Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bugzita (Jennifer Semple Siegel) is NO One's Puppet

I received an e-mail from a reader, suggesting that Post Foetry might be be a "puppet" blog. I decided to answer here and clear up any misconceptions.

I'm in charge of Post Foetry; when Foetry closed, I created the Post Foetry blog, and I'm its sole administrator. I created the blog with great trepidation and some fear, but that wasn't going to stop me. I decided early on that my posting style, for better or worse, would reflect a more moderate tone, which is more in keeping with my basic personality.

As you can clearly see in the left panel, Alan, Matt, and Nomi are team members, but, so far, only Nomi has posted entries, and that is perfectly okay. They understand that I would never censor a team member, so if Alan decided to post something in his own style, no big deal.

However, I make the decision as to what I post, sometimes scathing, sometimes humorous and downright silly, sometimes newsy, sometimes sad, and sometimes just plain fun. I wanted to create a place where I would want to visit time and again--besides, aren't blogs really a form of "literary masturbation"?

But I also want foets to understand that they won't get a free pass here.

I don't have the money, time, or staff to do in-depth investigative work, but if I get a tip and can verify it with two or more sources, I'll do my best to act on it in a timely manner. Also, readers can leave comments (or e-mail me) if they want to tell their side.

I have posted a "Watch List" of contests, and I have yet to receive a message from any of the people running these contests. Perhaps they believe that a wall of silence will shut this site down, but they would be totally wrong. I may be a kinder and gentler soul, but I'm also persistent and stubborn.

In other words, I'm no puppet of anyone.

In his personal blog, Alan Cordle did coin the term "Foet Laureate" (as it pertains to Charles Simic), and after looking at the facts, I agreed with Alan's assessment. Alan had absolutely nothing to do with my launching the "Foet Laureate" web page; he didn't even suggest the possibility. I take full credit and responsibility for the Foet Laureate site, not the term itself.

Believe me, it was a difficult decision for me to challenge a major poet and the Library of Congress, but it was the right decision. Still, my writing career, such as it is, has probably been ruined, at least in a traditional venue.

Alan has made the decision to distance himself from Foetry and Post Foetry, and I respect that. I was disappointed and sad that Foetry closed, but circumstances change and people move on--the cycle of life in motion.

Alan is my cyber friend (we have never met), and I will always admire him for what he risked personally and professionally three years ago.

Of course Alan and Foetry have influenced (to a certain extent) my thinking; two years ago (yes, sadly, I missed the best year of Foetry), I was thoroughly pissed off at the publishing industry, in particular The Iowa Review and The Paris Review. I would never submit to these two publications again, not because they rejected my work, but how they rejected it: no answer from Iowa at all and a mangled manuscript from Paris, with ripped pages and not even a form letter.

All I could see was a wall of red, and, somehow, I stumbled on Foetry and stayed with it for two years (a lifetime on cyberspace).

Writers have long memories, and little magazines would do well to remember that.

I have picked on New Yorker poetry on both Foetry and Post Foetry, but someone has trained their staff well in the art of basic courtesy; once (1988), when I was living in Yugoslavia, I submitted a manuscript to them, with a SASE for "reply only." They rejected the piece, but someone took the time to explain to me that (at that time), they returned all manuscripts, and gently chided me for not including full postage. They actually paid international postage to send the piece back to me. I was embarrassed, but also impressed that they would treat a lowly, totally unknown writer with such respect (and on their dime, and it wasn't cheap, either).

So, here's the deal: love us or hate us (or somewhere in between), Post Foetry will hang around for as long as at least one other person reads us; my posts, for better or worse, will be mine alone; if Alan wants to say something, he will have to say it himself, and he knows that.

I see no reason to "out" the questioner, but if he/she would like to respond, feel free, either anonymously or signed.

Jennifer Semple Siegel


Alan Cordle said...

Excellent post. And I fully support what you're doing here, but just choose to focus on other things right now -- that's my main reason for lack of posts.

