Showing posts with label forums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forums. Show all posts


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(This comment has been moved up to a post--admin.)

Homprang Chaleekanha, the well-known “Maw Samunphrai” (Doctor of Herbal Medicine) and teacher of Thai Traditional Massage and Herbal Medicine all over the world, was not only banned from The Academy of American Poets Forum at on May 22nd, 2008, but on June 4th, 2008, the thread containing all her 20 odd posts was deleted from the Forum altogether.

Along with the unique style and profound content of her posts, which were much admired by everyone who had the good fortune to read them, the whole record of her dispute with has now been expunged.

Homprang’s only transgression was to write a series of clear, cogent and unfailingly interesting letters in defense of her husband, the poet Christopher Woodman, on a thread especially set up for her by the Site Administrator called “Complaints on the Forum.” Unfortunately for her and her cause, her letters attracted very considerable support from Members, and her efforts highlighted the legitimacy of the struggle to speak openly about abuse not only on the Forum but elsewhere on the net, including on the Poets & Writers forum at

On the penultimate day, May 21st,’s case against Christopher Woodman collapsed completely when a key Moderator, sbunch (sic.), posted one of Christopher’s earlier PMs to him, thus breaking not only a key injunction against posting other people’s PMs but exposing the whole argument against Christopher to ridicule. Indeed, in the posts immediately following that faux pas, posts put up, take note, by members of the Forum in very good standing, it was clear that not only was Christopher being framed, he was being harassed—by The Academy of American Poets!

Later on the same day, still May 21st, 2008, Homprang Chaleekanha was issued a warning by the Site Administrator, Christine Klocek-Lim:

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 1:50 pm


This conversation has become exceedingly tedious. Christopher was banned for violating the Guidelines. Nothing you say here in this thread will change this. It really doesn't matter to me what you or Christopher think happened. It doesn't really matter how unfair you think it all is. Christopher violated the Guidelines, was warned, was let back in, and then violated the Guidelines again. End of story.

You are on the verge of being banned for violating the Guidelines because of your continued agitation regarding your perceived interpretation of other people's behavior, your continued hijacking of threads (not this one, the other one), and your complete inability to understand that has the right to delete, move, lock, and otherwise modify any posts made by any members if the Mods and Admins deem it necessary for the protection of our members and this site.

Homprang replied as follows—and her last post is important to read carefully in the context because it not only gives a good feeling for the tone and human quality of her writing, but demonstrates so dramatically how far such discourse is from anything that Christine Klocek-Lim had said about Homprang in her warning:

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 10:11 pm

I'm not going to say anything I'm not supposed to say, don't worry.

Just two points.

First of all, both Christopher and I didn't like the Monster Moderator Satires on, or at least we felt they weren't going to be helpful. We felt they were even a bit unfair in some ways because they hit at some things that were good in the moderators too, like what they said about Kaltica. That wasn't a good thing to say at all.

So let me say this. In this whole discussion about what Christopher has done or not done and, most importantly, what he stands for, some very good voices have been heard. I loved Larina's care for me even when she sometimes said things I didn't agree with, and Catherine too was always thoughtful and loving. Hatrabbit was so funny and quirky too, he made me laugh, and I know Christopher really likes his poetry. And Kaltica is always very fair. In fact Kaltica was the first Moderator to greet Christopher when he first came here, and that was very welcoming and positive and Christopher thanked him for that at the time. Kaltica also recognized the honesty combined with skill and professionalism in TomWest, who was a real tear-away (is that the word?) fire-brand (?) before he came here. As Monday Love he burned everyone to a crisp on, and as Sawmygirl he got ousted from after just one month of brilliant but controversial critiques. In a way, Kaltica made TomWest by accepting him, it seems to me, and you are very lucky to have them both. That's my opinion.

So that's a lot of moderators, and they're all very good people I know--even if some of them make me so angry at times, and say different things when they want to.

Christopher often talks about Jonathan Swift. He says Jonathan Swift would have torn any moderator to shreds but that he never confused a moderator with a person. He always loved individual people, Christopher says, but hated people in positions.

The other point which may surprise you is that Christopher freely admits he is very dangerous, and if he had stayed he would certainly have caused you all sorts of problems. Because he's different from all the other poets on this site, you see--he's a poet who has no career as a poet, and never will have. He didn't start writing poetry until he was 50, for a start, and now at almost 70 he knows no one is ever going to read his books, which he loves so much. So he is not afraid to be misunderstood or even humiliated, and he is not afraid to take on anybody. He would have come back over and over again to the same abuses, too, and particularly the ones that involved him personally.

