The Monster-ator Mash

Motet, monster-ator of P &W Speakeasy (not!), bans members for mild, satiric bantering, tends to sulk, needs attention, defends "regulars" who have been there forever and add little to the site, has trouble stimulating discussions on her own, which are few and far between on the Speakeasy.

Motto: "Waaaaaahhhhhhh!"

Worst move: Banning Sawmygirl.

Chrissiekl, monster-ator and former Borg Queen of Poets.borg, recently demoted by inside poets.borg moderator coup, operates with band of moderator-helpers (a.k.a. "The Hive"), Sbunch, "Mr.Kansas," Kaltica, Mr. DUM DUM DUM, Billy 'Go Away' Blazes, but reports to Robin Beth, a young, aspiring "poet" recently short-listed for chap-book contest by Jeff Levine, "critic," publisher of Tupelo Press, and business partner of Our Lady of Poets.Org, Joan Houlihan.

Motto: "You will comply."

Worst move: Banning ACommoner.


  1. This is ridiculous.

  2. What is the goal of this kind of mean-spirited "joking"?

  3. If you find it mean-spirited, you have an amazing choice: don't read it.

    It's all about choices.

  4. Yes, truly ridiculous, and that it should all be happening on the websites of two of the most respected writing organizations in America too, The Academy of American Poets and Poets & Writers.

    Ridiculous but real, the bannings were real, you know, but the causes weren't--they were surreal!

    A shocking state of affairs--let the satirists rage, I say, let them do the job without which no human institution is safe from humbug!

  5. Mean-spirited is on the other foot, Anonymous--mean-spirited is the arrogance and myopia behind the point of view expressed in Joan Houlihan's Nov/Dec 2007 Poets & Writers Magazine Letter and the powers that be that blocked every attempt I made to reply to it.

    Here's the URL for the P&W Letter. And while reading it, do try to imagine what it would feel like to be someone who had submitted 12 full-length book manuscripts to Bin Ramke over the years, and 8 to Jeffrey Levine. And then I got banned at both and just for attempting to post a reply!

    So what goes on in the little minds of moderators that allow themselves to be used like that, or members of forums that aquiesce in such obvious, self-serving, undemocratic abuse?

  6. Christopher,

    You're dragging in mods and admins and insulting them because of an issue you're having with Joan Houlihan. She stalks you, bring the issue up with her.

    Or continue to do this. I know that I have the choice to come to this site or not, and there are some good points and issues addressed. But seeing a thread such as this is disgusting.

    Is there nowhere else that you can go to have your work published? I've read a lot of what you've said over the last few months, and it seems like you would put out some good work... but going this far is depressing to watch. Submit your work elsewhere.

  7. I have a feeling that's a good point, Anonymous--but it's hard to come by closure when you get banned everywhere you turn to meet up with her. Yes, there's certainly got to be closure, you're right about that. Yes, bring the issue up with her.

    And I have.

    1.) Tried to talk things through on Foetry only to find I was still being blamed in the same words on a SUNY site;

    2.) Two attempts to contact Joan Houlihan on reply;

    3,) Atempted to join a Colrain Manuscript Conference--rejected.

    4.) Banned from to observe her there a few minutes after the lights went out;

    5.) Banned from for attempting to post a reply to her Nov/Dec 2007 P&W Letter;

    6.) Banned again from for mentioning white mansions in the Berkshires, and suggesting that she might be listening in and might want to join the discussion.

    I guess I've just got to fly to Concord.


  8. I might mention too that I have nothing whatever to do with the launching, sustenance. definition or management of this site.

    It's just that there are so many people out there that I don't even know that are also interested in such matters arising.

  9. The matter arising is that poetry is business but those that are really good at it have to go to considerable lengths to hide not only their success in the field but the fact that there engaged in trade at all!

    Like wasps used to be, but now they're calling themselves poets!

  10. And sincerely, dear Anonymous (and I think I know who you are, too), I thank you for that personal appeal, and I take note. It's truly time for closure, and I'm ready.

    Unilateral closure it will remain, I'm afraid--despite that appalling xeroxed "personal review" from Jeffrey Levine and that appalling white-wash ROTTEN GRAPES letter from Joan Houlihan.