As for the person for whom this post is intended, I quit trying to communicate with him after he refused to disclose his employer (which I determined anyway). If he is evasive, why do I owe him anything?

Bugzita said...

Alan, I totally understand. I appreciate the ground work you have done. Without Foetry, Post Foetry wouldn't exist.

It's just that simple.


Anonymous said...

PS: Sorry, I didn’t notice Alan Bluehole’s anonymous entry. Cordle is a liar. He only tells part of the story. Unfortunately, that in itself serves to diminish Foetry’s assertions of corruption in the literary milieu. Cordle conveniently failed to mention that I was more than willing to tell him the name of the university employing me if he told me the name of the college employing him. He chose not to respond. By the way, I was employed by Grambling State University in Louisiana. Where is he employed? And what can we expect from professors, poets, and librarians who are afraid to mention what college or university is employing them? Can we expect bold critique of those colleges and universities? Of course not! Again, the proof of my assertion may be found in the unadulterated transcript in the blog Cordle devoted to The American Dissident: For blind acolytes (sycophants) of Cordle, there is evidently no point in my furnishing proof at all.
G. Tod Slone, Editor
The American Dissident

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer,
You write intelligently, so hopefully you are in fact logical and reasonable. Thank you for inviting me to comment on your blog: “I see no reason to ‘out’ the questioner, but if he/she would like to respond, feel free, either anonymously or signed.” And you invited me despite Alan Cordle statement: “Don't engage with this loser, Bugz. He's not worth it.” You decided not to heed his advice, which does seem to confirm your assertion that you are not his “puppet.”

Note Cordle’s use of the term “loser,” which is often used by the intellectually lazy, if not depraved, to avoid debate. Just call the person “loser” and you won’t have to bother with the points he makes. Indeed, just call me “loser” and ignore the entire point I made that the Academy of American Poets censors poets who express contrarian opinions. For proof of censorship and that assertion, see The logic I use is apparently the kind of logic Cordle abhors and cannot deal with. Cordle does not like me for the simple reason that I did question and challenge him and take him to task intellectually. Again, it is sad that he chose to be so childish in response to my responses a number of months ago. For proof of that assertion, see It is sad because both he and I share the same observations regarding rampant corruption in the established-order literary milieu, though I do take it quite a bit further than he does or ever did. As a professor, I have a better vantage point than he does as a librarian. I would have preferred to form an alliance and had actually linked his site to mine, then took it down because of the immature behavior. I am still open to such an alliance. I am not a grudge holder.

As for anonymity, it is a coward’s shield. I certainly do not seek to hold such a shield, which is why my name is mentioned at the end of this entry. I would urge all those using anonymous names to think about why they are afraid and what they are afraid of. In my humble opinion, poets and writers should all do that, then write what they know they should not write, that is, should not if they wish to be “successful” in the poet and writer game. More than any other citizens, poets and writers should not prance around anonymously, but should instead “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson) and let their lives “be a counterfriction to stop the machine” (Thoreau).

On another note, you seem to use vocabulary lightly and thus “pump” things up. “Great trepidation and fear,” you state regarding your starting up the blog. But why? What were you afraid of? How would you compare what you did with a soldier getting off a plane in Iraq for the first time? “Alan is my cyber friend (we have never met), and I will always admire him for what he risked personally and professionally three years ago,” you state. But what did he risk? He’s still employed at the same college library. So apparently he didn’t risk that. He doesn’t write poetry, so he didn’t even risk publication opportunities. Truth tellers need not fear legal reprisal, so he didn’t even risk that. Now, if he had possessed the courage to criticize the library employing him, then he would have risked. And there is plenty to criticize regarding librarians; for example, their stocking the shelves with Harry Porter books and general refusal to subscribe to literary journals not on their conformist lists. When I’m employed I always criticize the university employing me by submitting critical articles to the student newspaper. And from my experience, I’ve been the only professor to do so. Why? Because I believe in truth, more than “career.” Apparently, Cordle believes in “career,” more than truth. In fact, if anything, he managed to gain a certain degree of fame and coverage, thanks to the NY Times.

