Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tribeadours and Snark Attacks

There's some back n forth--including a rather long-winded response from yours truly--over at Brenda Schmidt's place concerning the alleged problems of aesthetic tribes and the mean-spirited brute squad of poetry reviewing.

It's been said in that conversation that the poetry world of Montreal is schismatic. Aesthetically, this is no doubt true, but socially I've found the opposite to be the case. While I was living in Montreal and in subsequent visits, I've had very pleasant exchanges, and in some cases friendships, with Robert Allen, Oana Avasilichioaei, Stephanie Bolster, Asa Boxer, Suzanne Buffam, Jason Camlot, Angela Carr, Geoffrey Cook, Jon Paul Fiorentino, Corey Frost (whose apartment I took over when he moved to NY), Ian Ferrier, Gabe Foreman, Zach Gaviller, Susan Gillis, Katia Grubisic, Michael Harris, Jack Illingworth, Catherine Kidd, Leigh Kotsilidis, Michael Lista, John Lofranco, Dave McGimpsey, Sachiko Murakami, Eric Ormsby, Peter Richardson, Robyn Sarah, Carmine Starnino, Joshua Trotter, Melissa Weinstein. (And some fiction writers, too, but they don't count, now do they?) Now, some of these folks have aesthetic leanings similar to my own, but many of them write in very different directions. To say nothing of the fact that I met my wife while living in Montreal and our aesthetics couldn't be much more different; she writes historical documentary long poem/prose sequences and I tend to write isolated short lyrics, inclined towards the accentual/metrical. I would suggest that if a person finds the poetry communities of Montreal divided, it is more of a reflection on that person than on any irreconcilable rifts in the social fabric.


Anonymous said...


Is there any benefit to the poet to be social? Who cares if the poet can call both the most ardent of the a-garde and the most sclerotic sonneteer friends? Might who you know irrelevant? And those you do know ultimately somewhat compromising? It sure helps you get ahead in the poetry world to have a multitude of Facebook "friends", but it's hard not to look like a self-promoter when one beats their chest and says, "I am friends with all of these!"

Anonymous said...


Isn't this about self-promotion? Is there any benefit to being social other than that? And isn't it ultimately a detriment, as who you know inevitably ends up in the contracting of favours? When you beat your chest and declare all your "friends" I think of Facebook friendery and how it's all worthless, that the most catholic in taste of friends is actually the canniest strategy in the Canpo world. Retire from the world instead, I say.

Zachariah Wells said...

Ursus, as I think you know, I'm not someone who thinks "self-promotion" is a dirty word. At worst, it's a necessary evil when it comes to getting your writing in front of people eyes. A blog is self-promotional, too. These are only bad things, I think, if one values self-promotion over honesty and integrity.

And yes, there are other benefits to being social other than self-promotion: good conversations, potential real friendships, having a few laughs, etc.

The whole point is that it's being asserted that people in different camps don't/can't get along and I don't think that's anywhere true enough to be a general rule--either in criticism or in real life.