The most dangerous thing of all about Christopher is that he is always considerate and careful, and has no need to insult people. So your rules could never have stopped him, and had he stayed he would certainly have made you think about everything.

He says he's going to write something about all of this for, and hopes very much you will all get to read it. He says he hopes he is going to be able to write it in such a way that you will also like reading it. I think he will.

And me? I'm a doctor, a herbalist, a midwife and a therapist. I've done my best to spread a little healing around here too, and I hope you can accept that. Christopher says I have helped him a lot to understand why there is so much pain and confusion here and everywhere else. I hope I have helped you with that too. I'm not involved myself, you see, so that makes it much easier for me. I couldn't do this in my own country, to stay calm and clear like this when everything is turned upside down.

I wai you, and that's the best I can do. If you go to my website you can see a photograph of my most important teacher on the page with my credits. If you look at her and her husband and then think about yourselves, maybe you will understand why we have all come together.

Homprang Chaleekanha

Immediately following this conciliatory and “healing” post, the whole thread was not only locked, but Homprang Chaleekanha was banned from the Forum altogether with these words from the Site Administrator, Christine Klocek-Lim:

Site Admin

Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 3708
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:48 am

Yes, we are done with this thread now. Apparently, rancor has a longer shelf life than a twinkie.

On June 4th, 2008, Homprang Chaleekanha’s thread was erased from the records of The Academy of American Poets altogether—in the euphemism it was “pruned,” not “deleted.” This indefensible response to Homprang’s dignity, clarity and patience makes any kind of public assessment of Christopher Woodman’s cause now a great deal more difficult. But history shows that such draconian measures tend to have the opposite effect in the long run--many people made copies of the thread, needless to say, and indeed the discussion of the whole matter is just beginning!

Christopher has fought hard against the business interests that are so distorting the work at both Poets & Writers and The Academy of American Poets, and we feel he is to be congratulated for having behaved so politely and constructively in all his dealings with them. Those of you who have followed this saga over the past six months, both for him and against him, surely have by now formed your opinion of why he and his wife were banned and all their writing deleted. Please do feel free to comment as freely as you feel you can below, and Anonymously too if you wish, of course. Do not spare the rod if you feel this couple have been snide, tricky or abusive, and please do not spare the details if you feel they are in fact martyrs to a worthy cause.

Or anywhere in between.

Thought Policing on Forums

"Thought policing" (taken from George Orwell's novel 1984) on forums occurs when

...Someone trolls the forums looking for posts that do not align with their political, religious, or moral values. When they find a post that they do not agree with, they post messages in that post to incite people to bring attention to that post to get it locked or deleted.

This phenomenon is widespread in forums and motives can vary, but what they accomplish is to stifle freedom of speech and open and honest discussions on topics they feel could be a threat.

--From Wikipedia allows and even encourages differing viewpoints.

Yabbut, What About Those Trolls?

"Yabbut some threads just attract trolls. Often, trolls disguise themselves as Reflective Posters and it takes us a while to catch on. Or else, we believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and we do, until it becomes clear that they are just well-dressed trolls..."

Christopher Woodman and Homprang Chaleekanha in July 2007 in the Wind River Mountains. Trolls thrive in that sort of environment.

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.

Guest Writer: Matt Koeske Offers a Message to Christopher Woodman and Other Poets Outside of the Po-biz

Dear Christopher,

I'm very sorry that this has happened to you. The trumped up charges are a pretty clear indication that your banning was less a matter of what you wrote on than what you represent in contrast to the ideology and tribal participation of the PoBiz establishment. You are an incompatible element with the "Utopian" ideal of a place like I know you from back in the Foetry days, and I see you as one of the most honorable, considerate, and affectionate people I've ever met. These qualities stand out in what I suspect is an online poetry world where most forum posters are in their 20s or maybe 30s (i.e., a post-adolescent peer competition environment). You have a sense of grace this is fully adult and very wise . . . and this quality is sadly not recognizable in the very adolescent poetry world today.