In any case, what is really important here is what you failed to mention in your blog: the CENSORSHIP OF A POET BY THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS because he expressed contrarian opinions. Many Americans don’t seem to give a damn about censorship. And that is sad for democracy. I thus urge anyone sensitive to censorship issues to write a protest emails to the staff members of the academy (see Now, will this entry be censored???
G. Tod Slone, Founding editor
The American Dissident, A biannual literary journal of critical creative writing

Bugzita said...

G. Tod Slone,

When one speaks from the position of tenure, it is easy to speak up and express contrarian viewpoints and engage in rabble-rousing.

Are you tenured, Mr. Slone?

I am what is known as the "semester-to-semester adjunct," which means that I'll never enjoy "academic freedom" (a term that the tenured and protected love to bandy about), and I can be fired from my job at any time and for any reason. So, yes, in my case, dissent is a real risk, one that I have chosen to take.

Of course my situation is not the same as a soldier facing death in Iraq; I never pumped it up to that level, and I never would. I would rather be in York, Pennsylvania, sitting in front of my computer than in Iraq, on the front lines, side-stepping bombs and wondering if some smiling kid is loaded up with explosives.

Alan is hardly anonymous anymore--his identity has been known and well-documented for over two years. I totally understand why he chose to be anonymous in the first place and how it must have felt being "outted" against his will. But once he was out, he remained out, and he continued Foetry for two more years.

He finally made the difficult decision to close Foetry; sometimes personal considerations have to trump the public considerations. I respect that.

I don't wish to get in the middle of any dispute between you and Alan; it will always be a "He said, he said" situation, and there are always two sides to the same story.

I don't have time or the desire to sort that out.

Your e-mail about Academy of American Poets is still in my inbox and on my list of things to do; I thought I would get to it earlier, but some other situations have come up.

Jennifer Semple Siegel

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for allowing me to voice my opinion. Regarding Cordle’s lie, it is not a “he said, he said situation” as you easily dismiss it. The proof is in writing. Anybody interested in the PROOF can easily consult it. And I fault Cordle for not having the guts to admit it, even when the proof is there. And I fault you for easily dismissing lies committed by friends.

As for the Academy of American Poets, please inform me via email when you do get around to examining the case of censorship, though I shall not hold my breath, for I am actually quite dismayed how indifferent poets tend to be regarding such matters. No comments at all with that regard from other poets on your site?!

As for tenure, I am not tenured, nor will I ever be. Currently, I am unemployed and collecting unemployment compensation from the state of Louisiana (god bless her!). Just look at my website. What college or university would give tenure to somebody like me, that is, somebody who is not cowardly, not afraid to criticize openly? Those things are what colleges and universities do not want. And that is the shame regarding colleges and universities today… if not yesterday too. The last two college gigs I had (and not by choice) were at all black institutions in the south… and that says a lot. It says that white liberals do not want to teach in such institutions because the pay is low and the student levels tend to be low and that’s how I managed to get those jobs. Yes, you are in a tough position RE adjunct teaching. And hopefully soon I too will be in that position. No health insurance and a muzzle are both adjunct requisites.
G. Tod

Ian Thal said...

Somewhere along the line, after an email altercation, I actually did compare the campaigns of foetry on one hand and Dr. Slone on the other.

My conclusions were that Alan Cordle made the point of presenting the data in a clear, unambiguous manner (perhaps owing to his career as a librarian, he wants to provide information) that demonstrated the actual corruption within the realm of many top-tier literary contests-- and that these actions had resulted in real reforms, while one must wade through Dr. Slone's annecdotes, oft illogical polemics, accusations, and insinuations before discovering that there's rarely much of anything of substance in the pages of the American Dissident.