Showing posts with label Critiques. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Critiques. Show all posts

Thread: What is Legitimate Academic Publishing? (Athena)

I'd love to go from Hunger Mountain right into a piece on Colrain--which is the same deal, really, except people spend much more money, and Joan Houlihan and Jeffrey Levine are editors who can publish their "students" and perhaps eventually judge them in a "contest," thus providing incentive for the aspiring writer to pay the "manuscript doctor" fees.

Most of these poets would never pay a thousand dollars, or whatever it is they have to pay, for a vanity publication, and Levine and Houlihan would vociferously deny they are in the "vanity publication" business, but if they collect money to edit a person's manuscript, become acquainted with that person and their work in the process of taking their money, and then subsequently publish them in a magazine or a book--how can any objective viewer not reach the conclusion that this is, in fact, vanity publishing?

If an editor receives an manuscript out of the blue and says, "Wow, I must publish this," fine, wonderful.

But if an editor takes hefty fees from a poet for "manuscript doctoring" services and then subsequently publishes that poet, one has to be rather naive not to know what's going on.

And then, of course, the "students" and the Colrain manuscript "doctors" trumpet the "success" of the "manuscript doctor" retreats.

Okay, now we just put a headline on it:


Guest Writer: Manuscript Doctors--Quacks? (Athena)

Hunger Mountain, affiliated with Vermont College and the Hunger Mountain literary magazine, auctions manuscript critiques.

There’s something a little slimy about this, and it’s not because you might not get a decent critique from these people; what bothers me is that what’s really being "sold" is not so much these folks’ "critical expertise" (which could be anywhere from excellent to non-existent) but something utterly unspoken—that maybe these writers will, through their connections and the force of their personality, help one get published.

Isn’t that what people who buy these critiques are secretly hoping for? And why shouldn’t they hope for that?

And why shouldn’t there be the slightest chance it could happen?

But since it’s all insinuation and none of it is fact, it makes the "sale" somehow…creepy. In almost all instances, maybe in ALL instances, 100 dollars or more is paid to get a critique that one could also get, for free, from a friend—but the money is paid in the hope that "maybe this somewhat successful writer will fall in love with my work and become an advocate for it."

The payment, or "sale" is completely based on unspoken, false expectations.

I suppose that’s why this is run like a "benefit auction." This mitigates its crass, commercial character. It still doesn’t change the fact that something is being sold.

Maybe the Hunger Mountain site should be required to post a caveat:

"These writers are NOT offering their services as commercial editors, publishers, or advocates for a writer’s work. They only provide critiques, as stated, and there is no guarantee the writer/purchaser of said critique will agree with the critique."


Admin note: There is nothing inherently wrong with offering or accepting editorial services for a fee, but I agree with Athena that the Hunger Mountain approach raises some red flags. If this were an unknown literary agency or a poetry [dot] com type of site, the watchdog groups would be all over it with warnings.

I suggest that if you are thinking about bidding on these services to please ask questions first; be clear on expectations and know what you are getting for your money.

Each auction offers an email address for questions--use it before placing a bid. Getting specifics in an email will be your best protection should the deal go awry.

I also welcome
Hunger Mountain staff/reviewers to respond.

Critique: A bomb in the morning (free verse poem)

(The poet wishes to remain anonymous. He or she would like to know if this poem would be worthwhile revising. If so, how? The poet would also like to know if the reader can understand the meaning, which feels obvious to the poet.

I asked the poet if this post could also be posted under a discussion thread called What Makes Meaning? He/she has agreed.

For that general discussion, click here.)


A superfortress glides

the catwalk,

head high, torpedo chest--patent

black punctuates a bomb-

shell, a sleek silhouette.

A power walker well-heeled.

The stiletto elongates the leg,

raises the arch.

Hips thrust hereafter

sway like a pendulum.


It’s Barbie,

prize on a pedestal,

dolly style.

Bally style.