Equally foreign to the PoBiz (and one of its minor "cells" like is the attitude that holds ethics, honor, and integrity above ambition, undisciplined/unconsidered expression, and status-mongering. Again, this kind of honor comes from maturity. Although to the adolescently-minded poets of and the PoBiz establishment today, your humanity must seem anachronistic, this really reflects a distinct lack of vision, depth, and mature perspective on their part. This lack of maturity (in the Jungian world, we might say it's a lack of initiation) has enormous impact on and implications for today's poetry. The Old Soul that was long a staple of poetry (just as much as its essential half, the New Soul or daring innovator) has become utterly alien to the poetry coming out of the PoBiz today. Your experience with the forum has merely made you into an example of this great loss to the most ancient (and once sacred) literary art form.

Although I fully support you and Jennifer and agree that you should acknowledge and record all of these goings on for posterity or at least for public knowledge, I worry that the root of this unfair and adolescent usage of power in the forum administration lies in the very ideology (or impaired ideology) I described above. It is good to stir up support and focus outrage on incidents like this, but I don't think it will change the attitudes and opinions of the people that run or its forum. My recommendation is that we who care try to direct our outrage from incidents like this into a deeper and more detailed (and above all, well documented and absolutely fair) criticism of the PoBiz mentality. That is, we need, I feel, to take our energy and drive it into the investigation of the question "Why?" Why do so many PoBiz cogs and tools and "nobles" and "peasants" alike behave and think the way they do? Why do they have such a minimal grasp of ethics? Why are they so tribalistic, cronyistic, status-hungry? Why do they hold the various (never questioned) dogmas about poetry and poetry publication and poetry community that they do . . . and why do they refuse to question them? Why has the experience of "initiated" or mature adults with adult experiences and feelings and ideas eroded away from today's poetry?

I think that in the investigation of such questions, we will (or at least should) find that the poets who have gathered under the wing of the academic PoBiz establishment are, despite their misdeeds and apparent lack of fully evolved ethics or consciousness, really not much different than those who find themselves opposed and embattled with them. What I mean is that, poeting today involves a number of standard choices. Like, do I go to an MFA program or don't I? Do I seek publication by any means necessary or do I bide my time and hope to be "discovered" without networking or favor trading? Do I associate myself with people that are perhaps slightly "corrupt" and may require that I think and write more like them or do I go it alone and follow my own artistic vision? Do I dare to love and learn from writers who are not on the academic approved lists? There are hundreds, maybe thousands of questions like this that everyone seeking to write and publish (and maybe make at least part of a living off of) poetry faces. Most of these questions can and must be satisfied with Yes or No answers. At every fork in the road, taking one path excludes the possibility of taking the other (unless we are willing to backtrack, and that can be a whole new kind of grief).

I think that poets like some of the forum staffers have made a number of choices in their quests to "become poets" that led them to their current state of impaired ethics and adolescent grasp of both complex ideas and relationship with others. When you or anyone else ask them now to consider ethics more closely or whether a poet's behavior matters, you are not asking them something that they have ready access to. They are not like you, a mature adult who has wandered up and down and around and through the various labyrinths of life. Rather, they are like rats in a maze that have kept moving forward on the impulse of short-term thinking and immediate gratification and lost site of the innumerable branching options that there are in life and in the evolution of a human personality. To ask them to consider ethics in a complex, long-term fashion is to ask them to go back to some very early part of their maze and start over.

And the truth is that back when they made those early decisions, they were children (at least psychologically), they were afraid and fragile and sought immediate rewards like comfort and protection. They had no idea that as they continued down these paths, this initially embracing and seemingly unconditional comfort and protection would cut them off from so much that is human. So when they are asked (as you have asked them) to look back to these early forks in their poeting road, they are terrified of what they might lose and of how fragile and confused they were back then. Essentially, you are asking them to individuate, to "grow up", to get initiated, to evolve . . . and from their perspective, you are asking them to do this just so a particular grievance or notion of yours can be validated. They don't understand that your particular grievances and interests have more-universal implications, implications that even would be meaningful to these PoBiz tribe members and also to human beings beyond the "small" (small in intellectual, emotional, and spiritual scope, more so than in actual population) world of poetry.