    I can move on--I just hope they've bothered to listen, those two, and not just knee-jerked yet again.

    True poets should do better!

  11. I still believe Jeffrey Levine should refund each and every one of those "reading fees" submitted during the period for which he promised a personal critique. He did not fulfill the contract and I cannot begin to tell you how many poets will forever resent his shady form letters. He could have apologized; he chose not to. He chose to blame everyone but himself.

    Now his new shtick appears to be publishing the books of anyone who can get him gigs at manuscript conferences, credit classes, or one degree closer to Jorie Graham herself. It's pretty gross.

    And it must feel bad to be Joan Houlihan or Carol Ann Davis or Emily Galvin or anyone else he's taken on recently, knowing their books are coming out with the expectation of something in return.

    Or maybe they like it.

  12. This is the most moronic, narcissistic whining imaginable. I can't believe some tool spent over $1500 on the domain name for this vanity sulking site.

  13. "the administrator reserves the right to delete spam, unwanted advertising, copyright-infringing comments, hate speech, ethnic/racial intimidation, harassing/stalking posts, and truly libelous content."

    Dear Administrator: You should ban yourself.

  14. Christopher Woodman has already said...

    The matter arising is that poetry is business but those that are really good at it have to go to considerable lengths to hide not only their success in the field but the fact that they're engaged in trade at all!

    I would add that those who are really good at it seem to have to take seriously a domain that only cost $1500.00. That would indicate to me that their sense of security and accomplishment have obviously not kept up with their "success"--or whatever you want to call what they bought.

  15. That last comment assumes that anybody actually takes this site seriously.

    Do they?


  16. I can't believe some tool who is so threatened by this site keeps coming back to post anonymously. Talk about a whiner.

  17. Dear pot, thanks for aleting me to my kettle-ishness.

    Re: Anonymity: I don't want anyone to know I read this Gack.

  18. If I might be so bold (and yes, arrogant too) to admit it, I am very struck at how few "successful" poets ever come on-line to join the discussions--even when they're requested to, even when they're the only ones who could clarify some urgent question, or speak with real authority about it.

    I assume some of the con as well as pro voices commenting on the satirical portraits above are affected parties. I certainly was, and indeed, that was one of the main reasons I made up my mind never to go with a sock-puppet. For my truth is the truth of who I am, where I come from, what I've done, both for good and for ill. If I myself cannot take the harsh examination of my person, why should anyone trust what I say?

    So I would encourage visitors to this site, let us know who you are so we can better evaluate what you say. You don't have to tell us your name, but do tell us how you are involved with the issue in question.

    Thank you, Christopher Woodman

  19. May 15, 2008 10:25 AM << Me.
    May 16, 2008 11:01 AM << Also Me.

  20. Well, I admire Caestice for revealing their identity. I have seen the lies and bile you post when you have an identified target so I'll refrain from following suit there.

    Allan Cordle--I think given your history on Foetry that you're not really in a position to criticize anyone for posting anonymously.

  21. I'm not criticizing the anonymity as much as the repeat visits by someone so appalled by this post. Don't like it here? Don't come back. Not that hard to figure out.


  22. I want to thank Caestice too for acknowledging who he is.

    For those of you that don't recognize the name, Caestice is a very promising young poet who has received considerable praise for his work on, including having had one of his poems chosen as poem of the month, no mean achievement for a teenager!

    What I want to say to him personally is that I hear two very distinct voices when Caestice speaks, and that is something that should concern him, a lot. When I first arrived on, and I mean within minutes, I was met by a whole battalion of Moderators who grilled me severely before I had even opened my mouth--that thread has been deleted so you will have to take my word for it, I’m afraid. And among that fearsome gaggle of bouncers was Caestice, and his tone and demeanor were indistinguishable from the other doormen, so I assumed he must be one of them.

    So I want to say to the young, promising poet Caestice, do be careful of donning such a persona in the future, as it is not conducive to the essential vulnerability that is such an indispensable quality in a poet. You can't have it both ways, Caestice, you can't be Roy Cohn and John Keats!

