Is the airing of criticism and challenge important, and therefore worth finding the resources for it? To me, The Times's Op-Ed page is at its best when it publishes pieces at odds with the paper's own editorial positions—when it shows it's strong enough to take the blows of differing views and thereby deepen the public debate. Likewise with informed, civilized criticism of journalistic practices: the strong can withstand it, and show their strength by absorbing it.
—Daniel Okrent, Public Editor, NY Times
The relentless promotion of positive thinking, as described, for example, in Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright-Sided, has "undermined America," including and perhaps especially academe and literature. Corruption of the thinking processes—refusal or inability to respond to criticism with logical point-by-point counter-argumentation—has seemingly become rampant today in the literary milieu. Yet few even take the time to notice, let alone decry it. The American Dissident makes it a point to do so and encourages others to submit accounts of such intellectual corruption.
Perhaps the most egregious case of corrupted logic that the editor has encountered is that of Boston University administrator Zachary Bos, founder of Boston Poetry Union and managing editor of Pen & Anvil Press. Regarding the fact that a public library refused to subscribe to The American Dissident despite the library's explicit collection development policy statement that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view," he argued that I was a “malcontent crank.”
Each issue of The American Dissident contains an ample section of letters questioning and challenging academics, literati, editors, cultural-council apparatchiks, librarians, and others who scorn vigorous debate and free speech, cornerstones of democracy. Many readers have noted their appreciation of this section. Readers are encouraged to submit such letters for publication. To back the editor's assertion that academics and literati tend to disdain criticism and vigorous debate, consult the Literary Survey effected by the editor, which was published in Counterpoise for Social Responsibilities, Liberty, and Dissent. For an astonishingly perfect example of poetry castrated and otherwise diminished to the mere intellectual "toying with words" apt to put smiles on the nation's corrupt oligarchs and literary minion publishers of, for example, Poetry magazine and Poets & Writers, consult Ashbery-Vendler.
The following letters are real. If you have any similar to these, please send them! Context and wording have not been altered in an effort to make correspondents look bad. The latter hardly need the editor’s help in that respect. Vigorous debate is a cornerstone of democracy. How vigorous can it be, however, when established-order poets, writers, and artists are fed by the universities, corporate foundations, and government grant agencies? How many dare bite those hands? Far too few, which is why those hands have been so successful in reducing literature to apolitical ornamentation.
Many of the letters in this section reveal an uncanny sameness of reaction, as if one college “leadership” course on how to deal with critics were taken by proponents of the established order and one principle learned: Do not debate! Do not attempt to disprove criticism via logical counter-argumentation! Preferably, remain silent or excuse yourself with “decorous and prudent” (Emerson) civility or respond with an asinine, cutesy, pseudo-clever quip or if sufficiently angered by the criticism, simply call the critic an “asshole.”
A breaching experiment, in the field of social psychology, seeks to “examine peoples’ reactions to violations of commonly accepted social rules or norms. The strength of the reaction is taken as an indication of the strength of the rule” (Wikipedia). Clearly, the rule that one should not question and challenge poets and academics is a damn strong one.
The Faustian pact of literary functionaries, both high and low, is generally struck with the hand that feeds. Academe is of prime importance because it shapes the core soul of the Nation and has been encouraging students and professors alike not to criticize, debate and challenge, but rather to be collegial, civil, deferential, and of course unquestioning with regards its PC multiculturalist diversity dogma. What is needed is a small army of kamikaze literati to shake up the Machine, but where to find recruits?
The most negative criticism of The American Dissident and/or its editor will be included in this section per usual. Positive comments have been received regarding this section. Due to space restrictions, letters, especially those written by the editor, have been truncated and many others not included.
From Alice Quinn, CEO, Poetry Society of America: I wanted you to know that the Poetry Society of America is not a membership organization in which current members select new members. Please explore membership opportunities at www.poetrysociety.org.
To Alice Quinn: Perhaps once you were a membership organization where current members select new members? I certainly did not make it up. I assume you’re referring to my Beatnik aquarelle on PSA (see attached)? In any case, if not de jura certainly de facto members only. The problem with literature, especially poetry, in America, is the rejection and ostracizing of rare poets who dare stand up to criticize the extreme bourgeois NEW YORK FISHBOWL cocktail-party aura exuded by the literary established order. It is rare when persons from that order, like you, actually deign to respond to criticism stemming from outside the order. Finally, why will Poetry Magazine, Agni, Ploughshares, Poets & Writers and on and on NOT devote one single page to harsh criticism of the literary established order and its purportedly select poets? SILENCE IS GOLDEN, that’s why. Thank you for your attention.
From Alice Quinn: I am receptive to criticism and always want to take our organization in good directions. Please glance at our website. The PSA did welcome members up until the 1960s or so on the basis of ( I believe) judgement of their anonymous poems by members who also on a regular basis judged each other's poems anonymously for monthly or quarterly contests. The history of the PSA is interesting, and I am not a scholar of the organization, but that is my sense of it. We really do present very good literary events, and we sponsor the Poetry in Motion Program, placing poems in subways and buses in several American cities, most notably in New York (for its size and the scope of the program, extending to the back of MetroCards and taxi screens). If you come to New York, please be our guest at one or more of our programs.
To Alice Quinn: Well, thanks for your offer, but I avoid NYC at all costs. The problem with chosen poets judging anonymous poems is that they will surely judge those poems internally as a reflection of their own poems and ideologies and what they think poetry should and should not be. In other words, blind judging of poetry does not at all bring about diversity... of thought and ideas and criticism. It generally brings about sameness. "We really do present very good literary events...," you note. But judging the quality of a literary event must be a subjective determination. Yet so many, like you, would have people believe that somehow it was an objective one. One can only imagine the self-censoring and censoring machine at play when "placing poems in subways and buses in several American cities, most notably in New York"! But poetry should NEVER be censored to fit some subjective determination of what the public or politicians might deem palatable (i.e., "post-able"). In essence, the desire to push poetry (i.e., to make it more popular) is often coupled with a castration of poetry. Finally, it is good to know that you think you are open to criticism. My experience, however, has clearly been that very, very few poets and academics are open to it. You avoided my question on why most, if not all established-order poetry journal editors, publishers, and reading organizers, close their doors hermetically to rare criticism like mine. It is certainly very difficult for me to understand such persons. In each and every issue of The American Dissident, I make certain to publish the harshest critique received vis-à-vis the journal and me. Sadly, the arena of debate in the poetry milieu is highly restricted and certainly not at all open. As you know, vigorous debate is one of democracy’s prime cornerstones. It is certainly not a cornerstone of the poetry milieu. Thanks for your attention. [No further response]
From Mather Schneider (Tucson, AZ): I questioned and challenged Tim [Tim Green, Ed., Rattle] for weeks, dumbass! How do you think I got banned from the Facebook page? You live in your own little bubble world. For now, I've let it rest. Maybe I will write something about it one day, who the hell knows, but I'm not going to be brow-beaten into it. "Afraid" of putting Tim to the fire! Do you really believe that? There is nothing to fear, just as there is nothing to gain, but mainly I'm just not into it right now. For one thing, I already wrote you a piece, which you did not like. But in addition to that, my god damned house was flooded, I'm out 5 grand, shit's going on in my life, and Tim Green and you are just not that important to me. Just because I don't feel like writing YOU a piece for your precious fucking journal, I'm a coward. It's all about SLONE! You really sound like a fanatic, man, a fucking pyscho fanatic. Your tone is condescending and self righteous and you listen to nothing but the voice in your head. You honestly remind me of any other radical freak, whether it's Jihad camp or Rush Limbaugh camp. Your arguments are impossible to defeat because you don't listen and half the time you don't make sense. And any attempt at humor is completely wasted on you. I can't believe we're going through this again, after all these years, but nothing matters to you except banging your head at anyone who will respond to you, just to feel your gums flapping and to hear the sound of your own voice.
To Mather Schneider (Tucson, AZ): Good email. Seriously, I'm not pissed off at all. I will publish it. BUT you forgot to include Obama-fanatic freaks in your freak list. Good luck on the house shit. I know what that can be like. So, I'm serious here. Good luck on it. [M and I had had a long “back and forth.” I publish his letter here to illustrate that we all need backbone, while so few of us seem to have it. In fact, we’re encouraged right and left NOT to have it. As sometime friend/sometime enemy Roz mentioned, she didn’t understand why I’d still publish Mather. Well, why the hell wouldn’t I? I’ve got spine. If I can’t take someone telling me off, then maybe I shouldn’t be an editor (can you hear me, Tim Green?).]
From Rosalyn Becker (Fort Myers, FL): I'm surprised you publish his stuff. You really shouldn't insult people. If he thinks you're a psycho fanatic why does he write for your journal? I bet ego has something to do with it.
To Rosalyn Becker: I do not insult people. People are easily insulted. There's a difference! If truth is insulting, then insult!!!
From Rosalyn Becker: Dear Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, You most certainly do insult people. Maybe a psychiatrist could help you. Calling Mather a coward was not the truth. You have delusions about yourself. I've caught you in lies before, Mr. Great Truthteller.
To Rosalyn Becker: Uh, for example?
To Paul Pronovost, Ed., The Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, MA): Sadly, your editorial, “Dangerous Times: Journalism Remains a Perpetual Punching Bag,” reflects the same one-sided victimization and self-congratulatory stance as the previous editorial you published on 8/26, “Exposing the Truth: Media’s Pen Remains Far Mightier Than Any Sword.” Well, unsurprisingly, you did not publish my letter with its regard. Will you publish this letter? In other parts of the world, journalism can indeed be dangerous (Cuba, Russia, China, Iran, ISIS) or, if not dangerous, tough. But the “assaults on journalistic integrity,” as you term them, can also come from within. It is odd that you do not even mention the huge assault, as underscored in Sharyl Attkisson’s recently published book Stonewalled. That assault has been by the Obama administration and newspaper editors themselves, in case you are unaware. It is the assault of political correctness (left-wing ideology) on truth and transparency! How did you manage not to include that in your editorial? How not to question the integrity of journalists who do put PC above truth telling? ”The truth is often far from pretty,” you note, “but it remains the truth, and someone has to tell it.” But then why do you not follow your own advice here on Cape Cod? Why do you continue to refuse to report on Sturgis Library’s permanent banning without due process of me, my ideas, and books I publish from its premises? Why do you refuse to report that my civil rights are being denied under your editorial snout right here in Barnstable where I cannot attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library, you know, the one my taxes help support, the one that disdains free speech, vigorous debate, and due process, democracy’s very cornerstones? You, dear editor, are one of those very hypocrites you decry in your editorial...
PS: Journalists sometimes, perhaps many times, are not the victims at all, but rather the perpetrators, either by their silence or active participation, of status-quo bullshit, you know, like Obama's "the most transparent administration in history”... [No response]
From Doug Draime (Ashland, OR): I really don’t think you’re left or right, to be honest. You’re on the side of your truth. Let the fucking chips fall where they may. All government left or right is fucked; any government anywhere, or anyone anywhere who destroys lives, or attempts to control others is fucked as well. The brave souls at Charlie Hebdo were on the side of their truth. The world is mad, stark raving fucking mad, and has no idea, collectively, what truth is. And will at every turn attack it, because the world fears it more than anything. It’s not the darkness we fear, it is the light. Yeah, aging is not the most pleasant process. But, hell, I thought I’d be pushing daisies by my early 20’s, like my “idol” James Dean (ha ha ha). And I do think that today is the most exciting time to be living in this dream, this nightmare of our own making, because of the technological advances and the possibilities of such. We appear to live in a dualistic world, where life has to have death, up & down, good & bad, yen & yang, etc. We can’t have one thing straight on, without the opposite. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. There is another way, I believe. And that’s what I’m hitching my mind to. If I’m wrong - which I don’t think I am—I’m gonna be as dead as a door nail anyway! Good story about Vonnegut. I liked his stuff. He had important shit to say and he made me laugh. I must have missed your cartoon on him. Would you mind sending that along, if not too much trouble? All for now, man. I’m sending 7. Hope you can work with one or two of these. Honored as always, to be considered again. Watch that snow shoveling!!
To David Biespiel, English Professor, Oregon State University, and director of The Attic Institute of Arts and Letters (Portland, OR): Your line on UTTERANCES provoked me to sketch a cartoon on you, which I just posted on The American Dissident blog site: http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/10/davidbiespiel.html. In fact, that piece you wrote for the New York Times under the platitudinous title “Does Poetry Matter?” was one of the most vacuous utterances I’ve recently read. Evidently, if established-order poets keep posing and responding to that question, the answer must be that poetry does NOT matter. After all, how can poetry possibly matter, if the poets accorded voice by the established order fill up space with vacuous utterances? Poetry will only matter when the poet kicks over the careerist ladder in a sincere effort to stand up as an individual willing to speak the rude truth aloud, especially where others dare not. Ah, but you could surely utter yourself around that should-be prime responsibility of a poet with a self-preservation barrage of more utterances.
From David Biespiel: This is fantastic. The day I can't laugh at myself will be a bitter day. Thanks for sending it along. This morning I'm speaking at the Southern Festival of the Books in Nashville. I'm going to bring this along and show it to the audience and respond there. Good luck, and thanks again.
To David Biespiel: Will you be uttering at the Festival? :) Yes, haul it down south. For each of my many, many critical cartoons, not one target depicted in them to date has proven anything false or un-factual in them. The typical response of the targets is, of course, avoidance of the message and/or self-preserving incapacity to comprehend it. BTW, fear not, it is highly likely (experience dictates) that the student editor I contacted will respond, let alone actually publish the cartoon. Most student editors are clones or clone-wannabees of their ladder-climbing professors. Most are wide open to indoctrination and eventually become indoctrinated. Thus is higher education today, especially in the humanities. Thanks for the response.
To Molly Svenson, Ed-in-Chief, The Broadside, and Warner Strausbaugh, Ed-in-Chief, The Daily Barometer, Oregon State University: Here’s a suggestion. Why not be a somewhat unique, courageous student editor and devote ½-page of each issue of The Broadside to RUDE TRUTH and CAUSTIC CRITICISM of things at OSU, including administrators and professors. The key for publishing items in that proposed ½-page would be fact and logic. If you feel compelled not to publish an item, you should possess precise information that would underscore the LIE (lack of fact and logic) in the item, as opposed to underscoring the possible offending of some thin-skinned personage targeted in it. Satire should be permitted on that ½-page and precision thus bent accordingly. You could begin such a page with the satirical cartoon, I sketched on one of your English instructors, David Biespiel, which I just posted on my blog site. All of your instructors and students should eagerly embrace such satire, though likely very, very few do… as indicated by the trashing of the OSU conservative student newspaper, Liberty. Thus is illustrated the increasingly pitiful state of democracy in America today. Hopefully, you’ll also be somewhat unique and respond. You could also publish this letter… and ask your university librarian to subscribe to The American Dissident (only $20/year), a 501 c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence, and be the only library in the state of Oregon willing to do so… and actually be in accord with the American Library Association’s statement that “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting ALL points of view.” Thanks for your hopeful attention! [No response]
To Jessica Kashiwabara, Poets & Writers magazine: Are literary journals that criticize poets and poetry, amongst other subjects, banned from your directory? Thanks for your attention.