It is easiest for them to say, "Christopher Woodman is just a foolish and selfish old man who doesn't speak for anyone. He's an insignificant nobody and a nuisance. We, on the other hand, are a tribe, a group, a community, a society. We are right and Woodman is wrong, because we are numerous and connected and he is singular and disconnected." If they didn't say this (and of course, to say this is very childish, very prejudicial, and very offensive), then they would have to go back to the kindergarten of their rat maze and stick their thumbs in their mouths and still whimper for the Great Mommy of an institution like the PoBiz to swaddle them up and suckle and stroke them. And to face and rise above that would require them to be, like you, like Christopher Woodman, an individual who like all real individuals is forced to stand alone, to stand with integrity and honor (which must have first been hard won and painstakingly cultivated).

This kind of individuality, this dread of loneliness and lack of protection from the group is foreign to them. They are terrified of it (just as preadolescent children are terrified of the burden of adult responsibility when they begin to get a whiff of what that really means). The predicament you are in when trying to engage in ethical debate with these people is that, in order to face you, individual to individual, they would have to acknowledge their infantile fragility, fear, and smallness. Regrettably, one of the most attractive lures of poeting today (in the PoBiz age) is the potential to not be "small" or alone. The romantic notion of the poet is that, by force of individuality alone, s/he overcomes his or her initial smallness. Vision, talent, genius . . . are the romantic's medicine for the "disease" of smallness and anonymity. The PoBiz has developed an alternate system and branded its own "medicine" for the same disease poets have always struggled to overcome. This PoBiz "cure" is tribalistic aggrandizement and status-sharing. One has only to sacrifice to the tribe's specific gods and totems, accept its taboos, and stay in line, and a certain portion of medicine is handed out. All who abide can partake of the ritual of "status" to at least some small degree. Those who can work this system to their advantage (who have a talent for being able to do this), can get more of the curative PoBiz drug for the "dreadful condition of smallness and anonymity".

But, of course, it is this entire totemic, tribalistic system that affords these portionings of status medicine. And the old romantic notions of individualistic vision, talent, and genius are anathema to the totemic system of the PoBiz. The PoBiz system is really not fundamentally different than the situation of modern business in which we see conflict between corporate giants and small, independent businesses. What is sacrificed in actual integrity by corporatism is "made up for" with PR, with spin. In business this is generally a conscious decision . . . but the decision itself is totemized and considered an unquestionable Good. In poetry (where philosophies for living have not real need to be non-fanciful), it is perhaps less conscious, but true-believers in a lie are always the best liars.

All of this is terribly regrettable for the state of today's poetry. The qualities of poetry (and poeting) that you (and I and many others) admire and are outraged by the absence of today are not accidentally left out of the PoBiz dogmas and ideals. They are overtly and intentionally excised. They are the only real dangers to the power of the established PoBiz system. Their exclusion and elimination and tabooing are the first and greatest Commandment of PoBiz Law. Like true scapegoats or taboos, once the tribal elders drove them off into the Wilderness, any further mention of them was strictly forbidden and punishable in the most vicious and absolute of ways. So your simple questions about ethics are, for people like the administrators (and all devoted members of the PoBiz) actually traitorous, sacrilegious, religious violations, sins . . . deadly sins and heresies. That is absurd, of course, even somewhat laughable . . . but that absurdity stands as one of the great pillars of the PoBiz and its pledge of allegiance.

For these PoBizzers to grant you the right of a voice (in their kingdom), the status of valid humanness, they would have to question the makeup of their entire totemic belief system, the entire structure on which they have risen or which has sheltered them from their infantile fears. Telling true believers that their god is a sham, a phony, a delusion is never going to win them over to your perspective. They have far too much riding on the unquestionability of their beliefs. If they are contented believers, they will mock, ignore, and/or swiftly reject you. If they are slightly more uncertain believers, they will feel compelled to destroy and make an example of you and your heresies . . . because questioning themselves is radically dangerous and likely to cause an inner rupture. There is no room in their minds or in their beliefs for tolerance and consideration of your Otherness.

I feel and worry that your attempts to introduce these ideas into PoBiz bastions (regardless of their tact, honor, or foundational correctness) cannot succeed. And I worry that, this failure being inevitable, you will be unnecessarily hurt and defiled by the way you have been and will be treated. And even as my blood boils, my heart also sinks to recognize this. It is unjust, but this particular injustice cannot be directly or linearly combated. You will never win a case against a PoBiz credo when the judge and jury are determined by the PoBiz. You cry out for justice, but justice will never be given to you . . . because the system of power the PoBiz uses and is, is not just, is not constructed with any sense of justice in mind. The only justice you will find is that which is inside you, that which you make. And you can bring it to the PoBiz, right up to its bejeweled gates, but I don't think you will be allowed to bring it inside the kingdom.

