Thursday, November 19, 2009

Showdown at the No-Go Corral

For all those who've been following the latest tempest in the Canadian poetry teapot, there's been an interesting development, for a change. On Steven Beattie's "That Shakespeherian Rag" yesterday, Brenda Schmidt suggested that the four main parties in the dispute--Chris Banks, Brian Palmu, Sina Queyras and yours truly--put our money where our mouths are, in a metaphorical sense. Her idea was that all four of us write a review of the same book "and then post the works for us all to see and compare." At first, because I no longer write reviews for little or no remuneration--I've turned down many invitations to review over the last several months because the editor inviting me to review couldn't make it worth my while, financially--I said I'd be willing to do it if someone was willing to pay. I realized after saying this that no one would be willing/able to pay $600 for four people to review the same book, so I had the idea that we should all four literally put our money where our mouths are and pony up $50. The reviews and money would be submitted to a neutral party (Brenda, e.g., since she suggested the reviews in the first place) who would then forward the reviews, without author i.d., to a neutral judge, who would decide which of the reviews was best. Winner takes the pot. I suggested this in large measure because it's been charged by both Queyras and Banks that I and the people of my "tribe" are not competent to review poetry and that they have a better idea about how it should be done. Not surprisingly, these suggestions were met by deflection on the part of Queyras and silence on the part of Banks.

But now, I can say that CNQ wants to publish some version of this proposal and will pay all participants for their trouble. Problem is, accepting the invitation would create proof that Zach Wells and his Legion of Doom aren't trying to silence other voices, crush all poets who fail to conform to a rigid set of aesthetic standards and impose a homogeneous formalism on all the land, so I expect more deflection and silence.

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