    The other voice came out more in personal contact with him, and I heard there a voice that longed for more intensity and depth and significance, qualities which inevitably lead into the terrors of ambiguity. But that too is part of the negative capability experience, I'm afraid, dear Caestice, and if you can't deal with it you'll never find your own voice, never. On the contrary, you will begin to sound like what you think you ought to sound like, and that’s fatal. Indeed, that's what I myself, in my very late incarnation as a poetry activist, am seeking ways to illuminate, including writing to you right now.

    So what's the solution in your case, Caestice? Well, go to your Keats again, and try like him to respond to the whole world without any irritable reaching after fact & reason--including an iconoclastic satire like the Monster Moderators you're so shocked by!

    Because your much too young to be good already--if one is ever old enough for that sort of death!

    Respectfully, Christopher

  23. Even before he was 'outed' Alan Cordle was a distinct identity--indeed, nothing changed in his voice or his message after it was associated with his real name and address.

    What I want is for people to do what Caestice has just done, i.e. not just shoot from the hip but wear their badge, their mask, their feathers, panties or bandanas as the case may be, and then have it out in the open.

  24. Not every location is the right place for what you're trying to do, Christopher. was a place where you could indeed speak out to many people, but I'm not sure how you expected to be received by the members there. To bring in P&W to I don't agree with at all, and thus my message in the thread now deleted.

    Your thread about aspiring writers was great, and even now in your absence is continuing well. I agree with you on many aspects also: about Jorie Graham to an extent, but not quite to the same degree; I feel that what happened on P&W was unjustified and unfair; and I also do not agree with your banning from

    However a thread slamming Chrissiekl on seems a farfetched attempt to get at others. This I do not agree with you on.

    I don't have two voices, I have one; my own. I visit here often to read up on the posts, and sometimes participate. I'm not a moderator, but I'm not completely on your side either. I have different views on different subjects. If this makes me unoriginal, so be it.


  25. Thank you, Caestice, for some well-considered comments.

    Your views will always be welcome here, even if I (and others) don't always agree with you.

    You (and others) are welcome to post anonymously, for I do realize how the literary community can hold a grudge forever and punish its malcontents.

    Best, Jennifer

  26. Caestice
    I too want to thank you for your thoughtful and measured response.

    You are entirely right to keep your independence as much as you possibly can, because even siding with the good can be taking sides, of course--as America has had so bitterly to realize in it's foreign interventions. Ambiguity is the name of the game of life--the Buddha said that all karma is in fact equally karma. Whether it's good karma or bad karma is immaterial, it creates ripples, and the goal is still water (wonderfully ambiguous grammar, that!).

    That's an 'esoteric' teaching indeed, and one of the most painful riddles of consciousness (we have a slowly evolving thread on that). The fact that somebody is saying this to you directly is a huge compliment to who you are personally, Caestice, because rare it is to hear that word at your age.

    Two little points: I never spoke about on You were in on levelling that accusation at me at the very beginning, and you need to check out what I actually said about it--and what I actually did. The fact the the whole "First Amendment & Forums" thread got deleted will make that hard for you. For me it's easy--I kept a copy.

    The second issue is that I had nothing whatever to do with writing or putting up the Monster Moderator satire--if you want to know how I relate to it you could read my two quite long comments that follow the general post on Satire. You might also want to go over my extensive writings since I got banned and you will find that nowhere do I insult Christine Klocek-Lim or Robin Beth Schaer.

    I'm skeptical of "moderators," not people!

    If you ever want to talk about something in private, just e-mail me. My address is all over

    I'm glad you are there over-looking what's happening here. We need that.


  27. I look forward to continuing this discussion via email, then.


  28. I'd just like to add that I'm happy to see some dialogging about this issue instead of just sniping. Although I respect the use of satire, I don't think I would have subjected these forum moderators (however small-minded they appear from their actions and words) to such a treatment. Not because it's "mean" . . . certainly the treatment of Christopher (cleverly antagonistic and ceaselessly persistent ["driven"? "obsessed"?] though he may be) was much "meaner" in spirit than the obviously hyperbolic satire of these images.