And I don't think you actually have to. Right on the outskirts you can hang your protest signs and raise your pickets and pass out your fliers . . . because there will always be a steady influx of potential PoBiz inductees trudging hungrily and longingly right through your encampment. And even if these inductees still choose to go inside, the seed you wish to plant can sometimes be planted with them. Not with the already-indoctrinated (who have too much to lose and to whom you are too alien). Some you will even persuade not to go in at all. And inside the walls of the PoBiz kingdom, occasional dissatisfaction will lead people to peer down into the outskirts and wonder if your ongoing protest and campaign might have some merit. Additionally, the occasional seeds you managed to plant (probably unconsciously) in the new inductees might find ways to take root and sprout inside the PoBiz walls, increasing dissent in a grassroots, evolutionary fashion. That is, by planting these seeds (or by devoting yourself to such seed planting outside the PoBiz kingdom) you increase the chance that even poets that pass through the indoctrination and perhaps even find their way to PoBiz success or status might someday be struck with a deep feeling of dissatisfaction or even disgust. A kind of "midlife crisis" of the poeting life, and these empowered individuals may be able to disrupt the inner structure of the PoBiz in ways people like you and me never would have the opportunity to do. So, it is of the greatest importance that these seeds have strong genes that can grow deep-rooted, resilient trees. When the dissident thought awaken in a PoBizzers mind, they have to be pernicious and impossible to entirely dismiss.

And this perniciousness is not impossible to create, because it is also the quality of all great poetry. Even if poetry isn't its medium, it is a poetic thing essentially. These seedling ideas need to be able to truly endanger the sanctity of the PoBiz mindset and conditioning. They can't be merely selfish wishes. To be truly dangerous and effective, they must be true.

It's a long-term strategy, but I think it is more functional than trying to forcibly convert those who are already deacons of the kingdom or more functional than trying to shame the high priests into submission from our esoteric, little pulpit in the excommunicated wilderness. At the very least, I suggest that this kind of long-term strategy be given equal energy and time as those shorter-term strategies that currently prevail among the PoBiz resistance.

Whatever the tack taken, let us always remember to keep our dignity and self-possession and honor and not throw them before hungry dogs like some unwanted table scraps. We can't do this and then convince the dogs it would be unethical to devour them. Don't let the fools and goons of the PoBiz shame you or take advantage of your immense decency and integrity.

My Very Best,
Matt Koeske


(This post has been elevated, with permission from the author, from the comment section.)

GUEST WRITER: Christopher Woodman Speaks Out is pleased to offer a platform for Christopher Woodman (also known as ACommoner). In essence, ACommoner was banned from two forums for speaking his mind on the state of modern poetry. On, he was told to start his own forum or go elsewhere.

Well, "elsewhere" is here.

I am honored to have been invited by to report on what has been happening at the forum. And to make it easier for those of you who are just coming here for the information you can’t get elsewhere, I ‘m going to provide the essential documents first and then gradually work back through the details in subsequent posts.

But before I do that, I want you all to know how moved I have been by the letters of support that have been arriving by e-mail in the last few days, and most of all from the students who have been following all this but can’t speak up in public. It is for you I am writing above all, you new poets, it is for you that I put up with the little whips and scorns of those who have sold out to the "aspiring writer" business. And it’s laughable, isn’t it, the posturing, the trotting out of the Guidelines over and over again, the school-marm scolding! But it hurts too, you know, it's never easy to be dismissed over and over again as a crank, a loser and a bore. So it's better you let this old man carry it because he has no career or position to protect, or to prepare for either. If you young poets just understand what's happening, that’s enough. That's all I need.

Almost as much I want to thank those who have NOT supported me but still dared to contact me, in particular those few in significant positions who in the end had to tell me they couldn’t help me at all, that they had to support the decision to ban me. And I do understand that too--if you’ve landed a very good job in Poetry Management you simply can’t hang out with awkward whistle blowers like me, or even be seen talking with us. Yes, I understand that you simply have to close in behind the wagons when the going gets rough in the office. But I want to thank you good people anyway for giving me just that little tiny glimpse of favor that you did—because I know that one day when you are in a position to help you will!