From Jessica Kashiwabara: Thank you for your message. We are currently backlogged with messages and appreciate your patience. Publishing credits for Directory listing applications include creative works of writing in the genres of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and spoken word performances. Journalism or critical reviews would not count as points for publishing credits, however, they can be mentioned in a listing's bio once the application is approved. We hope this information was helpful. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
To Jessica Kashiwabara: Well, that does not respond to my question. Let me put it this way: Will you list The American Journal, a 501c3 nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence, with other journals that you list? Thanks. [No further response.]
From Gary Goude: T; On Raven's Wood merlot now. Yes, the NYQ, just before Packard died, was under his order to do the book of my poems. Then he died and the weenies took the mag to pussy hell. I have the poems but they are packed into one of many cardboard boxes. I just lit my charcoal grill chimney, and am about to embark upon the next jug of Raven's Wood. Was down at my son's camp about an hour ago, delivered him two gallons of drinking water, and a bag of food, and a jug of red. It was 80 today. The weather is all that is left of California. The sun just shines down on hell. Beautiful green trees, blue sky, evil and greedy bloated senators and representatives of Monsanto, GE, Mc Donalds, Walmart etc. abound on the nice warm landscape, and they turn everything decent into a vomit shit smeared stinking swamp of human greed and desire of waste.
To Anita Cole, Executive Assistant to Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary, NYC: Please pass on the attached cartoon on CW to CW. Also, please consider getting Union Theological Seminary to subscribe to The American Dissident (only $20/year). Thank you for your attention.
From Maria Cole: My name is Maria—not Anita, and much like that mistake, your cartoon is further evidence that your ability to comprehend what you read and hear is quite limited. I won't be sending this [http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/11/cornel-west.html] to Dr. West as I am personally insulted and will not spend anymore time on this.
To Maria Cole: Sorry for that little mistake. But how does one get so uptight over a simple error like that? Well, thanks much for the LOL! Cornel's little discourse was as clear as it gets. My cartoon riposte was as clear as it gets. Perhaps you, as hyper-uppity executive assistant, misunderstood his discourse and my response to it? Perhaps you should ask Cornel to help you out with that curious term of his, re-niggardization? Now, why does he need to buffer his fragile ego and mindset with a gatekeeper like you? That too seems like gross hypocrisy on his part. Now, how many poor people does he know who have their own personal gatekeepers? Hmm. :) [No further response]
To Benjamin Perry and Carolyn Klaasen, Body Caucus, Union Theological Seminary: What your institution needs is a DEMOCRACY CAUCUS, where FREEDOM OF SPEECH and VIGOROUS DEBATE would be praised and studied. You could begin with the attached cartoon I sketched on one of your instructors. Sadly, his executive assistant refuses to forward the cartoon to him. Perhaps you might do that? She obviously does not believe in VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Do you? Or have you become PC-indoctrinated like her? If there is a student newspaper, please let me know. I couldn't find it on the website. Thanks for your attention. [No response]
To Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN: Well, I expect you’re back from vacation now. In any case, you, Frank Bidart, Peg Boyers, Toi Derricotte, Alice Quinn, James Franco, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips in the context of the PEN Literary Awards have been satirized as elitist literati on the front cover of issue #28 of The American Dissident, A Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence, which was just published and distributed. You can examine the cover on the AD blog site here: wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com. The journal is a 501 c3 nonprofit and is unable to obtain any public funding whatsoever from the NEA, Massachusetts Cultural Council, etc., etc. The journal incarnates an enemy of the people… in the Soviet sense. The front-cover aquarelle is #6 in my Entartete Kunst series. As you hopefully know, “entartete kunst” was art deemed depraved by the Nazis and thus removed from the public eye and/or destroyed. For PC-America today, entartete kunst include any art critical of the academic/literary established order (PEN et al) and its diverse cogs, apparatchiks, and icons. Get my drift? Question: Why won’t PEN America Journal publish any criticism of PEN? Is that not oddly perverted? After all, isn’t PEN supposed to be devoted to FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION? Question: Why won’t PEN New England respond to my efforts to re-obtain my civil rights and Freedom of Expression with impunity in New England? What is wrong with director Karen Wulf? Usually, cronyism and inability to brook criticism explain such silence. [No response]
To Michael Dirda, Washington Post Reviewer: Notes on a Vacuous Review of Splitting an Order by Ted Kooser. You need to write a book on how to get so excited over such a banal poem, “Painting the Barn,” by established-order ex-insurance executive, former poet laureate of the USA Ted Kooser, “the most [apart from Billy Collins] accessible and enjoyable major poet in America,” according to you. Have you ever wondered what “major poet” implies besides linguistically deft? Clearly, it implies a poet who never makes waves, never goes against the grain of literary established order, and thus never bucks the ivory-tower system. Is that good? Methinks not at all! Perhaps Kooser is “enjoyable” to you, but why should he be enjoyable to me and other individual thinkers? Sure, hordes of academics could likely write 350-page dissertations on that poem, but does that make it great… or even simply good? And isn’t great subjective? Yet you and so many other established-order cogs would have people believe it is an objective term. Now, what I look for in a poem is obviously NOT what you look for: unusual wisdom, as opposed to sentimentality, for example, over a dead dog. What you and other literati of the established-order do is promote the innocuous, like Ted Kooser, because the innocuous does not upset established-order literati. It is really quite that simple. Few poems contain unusual wisdom like, for example, Villon’s “Estoit-il lors temps de moy taire?,” Jeffers’ “Finally I say let demagogues and world-redeemers babble/ their emptiness/ To empty ears; twice duped is too much./ Walkongauntshores and avoidthepeople” and Neruda’s “Nací para golpear las puertas, para empuñar los golpes,/ para encender las últimas y arrinconadas sombras/en donde se alimenta la araña venenosa./ Serán nombrados.” What we need are poets with guts like Villon, who dared criticize the ruling Parisian theocrats during his time and risked death by hanging. Where are those poets today in America who RISK in their poetry upsetting established-order apparatchiks, who promote co-opted, innocuous poetry… and thus weaken literature, dulling its blade, rendering it palatable for the established order?
Why not try being original and not push celebrity literati in your literati columns? Why not seek out rare poets who really do RISK speaking rude truth in their verse—RISK not getting tenure, RISK not getting grants, RISK not getting invitations, RISK not getting awards, RISK not getting reviewed in your columns? Nature and feelings are fine in poetry, BUT poetry should NOT be limited to those things. “Such imagery from a vanishing America further enforces the overall autumnal quality of these recent poems,” you write regarding Kooser’s new book. Wow. “Overall autumnal quality”! Now, that’s a good one! What about overall RISK and bold TRUTH TELLING? “But if you reflexively dismiss modern verse as dauntingly esoteric or embarrassingly corny or tediously singsong, you need to try Ted Kooser,” you conclude. Rather than “dauntingly esoteric,” I find modern verse devoid of any criticism at all of the academic/literary established order machinery, professors, and favored icons diligently working to keep poetry castrated.
From Michael Dirda: Thanks for sending along your critique of the Kooser and the cartoons. Both are needlessly cruel, but it's your blog. In truth, I suspect you haven't read much of my writing or you might have a different take on me and the range of books I like and recommend.
To Marcellus Turner, City Librarian, Seattle Public Library: Not one library in the entire state of Washington has been willing to subscribe to The American Dissident, a 501c3 nonprofit journal of literature, dissidence, and democracy (only $20/year). Might you prove to be different and therefore open to diverse points of view in your state? Thank you for your attention.
From Gary Goude: T.My son had to go to court this morning. Had to appear in front of a judge to set up his work release days. I took him there at the ordered time of 7:30am. He was released at noon. Then he and I walked back down to his camp. There were two guys , Hispanic,one sleeping on his cot and another guy on the dirt in front of his tent. He woke them up. They were drunk. I stood a few feet away as Daniel woke them up. They were gangsters, local boys. They were friendly, and Daniel gave each one a smoke, and they shook my hand and one guy had a solid tear drop tattooed under his left eye. I know that a solid teardrop tattooed there means you have killed someone, it's prison gangster shit. They left, no problems. I stayed down there with Daniel for about an hour just making sure these guys would not come back after I left. Actually they were acting OK, not threatening, but you never know what to expect. G.
T; me and son went down to his camp today at noon after the latest rain storm only to find that what he had left down there had been stolen. Everything. His cot, camp chair, small weber grill, old tent, small tarp, small bag of charcoal. He took up his new tent when he went to Motel 6, but everything else was taken, even a small salt and pepper shaker. I got him a new camp chair this afternoon. There were no footprints leading to his camp this morning, and this makes me think that homeless fuckheads behind his camp, over the berm and there is a small homeless encampment on the other side of that berm, and they cld have come in a couple of days ago if they saw us taking stuff out, and left no foot prints. Homeless stealing from other homeless. Fucking assholes man. One reason I hate Obama and his liberal pals is that the narrative from the libs always, relentlessly seems to be that if a person is poor, and esp. a poor minority then that class of humans can do no wrong. Fuck that shit man. Humans are either decent or they are total psychopathic pieces of shit. Poverty, race has 0 to do with sociopathy. Like Buk said many times; humanity, you never had it from the beginning." G.
From Ron Larson (Wytheville, VA): I, too, dislike politicians. I don't hate them, but I do have contempt for them. After all, hatred comes from the heart and contempt comes from the mind, as Schopenhauer said. Ambrose Bierce had great contempt for politicians and my attached poems were inspired by five of his prose fables. I hope you will be able to use at least one of them. A few years ago, my son was traveling with three friends to a rock festival in North Carolina when he was stopped by a Virginia State Trooper because my son's rear view of the road was supposedly obscured by stickers on his rear window. He was given a ticket. Never mind that Virginia's Code said these stickers was permissible if the two outside mirrors were operational, which they were. My son and his friends were also delayed for an hour while two troopers and a dog searched the car for drugs, They did not have permission to do so, and no drugs were found. They also tore up the fabric around the gear-shift of his Toyota Tercel. We wrote a formal complaint to the Virginia State Police, and a few days later an officer came to the house and said that my son would not be prosecuted. There was no apology. We also wrote to our state delegate, state senator, and the governor but heard nothing from these politicians.
From David Pointer (Murfreesboro, TN): Hello. Here are both poems that have been revised as request. Thank you. After our washing machine was repaired recently-the repairman said "Good to Go" but, he had neglected to put the drain hose back in the drain slot. I came home to three rooms full of water maybe 1/4 to 3/8 inches deep. I have been cleaning mess up. All the best.
To Theresa M. Santos, Town Rep to the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission: Nothing like vacuous PR (“Local Commission Promotes Human Rights”)! The citizenry is drowning in it and constantly bludgeoned by it! How sad and pitiful for Barnstable that I, a citizen in Barnstable, can’t even get a counter opinion on your organization published in the Cape Cod Times or Barnstable Patriot. You blather about the International Declaration of Human Rights, but don’t give a damn about my human rights. You state, “We promote and educate what matters, and what matters is YOU.” BUT I don’t matter in the least to YOU. What egregious, though typical public-organization hypocrisy! I did become familiar with the Commission and became fully disgusted by its grotesque apathy during the two meetings I attended. Furthermore, Commission Coordinator Elenita Muniz’ aberrant racist comments makes the Commission a laughing stock. Her apology was vacuous. You blather about “courtesy and respect,” well I got none of that from your commission of hollow commissars, nor have I from the Town Manager or town councilors. What you and they really want is people to curtsey and bow. You live in a fish bowl of vacuous politesse and empty of first principles. [No response]
To Elenita Muniz, Coordinator, Barnstable County Human Rights Commission (Barnstable, MA): Did you forward my essay to the Commissioners? As a public servant, you should respond to my emails and open your doors to criticism, not simply to vacuous kudos. The essay is now on Global Free Press: see http://www.globalfreepress.org/contributors/usa/g-tod-slone. I was amazed how the CC Times reporter did not even challenge your apology, which was simply a rewording of your original racist statement. [No response]
From Gary Goude: T; Yeah I did read that the French cops who showed up, on bikes when this was going down were not armed! WTF? IF just a single person in the Charlie offices had JUST a single hand gun with a clip of 8 rounds, how many lives would have been saved right then? France needs to seriously rethink their gun control laws. AND they need to do this right now. The Islamic idiots are just beginning the war on western civilization. This is just starting. These fuckheads are armed to the teeth. They are very well funded. When I saw all those French people in the streets that gave me hope, BUT Europe needs to wake up man. This is a real war man. To me, the west is at the Rubicon. Either we wake the fuck up, right now, or we perish, end up with a total collapse of western civilization and the writers, and the publishers of truth, AD, Charlie , etc. Anyway, the red flows now in my brain, but we are on the cliff man. G.