    I'd like to think that the satirical images used here are attempts to hold a somewhat painful mirror up to people who hold tiny positions of power and still wield that power with limited conscience. My main objection to the satirization of these forum moderators is that the satire mocks their unexamined (but relatively subtle) tyranny . . . whereas I suspect they are more hapless pawns than tyrants.

    Also, there is a bit a of a self-serving aspect to this particular satire, because the mirror it holds up to those satirized is not one these people will be able to look into or understand. I think what these people really need to be "shown" is that their real significance and influence in the poetry world (and the PoBiz) is minute, so minute that even these small abuses of their power are extremely petty.

    Essentially, they have (I feel) been "brainwashed" by the PoBiz system into thinking they should act as doorkeepers for the barbarians at the gates, that they should act as the regulators of who gets to have a voice in today's poetic arenas. And, despite their insignificance as poetic voices themselves, they have agreed to this contract, gratis. They have felt it was their duty to excise a person like Christopher Woodman from their conception of the poetic community. And in doing this, they have sacrificed a great deal of honor, humanity, and depth of vision . . . and done a disservice to POETRY in order to serve the PoBiz.

    It is these people who play gatekeeper against the Christopher Woodmans of the poetry world that are the most pathetic victims here (even more than Christopher is). They are doing this on behalf of the "higher ups" they aspire to be like or to court favor with. They do this for the ideal of what the poetry community is supposed to be . . . as it was taught to them in their indoctrination into poethood. So the use of power that they have displayed has done more damage to their own souls than it has even to outraged Christopher.

    Therefore, satirizing them by comparing them to tyrants is really, in my opinion, not accurate. This satire does not genuinely see through into the inner conflict in such personalities. Personally, I would prefer that, along with the outrage, such people are also addressed with some pity.

    From the beginning of this conflict between Christopher and various poetry forums and moderators/admins, I cautioned that the battle waged would do more damage than good to the cause of raising consciousness about the PoBiz and combating its power. I still feel that way. I again recommend a new front, and preferably one that is more directly analytical of the problems in to PoBiz and that attempts to address these problems with both philosophical/ethical argument and with clearly stated facts sans hyperbole, satire or anything else that might detract from the message.

    I feel that we who identify as dissidents and outsiders need to make sure we are communicating and not merely serving our own outrage. This outrage is essential and it is valid, but communication requires a certain amount of negotiation. It requires that one recognize the humanness of the Other. And that means recognizing the valid desires and fears of the Other. We have, I feel, not adequately recognized and empathized with the Other's humanity . . . and this ultimately undermines the message we wish to communicate.

    The most difficult battle we dissidents face is the battle with our own outrage. It needs to have its space, its right to be, and its due respect. And those we dissent against will never understand this or accept its validity (which we must struggle to resign ourselves to this and not beg for it). Our outrage will constantly tempt us to push the two opposing "armies" farther and farther apart by making true Enemies of the Other (there are plenty of indoctrinated insiders who are equally willing to polarize in this way to preserve the sanctity of their kingdom). When you can't look directly at the pain in the Others' faces (because they are so distanced or "Othered"), you tend to forget they, too, are human. And when you can't see into the Others' hearts, you can't recognize the nature of the conflict within them. Unchecked, outrage is just another source of dehumanization of the Other . . . much like the elitism and prejudice that is exercised by the indoctrinated insiders and their aspiring, low-level acolytes.

    I think we should be concerned about looking too absolutely to the "evils" of Others while not sufficiently reflecting on our own darker conflicts (of course this goes for both sides, but I am concerned with us barbarians most of all). It should be the foremost goal of us who are PoBiz dissidents and critics to preserve our humanity and honor. Engaging in any war always threatens to steal that away from us. To be an effective dissident, one has to be twice as vigilant of oneself as one is of the "Enemy". And frankly, I think we deserve to be satirized just as much as the foolish and shortsighted moderators of poetry forums do. But more importantly, I think we should strive for dialog more so than shaming and mockery. As I have said before, by continuing to polarize an Us and a Them, we run the very real risk of losing the ears of all those In-Betweens . . . who are, I believe, our true and desired audience.