So what you’ve all been waiting for: the famous/infamous PM we’re not allowed to see!

The first one went to the Moderator named “sbunch” who had just challenged me out in public and right out of the blue, “I have no idea what happened to you when you ‘brought in material from the outside,’ and I have no additional idea why you ‘don't dare discuss material that's not already on the board.’ So many windmills, so little time.” [Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:28 pm] Knowing full well that his intention was to get me to say something about the “deleted” (more anon, I promise!) threads in public and thus get myself banned for breaking the “rules,” I replied to him by PM:

From: ACommoner To: sbunch PM: Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:50 pm

Dear sbunch,

I'm trying so hard to say what is important to say without breaking the rules of the forum or lowering its tone. You yourself have been involved in a number of the discussions that took place around the time of my banning, but as they've all been deleted now I don't think I would be allowed to refer to them.

So just for your own eyes, if you have a Saved Copy of the deleted threads, try "On Pruning," Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:15 pm. Even more poignantly you might want to look at the exchange you had with my wife on the thread called "Just One More Point Re: First Amendment...May I?" Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:35 pm--now also deleted. She is not a native speaker and comes from an entirely different cultural background so your response was extremely insensitive.

I have no bone to pick with you whatsoever, sbunch--but if as a Moderator you also function as an agent provocateur, that's not fair.

If I'm being paranoid, please do forgive me. And frankly, I think this thread has demonstrated its value a 1000 times over. Slip ups are inevitable when working so near to the edge--I do hope you'll warn me if you feel I'm in danger.

And many thanks for all your good work too, and I mean that, Christopher

Knowing how vindictive 'sbunch' could be, and how often the Site Administrator had already accused me of writing abusive PMs “behind the scenes,” as she called it, I sent a copy to the Moderator, Kaltica, as well. Kaltica is a very fine critic who is extremely active on the site and, indeed, we had had many, many interactions along the way, some of them very fertile. Because I respected Kaltica a lot I decided to send him a copy--in a sense to protect myself from slander!

From: ACommoner To: Kaltica PM: Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:55 pm

Dear Kaltica,

I just sent the following PM to sbunch--I did NOT tell him I was copying it to you.

I do hope you will feel that it was appropriate for me to contact him in this way--and of course that it is appropriate to contact you in this way too.

(You're a thrilling critic!)

All the best, Christopher

[+ copy of the PM to sbunch.]

And that’s all—that’s what got me banned!!! The Site Administrator, Chrissiekl, described the above Personal Messages as “harassing” the Moderators and “flaming" them. In her last e-mail to me she called the letters “rude and manipulative” and concluded, “I gave you many decision is final.”

No mention was made by her at any point about what I had been discussing on the thread, nor to the specific names I had mentioned along the way. No reference was made to my last post either, and it did carry some pretty hard stuff—polite, appropriately expressed, reasonable, to the point, but nevertheless HARD.

I quote this last ACommoner post because I think it is absolutely relevant to my banishment. The PMs are, in fact, no grounds at all—the following post is grounds if you don't want to discuss what it says, or even more so if you are the successful poet-publishers who are mentioned in it and don't want negative publicity for your business activities, or to be associated with business at all!

Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:10 am “On Aspiring Writers Becoming Successful Writers”
That's beautiful, Noldo, that's a much better way to say it than I did.

Like "Zen in the Art of Archery." The physics of the action is easy, and the equipment uncomplicated. The problem lies in our separation from the trajectory of the arrow, and to reconnect with that we have to work very hard for years to recover the simplicity of the original flight.

Or meditation as the shoe we wear so that one day the foot can touch the ground--I used that image before, I think. Or what I wrote to you just above about Yeats, Frost and Neruda--"To say [such work] is obvious is not to say it's easy, God forbid--how they worked for it to arrive at such generous transparency!"

My argument is that some poetry today is more difficult than it needs to be because our teachers model difficulty as a virtue. Because who would pay that much money to a teacher that just kept handing out three sprigs of green and a small pot to arrange them in each day year after year after year? And if the teacher got the job without knowing how to place those three sprigs in the pot in the first place? Why, that teacher would talk up a storm to make it look as if the transformation were taking place anyway, and then define it in terms that nobody could understand without his or her or a colleague's professional help.