To Director Lucy Loomis, Sturgis Library (Barnstable, MA): It has been almost three years now since you permanently banned me from my neighborhood library, the one my tax dollars help support. No due process was offered, as you know, despite my request. How odd to me that this could and in fact did happen in America! My civil rights are being denied today because, as you know, I am not permitted to attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library. And yet I have never been charged with a crime, let alone misdemeanor. In any event, I am requesting that you consider rescinding your order because the sole reason you provided for it, that I represented a potential physical danger (“for the safety of staff and public”) is clearly an invalid one. After all, not one person on Sturgis Library’s staff or in the United States of America in general has been harmed, let alone threatened, by me. As you know, my only real “crime” was NOT one of potential violence, but rather the written criticism I’d disseminated with your regard, in particular, the library statement that “libraries should provide materials and information that present all points of view.” My point of view and the points of view of all those people published in The American Dissident, as you know, are currently banned at Sturgis Library, thus proving that statement to be hypocritical. Freedom of speech was massacred in Paris several months ago by Islamist haters of freedom of speech. Do you really wish to continue siding with those free-speech hating murderers of cartoonists? Please be reminded that freedom of speech, vigorous debate, and due process are in fact democracy’s very cornerstones, while banning speech because you do not like it or somehow think it is violent is definitely not, nor is obligatory deference to those in power, be they presidents or library directors. Finally, you will note that when I was visiting Sturgis almost on a daily basis, never was I informed that I might have been breaking a library regulation. In fact, is freedom of speech not permitted at Sturgis? If so, I should have at least been warned and directed to that regulation. Thank you for your attention and hopeful reconsideration. [No response]
To Richard Hoffman, PEN NE Chair and Emerson College Prof: You are the subject of a new P. Maudit cartoon (see http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com). Feel free to comment. Comments on the site are never moderated (i.e., censored). This email has been cc'd to Karen Wulf, who is also depicted. Wulf has been irresponsive (i.e., irresponsible), which is why I direct it to you. It has also been cc'd to Helen Elaine Lee, Professor Comparative Media Studies/Writing at MIT, who is also depicted and has also been irresponsive (i.e., irresponsible). A separate email was sent to the "independent" (usually means dependent) student newspaper editors of The Berkeley Beacon at Emerson College, who, if they are anything like you, will likely not respond and will NOT publish the cartoon, despite my encouraging them to do so. Below are some thoughts on PEN New England, which you will likely ignore. For a long essay I wrote on PEN, see http://www.globalfreepress.org/sections/free-speech/3415-pen-an-ethical-consideration. It is not laudatory, so you will also likely discard it.
PEN New England… Defending (Encouraging!) Freedom to Write Lies
A certain infantile simplicity—a vast generalizing to the point where truth is inevitably affected—is embedded in social-activist sloganeering, as in “Hands up, Don’t Shoot.” In fact, the "Hands up, Don't Shoot" slogan, rather than truth, promoted a lie/was founded on a lie. But most social activists tend to be wholly unconcerned with truth or rather lack thereof. Eric Holder’s agenda-driven DOJ was, however, forced by evidence to finally admit that “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” was a lie. But PEN New England still presented this year’s prestigious Howard Zinn Freedom to Write Award to two of the pusher activists of that lie. PEN seems to have clearly deviated from its original founding principle of "defending freedom of expression"… to supporting social activist lies and agendas. It will not defend my freedom of expression, for example, because it does not form part of the latter. The problem with PEN in general is its co-optation by the academic/literary established-order and its fawning over famous established-order writers. Of course, many academics and writers of that established order used to be against that very order. But money, pension, perks, job security, cowardice, and absence of principles (not ideology, but principles) brought them to the other side. Once they were against “the man,” that power mongering liar; now they are “the man,” that power mongering liar. And that they will never be able to understand, let alone admit… [No response]
To David Menconi, The News & Observer: Your article on the new state poet laureate of North Carolina, unsurprisingly, FAILED to pose any daring questions at all. Is that simply not permitted in the new journalism of today? Well, you of course know the answer to that. Hopefully, you’ll at least be intellectually capable of understanding the question I pose here. NC-Chapel Hill professor/poet Paul Jones, whom you quote at the end of your article, got it right, though I doubt he could even fathom—his academic career depends on his inability to comprehend—just how right he’d gotten it: “There could be no one more representative of North Carolina, more open-hearted or more lyrical than Shelby Stephenson. Who else could charm both governors and poets, and have references to skitter bugs and our state’s history in the same sentence?” In other words, to be anointed state poet, one must charm state governors. That certainly is logical. But it also clearly means that state poets, who are supposedly the highest of poets, rather than courageous rude-truth tellers, are gubernatorial court jesters, entirely unthreatening to politicians. Should such poets be praised as you seem to do in your article? And are you not a journalist court jester for doing so? Far too many journalists like you exist, which is why the press has such a very low public esteem today. Now, do you think The News & Observer would publish this letter? :) Thank you for your attention.
From David Menconi: Well, now, aren't you charming. I guess you missed the followup: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article12845564.html. But thanks ever so much for weighing in. For an intellect as tiny as mine to command the thoughts and attention of one so learned, wise and accomplished as yourself...Well, I just can't tell you how much it means. It's mind-boggling, truly.
To David Menconi: Well, trying to be “charming” was not my purpose. I leave that to the political hacks… and state-approved poets. My purpose was truth and, sure, to shake you up a bit. Glad at least the latter succeeded, though insufficiently of course. Now, I just read through that article you directed me to, thinking there’d be something there. But there was nothing there. Directing me to it simply confirmed that I was in fact right, that it was highly unlikely you’d understand a word of what I’d written. In fact, your career depends on such inability to understand such egregious truths. Will I expect to hear from The News & Observer? Well, that too is highly unlikely…
From David Menconi: And your grasp of sarcasm is rather lacking, if you really thought I found that "charming" (or that you shook me up). But I understood your point perfectly well, actually—you being the self-appointed last word in truth-telling and all—I just see no point in continuing the exchange. Best of luck and go with God,
To David Menconi: Of course I got your sarcasm! And of course it was a deflection from the points I evoked, the ones you and your shoddy newspaper would never print as a counterpoint. Your knee-jerk desire to truncate debate is quite typical and quite contrary to the spirit of democracy... and journalism. If you really did understand the points made, why do you choose to live not in that truth but in lies and established-order fluff? You go with your gods, I am an atheist, a man of reason, which of course why you wish to truncate… The likely truth is you lack courage and ideals… like 95% of journalists today. “Professionalism,” at least in the perverted sense it’s come to be today, will always trump courage and ideals. You are the likely opposite of a Sharyl Attkisson. You might question and challenge, but that will take place behind closed doors, unless of course it mirrors the mindset of your bosses. I know your type because I’ve been dealing with it for years. A journalist should place truth above careerism. Few dare do that today. One day, if you play your cards right (i.e., successfully suppress any counter-thoughts), you might become editor.
From David Menconi: Bless your heart.
From Eleanor G. Claus, Sturgis Library Board of Trustees President: The committee met today and reaffirmed the director's decision not to subscribe or accept a donation of your publication "The American Dissident".
To Eleanor G. Claus and Lucy Loomis: Please kindly return the copy of The American Dissident to me. You can leave it at the front desk, so I won’t have to confront your scowling face (s). Clearly, that meeting was nothing but vacuous protocol. Your minds were already made up. Am I angry? Yes, I am very angry that a public library has prohibited criticism of it and its director on its premises. It really angers me that my taxes help pay for such a democracy-scorning library and director. Fascist dictators on the left and right cannot bear criticism. They censor, ban, and prohibit anything that might place them in a less than glowing light. Evidently, you have no respect at all for democracy and for the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights. You seem incapable of comprehending the fundamental tenet of Free Speech in a vibrant democracy: defending the rights of speakers, whose speech one hates the most! How did your minds get so twisted? I’m sincerely curious! What is it that you fear from other viewpoints? By the way, Lucy had mentioned that a donated subscription would be acceptable months ago. So, what happened, Lucy? Or do you now deny that you’d said that directly to my face? Please let me know if you will be banning my exhibit scheduled for September.
To Lucy Loomis, Ellie Claus, and Betsy Newell: Thanks for permitting me to exhibit my caustically-critical watercolors last month at Sturgis Library. I do hope you at least looked at them. After all, contrary to public opinion, curiosity did not kill the cat. Incuriosity killed her. Clearly, your decision was made in light of a new conviction of openness. And hopefully, I actually managed to instigate such a conviction, even if indirectly. On another note, though really the same note, last night, I attempted watching Jackass 3, which you purchased for the library. The DVD was so amazingly idiotic, I could not finish it. Why would you purchase such imbecilic, violent, scatological nonsense? For the sake of democracy? Well, okay, I could accept that. But if you haven’t even watched the film, please do. Moreover, why cater to patrons with such an amazingly low intellectual level, if in fact they even exist? Why support such crude stupidity (e.g., a model train set with a real man underneath it upside down and really defecating—a diaarheic explosion through a model volcano)? Why wouldn’t you instead spend the money to help support the local dissident press and in doing so democracy, instead of fool-ocracy? With that regard, perhaps you might rethink the ban on my flyers at the library and your prohibiting me from speaking about that to library staff. Also, I have tried every library in the Clams system. Not one will subscribe to The American Dissident, published right here in Barnstable, which is thus not at all available in the system. The doors are closed. The Clams system library mentality seems to be hermetically sealed in an anti-democracy box of sorts. Please do reflect. It takes a strong woman to admit wrong. Thank you for your attention. [No response.]
From Lucy Loomis, Library Director: Thank you for your email, and for exhibiting your work here at the Library. I did, indeed, look at your work, and appreciate your artistic skill and critical eye. As to the movie Jackass III, I agree that it is mindless, violent, and offensive. Having teenagers, I have watched all the episodes of Jackass that I care to -- I don't understand the appeal. But, according to the same collection development policy that we have debated in the past, if more than 3 people request a particular item through the CLAMS reserve system or through a request made at the desk, we purchase a copy based on demand. Amazingly, this movie at one point had over 100 requests systemwide. Go figure! If we ordered material based only on our tastes or reading preferences, we would have a very small (and not very popular) library indeed. The decision regarding your fliers still stands, as does our decision not to subscribe to your publication at this time. Thanks again.
To Lucy Loomis: Thanks for your response. You noted: “If we ordered material based only on our tastes or reading preferences, we would have a very small (and not very popular) library indeed.” Yet you do order material based on your tastes, which is clearly why you would not accept The American Dissident… even for free. Besides, perhaps a small, quiet library would be better than a loud, popular one with out of control kids running around and hollering.
As for the library’s collection development policy, we never did “debate” it, since you never responded to the point I made that by subscribing only to Poetry magazine and rejecting The American Dissident, which clearly views poetry differently, you contravene that policy. The fact that Poetry gave the library 50 free copies, as you stated, during National Poetry Month has nothing to do with that policy, which states “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” You’ve banned the point of view expressed by The American Dissident.
Finally, I must underscore my grave disappointment regarding your banning of the broadside critical of Sturgis Library, funded by taxpayer dollars. I shall have to talk to the deaf ears of the Town Manager.
To Michael Ansara, Director Massachusetts Poetry Festival: You boast about being open to all kinds of poetry, yet clearly are closed to my kind (harsh criticism of you and yours). You boast about having an all-inclusive small press fair (“everything in between”), yet made certain that The American Dissident was not invited and was not permitted to become a “Poetry Partner” (see unanswered emails sent to Chloe, whom I assume contacted you). Why do you and so many other poets from Houlihan to Marchant and Herr Pinsky hold such little respect for democracy? I am really curious with that regard, for I cannot understand what makes you people tick. BTW, two public libraries have just banned my flyers and refused free subscriptions to The American Dissident. Amazing, right? No! Somehow I suspect you would side with them. Below is a list of my grievances. Take a look at the people I sent them to. Not one of them deigned to respond, let alone express an iota of curiosity. Are you at all aware that free speech in a vibrant democracy means defending the rights of speakers, whose speech you hate the most? How sad that so many poets cannot fathom that basic tenet. Can you? Of course not! You’re one of the literary arms of the Chamber of Commerce. [No response.]
To Gerard NeCastro, The Binnacle, Editor/Advisor & Sometimes Professor of English (University of Maine at Machias): Well, I guess the poems were TOO CAUSTIC for the indoctrinated college crowd after all. Alas.
From Gerard NeCastro: Thanks for the note, George. I am not sure that our decision had anything to do with being indoctrinated or not. Our staff is quite receptive to ideas and tends to disagree on most every subject. One of your works was not accepted simply on the basis of length. We have a 2500-word limit. Others seem to have missed the final cut because they were more insistent on instructing than delighting. As we try to offer the "slice of life" approach, we tend to look for lighter pieces. I would encourage you not to take a defeatist attitude with your submissions. Keep in mind that editorial staffs like ours are reading at least twenty-five pieces for each one that is accepted. Most things we do not accept are surely good enough for many publications. Remember also that final selections often are made on the relationship between and among other pieces that are likely to be included. In short, keep writing, and keep a positive attitude. And please give us another try.
To Gerard NeCastro: The key is that Binnacle and just about every other academic-based literary journal in the country will not publish hardcore criticism against literary and academic institutions and icons. That has been my clear experience. Indeed, I cannot name one such journal that has proven to be open to such material. Out of interest, I often wonder how editors like you manage to reason as you do. Of course, you rationalize that you do not have TABOOS at Binnacle by arguing the FORM or the TONE to be not the right FORM or TONE. Gatekeepers excel at such circular reasoning! “Lighter pieces” is simply a rationale for abiding by taboo subject areas. Should higher education and those stemming from it be into publishing “light” instead of heavy? Since you “encourage” me not to “take a defeatist attitude,” allow me to encourage you not to bend to the academic herd, but instead take a unique and enlightening step alone for once in your life and risk going against the grain, dare bucking the system, and actually “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson). Your “keep a positive attitude” suggestion is a widespread mindset today, one that buffers the intellectually corrupt against criticism (negative attitude) and that continues wreaking havoc on democracy in America. No thanks to the smiley-face! I leave that for children and PC-academics. Is there any hope? I really don’t think there is. Things are getting worse and worse. But I should keep a “positive attitude,” right? Not one library in all of Maine will subscribe to The American Dissident, a nonprofit journal devoted to DEMOCRACY. The same goes for all of Cape Cod! In fact, the public library where I currently live will not even permit me to place critical broadsides on its premises. Do you care? Of course not! Just keep a “positive attitude.”
From Gerard NeCastro: Thanks for your note and your challenge for me to push for non-complacency. I have no doubt that there is plenty of evidence that things are not going in the right direction, though I do spend my days looking for evidence to the contrary. It's not an easy task. Indeed our little publication is governed by certain conservative forces, not in the general sense of the word but in the sense that the journal is in part a document to be shared with prospective students and their parents who tend to be on the cautious side. We try to choose works that are, perhaps in a sly way, subversive, or at least mildly satirical of the status quo. If we were in another context, without certain constraints, we would probably publish some different works. I will suggest The American Dissident to our librarian, who usually tosses my suggestions into the waste-basket. I looked at your site and particularly enjoyed the cartoons, especially the ones on academic life. Though I am in the academic fishbowl, I like to fancy that I sometimes jump out of it and take a good look at it. Maybe I am kidding myself. Take it easy.
To Professor Emeritus Don Kunz (Bend, OR): The American Dissident normally does not publish professor emeriti because the very term indicates a person who never made waves, never dared buck the academic system or go against the literary grain. My question to you is a simple one: How did we go from the 60s to retired professor emeriti, not to mention multimillionaire public servants Bubba and Hillary? [No response.]