    So, as they say in Hiphop . . . let's elevate.

    Matt Koeske

  29. Well put, Matt. Let me know what I can do to help.

  30. Jennifer,

    You wrote:
    "You (and others) are welcome to post anonymously, for I do realize how the literary community can hold a grudge forever and punish its malcontents."

    Yes indeed. Thank you for providing a forum to facilitate this dynamic.

  31. Hi caestice,

    My suggestion to everyone would be to continue approaching all of these issues with consciousness and patience. Outrage should be tolerated (and accepted as appropriate and inevitable as much as possible), but analyzed, scrutinized, dissected. It should never be dismissed. We should ask of this outrage (even in ourselves) if it can be qualified and made useful . . . and we should try to propose ways of accomplishing this.

    And as for the outrage in us (as well as the indoctrination . . . which even we vets suffer from, let's not ever forget this!), I think we need to recognize that, to some degree, it belongs to a system or society in which we have chosen (even desired) to exist. Why do we aspire to be approved of by the PoBiz? Why do we let the PoBiz define poetry? Why is it shocking that in minor PoBiz enclaves like these poetry forums, the PoBiz party line is toted without significant self-consciousness?

    These questions (and many others) need to be asked again and again. And we need to keep asking and investigating the issues of cronyism, corruption, and impropriety in poetry publishing. How are they affecting the poetry produced? It seems a strong case can be made for the ill effect of this system (that willfully tolerates impropriety in publishing) on the quality of American poetry. I.e., if the system is as narrow-minded and favor-trading and status-mongering as (and many others) have suggested it is (and also provides significant corroborating evidence as to merit real attention and discussion from all concerned), then shouldn't this have a deleterious effect on the quality of the poetry it produces?

    The investigation, then, should be one that looks into how widespread the prevailing PoBiz beliefs and behaviors are and how distinctly these beliefs and behaviors can be detected in the poetry the PoBiz system produces (this is what strove to do, but did not adequately accomplish for a variety of reasons). We could also speculate about what else poetry in America could look like . . . and how it might be possible to develop "alternative" poetries (ones that are not PoBiz-sanctioned or developed through the academic system).

    For instance, what styles and ideas are considered viable in the PoBiz and why? Which ones aren't tolerated/published and why? In general, I'm calling for a very close rhetorical analysis of what is written and said in today's poetry and poetry world. We are supposed to be devotees and perhaps masters of the language. Lovers and also judges and connoisseurs of what the language is and could potentially be. And yet, what I have seen from poets most of the time is a complete lack of understanding of rhetoric and language. A lack of understanding of what is really being said and written or expressed.

    George Orwell has been cited a couple times on this site as a patron saint. It is with an Orwellian eye that we need to look toward the subtext in our beliefs and our art . . . and mostly in how we imagine ourselves as poets, thinkers, livers, and creators in the language.

    Beyond that, I think we who care should continue to do what we can to raise consciousness and provoke (and be available for) conversation . . . even when there is a great deal of conflict and tension involved in that conversation. Christopher and others here have tried to test the ground (especially in these poetry forums). They are agitating, and agitation is good, is necessary. But I suggest to all of us that agitation is also an art form, a rhetorical art form. It's specific objective is to raise consciousness and provoke new thinking. It wields dangerous questions (and should invite self-reflection). But as an art form or craft, it requires great skill in construction and employment. Much of the craft of writing is a matter of self-consciousness, a self-consciousness which as accurately as possible imagines the audience or Other and tries to negotiate the most effective way of saying what one wants to say without either alienating the Other or damaging the valid essence of what it is one hopes to express. It's a magic act more than a horn blowing. We have to keep stepping back and trying to discern how our audience perceived what we said and the way we said it. The goal is penetration, effect . . . not merely self-expression or release. That is the very same skill that separates a real poet (or creative writer of any kind) from an amateur or hack. We still need to do better on this front, in my opinion.

    Whether the dissidents snipe at the "foets" and the insiders or the insiders snipe at the dissidents matters not at all. Either sniping is a failure, in my opinion. A failure to communicate and to express a genuine argument. The insiders aren't going to come looking for an argument with those untouchables they have dismissed, so it is up to the untouchables to find a valid way to communicate with the insiders.