And then publish it, give it a prize, make that a big credit, raise the bar even higher, gather everybody together in a mansion in the Berkshires for the weekend to explain how it works--and if you're still willing even then, and sound right, of course, you're in!

But how's your poetry? How has it fared?

That's the risk, you see, Noldo. Deliberate obfuscation is the danger--pretension, convolution, boutique spectacle and speciosity, all of which I would say are just the opposite of the sort of rigorous study you're talking about which whittles and pares down to the bone and beyond like the artist in Ted Hughes' "Thrushes!".

And are prosodists like Kaltica part of that problem, Noldo, or TomWest? Well, let's hear from them about that.

Or Jorie Graham herself, or Joan Houlihan or Jeffrey Levine, all three of whom I feel certain are following this thread. Our trend setters in the editing and publishing of poetry in America today. Let's hear from them.


This is the third time in 2 months I have been banned from a poetry forum, and in each case the charge was trumped up. At the Posts&Writers Forum in March 2008 I was banned in the first instance for 1.) using a counterfeit Login and b.) for welching on a contract I was supposed to have made with the Administrator. When both these accusations were exposed as a set up, I was dismissed for repeatedly "misreading" other posters and thus "looking down" on them. Specific examples were discussed in detail on the site and in every case I emerged as fair and considerate--that indeed, it was I myself who had been slandered by the Administrator.

And of course the two offending threads were locked, one called "Does a Poets Behavior Matter" and the other just "Mediation!"

On the Forum I was first banned on March 25th for having posted "defamatory material," but after three days of clarification by other posters I was reinstated. In fact the material was already in the public domain and had already been proven to be true so the Site Administrator had no alternative but to restore my privileges. She also accused me at the time of repeatedly writing inflammatory PMs and ignoring her "numerous warnings." These latter facts were never examined because I was so easily reinstated.

And the present case is, of course, all clarified just above.

What I want to do in my next posting on is to reveal what actually happened in all three cases behind the scenes, what facts were consistent in each and what names and personalities were involved. Indeed, I want to focus on a new aspect of the "aspiring writers" industry that is gaining a lot of influence and kudos for some very highly placed editors and publishers, yet as far as I know has never been discussed before, or even properly identified. Indeed, it is that subject that has proved so explosive in all these three instances of unfair dismissal, and I will bring the subject back in detail on this site in my next post.

So yes, the "flaming PM" is just a cover-up, and I intend to bring what it is covering up out in the open here on where it is safe to do so. Of course I will be scrupulously fair. I will only quote facts, documents and publicity that are legitimately available in the public domain, and will make it clear when what I say is just a personal opinion on the ethical matters arising. Indeed, I would welcome comments. is not in the Forum mode yet, but it will be soon. Meanwhile we can do a lot just like this!

So I welcome your participation.

Christopher Woodman

Guest Writer: A Message From Matt

(After announcing the launch of, I received the following message from Matt K., a fellow admin at the now-closed Foetry. He was gracious to grant me permission to post his sage words.)

I trust your sense mission and drive. Like I said, it's hard for me to get a good picture of because I have been detached...not reading anything on the forum (except a couple scattered posts recently that Jennifer linked in e-mails).

I meant only to voice the general concern that if you [] aim too low, you might condemn yourself to failure, even when you win. What I really want to do is trumpet out to all of you: "Don't be humbled! Kick Ass!" If you say that stirring the pot on is the thing to do, then I trust you. Obviously you are all in the right in the arguments you are championing...but that's always the most dangerous place to be.

When I got myself kicked off the the most popular Jungian forum (shortly before the end of Foetry), the admins thought a banning would silence me. When I started my own forum a short while later, the "enemies" of the folks who banned me came over to say hi and give me a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" basket. It was then that the people responsible for my excommunication came crawling back to me to make nice. I.e., I was more powerful and threatening to them when I had my own space to speak in and a competitor. On their forum, between heavy-handed moderation and general ideological conformity in many of the most active forum members, I was relatively easily silenced. But on the other side of the tracks, I couldn't be silenced.

It's like opening up a blues bar across the street from another bar that refuses to showcase blues music. You blast your blues out onto the sidewalk and more people will hear it. Go into the other joint and try to play blues and the "consensus voice" will boo you off the stage or the manager will tell you to get lost. When people want to hear the blues, they know not to got to a place like that. They'll go across the street... because that's where one goes to hear the blues.