To Paul Butler, Associate Dean and the Carville Dickinson Benson Research Professor of Law at George Washington University, and former federal prosecutor: For a Professor of Law, you seem not to appreciate the fundamental importance of the First Amendment. Why did your mother never teach you “sticks and stones will break my bones…”? You’ve become so conditioned by the PC-left that you cannot as a grown adult even write the word “nigger.” In fact, the absence of that “sticks and stones” wisdom could result, if it hasn’t already, in a black person executing a white person who simply called the black person a “nigger.” It has gotten so bad that our frailness approaches that of the Islamist who would execute a person daring to satirize Muhammad in a cartoon. If someone calls me a honkey or gringo, I’m not so concerned. I know who and what I am. I’m more concerned if someone actually deals with one of my arguments in a logical manner. You too ought to know who and what you are, as opposed to knee-jerk shrivel up or rage if some asshole calls you a “nigger.” No matter how much the PC-left wants to pump into it, it is still only a word. You should be above such ad hominem puerility. You need to reflect and step away from your buffering racial group and stand as an individual. As for Europe (and Canada), it is true and shameful that hate laws now exist to limit free speech and ostracize truth. It has gotten so screwed up that even if a truth is uttered, one can be fined and jailed if the utterance OFFENDS a group of people. To me, this is mind-boggling. To you, it is desirable. In Austria, a woman was found guilty because she’d said that if Muhammad had been alive today he would have been called a pedophile. M. had married a six-year old, then had sex with her when she was nine. The oddity in this case was that M. was determined to not be technically a pedophile because he also had sex with adults. Yes, the woman is appealing the sentence. We seem far too multicultural indoctrinated to realize the absurdities occurring more frequently and under our own noses. A woman in Seattle is now in hiding because she has a fatwa on her head for having suggested, yes SUGGESTED, everyone draw Muhammad. Obama et al, rather than decrying the fatwa, continue bending to Islamists. We are so screwed up that we cannot comprehend that some cultures just cannot coexist in a multicultural paradise. Open your eyes, law professor! Open them widely! One must of course wonder how much corruption you’ve witnessed climbing up the academic ladder and how many times you’ve turned a convenient blind eye to it. Thus is the fundamental qualification for successful deans. [No response.]
To the ALA Office for Intellectual Affairs (Chicago, IL): This is to inform you that my periodical (offered free of charge!) has been banned at several public libraries, though they of course do not use that term. After all, how could they do so, while simultaneously celebrating Banned Books Week? My flyers and broadsides have also been banned. At Sturgis Library, the oldest public library in the country, I have even been banned from discussing the banning with staff! If I were to break that ban, I would likely be issued a no-trespass warrant. That already occurred to me at Watertown Free Public Library several years ago. You might think that I holler, block entrances, disturb patrons, swear, or even expose myself. However, I have not done and do not do any of those things. It appears that the concept of intellectual freedom, as embodied in your Library Bill of Rights, is either a vacuous statement of hot air or one that far too many librarians snub. Indeed, how do librarians justify, for example, subscribing to Poetry magazine while refusing to subscribe to a magazine like The American Dissident, which presents the opposite viewpoint of what poetry ought to constitute? Normally, they will do so via the circular reasoning of the standardized gatekeeper. One does not know what ones free speech rights (i.e., intellectual freedom) are until one tries exercising them before such gatekeepers. And when it appears one does not have the right even when one legally does, one needs to be willing to spend a lot of money on legal representation to rectify the unjust situation. Will you help me or will you remain hypocritically silent? That is the question. Finally, attached is a cartoon I did on one of the librarians in question with the actual dialogue. Any comments? Thank you for your attention. [No response.]
To the ALA Office for Intellectual Affairs: What exactly is the purpose of the Office of Intellectual Affairs? Is it to make you look a lot better than you really are? Why have you not responded to my March 4th query? Do you intend on ever responding? Have you determined my complaint to be without basis? If so, why will you not inform me? Thank you for your attention. My correspondence will be published in the next issue of The American Dissident.
To Brian Campbell, American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom, Administrative Assistant: No response at all from you! Is the ALA simply staffed with ordinary, everyday gate-keeping hypocrites—disdainers of democracy? I really think it is. Imagine what Twain or Mencken or Orwell would have thought vis-à-vis the high falutin’ misnomer of your Office for Intellectual Freedom! Perhaps they would have named it Office for Intellectual Control or Office for Intellectual Filtration or just plain old Office for Business as Usual. [No response.]
From Zachary Bos, Boston Poetry Union president and Boston University administrator [ZB and I had a lengthy back and forth until he sent the following regarding The American Dissident]: Your materials don't present a point of view -- they are, as far as I can see, contentless. Ergo, they don't merit either approval or disapproval: it is a category error to submit them for possible collection acquisition at all. One might as well ask if a banana should be subscribed into the circulation collection. "No, we take periodicals, not fruit." "What about The American Dissident?" "It doesn't really either information or literature, and consists it seems mostly of complaints of a personal kind." "Ah, I see. I shall take my banana and my magazine home, then, and sorry for troubling you." "No trouble at all."
From Zachary Bos: Since illustration is undeniably your forte, I thought to ask—would you like to do some illustrations for a poster poetry periodical I'm readying for next month? I'd ask for a drawing of the head and shoulders of each of the five poets whose work is represented. Let me know what considerations we might discuss, if you're interested,
To Zachary Bos: Thanks for the offer, but you do know the kind of cartoons I create: highly caustic, highly critical, and highly pro-democracy freedom of expression, not exactly the things you seem to appreciate. I do not do art for artsaking. Thanks again.
From Zachary Bos: I was inquiring about your preparing five bug [sic] images for payment, not soliciting a contribution (let alone hagiography). No interest at all?
To Zachary Bos: Nope.
To James Michael Bibb, Editor, Oracle Literary Journal, Brewton-Parker College: The attached critical essay is being sent to you because I'd like you to contemplate, even if for a moment, why you likely will reject it. Clearly, the review would provoke vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. Thus, I'd like you to contemplate why you likely think vigorous debate does not belong in literature and in higher ed. Think of all the rationalizations that might automatically pop into mind and even write them down. That would make an interesting piece in itself. Thank you for your attention.
From James Michael Bibb: While you essay is definitely intriguing, it does not fit the content of our journal. I’m sure that you can find a suitable place for this piece to be published. Thank you for the read but next time might I suggest looking for a critical publication when sending this kind of content. I believe there are a great number of who are tired of the fluff that has become the cutting edge, but what is regarded in our contemporary society as the front line, will probably look like crap in retrospect (or we can hope, no?). Regarding my essay, “Poetry in a Coffin: The Past, the Distant, and Always the Safe,” you stated you “believe there are a great number of who [sic] are tired of the fluff that has become the cutting edge, but what is regarded in our contemporary society as the front line, will probably look like crap in retrospect (or we can hope, no?).”
To James Michael Bibb: Yet why do you believe this? Rarely do I ever encounter a poet, professor, and/or editor “tired of the fluff” and almost never do I encounter a journal tired of publishing it. Are you really tired of it? If you were, you’d have eagerly published the article I sent, which would surely have been of interest to students, though surely not to their professors. You also stated: “I’m sure that you can find a suitable place for this piece to be published.” But why would you be so “sure”? In fact, I’ve given up trying to find a journal to publish it. After all, what journal would? Regarding the future, you noted the fluff “will probably look like crap.” But there is no reason at all to believe the future will contain less official fluff-peddling literary gatekeeper judges than the present. Out of curiosity, I wonder why it took you over a year and a half to respond to the essay. [No response.]
To the Writing Faculty, Cal State at San Marcos: A cartoon depicting Assistant Dean and Writing Professor Dawn M. Formo is currently at wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com. It was drawn after Dr. Formo refused to respond to my grievance of being censored by InsideHigherEd.com regarding the article she authored, “Think Like a Colleague.” Thus, I write you in the hope that perhaps one of you might actually be against censorship in academe and even have the courage to speak out against it at your own institution. Rare, of course, that would be. After all, the academic culture demands that “successful” college professors and students learn to wear the muzzle and blinders, rationalize censorship and speech codes, and disdain vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. Indeed, the culture demands that new professors “think like a colleague,” that is, see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. Such a culture fosters backslapping, self-congratulating, cowardice, groupthink, and kowtowing, not to mention corruption (intellectual and other). Sadly, student newspaper editors tend to follow in the dubious footsteps of their professors. Moreover, the academic culture seems to have replaced vigorous debate and truth telling with doctrinaire diversity, vacuous civility, and multiculturalism. Your institution, for example, has a Diversity, Social Justice, and Equity Project, but not a Democracy and Free Speech Project. It has a Civility Initiative, but no Initiative for Courageous Truth Telling. In fact, the Civility Initiative appears astoundingly childish and the pledge orientation students take amazingly fascist. Should the mission of a university be to foster your “civility principles of care, respect and empathy,” or should it rather be to foster the questioning and challenging of your very initiatives and projects, the courage to stand up and speak the “rude truth” (Emerson’s words), no matter how offensive, and the building of backbone (as opposed to a nanny mentality) so necessary for survival in this tough world of ours? Well, I know what you likely think… and now you know what I think.
One must wonder whether each student after their civility pledge (do faculty also take these pledges?) be given a teddy bear, then urged to enjoin in a hugging session? What has happened to the university today? Quite simply it seems to have been hijacked by marms and nannies. I really hope somebody on campus is lampooning your initiatives and projects, though I doubt there is.
Finally, please ask your librarian to subscribe (only $20/year) to The American Dissident, a 501 c3 journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence. Your students will likely get a kick out of it. And it will give them another window into what writing can be. Not one university or college in California subscribes, yet Harvard, Yale, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Buffalo U, Wisconsin U and U of Michigan, amongst others, are subscribers. Comments on the blog are never censored… no matter how damning! Students are encouraged to express themselves, as opposed to what they think some civility initiative wants them to express. BTW, contrary to popular opinion, curiosity did not in fact kill the cat, civility killed him! Then curiosity made him stronger and more creative, though less adept at “thinking like a colleague” and otherwise fitting into academic teddy-bear culture. Thank you for your attention. [No response.]
To Chris Finan, President American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression: What about a banned by public libraries periodicals week? See www.theamericandissident.org/SturgisLibrary.htm and www.theamericandissident.org/AmericanLibraryAssoc.htm. Thank you... for your curiosity. [No response.]
To Brian Goslow, Managing Editor of Artscope, New England’s Culture Magazine: Your editorial was interesting in its enumeration of recent instances of art censorship or vandalism. Of course, it was, however, limited because evidently you would not be aware of instances of censorship effected by your gatekeeping colleagues. As you know, Artscope is characterized by general and commercial art for artsaking. Never is art that questions and challenges the art community and infrastructure featured, let alone mentioned. In fact, I suspect such art is banned from your pages. You ought to have added Yale University to your enumeration. Its press censored out the Muhammed cartoons from a book it published, as you probably know. In fact, art critical of Islam is quite in the news lately. For some reason, however, it is not PC to mention it. Thus, highlight the nonsense art critical of Jesus, as you’ve done. I wish you’d feature an artist just once who actually RISKS his or her career as artist by criticizing in his or her art the NEA et al. Those art councils of course serve as established order gatekeeping organizations… to the detriment of art, as opposed to chamber of commerce commercial art, the kind you generally feature. Interestingly, I published an issue of The American Dissident with the front cover as a watercolor critical of the library director of Sturgis Library, the oldest public library in the country. The director, Lucy Loomis, refused a free subscription. In essence, her refusal is an instance of censorship. In fact, she has banned my flyers on public library grounds and banned me from discussing the banning with library staff. Loomis is also director of the Cape Cod Cultural Council. Do you think I should waste my time applying for funding? Do you give a damn about any of this? My experience dictates that likelihood to be slim. Today artists and poets wear the tie and jacket. They shame the artists and poets of the past and present who struggled and struggle against authoritiarianism and the bourgeois. Aberrantly, they’ve become an integral part of authoritarianism and quite bourgeois. One of your featured artists, Elizabeth Michelman, says it all: “In my 10 years exhibiting and serving as co-chair, curator and grant writer in Brookline with studios without walls, I’d expected to see no greater outrage to our art than the pilfering of my women’s teddies from their copper clothesline at Allandale Farm.” Women’s teddies on copper clothesline! Christ! Hasn’t she anything better to do? Well, she’s likely reaping public grant monies. In fact, her statement evokes George Orwell, though he was describing 1920s England: “In cultured circles art for artsaking extended practically to a worship of the meaningless. Literature was to consist solely of the manipulation of words. To judge a book by its subject matter was the unforgiveable sin and even to be aware of its subject matter was looked on as a lapse of taste.” Silence is golden at least in the eyes of art and literary gatekeepers. Have a nice, sunny day. [No response.]
To Reporters Without Borders: It was astonishing to me that the public library round the corner refused to accept a free subscription offer to The American Dissident, a journal I created and publish twice yearly. It was equally astonishing that the library prohibited me from leaving free speech flyers critical of its director on its premises and prohibited me from talking to staff about the matter. Another public library next door to it also rejected a free subscription and would not permit my flyer on its premises. Several years ago, another public library actually issued a no-trespass order against me for trying to get it to subscribe. I didn’t yell, didn’t make threats, and didn’t interrupt patrons. What do you think of this? [No response.]
To Professor Eliyahu Stern: Your article was far too general, had no teeth at all, and was thus perfect for The Nanny Times. Do Students at Yale actually open wide and swallow without questioning and challenging what you have to say in the classroom, as in the substance of (or lack thereof) that article? I certainly hope one or two of them still have the ability to question and
challenge PC doctrine.
To Christopher Alex Chable (St. Louis, MO): Thanks for your submission. However, The American Dissident is against PC and multicultural doctrine because the latter have become more important than truth itself. The AD seeks to publish work that somehow stems from the poet’s involvement. What you sent does not stem from your involvement. If I want to read something on world news, I’ll pick up a newspaper, not a poem. Poets need to get out from behind their highchairs and dare question and challenge the local pillars of the community. Very few poets do that. It’s too risky for their poet careers. Moreover, it is too easy on your part to blame everything on the US. Corruption is ubiquitous in Spanish-speaking countries, for example, and it cannot all be blamed on the US. Mexico is as corrupt as it gets… far more so than the US, which is why hoards of Mexicans are fleeing to the US. Regarding Libya, perhaps you should have wrote something critical on Obama’s getting the US into yet another war. Besides, what will happen to Libya now? Likely it will become an even more hardened theocracy. Sharia Law which is as bad as it gets, in case you’re unaware. In fact, Islamists want Sharia to rule the world. Good luck to humanity if that ever happens! Look over The AD website to get a better idea. [No response.]