    I hope you will continue to strive to keep us, as well as the "insiders" and insider wannabes, honest. And most importantly of all, I hope you will realize that as a poet and artist and human being, there is a very legitimate struggle going on for you (as for all of us). And the poet today has to fight to preserve his or her soul . . . by which I mean nothing mystical, but merely the integrity of one's creative voice and one's relationship to the language.

    I feel (especially for a poet) these things are incredible precious and tremendously complex and slippery. I like to call the language, "the Real Family Jewel" (sexual connotations intended, because language is erotic and procreative). We are asked (both by the PoBiz and by our own individual drives) to make many choices about who we are as poets and what it is we will write. These choices tend to be a great deal more complex and serious than I think many poets (and PoBiz believers) today feel they are.

    I think poets in general have committed a terrible "sin", Namely, they have underestimated the true value of language. We are all suffering for it (in different ways) . . . and the art of poetry is suffering for it. We poets are supposed to be the carriers of this sacred flame . . . and, in my opinion, we have failed grievously at this job. Part of this is failing to realize how truly important what we wish to do is . . . even as it seems (and we are so often told it is) small and is typically ignored.

    We are so often faced today with painful decisions to make between truth (or integrity) and status. Regrettably, status has its own PR machine, system of institutions, and mass of true believers. Integrity needs to be both won and nurtured. I think a poet, a real poet, should be able to explain to other people what, precisely, integrity is . . . as well as what vision is.

    And yet, I think many would agree that that last people we would go to to learn about integrity are the poets, today's poets. We have forsaken a great deal of what we had historical claim to, and for what? I couple of book sales, a near-middle class existence?

    But what we lost to have these things was vast (if not priceable). Are our small grabs for status and credentials worth this great expense? I personally don't think so . . . and I think that if the fine print of this devil's bargain where illuminated and read aloud to many who have signed the contract, they would be horrified, outraged, and ready to change their attitudes. What I have occasionally tried to do (e.g., on is precisely this illuminating and reading aloud of the "PoBiz contract". I am always happy to see others scrutinizing this as much as possible, too.


  32. Don't you think that there's more to the choice in poetry than truth and status? Personally I would think that those with the higher status would have a greater impact on more people, and it's rare that these people gain their status through truth and muckraking. Is this a conundrum?

    Perhaps a level of popularity is necessary for this, and a large group of people with a large audience for an impact to be really made at all.

    Perhaps will grow into what Foetry was and more, and I think that would be a large step.

    That said, I think that poetry today has warped into something totally different from what it ever has been before. These days the number of venues where you can have your poetry published is astonishing. Does this sometimes diminish the quality and effort put into modern poetry?

    As a reader of poetry, what would you read, honestly? A book of poems is probably the highest hit, if you really like the author's works. Second is likely the thousands of free electronic websites available, which publish a much higher percentage of the poems which are submitted. But it's free. This creates a subworld of poetry, the poetry posted on a website for collection purposes or status purposes but in the end reach very few people.

    What poetry needs, I believe, is an elite magazine which pays decent (therefore creating serious submissions and a wider range of submissions), which can become respected in the poetry world. I've seen poems on discreet websites that are astounding, and have had maybe 100 views if that. A magazine where the articles aren't about the Jorie Grahams and her interviews, but about poetry movements and achievements. A magazine where poems themselves hold higher ground than the kings or peasants who write them.

    Maybe with an audience such a magazine could truly turn things around in the right direction, and produce a poem which will be remembered for a few centuries; because I haven't read a famous poem of quality that dates after 1950.

    Just throwing fantasies around.


  33. As a young writer in high school, the reality for my future as a poet is laughable. The truth is, going to college for creative writing is silly, especially if I want to live off of poetry.

    I'll end up going for Graphic Art or Journalism just to make enough money to still write poetry.

    The truth can be depressing but it's still the truth that shapes how I'll be living my life.


  34. Caestice,

    "Don't you think that there's more to the choice in poetry than truth and status?..."

    May I elevate your comment to a post?

    I think it should be featured in a prominent space.



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