, who always makes an effort conduct his personal and professional life in the right way. I have never heard the word "scandal" connected to the Ripken name. All of his charities have something to do with kids--his literacy foundation helps inner city kids to cultivate a love for reading, and he also runs various baseball camps for kids. As a ballplayer, he always signed autographs for the kids and never copped an attitude like some ballplayers.

I have never met Cal personally (I'd probably trip over over my own tongue if I did), but from what I have heard and read, Cal is genuine; what you see is what you get. Anyway, this one is for Cal:

In Winter Haven, the ballplayers are stretching
Standing in the way of the truth. A white
Rise, to the muffled chime of churchbell choir.
Only a fox whose den I cannot find.
A kind of snow, which hesitates
Out of the road into a way across
Only whirled snow heaped up by whirled snow,
What can we know of whatever picture-plane
Seen. What you know is only manifest
And trumpet at his lips; nor does he cast
Given by nature will soak into it.
"Be off!" say Winter's snows;
(The face of a Quos ego),
In search of brighter green to come. No way!
Comes up with as a means to its own end.
In realms of dingy gloom and deep crevasse
I've drifted somewhat from the distant heart
As it sits there like an eventual
Although December's frost killed the winter crop.
Life is good again.

A Million Little Lies Author to Publish Novel

According to Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - HarperCollins announced on Wednesday it would publish a new novel by James Frey, the author who admitted fabricating key parts of his best-selling drug and alcohol memoir "A Million Little Pieces."

HarperCollins, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said it would publish Frey's "Bright Shiny Morning" in summer 2008. It gave no further details about the novel.


Only in America would a disgraced faux memoirist be given another chance. In my opinion, readers should boycott this novel--hasn't this guy made enough money off the readers who bought his "memoir" and believed in it only to discover it was all fake? Yet, the masses, like a herd of bovines, will line up for this book.


After hoodwinking Oprah into featuring his book on her Book Club, she was absolutely right to drag him onto her show and spank his sorry posterior. I could never believe a word he wrote, even fiction.

I'm still muttering under my breath over this one.


A Wrinkle In Time

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007)

My attempt at the link is playing with me, but you can find it.

Iowa Poetry Prize: A Warning

In case you didn't click on Alan's poster, the caption reads:

"Where everyone's a loser."


Iowa Poetry Prize: motivational poster

Hyena: the Iowa Poetry Prize
Originally uploaded by bluehole

See this earlier post for more details.

Block Island, Lisa Starr, &cet.

During my brief sojourn on Block Island, I called Lisa Starr, RI's Poet Laureate and an InnKeeper (sp?).[My attempt at posting a link to her project was unsuccessful and so I've deleted it...for now!]

It was during her inn's breakfast and there were interruptions on both sides. She sounded friendly.

Thanks to my earlier comments about her on Foetry, I had a brief exchange (by internet, of course) with a cousin of her husband.

Although my city is small by many standards, it is a metropolis compared to "the Island" and I cannot say how lovely the horizon was. How blue the water.

Spam Lit Poem: II. List of Franklin Search Parties

II. List of Franklin Search Parties

Sculpting each tree to fit your ghostly form
The weight of being born into exile is lifted.
Green lilac buds appear that won't survive
Glimmering of light:
Escapees from the cold work of living,
They move against, or through, or by, or toward.
In realms of dingy gloom and deep crevasse
The paths of childhood.
Not so much of place as of renewed hope,
To listen, by the sputtering, smoking fire,
When Arctic winds crack down from Canada
Where, as I discover as I go through
And half-starved foxes shake and paw
As if your human shape were what the storm
Is the moon to grow
I've drifted somewhat from the distant heart
What? What can you do?
What is there in the depths of these walls


Spammer: Vincent Barron

Lexiconnist: A Spoof "New" Word

As I get older, my spelling deteriorates; as a child, I won plenty of spelling bees. As a college teacher, I see plenty of misspelled words; after a while, misspelled and misused words begin to look correct, such as "alright" for "all right," "loose" for "lose," and "there" for "their."

So I now keep my dictionary and spell check handy.

However, my misspellings still slip through.

My most recent misspelling cost me money--not a lot--but enough to make me more vigilant about spelling and usage.

As most wordsmiths know, a "lexiconist" is a writer of lexicon; for sure, the word is a bit fusty in that it's not commonly used any more. Now we simply say "dictionary writer."

But I spelled it "lexiconnist," after having already plunked down $7.00 for the dot-com.

So what does one do with a great big lemony non-word?

You make it a word; you assign a meaning to it, which is what I am about to do with "lexiconnist," which will also describe a person who misspells words and tries to weasel out of it by pretending the word has meaning.

Therefore, I'm fessing up and then moving on.

So, then, a "lexiconnist" is a writer who misspells, either by accident or on purpose, a word and then tries to con the world into believing that it has a real meaning. In other words, a con artist lexiconist.

This is definitely a spoof definition, one that is not likely to take the lexicon world by storm, but it is kind of fun to mess around with the English language. After all, if my students can do it, why can't I?

By the way, I'll be posting a version of this on my other blog, simply because it's relevant to the biz I'm in.


New Feature: Plug Your Book Here

I'm pleased to announce that the comment thread attached to this post will remain open to those of you who want to plug your books or the books of a friend. Creative writers don't have a lot of opportunities to blurb about their efforts, so I thought I'd offer. This is a genuine offer, BUT...

There are some caveats:
  • No book reviews. Just the title, author, a short blurb, and link to where one can buy and/or see more information/review about the book.
  • You may use this thread only; blurbs in other comment sections will be deleted.
  • By posting your blurb, you do leave yourself open to comments about your work, and these comments cannot be deleted, at least on this thread--at least I haven't figured out how to do this.