From roibeárd Uí-neíll (Corydon, IN). Theology happens to be an aspect of human existence which fascinates me. But, G., have you ever noticed, those of us who don't believe in or rely upon the supernatural are the ones considered mentally defective, crazy? Although I'm not a full-blown atheist, simply because of one sentiment, "An atheist presumes to know enough to dismiss even the possibility of a god." I haven't heard a solid rebuttal to this, nor have I formulated one myself. I'm certainly not that smart. It's what is implied by the title, "freethinker," a self-applied label my wife, the devout Catholic, resents. But I remain dubious. I've read too much theology, and over the course of time, the criticisms have triumphed over the apologetics. Much like Thomas Huxley, Darwin's bulldog, the man who coined the term "agnosticism" in the 1840s, since we can't prove, empirically, God's existence or not, the question is moot, and we'd better start putting our brains to solving our problems. Personally, those who believe are in for a rude awakening—Christ isn't coming back, there will be no divine intervention to save us from our stupidity. Remember, my father was a sackcloth and ashes fundamentalist. My younger sister and brother are also of the "believe or burn" variety of Christianity. I've washed my hands of this mentality, hah! I've also silenced personal detractors by pointing out, however much we disagree, my convictions (such as they may be) do not permit me to consign them to an eternal lake of fire. Which one of us is occupying a higher rung on the ethical ladder? Of course, in the poem, there's an absurdist's view of politics and science. Images from my formative years. A tongue-in-cheek response to the statement made my Reverend Randy Coleman. Our personal mortality. Disposal of our remains. Why the dead body should be so preserved, as if god wasn't big enough to reanimate us from our constituent atoms after cremation. On and on. I'm outnumbered. Oh, I love science and politics, don't get me wrong. But I'm not above mocking myself, either. Now that I'm about as clear as Hindu butter. I don't question the process—as I've mentioned, it's an amalgam of personal experience, what I've read, what I've thought, and the literary tweakings of my very own crippled, demented muse. I know there are any number of poets writing about relationships, about humanity on a more cellular level, so to speak, and I just can't get that close. I love people individually, and deplore us as a species. Sadly, many of my rebuttals won't be read, although I've had the Bible Belt's ideology shoved down my throat. It's also true - my political suasion, love of science, nature, philosophy, and books!!! has already put a chip on every fuckwad conservative's shoulder. Before I've even met them. I'm pariah. So be it. I bite my tongue, and keep on keeping on. Solitude isn't a dirty word to me. Co-workers? We won't go there. Actually, I struggled with * fire drill * for months, and it was threatening to go to a third page or longer. I didn't say all I wanted to say. Maybe a reprise will occur. G. Tod, how do you shake out politically and religiously? Although I have a pretty good idea, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this letter to you. Again, thank you for giving a flying fuck. Pardon my redundancies and inadequacies. Go Tunisia! Go Egypt! Go Libya! Go Bahrain! "If you want to sacrifice complete control of your life, half your intellect, and 10% of your income so you aren't afraid of death, religion has something going for it." (Stephen Baxter: aeronautics engineer and scientist and writer)
To Yale University Professor Eliyahu Stern: Your article was far too general, had no teeth at all, and was thus perfect for The Nanny Times. Do Students at Yale actually open wide and swallow without questioning and challenging what you have to say in the classroom, as in the substance of (or
lack thereof) that article? I certainly hope one or two of them still have the ability to question and challenge PC doctrine. Articles like yours will not convince anyone of anything. You should have addressed precisely why people like Gingrich and others in Europe including Westergarde, Viks, Wilders, Reddeker, and others make their anti-Shari’a assertions. What is it about the Shari’a in particular that makes people anti-Muslim or anti-Islamist? The only way that Muslims can become compatible with freedom of expression and democracy is if they do not follow certain (many?) passages in the Qu’ran. And if they do not, how can they still be Muslims? You should have stipulated that and underscored the various troubling passages like Wilders did in his film, Fitna. Hopefully, you’ve at least had the curiosity to watch it. Shari’a law clearly cannot co-exist with democracy, nor can Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, Born-Again’ism or any other such totalitarian system. Does not Shari’a demand punishment of those who would criticize it? Americans will NOT permit a religion or religions to be safe-guarded against criticism! You ought to have mentioned Yale’s own censorship of The Cartoons that Shook the World. The only “tolerant strand of Islam” (your words) is that which does not follow the Qu’ran… in itself an oxymoron. Thanks for your attention. Below is an article I’ve sent to the NY Times. But I have no connections, so it will likely end up in the oubliettes. I will try to get it published elsewhere. [No response.]
To Derrek Brown, Editor of Write Bloody: Well, the title of your outfit sounds nice... but you look just like the rest of the boys... praising Pushcart ad nauseum... not questioning and challenging. New-Pages refuses to even list my journal because I dared question and challenge the fuckers. Do you care? Of course, you don't.
From Derrek Brown: you sound pissed about something we did
To Derrek Brown: Not at all. Never heard of you before. Question and challenge, rather than open wide and say, ah... a Pushcart! [No response.]
From Anonymous: “The American Dissident seeks that rare poem of rude truth that RISKS something by the poet…” [quoted from The AD flyer]. Even you don't believe this. You're-for all your posturing-another defeated soul with his hand out! Have you thought of suicide?
To Susan Maurer (NY, NY): Regarding your poem “Upon learning in February of 1995 that one of the ten chancellors of the Academy of American Poets is a woman” and first verse of another poem (“when I became a feminist”), I think you're off target-it is not a matter of male-female, but rather one of conformist-nonconformist. Besides, the Academy is really nothing but Corporate Cooptation of poetry… thinly disguised. What difference how many women are in it? Also, get with it! The chef supreme of the Academy is now a female! The AD seeks to counter the limiting paradigms set up by orthodoxies, be they feminist, gay or black. Orthodoxy often counters truth. I'd be interested in a piece noting the seeming utter failure of feminists and hippies to alter the piteous role of the female as mere male-sex object. Try again, please, but read guidelines first. Don't list publication credentials! I want to know who you are as a poet, not what your CV is. [No Response]
From Brian Morrisey, Ed., Poesy: (BM was going to interview me as editor of The AD but after skirmish decided to interview A.D. Winans on his new I-knew-Bukowski book instead.) I was going to grill you on your negativity toward the small press, your attacks on small press editors, etc. as a basis for your publication. It was going to be a challenge for me. I think my readers might want to know why you're crowned the plague of the small press.
To Brian Morrisey: I have no idea whatsoever who's even heard of The AD. I am an utter failure at marketing. I am truly surprised at being “crowned the plague of the small presses.”
From Brian Morrisey: Listen, I didn't answer your "plague of the small press" question and I am not going to. I'm not out to lynch or rat on anyone who tells me things in confidence. I am just letting you know, as a fellow editor, there are labels and stereotypes you might want to steer away from or at least change your approach working with editors and poets if you ever want anyone to take you seriously.
To Brian Morrisey: I'm not circulation driven, nor desperate to make friends. I have and maintain a hard-line editorial focus… so if your buddies want to malign that, so what? Again, I stand my ground that your Doug [Holder] has had his way after all [i.e., silencing my voice]. And I don't really care. Just stating a fact. Anyone in this business who hollers a little is ostracized. And I don't really care about that either. Just stating a fact. […] Hope you at least challenged your friend on the very idiocy of the remark: “plague of the small press.” Now, how can I not use that in next issue of The AD? It is too good to be true. He who criticizes is plague! How absurd to suggest I "change [my] approach" to avoid being "labeled and stereotyped" in order to be taken "seriously" by the labelers and stereotypers, whom I criticize for doing just that! Don't criticize the academics and they won't call you a "whiner"! Don't criticize the small press and they won't call you a "whiner"! Don't criticize George Bush and he won't call you a “whiner” either! Think man, think of the nonsense you're slinging! [No Response]
From Adele Willey Slone: Today's paper: “Poetry comes to life in Santa Rosa.” They have several poems I can mail to you if you like. “True Love” by Timothy Yates “I colored the truth/Today when I told/Her of my love/it was only the merest Blush, a tinting wash/Painted on silk,/A beginning nothing more./She said her truth was/Frightening that others Ran covering in fear/from the white-hot/ Sword of her truthfulness/"Pierce me!", I cried/But I wish she/had simply lied." You get the pic, eh?
Dear Ma: Yeah, I get the picture, and no thanks.
From Elma Sabo, Op Ed editor, News & Record (NC): That's a very interesting topic. I would run it this Sunday, but the designer doesn't come in until late, and I need to check with him about how well the cartoon would reproduce. We'll get the piece in within the next two weeks, but don't know about the cartoon yet…
To Elma Sabo: Great! If need be, I could easily run the original cartoon down to the office which is just around the block from Bennett College. I'll await news from you. Many thanks.
From Elma Sabo: We aren't going to run the cartoon. I'll get back with you later this week about the piece... [never did get back to me]
To Elma Sabo: Out of curiosity, was the cartoon too "tough"? Just two little errors on the Op Ed corrected in attachment. Thank you.
From Elma Sabo: I can't really say. My boss looked at it and I heard he didn't want it in the paper, but he's not here right now to ask…
To Elma Sabo: Thanks. I'd of course be curious why. Maybe you might ask him. [two weeks later, no response]
To Elma Sabo: Please inform me if your boss decides to can the Op Ed also. I am of course well aware that the pressure to censor becomes far greater the closer to home the criticism, as in my cartoon. It appears that Bennett President Cole may be too close to home and thus not criticisable in the local press, which of course would be a great pall upon our First Amendment and accountability of local leaders. Perhaps if the local press had been much more critical of ex-president Scott, she wouldn't have gotten away Scott-free and emeritus. In any case, I feel it my responsibility to test the boundaries of our community newspapers. Too bad they wouldn't simply and honestly publish concrete delineations. As mentioned, I'd tested the boundaries of The Concord Journal in Concord, MA where I used to dwell, and discovered where the journal was most likely to censor.
From Elma Sabo: Your op ed piece doesn't make as much sense to run if the cartoon isn't run because it talks about the cartoon so much. Can you revise it so the cartoon isn't featured so heavily in the piece? I think it's fine to mention it, but to make it a central focus of the piece when we're not going to run the cartoon doesn't make much sense.
To John Newsom, journalist, News & Record (Greensboro, NC): Your front-page piece on the new president of Guilford College has got to be one of the most embarrassingly obsequious and nauseating stories I've read in quite a while. “He [the new president] can use the words 'ubiquitous' and 'cool' within moments of each other.” Wow! “And he gives a good hug.” Wow! “He even seemed younger than his 55 years, especially when he changed out of his suit and into a Hawaiian shirt…” Help! Maybe you could write a book: How to bow, kowtow, and meow to the upper class! With all the corruption in higher education, toadying journalists must begin to bear their share of responsibility. Where the hell is journalism going, if not to hell? The following quote from The Diary of H. L. Mencken, regarding the Baltimore Sun, is no doubt pertinent to the News & Record, and so many other tedious community newspapers around the nation: “There was a chance to build up a paper that would show its heels to the country, but all he [the new editor] has produced is a highly prosperous but incurably dull and stupid party organ.”
From John Newsom: What else should I have written?
From John Castagnini: By profession I am an author, poet, speaker and musician. All of my work is focused upon the masterful expression of the deepest feelings and grandest inspirations that I experience. I have authored several books, and held seminars around the world for thousands over the past 3 years. Recently I have completed a book of 51 Inspirational poems. I am sharing this with your organization to see if there is a way to find a win/win between our parties. I am 31 years old and completely dedicated to sharing my work with millions over the next several years. The work is masterful, and deserved to be shared. If you are open to ways my work can be shared through your organization, please respond. I am in the process of launching my new company that markets my work through many avenues, all around the world.
To John Castagnini: Read guidelines before sending pompous self-congratulations! You are the symptom, not the cure. [No Response]
To Caroline Montpetit, journaliste, Le Devoir: Je découvre encore une fois que vous avez de grands penseurs au Québec. Bravo pour Mathieu Boily lauréat du prix Emile-Nelligan : «Je pense à l'impact des dents dans une pomme / il n'y a que des sons autour / pour un peu me rassasierait / cette idée intermittente du jour comme un vêtement.» Tu ne vois toujours pas pourquoi je considère les poètes en étant que véritables paons mous de l'établissement? J'espère que tu commences à t'ouvrir les yeux un peu. Il faut, bon Dieu! T'es journaliste ou guidoune de presse? [sans réponse]
From Gary Beck (NY, NY): Enclosed are three poems for your consideration: […]. I appreciated your note about personal brushes with corruption. I regret that I've had too many. I am a theater director of the classics and new plays. My translations of Molière, Aristophanes and Sophocles, as well as my own plays, have been extensively produced off-Broadway. I am an award-winning writer/director of social issue video documentaries. My poems have appeared in dozens of literary magazines.