Versace, Prada, Chanel, Dior, Uggs, Gucci–

D-squared is not a formula.

Coach. No

she never does coach.



Early morning.

A-Bomb in the morning.


Critique: Selected Lines from the Pearl Poem, Section II (Translation)

Translated by Martha L. Reiner

This translation segment is from the Pearl Poem, written in the late 14th century in the medieval alliterative verse genre. Alliterative poetry was read at estates in developing towns where trading merchants from various nations and urban centers would visit. The concatinative lapidary poem weaves together themes of chivalric rescue, kingly presence in urban settlement, jousting and proto-market competition, clan and interests conflict, authority in disputes and interrogation, residual and emergent human trafficking, smelting of ores and crafting of jewelry, famine and disease including the Black Death of 1347-1351, the grandeur and mystery of nature and artifice, and exploration of seas and development of lands and agriculture.
. . .

. . . I knew in my kestrel quest unusual clues of the cliffs and Leuven. (1)
Toward a forest I revealed face,
Where there were rich rocks to describe.
The arrangements of them must no man misinterpret,
The smouldering glory that of them was lent,
For there were never weirs from which knowledge was woven
Of trial and simulation half so dearly dedicated.

So reproduced were all those going down the truth slides
With ice crystal cliffs, light people, and so free of children.
Wooden holds brought about them sea bound ones
Of low shackles and as far south as the blue of India;
As borne glimmering silver was left beside,
That pikes against haggling in such a complex tender hold;
When glimmering of glowing lodes against them slid,
With chimerical Chinese brilliance their Cyrillic bond choice shone.
The growlings that were around the ground and the grinding stones
Were gradual greyings, precious pearl speakings of the Orient;
The sun beams on the boat show desert winds and blind
. . .

The doubly represented proliferation of the passage of those placed down there
Encloses my ghost spirit to the forgotten forced seizure.
So fresh flowering of freeing test frights were,
As foes of the one hit against me freshly refestival’d.
Fowls of foes there flow in protection in iron,
Of flam band ways, both miniature and gregarious;

But systole-strings stirring, pillar alignment, and trial turning means
There reckon myrth bad mockings rather than revisionings,
For anyone, those captive display brides of their winged beast,
Pay songs with a sweet ascent in Indian smokes.
So gracious the seizures and blows to the seized no one saw delivered
As here and so elsewhere the maiden wife is reproduced.

That coherence of their other Fortune from me goes
For the dearth therof to devise
Nesting no wisely valued words that are borne on tongs.
I whisperingly welcome assent forth in common ways,
No embankment so big that did not have me dare them.
The fir in the rice forage, the fare taker with ruse desire
The plain, the blunt, the spies, the pairings;
And rawes and randies and rich penitence reconciliations
As at harvest time her bank tillage burnt.
I wandered to a waterway by the market shore where they all search the cherished . . . .

(1) Antoniszoon, Cornelis (b. ca.1499)’s Safegarde of saylers, or great rutter. Contayning the courses, distances, soundings, flouds and ebbes, with the marks for the entring of sundry harboroughs both of England, Fraunce, Spaine, Ireland, Flaunders, and the soundes of Denmarke, with other necessarie rules of common nauigation represents geographies and trading contexts that connect with narration and emotion in the Pearl Poem. Antoniszoon’s shipping narrative includes “The course from the Moones to Lubeck [Leuven].”

Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, was connected with the northern shipping route, Ireland to Scandinavia, and with the Baltic. See Hammel-Kiesow, Rolf (2002), Lubeck and the Baltic Trade in Bulk Goods for the North Sea Region 1150-1400, Lars Berggren et al eds., Cogs, Cargoes, and Commerce: Maritime Bulk Trade in Northern Europe 1150-1400, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, cited in Johan Söderberg, Prices in the Medieval Near East and Europe, Towards a Global History of Prices and Wages, 19-21 Aug. 2004, Department of Economic History, Stockholm University.

More on the Pearl Poem.

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