So, I'm definitely down with Wail those blues. Make it the best damn blues joint in town.

As for me, I'd like to help you out in one venue or another, but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I've done all my songs and dances, and I repeated them each ad nauseum back on Foetry. I haven't read a single poem since before Foetry shut down...and the last new poem I wrote was maybe 5 or 6 years ago. So far, I in no way miss it. And I definitely don't miss the ridiculous antics of the PoBiz powers-that-be. I can't help but find the whole culture demeaning and distinctly adolescent. The art, I respect...but where is it these days? Not in the PoBiz. And the PoBiz IS poetry today. Even if we could tear it down with our left hands, our right hands would still have to learn how to build something new, some new vehicle for the art of poetry to ride on. I don't think that poets are psychologically and creatively secure enough to accept destruction without alternative creation. The prospect of anarchy (even if temporary) terrifies them more than any failure of ethics, any selling out, any amount of demeaning.

It reminds me of the film of Horton Hears a Who I recently saw with my son, Leo. The Who-Poets need their protective elephant (the PoBiz) that they feel is the only power that really "hears" them (because--cue violin music--they are so small and needy). We outsiders and dissidents are like the mad kangaroos and apes that want to boil the little clover of Whoville in Beezlenut far as the establishment poets and those who envy and admire them are concerned. To these poets, their elephant savior is wholly good and must be believed in and worshiped at all costs. There is far more at stake for them than honor or dishonor. They see the PoBiz as essential to their very survival and their identities as survival and existence. I'm not sure that teat can be pried away from them. Perhaps they need some kind of transitional object. Not just a scolding, but a potentially attractive alternative. (And so, making that alternative attractive in various ways is also essential.)

Currently, I'm fighting in the Jungian Wars. There are many parallels with the old Foetry vs. the PoBiz dynamic. Probably another unwinnable battle, but of course, I wouldn't have it any other way. If I can find the time, I'll try to do what I can for the heirs of, but I don't think I'll be able to weave any A-to-Z arguments that the "Poetry-Belt" (you know, like the poetry equivalent of the Bible-Belt) will find convincing or even considerable. I felt that even on Foetry, my preaching tended to be too doom-and-gloom, too severe to win many minds. I have no hope that members would be more interested or persuadable. If I can ever help strike a precise death blow to some fortification of the PoBiz to support the post-Foetry/Poets.Net mission, I may crawl out of retirement. For now, though, I will probably just remain a loyal fan.



(Welcome to the blues bar across the street.)

Forum Thread: Should Poetry be "Polite" and "Genteel"?

In the post ACommoner's Deleted Poll Question spambait said...

Hi Jennifer,

I was raised to have good manners. Forgot all that pretty much but.....

I consider the web boards I've run to be an extension of my living room. I expect visitors to act like they dropped by for a visit. I'm very easy to get along with but I do draw some lines.

And when somebody starts complaining about Freedom of Speech I remind them that they have freedom of speech but not in my living room. If they want to spout off about something taboo on my boards they are welcome to go build their own board.

Since you plan on a web board format here, you'll probably want to lay down some ground rules. Spend some time thinking about them then enforce them as needed.

(Posted March 26, 2008 5:41 PM)

Spambait offers some good advice here, and I should probably post better forum rules and a code of behavior and decorum.

But I have a dilemma: by their very nature, guidelines and rules are forms of censorship, which is exactly what I would like to avoid in this forum.

How does one give voice without allowing for some discontent and, yes, noisy debate?

Certainly, individual forums have the right to establish their own rules and regulations, and evidently the other poetry forums have decided to ban snark and smackdown.

Poetry is often known as a genteel occupation in which poets smile while stabbing each other in the back. Very catty, I must say.

So true poetic politeness seems to be vastly overestimated.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to see a pack of marauding thieves to ransack my living room and steal my books, paperweights, and rocks, among other things.

So, perhaps, this forum might be moved out of the living room and into the wrestling ring.


Seriously, though, when does so-called decorum become a means of silencing foes as opposed to true gentility, which is kind and real?

Foetry was not at all genteel in its approach, but people listened and much in the literary world changed because of Foetry.

However, I am not Foetry; in my day-to-life life, I am not a smackdown kind of person, though I can be blunt. So I envision as evolving somewhere between Snooty two-shoes and Genghis Khan.

Just how much should Poetry be polite and genteel?

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