To Gary Beck: Why send more poems? I sent my guidelines and you either refused to read them, could not comprehend them, or simply chose to ignore them. I want material that RISKS something on the part of the poet. I am not interested in credits and corrupt awards (who the judges of the awards and why don't you even ask that question?). Try me again, if you like, but study the guidelines! "Qui se sent morveux, se mouche,” wrote Molière. Ben, à ce point-ci, je n'ai plus de maudits mouchoirs! PS: My goddamn poems have also appeared in dozens of literary magazines… and so has everyone else's. Get the point? I'd love a piece on the corruption involved in producing award-winning, video docs. What kind of docs would not win awards? Docs criticizing the politically-correct mandarins dishing out the awards! [No Response]
From Zyskandar Jaimot: reread your "editorial" at beginning of # 6-if you are saying that all art is risk or pure art is risk in the sense of taking arms/words stand against the norm-i disagree-it is the new the spirit of the new as exemplified in a jackson pollack or a monet or a van gogh or a dickinson or browning or ginsberg or kerouac (vastly over-rated i think by the way) it is the new-the first bit of pollack in his pollackezque splatterings/meanderings it is monet's glimpse of light in the lillies van gogh's contortions of color or dickinson's (in my mind the first modern 20th century poet) surreal and metaphysical convulsions from her room in mass "which is zero to the bone" as regards ginsberg he lead a movement and brought his unique perspective of the moment to poetry (not a great poet but for his influence he deserves mention) kerouac brings to mind the novel as typist as much like i am typing now-and yet there is something there-BECAUSE ALL THESE ARTISTES WERE DOING SOMETHING NOT NECESSARILY AGAINST ANYTHING BUT SETTING THEIR NICHE-that is why you can't redo a say james joyce ulysees or a mitchel gone with the wind or a harper lee to kill a mockingbird-it is the moment of art if you are saying the only art is against something then i must disagree and ask you to look deeper into your work-because it is more than striving against but striving for something-for that moment that unique moment when something "new" is created-AND I AGREE MOST OF IT IS BULLSHIT-and yes i don't particularly like that the beatles or sting or anyone like ginsberg sells out-and it obviously changes their art in retrospect-but all art is changed by perspective-ah that is why i love the relative anonymous creators of say a t'ang sencai horse-IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND THE MAKERS ARE LONG GONE BUT THE SHAPE/FORM/BEAUTY ENDURES-that's as close to pure art as i know-and as far as i know it is not "against " anything-all poetry is not dissent nor should it suck at the tit of the establishment for those poets to get ahead because they ass lick those they think will somehow get them prominence-and yes the politics of poetry is smarmy-it has become an mfa business-if you have a degree automatically you are a poet-it is that i object with-the personification of the degree as conferring "betterment status" on anyone who is produced at those factories-and some of them may be poets- BUT BY AND LARGE THEY ARE WHAT YOU RAIL AGAINST THE CYCLE OF PROMOTION BY ASSOCIATION IF YOU SUCK UP YOU GET AHEAD-and poetry should be so much more-much more-more than i can describe here…
To ZAJ: I certainly did not use the term "all writing" in that editorial and certainly did not wish to imply such. What The AD would like to publish is not all writing, but writing that RISKS something. Here's an example: Write a poem or essay that criticizes your boss and send it to the local paper so your boss is apt to read it. That's called RISK of employment and probably writing very close to the edge of raw truth. Write a poem/essay that criticizes the poetry festival you attended and received $500 honorarium. That's called RISK of future invitations and dough and probably writing very close to the edge of raw truth. Send it of course to the director or better yet read it in front of the director. I tend to write RISK, but not what risks my life, though I have written against the local cops and tried in vain to publish it in the Concord Journal. Perhaps this concept is so difficult for poets to grasp, because they've never thought of doing such a thing, that is, writing very close to the edge of raw truth and publishing it. In other words, they do not write poetry apt to offend. Probably they would even label such poetry not poetry at all… and certainly bad poetry. Can you really not understand that editorial, ZAJ? Perhaps you sped read? Try reading slowly… Hell, what's the rush? The AD is not a forum for all Art and all Poetry. I hoped that you had realized that. I'm not defining poetry. I'm defining what I like and I like poetry that is dissident in nature and substance. That's all I'm doing or saying. My God, I can go through whole books of poetry without finding a phrase let alone a poem that I like and that includes the works of the so-called great poets, so-dubbed by bourgeois, academic lackeys of the wealthy elite. It's crazy to me that somehow you read ALL POETRY in that editorial. Yet, I suppose I shouldn't be at all surprised because so often I get the very same reaction from others. Several have declared I declared ALL MFA POETS SUCK. Yet I never wrote that nor do I necessarily believe it. Why did Holder conclude such? Why do you conclude such RE your remark on ALL POETRY? [ZAJ and I are friendly and correspond.]
To the President of David Mamet Society: There has to be something intrinsically perverse in your soul. You seek people to worship. I cannot for the life of me comprehend members of literary societies, who tend to be anything but the literary figure adulated. I think of Thoreau and the Thoreau Society. Do not venerate men or women of letters, as if gods, but rather have them confirm you in your own actions and writing! Most of you instead would use them to permit you to hide in inaction. Indeed, while Mamet satirizes society, you parade around as the very citizens criticized, yet refuse to contemplate that possibility. I do appreciate a number of Mamet's statements and live those statements. I re-fuse congeal in a literary society. [No Response]
From Conan Doherty: I attended the Iowa Writers's Workshop and I still workshop my writing with people from the workshop on a regular basis. I hope to make a living out of writing, escape this country.
To Conan: So, workshop is a verb now? Read g. lines. [No Response]
From James (anonymous): is a terribly funny read, and a brilliant insight into a multitude of psychological problems you seem to have. keep up the good work. i haven't laughed this hard in weeks.
To James: Who are you? How sad to be so indoctrinated as to respond with laughter in the face of piteous corruption. [No response]
To W.K. Buckley, Associate Professor of English, Indiana University: Thanks for the chapbook. Will check it out. However, I'm not crazy about your blurbs from Left Curve's I-knew-Bukowski Hirschman and Polony. As for the poems, the writing is fine. However, I need poems on personal experiences with corruption, any kind. It is so easy to write about general corruption in the USA. There is absolutely no risk involved for the poet! I want to publish poets who dare RISK. In your case, I'd love to read about corruption in your English Department, the pol-correct indoctrination, lack of free speech and ostracism of those who dare, fraudulent Critical Thinking courses, corrupt usage of student evaluations and letters of recommendation, inequitable treatment of faculty members, egregious brownnosing faculty, fraudulent faculty evaluations, refusal to hire and blacklisting of English professors who dare decry the crap out there, etc. Hopefully, you of course are one of the few English professors in the nation not willfully partaking in such activities. Hopefully, you are not another Gerald Locklin or NYQ Packard. Please try me again. [No Response]
From Francine L. Trevens (NY, NY): Enclosed please find three poems for your consideration. I offer all for First North American Publication rights. Other poems of mine have appeared in various magazines (including the current issue of Futures) as well as anthologies. My stories and articles have been published in dozens of magazines including Antiques Journal, Dramatics, Ford Times, Lady's Circle, YM and Yankee. I wrote the musical theatre segment of the McGraw Hill World Encyclopedia in the 80's, and in the 70's was a regular contributor for 7 years to Best Plays Annual. To Francine L. Trevens: Please read my guidelines. [No Response]
To Therese Eiben, POETS & WRITERS (submitted by Ben Satterfield (Hville, GA): During the past five years I have had 19 items stories, poems, essays accepted for publication in anthologies whose editors issued a call in your pages. To date, only one of those proposed anthologies has materialized, after a two-year delay and a change of editors. Three of the other editors claim to be "seeking a publisher," two are preparing for publication, three more gave up, and the other ten do not respond to queries. Authors have a right to expect publication after their work is accepted (often without payment of any kind), but "acceptance" by anthology compilers is often meaningless. Apparently, many so-called editors have nothing more than an idea for an anthology they have no publishing resources or commitments and frequently cannot obtain a publisher after "accepting" a writer's work. In order to prevent writers from being exploited more they usually are in a buyer's market, perhaps you could have your advertisers indicate whether their proposed anthologies are committed to a publisher or are being assembled purely on speculation. If the latter, then writers will at least be forewarned that acceptance of 'their work is also on speculation and does not promise publication.
From David Lawrence (NY, NY): I have published more than a hundred poems in Minnesota Review, North American Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Pearl, Shenandoah, Chicago Tribune, California Quarterly, William and Mary Review, Confrontation, The South Carolina Review, ACM, Folio, No Exit, Laurel Review, Poetry Motel, Poet Lore, Mudfish, Hoyden's Ferry Review, Lummox, The Iconoclast, Heliotrope, Barbaric Yawp, Mojo Risin', Zuzu's Petals Quarterly Online, P.D.Q., Small Pond Magazine, Hawaii Review, People Magazine, New Laurel Review, Coe Review, Sprout, New Delta Review, Kimera, Lynx Eye, Mind Purge, Real, Pitchfork, Porcupine, Now Here Nowhere, Cape Rock, Art Mag, Blue Unicorn, 96 Inc, Superior Poetry News, The Homestead Review, LSR, Wavelength, etc. Books: The chapbook Blame it on the Scientists was published by Pudding House Publications in 2002. In 1999 Mudfish published the first issue of its Individual Poet Series Dementia Pugilistica. Steel Toe Boots was published by Fithian Press in 1996. Boxer Rebellion was published by Maverick Press in 1992. In 1993 it was turned into a movie and played at the Sundance Film Festival, starring me. I am a poet, actor, screenwriter, model, business mogul, boxer, rapper, jailbird, professor (Ph.D.), stand-up comic, husband, father and amiable neurotic. I have been interviewed on CBS, ABC, MSG, BBC, etc, as well as New York Magazine, Men's Journal, People Magazine, Sport's Illustrated, etc. all for boxing and rapping, not poetry. Not my fault. What does People Magazine know about poetry, even though they printed one of my poems in their article about me? Thanks for reading my poems.
To David Lawrence: Read my guidelines, you literary blowhard! [No Resp.]
From David Lawrence (NY, NY): I am confused. I received your comment, “read guidelines before sending,” but w/o any of my poems. However, you did not say whether you rejected or accepted any of my poems. If you rejected them, you didn't give me the names of the rejected poems, thus I will never be able to retrieve them from my bucket of poems. Please let me know what this all means and if my poems are rejected, please give me their names.
From C. Leibow: I have been writing poetry over ten years. I currently work as a corporate trainer and I attend the University of Utah. Poetry has been something that has haunted me. I've tried to turn away from poetry but it simply waits for me to return. My primary influences have been the Beat poets and Latin American poets specifically Gary Snyder and Pablo Neruda. Other influences would include Charles Simic, Lawerence Ferlengetti and Stone-house's Zen Mountain Poems…
To C. Leibow: I don't think you read my guidelines. Try me again… but don't repeat that cover letter-it was a gem, exactly what I'm not looking for.
To Dan Kennedy, senior writer/ media critic, The Boston Phoenix: Good report on The Boston Globe. Now, how about a report on the Phoenix Media Communications Group? What corporations are The Boston Phoenix tied to? In other words, what corporations tongue-tie you? When are you going to do a story on corruption in the state colleges? Or is that another TABOO? I could sure as hell give you a story... but then I'm not tongue-tied.
From Dan Kennedy: The fact that I don't write about the publication that employs me isn't a "taboo." It's just common sense. It seems to me that if you really wanted someone to write about The Boston Phoenix, you would badger people at The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Boston Mag., etc.
To Dan Kennedy: You are wrong. Avoiding critique of the place that employs you is not only a taboo, but a Faustian deal and egregious source of hypocrisy, especially for a media critic such as yourself. How can you criticize some media, but not your own? Avoiding critique of The Boston Phoenix led to hypocrisy on another occasion when you criticized the sell-out hippies as Bobos (Bohemian bourgeois), yet “avoided” mention that you and others at The Boston Phoenix were also Bobos. Rather than admit to the taboo and incredible conflict such a taboo must certainly have for a media critic, you choose hypocrisy. You would have had a lot more credibility if you had brought up the fact that your media conglomerate limits your news coverage. Why would such a statement endanger your job unless you're working for a particularly fascistic organization, which of course just might be the case? Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff sees things quite differently from you. He devoted an entire column to criticizing … The Village Voice (5/24/00), noting “Here now at The Village Voice, Freedom is Censorship. And Self-Censorship.” Since you admit being partisan of self-censors, perhaps it's time you raise yourself up a notch and write the same thing about The Boston Phoenix. Far too many entrenched columnists fall short of what writers should do and be. Hentoff did not lose his job. It is perhaps time for you to cast aside the easy road of hypocrisy and walk the tough one of truth. Hell, how much money do you really need to survive, man? By the way, your use of the word "badger" to qualify my critique of your column is unconscionable, considering you are also a critic. I've compiled quite a list of terms used to dismiss criticism, especially when irreverent. I shall add “badger.” Well, thanks for your response.
From Dan Kennedy: Nat Hentoff, who I admire greatly, does not make his living as a media reporter-he is a columnist who can write about damn near anything he wants. I have a simple position: I report on all media *except* The Boston Phoenix, because I have an obvious conflict of interest and it would undermine my credibility. You either understand that or you don't. And I guess you don't. But thanks for writing.
To Academe: Would you be interested in an essay calling for radical change in the heart of the ivory tower written by a blackballed professor?
From Ellen Schrecker, Ed., Academe: While we do publish occasional opinion pieces, most of our articles deal with very specific topics and have usually been commissioned.
To Massachusetts Cultural Council: Is there any concern that the brother of a serial murderer, child pornographer and cocaine dealer sits on the board of your Council? It is now probable that William Bulger knew everything about his FBI most wanted brother. I hope you've at least read the 4-part series in the Boston Herald (www.bostonherald.com/bostonherald/bostonmob/ index.html) As citizen, I am disgusted with your Council for Bulger and other reasons already noted (see www.geocities.com/enmarge/Cultural.html).
From MCC (Tom Connors): Thank you for your interest in the Cultural Council.
From Fitchburg State College Counsel John F. Driscoll, Esq.: Please consider this letter as a response to a 2/7/01 e-mail communication that you sent to the Human Resources office at Fitchburg State College. Specifically, you alleged that FSC in some way interfered in your attempt to obtain employment. FSC terminated its relationship with you pursuant to an August 1996 agreement and the College takes the view that it has no continuing relationship with you. The College is aware of no basis for your allegation that it has interfered in your attempt to gain employment. FSC has no continuing interest in this matter and considers the matter to be closed. Thanking you for your attention to this matter, I remain, very truly yours.
To Fitchburg State College President Riccards: Your paladin-for-money, justice-indifferent, and intellectually corrupt lawyers, Peters, Driscoll and Cie, don't scare me. You and FSC have kept me from finding further employment. You are a heartless bunch of bastards… and I truly hope your health may be suffering for it. I challenge you and your minions to seek a court order preventing me from criticizing and attempting to expose the corruption in your hearts and procedures. You are, after all, a public institution, though in this Massachusetts of political corruption ubiquitously bursting at the seams. Clearly, FSC has blackballed others beside myself and keeps the evidence under lock and key in the archives of the Massachusetts State College Association. How grotesque that some corrupt legal contractual stipulation has permitted you to conceal public documents from public scrutiny. How pitifully successful your “Leadership College” has been keeping students from questioning and challenging what needs to be questioned and challenged, including you, Semerjian, DeCesare, Scott, Wagner and all the other small-time corrupt weasels parading around in black robe. Your consistent concealment of corruption can only hurt true leadership. FSC may consider "this matter closed," but I shall never, as long as I live. Only JUSTICE, not CLOSURE, will prevent you and your lawyers from continuing to fill your pockets and greed with public monies! You are a veritable scourge, spreading terminal cancer in the belly of higher education. How to stop you? [No Response]
To Community Newspaper Company, Inc. editors [sent to about 50 Massachusetts papers, eliciting one response]: Well everything is clean and dandy now in one megacorporate newspaper [RE The Boston Herald purchase of you guys]! Bravo. Yes, you will edit for clarity and civility. Of course, the latter will mean editing out anything apt to underscore corrupt people in power. Massachusetts has gone down the shit hole and hardly anyone has even noticed. Evidently, higher education, the Massachusetts Teachers Association et al ought be congratulated for a job well done. When did you sell out?