Thank you!

Best, Bugzita

On Censorship...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

--The First Amendment
Post Foetry has not been censored; perhaps a cloak of silence has surrounded us, and, perhaps, we have even been pretty much ignored by the literary establishment, but we still enjoy the right to establish a presence on the internet.

At the moment, I have little reason to cry "censorship!"; Post Foetry (and certainly Foetry before us) has a voice on the internet.

Conversely, readers have the right to ignore us; we can't force people to read this site, nor would we want to.

After I launched the Foet Laureate web page, no government wonk called me up in the middle of the night and demanded that I take down the page; there have been no FBI threats, nor have I spent time in jail because of my web page.

I can call George W. Bush a total moron and not be arrested; even in these difficult Republican times U.S. citizens are still afforded certain basic freedoms (well, most of the time).

That's the way freedom of expression should and, for the most part, does work.

However, if an organization, even a non-profit, refuses to publish some one's creative work and/or opinions, that is not censorship. To publish or not to publish is at the discretion of an editor or an editorial board, a decision that is often based on board sensibilities and, yes, taste.

Whether we like it or not, even non-profit publishers have the right to decide editorial policy, even if they accept tax money.

Foetry went after private and university publishers when Foet Presses decided to take money from contest entrants for the purpose of awarding prizes to their friends (and not even reading manuscripts of entrants not in the inner circle), not because the publications reject writers' work, a fact of life in this field, or even though it has long been an open secret that poets and writers often set up cloaked vanity presses for the purpose of publishing each others' work. We may not like this, but it's not illegal to set up vanity presses: an important distinction well worth keeping in mind.

When organizations, even non-profits, take money on false pretenses, then that meets the criminality test, but simply rejecting some one's work is not a criminal offense, nor is it censorship.

Almost any entity can be become a non-profit, although not all non-profits are awarded government funding, another fact of life.

Being a dissident of any kind tends to place one in the margins, so we have to work harder at being heard, and, sometimes, we suffer consequences for speaking out against the majority--for example, a wall of silence.

Working harder does not necessarily mean ranting and raging, but quietly creating an enduring presence and agitating when it's truly warranted. A loud voice is simply a loud voice, which simply becomes ineffective after a time. Teddy Roosevelt said it best, and Martin Luther King lived it: "Speak softly, but carry a big stick."

Recently, I was cyberslapped on a domaining board for "self-promoting." I didn't think I had, but that was beside the point. It wasn't my board, so I swallowed my anger and moved on, understanding that I had been a guest in someone else's house, and I had misbehaved, at least in the eyes of the owner.

But it wasn't censorship.

  • Censorship would be having my blog erased, against my will, by the government.
  • Censorship would entail my being arrested because I called our president a moron.
  • Censorship would involve my being jailed for protesting the war in a public place.
(On private property, it's called "trespassing.")

However, if Blogger/Google (owner of blogspot) decided to remove my blog, I would hate them forever, but their act probably wouldn't meet the censorship test, although it might be considered discriminatory, especially if a similar blog were allowed to remain.

My point: I will not take a non-governmental organization, such as The American Academy of Poets, to task, just because it rejects some one's creative work and/or opinions. Life's too short, and I'd rather save my energies for the battles worth waging.

Now if Congress or any other governmental agency decided that Post Foetry, The American Dissident, or even the most hated of all white supremacist groups (which I will not name here) could not establish a cyber and public presence, then that would be a battle worth fighting because that would be a clear case of censorship, which would violate the First Amendment, and, ultimately, such egregious censorship affects all of us.


Jennifer Semple Siegel

Added August 30, 2007: This post is a response to G. Tod Slone, who believes that The Academy of American Poets engages in public-funded censorship by silencing unpopular viewpoints. The American Dissident is edited and published by Mr. Slone.

About Press Releases on Post Foetry...

When posting a press release on this blog, Post Foetry is not necessarily endorsing or speaking out against the event or the people involved.

I have just posted a press release from that arrived in my mailbox. On the surface, the event looks straight forward enough: the event is free and open to those who wish to attend. As to what poet got favors from such-and-such organizations, I don't know.

In any case, the "comment" section is open to anyone who wishes to express opinions about organizations and individual writers featured in the press release. Opinions expressed by individuals do not necessarily reflect my opinion or that of my team members.

I plan to post select future press releases related to poetry and writing in general as they arrive in my inbox, but they will be clearly marked as press releases, which means that the text has not been changed or edited in any way. Thus, when you see "Press Release" in the title line, you will know that, at the time of posting, we have taken a neutral stance on the event and/or people involved.

That could change, of course, so anyone submitting a press release here is well-advised to keep that in mind.

We will not post the following kinds of press releases:

  • Announcements of any literary contests, both free and fee-charging
  • Vanity press "contest" announcements
  • From publications that charge a reading fee
  • From known foets and foet vanity presses
  • Announcements of paid editorial services and/or fee-charging literary agents
  • Announcements selling certain enhancement products (okay, just checking to see if you're still with us)

However, by submitting a press release to any team member's email box, you are granting us permission to quote from it and write up a news clip, which may or may not be favorable to you or your organization.

Kind of well-written press releases we will consider posting:

  • Announcements of upcoming FREE and/or charity literary events
  • Press releases from individual writers (not presses), who have published a book (novels, stories, poems, and creative non-fiction) and could benefit from a little buzz and exposure; self-publishers are welcome too. Just be aware that by publishing your release, we are not addressing the overall quality of your book.

While Post Foetry would like to keep an eye on certain foet organizations and foets, we also want, whenever possible, to emphasize what's good about the literary arts.