From Dan MacAlpine, Ed.Melrose Free Press: I can't print language you used in your letter. I also need a phone number for verification. Clean up the language and give us a contact number and we'll print your opinion. By the way, if you saw my salary it would be hard to argue I've sold out to anyone. Also, is The American Dissident a semiannual lit journal or a semiliterate annual journal? My dyslexia has struck again.
To Melrose Free Press: Well, Dan I guess you got pissed off, eh? Guess you got criticized. I don't mind your little quip about my semilit mag. That's cool. But this whole thing stinks to high hell, doesn't it? This utter corporate takeover of everything... the media (you guys), academe, etc. How'd you like to interview me as editor of a local DISSIDENT literary journal? I can't interest The Concord Journal... they've been fully purchased and digested. Imagine, I was jailed four hours because of an argument with a park ranger at Walden Pond and subsequently threatened with further incarceration for simply standing by the entrance with a sign declaring absence of free speech at the park and also on other occasions for leaving my diss flyer in Thoreau's fake shack. I say, bravo to you for responding! I couldn't interest anyone in the state college corruption I witnessed as a professor. Nobody gives a damn. CRITICISM is viscerally hated. If you'd really like to print that letter, just remove the BAD word. Are you even aware such words are not illegal in the Commonwealth? Are you aware there is no list of such words? The self-censorship in this state is reaching disastrous proportions, man! [No Response]
To Poets & Writers, Inc. (from Robert Betts): As a black writer, I couldn't agree with one point in Miss Shayla Hawkins' article, "Cave Canem: A Haven for Black Poets” (Mar/Apr, 2001). I never go to white writers' workshops because the atmosphere there I learned from other black writers is often uninviting and even hostile in subtle ways. Yet I don't go to black workshops either. In fact, I don't go to ANY writers' workshops or writers' retreats at all, mainly because they are moneymaking rackets. “Every day,” according to Ms. Hawkins, “Cave Canem fellows are expected to write a new poem and present it to their group.” Many writers' workshops, regardless of their racial makeup, adhere to that same paradigm. But how can poets crank out a poem per day and expect each to be worthy? Assembly-line poetry is not poetry. Perhaps writers-regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation-ought not be writers if they cannot endure the personal, intimate anguish of the critical creative process in solitary, and depend on subjective feedback from others. Equally important about writers' workshops and excluded from the article is that THEY COST MONEY, which many talented unknown writers often do not have. MFA programs cost money also. Be assured that some philistine corporate CEO who does not give one hot damn about art is speeding off to a bank to cash the check of some talented, eighty year old widow in Iowa who attended one of his prominent-poet-for-hire managed writers' workshops. How to be an excellent poet or fiction writer is not learned by shelling out cash to attend workshops and $100,000 MFA programs. Learning is accomplished by doing. In "The Black Writers Retreat: Where Each Voice is Equal” (in the same issue), Tashia Asanti mentions the workshops are led by Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and “other publishing professionals who head up seminars on the business of writing.” The business of what? I hold Baraka and Sanchez in the highest esteem, but not regarding business. Paul Lawrence Dunbar never attended a workshop. Ernest Hemingway never went to college or an MFA program. Now come to think of it, why do Poets & Writers and The Writers' Chronicle both have so many ads for very costly Writers' Retreats and MFA programs? [No Response]
To Aiken Technical College (SC) [sent to Personnel Director-white man, Vice President-black woman, and Dean of Education-black man]: Let this letter at least support your not hiring me, your wasting two days of my time in Aiken, and your refusal to explain why. After all, how could you, an academic administrator, hire a man who questions, challenges, thinks for himself rather than in the academic mode of team think, and would opine openly? Your silence regarding my query is bizarre. I'm simply curious if you're at all conscious as to when you might have begun lying as an administrator, and how you began justifying your prevarication with denial and rationalization. Perhaps you may wish to contemplate these things in the context of your religion and how you don't give a damn about someone like me, a fellow American, whose livelihood you help destroy by your unusual commonness. If you can even comprehend what I write here, then, well, there has to be some hope for you. If not, then, evidently there is not.
From Aiken Tech (Dean of Education Larry Hawes): "Ugly in yielding, as you were ugly in rage!/ Natures like yours chiefly torment themselves." (Oedipus Rex, Scene II. 151-2)
To Lucid Moon (Ralphy, Ed.): If you're gonna push Jack Powers, take me off your list. His little Stone Soup Poets Society is an old lady's sewing circle. I read some harsh poetry in front of those characters, and all he could say was: "our poets don't like you." Well, fuck him... and that I did say to his face... and he squeamed away to another corner where friends to hold him up. Print this in your rag. Also, you're on this superficial name game crap. Get off it. Stop pushing names, the Lifshin, Locklin, Corso garbage. Start pushing poets who have something tough to say about our cancer-ridden society. Okay, Ralphy. I've got no real beef with you. But “majestic poetry”? You just ain't gonna find it in that crowd... not in Lifshin, not in Locklin, and not in Jack Powers. Those people are not on the edge. It is disgusting that poets like Powers don't give a damn about the First Amendment. Yeah, his poetling crowd walked past me while I was at Walden Pond holding a placard. Yeah, the cops threw me out... and Powers couldn't have been happier. Is he the kind of “majestic” poet you seek to publish? All he can do is ride on the coattails of dead Corso who did the same RE Ginsberg who did the same RE Kerouac. By the way, in each issue of The American Dissident, I make it a point to publish the harshest criticism. How about you?
From Lucid Moon (Ralphy): Tod, GO FUCK YOURSELF! I'm removing you from my list and leaving you alone to wallow in your own crapulance and hatred. You asshole.
To University of Guam: Why not be creative in mind. Reflect a bit on what those three letters of recommendation and student evaluations really mean... SAMENESS... CORPORATE/ACADEMIC SAMENESS... KOWTOW CERTIFICATION! If you would like a couple of essays on the subject, let me know or check out my website. But you probably are not be inquisitive... just another pedagogue functionary. I will not apply for the English position because of all the tedious documents you request.
From University of Guam (English Prof Robert Alan Burns): Thank you for your note. Thank you especially for letting us know you will not be applying.
From College English (Jonathan Hunt, Assoc. Ed.): Your essay, “Courses on Critical Thinking, Collegiality, and the War against Negativity,” addresses issues of ongoing and critical importance to the profession. I was struck by your observation that there is something “profoundly fraudu-lent” about Critical Thinking as it is currently institutionalized, and impressed by the potential of your critique of the recent chorus of appeals to “civility” as camouflaging a “cunning shield against critics.” Unfortunately, our decision is not to pursue it for publication, largely for reasons relating to the journal's parameters. College English opinion pieces are typically involved in an ongoing conversation around a particular topic.
To College English: TRUTH and hard reality must probably also fall exterior to the “parameters” of College English. I am struck by the observation that there is something profoundly fraudulent not just with “Critical Thinking as it is currently institutionalized,” but also with College English… and Thought & Action, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academe, Lingua Franca, and Adjunct Advocate, to name a few. The bulk of such journals forms a single hermetic, if not impervious, ivory-tower bastion, publishing only “safe” manuscripts written in the MFA mindset with a good dose of MLA bureaucratese and/or Chicago Manual Style doublespeak. Your cunning shield against critics of College English is of course your very “parameters.” [No Response]
To Alternative Press Review: What you guys are doing is assembly-line reviews. In reality, you manifest zero interest in a review like mine, which provides a venue for socio-politically engaged literature as opposed to fame-game Chomsky-type political commentary. I once tried to interest Z-magazine and received similar disinterest and aloofness. I wonder if it's an ego thing, a leftist petty-power mongering of sorts. It's bullshit that the review you guys did on my first issue is still circulating in cyberspace like an orbiting fuck-you. Enclosed is my cartoon review of your mag. Publish it if you have the balls! From Alternative Press Review (Jason McQuinnn, Ed.): If I recall, I told you I'd forward your message on to the person who did the review of your zine-and I think that was Chuck Munson. Otherwise, what did you want me to say? Having neither seen your zine, nor having written the review in question, I simply don't know anything about it. PS: Nice comic.
To APR: Passin' the buck? Hmm. What do I want you to do? Print the comic in your letters to the editor section! Then rebut it. It is a positive sign that you have printed negative letters. Most zines don't do that. I'm not holding a grudge, nor really warring. The matter is simple: I don't think you or your sub-reviewers can give fair reviews if you're running through them on a conveyer belt and if you're not really into what the review is about (e.g., literature, if you're into hardcore pol. commentary). I never heard from your subreviewer. Perhaps he knows, if that's possible, that my critique is on target... at least vis-à-vis his review of The American Dissident. [N.R.]
To ACLU-Massachusetts (Wendy M. Zimny): Thank you for your second reply. But if we are indeed going no where, why continue? Why not just tell me the ACLUM has limited funds and my case isn't pertinent, as the ACLUM did when contacted regarding my whistleblowing at Fitchburg State and Martha's Vineyard H. S. several years ago? Well, enclosed are the documents requested. I have not been to Walden Pond since being forced off the premises by BOTH state and Concord police. Authorities at Walden refuse to answer my correspondence, thus I cannot offer you their particular code of rules. But I assume their rules are the same as the enclosed Title 304. I have scanned these documents for you and taken time to send you this letter. I did attempt to file a complain against the arresting officer for fraudulent testimony, but was told I'd have to pay $100 and that chances were 99.9% I'd lose. Again, please inform me what gives the police and park authority the right to prohibit a citizen of Massachusetts from holding a sign of protest on STATE property? Is not STATE property PUBLIC property? Am I not PUBLIC? Interestingly, the PUBLIC library in Concord will not allow me to post on its PUBLIC bulletin board an account of the incidents at Walden. [No Response]
To National Poetry Month: How do I get The American Dissident listed on NPM's site? Must I be backed by corrupt academics and known kowtow poets? Must I wear the fraudulent shield of Civility and praise your corporate sponsors? Must I be a society-friendly advocate of national hypocrisy?
From National Poetry Month (Matthew Rohrer, cc: Charles Flowers & India Amos): No, you just gotta fork over the cash, baby. These websites don't just stay up for free.
To National Poetry Month: My website costs not a cent. Try it out unless of course you don't have a curious bone in your poet-society self. [No Response]
Dear Word Press (Kevin Walzer, Publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org): I read your essay "Sellout Studies and Scholarship" (Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/25/01). So, you are a full-time corporate "marketing writer" and part-time poet. Wow. The Chronicle has become downright embarrassing as it overtly manifests its own corporate ingestion with an increasing number of cutesy, Salon.com-type essays such as yours and Ms. Mentor's perpetual column. Please be advised in case of grotesque ignorance: There is great intrinsic corruption in Academe! The Nation needs a hell of a lot more than your pitiful 10 steps on how to sellout and continue kissing Academic ass at the same time. The networking and team-playing mindset that you advocate are killing Academe, pumping up departments with like-minded, loyal cronies and family members, hardly critical thinkers apt to question and challenge. Thanks to happy fools like yourself, Academe has become corporatized, that is, highly authoritarian and rigidly hierarchical in a great breeding ground of snakes, weasels, rats, and sheep. Maybe you're into something new: CORPORATE POETRY. Maybe corporate poetry written by corporate marketers, technical writers, and corporate-ingested academics IS on the verge of replacing poetry on the edge written by poets on the edge. In fact, I'm convinced it is. You vaunt being a "sellout." But I'm not so sure you had anything in your soul to SELLOUT to begin with. Sure you meant sellout from Academe to the Corporation. But can you be so blind as not to see that Academe, in the same manner as GOVERNMENT, HAS essentially become an intricate component of the CORPORATION today? Well, I suppose the only positive thing in your essay, at least for me, was your statement that, "Since joining the business world, I've managed to continue publishing, albeit at a slower pace." Poetry will at least be thankful for the "slower pace." I won't bother sending this rebuttal to The Chronicle because I know all too well what they publish and refuse to publish. [No Response]
To Debbie Orton, Pub. Flashcake (Albany, NY): Sounds like a gimmick and crock… your Flash poetry! How about Flash Gordon? He could write a Flash poem on outer space. How about Flashers? You trying to bring them back into fashion? Anything but tough critique of the state of the Nation, goal of the hatched MFA mob! Anything to divert the already tiny minds of the American populace from the crap in which they swim every day. [N.R.]
To PBS (email@example.com: How disgusting your public-service commercial featuring Teddy Kennedy talking to a stuffed Teddy bear (or was that a tiger?) and telling everyone to read! Any thinking person, Democrat or Republican or Green, would come to the conclusion that Kennedy is promoting himself and anyone else in his family with political aspirations on PBS… and FOR FREE! Imagine how much an ad would cost if he had to pay as a politician. Perhaps he's even making money indirectly on that ad as tax deduction. Should PBS be pushing itself as DEMOCRAT organization? Isn't that precisely what you do when you put a politician like KENNEDY on your station? Isn't KENNEDY the very hypocrisy regarding democracy with his family dynasty and he hogging the senate seat for over 40 years… keeping the poor out of the Senate! I'd love to read your response, but doubt you'll respond. [No Response]
From Patricia Lesko, Exe. Ed., The Adjunct Advocate (for p-t professors): No offense intended, but I am really, really busy. I simply don't have the time to "debate" anything with anyone. […] I learned long ago that writers who demand too much of my time and energy are just not the kind of folks I can work with. Good luck placing your work elsewhere. The cartoon you submitted [and I previously accepted] will not be used in the magazine. [N.B.: Lesko became offended when I brought up corruption in academe, though not directed at her. She refused to respond to any of the points made, instead retaliated by keeping me out of her publication. This is the way of Academe.]
From The Book Doc: You'll have to show me other sites where writers write about being a pickle… I can, on the other hand, show you 1000 angry poets…
Dear American Dissident (from Lauren Janis, Ass’t Ed, Columbia Journalism Review): The editors read with interest your proposal for an article that would analyze how and why the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry is an inherently unfair contest. It is an intriguing idea, and your arguments certainly piqued the interest of our editors. Yet, as we are not a poetry publication, after consideration, we decided it wasn’t right for CJR.
Dear Ms. Janis (CJR): Well, that's an absurd/bullshit reason for rejecting my Pulitzer essay. Is not the Pulitzer part of the Columbia School of Journalism? My essay exposes, though perhaps indirectly, corruption at your School. That's why you do not wish to publish it in the CJR. The points made in the essay regarding bias are facts, not even hypotheses. [NR]
Dear American Dissident (from B.B. Smith): I took a class in the MFA program at Manhattanville College, and realized I knew more than the teacher, both about life' and the craft of poetry, so I didn't go back, though 6 years later they are still sending class schedules. But I decided to help begin their Lit Mag, Inkwell, when the call went out. However, I soon got a taste of what's actually going on behind the scenes of some institutional lit mags and decided it had nothing to do with poetry and quit in even more disgust. The female MFA student who volunteered to be editor in chief of our "premiere edition'' was herself a "contributing editor" to the local newspaper, the Journal News, a Gannett Publication. Laurie Nikolski was her name. I volunteered to be one of two copyreaders, not wanting anything to do with the business end of it, but merely to read the submissions and choose the best work from what was submitted. But Laurie never submitted to me more than 1/4 of all the submissions that were circulating, and there was never a meeting to discuss the submissions with her so-called staff, but instead she (and possibly those she loved best) chose to make the decisions as to what went in and what stayed out. Naturally, she made sure one of her own stories was published. Ghastly isn't the word to describe that piece. I was embarrassed to find that my name appeared on the list of copyreaders-as though I actually had something to do with choosing the work appearing inside. Laurie has since disappeared into the realms of the publishing world-don't know where, but obviously working her wiles and clawing her way up the Poetry Ladder. Manhattanville's Inkwell is now in Poets & Writers Mag offering a $1000.00 prize like so many other MFA Programs.
Dear Jaimes Alsop, Ed. The Alsop Review: Sounds like you have your head up your ass.... naming a poetry review after yourself... and enlisting seven board members and six administrators… and bragging that your writers are the best! Wow! Is this what poetry has come to? Why not start your own ostrich-head-in-the-sand poetics university a la Naropa? Before boasting of literary prizes, why not ask yourself what the Pushcart et al really are? Who are the “blind” judges on their panels? What is the intrinsic corruption in the prizes?
Dear American Dissident (from Jaimes Alsop): Thanks for thinking of the Alsop Review but we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. [?]
Dear Lewis Rice, Editor of The Concord Journal: Not a word from you, Lewis! What kind of journalism school did you attend? Or was it just your grades? How can you a journalist not give a goddamn about First Amendment issues right here in your own lily-white Concord backyard? Shame on you and all the others who practice the kind of crap you call corporate-conglomerate community news. Are you at least aware who your owners are? Can you name those who have succeeded in muzzling your brain? FYI, Deathrow journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal noted in All Things Censored: "The essential role of the media became one that is inherently and profoundly conservative, in keeping with the class interests of its owners. It is not its job, therefore, to rock the boat, but merely to occasionally splash water."
Dear American Dissident (from Gregory Turner) Lewis Rice is no longer editor of The Concord Journal.
Dear Gregory Turner: Well, send the goddamn letter to the new editor then! [NR]
Dear American Dissident (from Russ Loar): If you are to gain wide acceptance for your publication, you should be quick to poke fun at and criticize your own sacred cows. There is no shortage of those willing to condemn the conventions of our modern culture in order to champion a particular point of view. But what I find truly refreshing about your publication is its potential to be a forum for exposing the artificiality, the manipulativeness, the folly of sacred cows of all shapes and kinds. It is the rigid adherence to a particular dogma, theology, philosophy or any set of rules for living that should be attacked and exposed… Of course, we now live in an increasingly corporatized culture in which people seem eager to enslave themselves. So often we are the victims of ourselves, and that is where dissent may perhaps have its most powerful effect, in liberating ourselves from our own self-induced oppression.
Dear American Dissident (from Syd Bradford, Ed., Enigma): I agree with the premise of your article [critical of the hackneyed ‘cool’ style of writing in Salon.com], but think that the piece would be more powerful and striking if it dissected the enemy rather than hacking at it with a broad sword.
Dear David Wainberg, Common Courage Press: Thanks for your reply regarding my request for employment. I'm just trying in vain to find a place here in this bizarre Nation. It is odd that ‘radical’ editors and publishers like you tend to be utterly incurious. You haven’t manifested the slightest interest in The American Dissident. Is the explanation pitiful niche guarding? I'm just curious. I question and challenge everything, including ‘radical’ editors and publishers. [No Response]
Dear Civic Education Project (a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting reform efforts at universities in Central/Eastern Europe and Eurasia): Perhaps your project would be more credible if it also provoked reform efforts in American universities, where corruption is intrinsic, profound and utterly grotesque. Perhaps you might wish to hire me as blacklisted professor to help establish an American branch to the Civic Education Project. Perhaps you are not offering civic education at all, but rather cheap labor to spread English, language of Business, not thought, not truth, not justice, not even democracy, but BUSINESS. [No Response]
Dear Academe, the bimonthly publication of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP): When will you get your heads out of your asses and realize that hiring minorities is not going to resolve your serious problems of intrinsic corruption, cronyism and sell out to the Corporation. What you desperately need to do is diversify not color but mind. It is time that you open your doors to hardcore critics of Club Academe. I know this is pipedream because it will not happen. Jefferson had said: “Every institution needs a revolution every generation.” Well, why has yours never even had one such revolution? Tenure of sameness of mentality, black, white, Hispanic, male or female. Do you have the balls to devote ½ page of your review to comments from hardcore critics of the ivory tower? [No Response]
Dear American Dissident (from Dr./Prof. Natalie Hess, Northern Arizona University): I am sorry that I triggered such angry feelings in you, and I sympathize, but I also feel that surely someone who goes out and gets a Ph.D. knows what the academic game is all about, and if he/she doesn't want to play by those rules, then really he should play some other game, and I don't pretend that the rules are just or fair, but they probably are more just and more fair than those of most human games. I do believe that you mistake what goes on in the academe. I tend to work a 12 hour academic day and from what I have observed so do most of my colleagues, but since most of us love the subject matter we happen to deal with, we really don't mind. We find most of our work a pleasure and would do it even if we were not paid for it.
Dear Dr./Prof. Natalie Hess: “Angry feelings”? Well, maybe. Just the same, for me anger is not a sin, but rather a creative force, one that helped create this very Nation. Anger! Do you think the Revolutionary Patriots were joyous in their little situations… or raging? I am not looking for “sympathy” from you or any other Academic lifer but rather raw, visceral change… and removal of the likes of you from the Nation’s universities. What does your ready acceptation of the “game do to the soul of the Nation? It makes the Nation itself but a “game”… as we saw in our president’s egregious lies and bullshit lines of contrition… and so many universities desperate for him to speak at their ceremonies! Think, Ms. PhD, if you can, if you haven’t been totally brainwashed by years of chortling with “game” loving professors and doggie sycophancy. Contrary to what you believe, few “games” are more sleazy than the academic one. Does that mean you or I should accept the pitiful status quo and become happy game players? Haven’t you read any of the literature exposing academic corruption? Shake yourself from your stupor… for the Nation’s sake and in memory of Jefferson, Paine, and Monroe! As for your statement that you work 12 hours a day and would do it for nothing, how hypocritical! As an ex-prof at four different colleges, I never met one professor who would teach without pay. On the contrary, the bulk of them are ever obsessing over salary issues. It is sad for the Nation that only sycophants are permitted to thrive in your ACADEME, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. [No Response]
Dear Dr/Prof Rebecca Moore Howard, Director of the Syracuse University Writing Program: Your ad for a Professor of Writing was astounding. Has writing and English really become so utterly perverted at Syracuse? Can there really be PhD writers specializing in "digital rhetorics and pedagogies" with interests in "computer-rich Writing pedagogies, electronic communication across the curriculum, theory or history of digital authorship, multiple literacies, or humanities computing?" When will your department place an ad for hardcore engaged writers, who will not cower at the thought of criticizing the hand that feeds, that is, the university? Academe in America is in dire straits! Have you noticed, or is your head buried into educationist jargon and theoretical crap? By the way, please consider subscribing to The American Dissident, for it is precisely what your Writing Program could use.
Dear Becky (from Dr/Prof Jeanne Gunner and also sent to The American Dissident): Again I'm astounded at the sense of entitlement and righteousness the author has in making such a personal attack (and again a male, I note). I hope you'll post his message to the WPA list.
Dear Prof/Dr Chair Becky Howard and Dr/Prof Lackey Jeanne Gunner: Well, thanks for your reply, though behind the back a la academic "entitlement" and "righteousness." Funny, how there is such sameness (and smallness) of mentality throughout the Nation's ivory towers. A thinking MAN and WOMAN must ask: why? I sure as hell have. Have you? Clearly the answer reposes in those three letters of academic kowtow approval that you demand from anyone applying for a job. If citizens do not feel a sense of “entitlement” to inspect and criticize academe, then the Nation is doomed. Well, I guess Syracuse is yet another lost cause. We are no longer a democracy but a hypocracy, thanks in large part to institutions like yours. What is the WPA list anyhow? Might it stand for Women's Patrol Association? By the way, I am not afraid to criticize female frauds... and there are legions of them in academe... no doubt as many as white male frauds and minority frauds. [No Response]
Dear American Dissident (from Hosho McCreesh): Got some rag in the mail, The Clark Street Review, publishes "narrative" poetry, but written almost prose-like... which makes me wonder why he doesn't just call for prose... "shit or get off the pot," my Ma always says. I'll try some prosy-talky stuff, won't change anything "to suit his needs" but we'll see. Then again, it usually means trouble when they say something like "excellence is our only criteria." They might as well say "We don't know what the fuck we want or what we're doing but if you write like the fudge-pushers in our spoken word troupe, we'll publish you."
Dear Stella Sue Lee, Poetry Ed., Rattle: No problem with the rejection of my poems. Out of curiosity, what does getting stocked in Barnes & Noble inevitably do to a small press review? I too run a small mag. But since its focus is not simply poetry for the sake of poetry, I imagine it will have to remain small and thus off the shelves of B&N because if I pushed circulation in line with B&N requisites of over a 1000, the focus would end up corrupted. With the push gowith the integrity! No doubt those upon B&N shelves would not like to hear this thought. The specific focus is the only reason I’m editing the journal. It is what makes it different from 99% of the journals out there... on or off the B&N production line. Why name a mag RATTLE, if you’re not gonna rattle… the sunsobitches?
Dear American Dissident (from Stella Sue): Because there are so many B&N and Borders stores, should you wish to go in and look at what I've accepted before as to style and content, and because these stores are most places, I am telling you that is a possibility. I am not in agreement with you over this issue [i.e., gowith the integrity], but what's the problem? I would like to hear more on your reasoning. For one, RATTLE is about the only literary journal that is poetry and poetry alone. What difference does that make? Well, I don't. I just don't understand your reasoning. You want to run this by me again-your "focus?" Do you mean subject matter, content?
Dear Stella Sue: […] There is a lot of bubbling criticism surfacing today regarding the state of poetry. Your vaunting Rattle as one of the only small mags that publishes only poetry is a meaningless. Again, poetry for the sake of poetry is probably the biggest perverter of poetry today. Yes, we each define poetry. I define poetry as good and bad... and bad is generally poetry for the sake of poetry, disengaged verse. In other words, I choose to define poetry as that written by Poète maudits a la Léo Ferré, Baudelaire, Robinson Jeffers, Neruda, Bukowski, Benedetti, as opposed to the Pinsky/Haas/Dove/ Lifshin/Locklin variety. Sure, I'll run it by you again... for what it's worth. 99% of poetry journals have no focus... just poetry. For me, poetry is not a focus. It's akin to having a journal devoted to writing-much too broad to call focus. […]
Dear American Dissident (from Stella Sue): Each to his own, another meaningless quote I guess. Can we agree to completely disagree? Dear Stella Sue: Well, I am disappointed that you decided to kill the budding debate, that is, not respond to the points made in my last letter. But your reaction, I hate to say it, is typical. BTW, I’m of course curious regarding your funding. Your mag must cost lots of dollars. Where do they come from? My mag is definitely small compared to yours RE dollars. Well, I suppose having focus on poetry by American Indians is a focus. You’d have to reject my poetry because of skin color for that issue. But it’s as if that were not a focus either. Poetry by Indians, love poetry, critical poetry, family poetry, kowtow poetry, but by people with red skin only… is really no focus at all. [No response]
From David Baratier, Ed, Pavement Saw Press: We have published Errol Miller's 3rd full-length book in an edition of 1000. Are you stating you are some esteemed source? More so than the editor of the second largest non-university poetry press in Ohio? Perhaps you should read the book before making obviously uninformed statements based upon irrelevant tertiary information. So if I understand your last email correctly your authority comes from the fact that you inflict your own material upon the world, as other publishers find it unsuitable to waste good paper on. This makes sense especially considering you think a thousand copy press run is a brag. You must be a uberpeon; change the name to american pissant. One would think if you were truly a dissident, your website would load fast rather than take 8 minutes to bring down, revolution happens quick, I don't have time to wait for the cute little capitalist photo crap that starts infiltrating the screen you vile unrolled ALIC [Academic/Literary Industrial Complex] mindset uberquality fucker. You want to see how revolution happens: your [sic] in contact with the right folks but yr a pseudo revolutionary who takes aim at the largest publisher in the same category. Ripping down the past to "make room" because you are lazy and unable to create an audience without relying on the same principles you are "vehemently opposed to". Recant your [sic] teeny soapbox, poser. You never dared print an "unsellable" thousand copies of a book like gordon massman's. The number’s where the virgin mary gets fucked & fisted in #619. ALIC, Are you retarded? Too many beans in mass after voting for Bush? That's dysentery, Sloan. Or not to vote, so cliche and "Dissident." Dissidents are supposed to be angry and talk a bunch of uniformed shit? Not here in Ohio, we shoot folks for that, its what we go to the range for weekly. As for me, I am an editor, I edited (that means changed) Errols poems before I published them perhaps you should do yr job you lazy self publisher.
Dear Pavement Saw: Your letter sounds confused and boiling in anger... but the wrong kind. Your anger is the simple anger of suddenly being criticized. It is not the anger evolving from experience with corruption, injustice and prevarication. It is like the anger of the comfortably tenured academic who is rarely if ever criticized... then suddenly someone like me comes along and criticizes. He/she doesn't quite know how to react... though inevitably with fury and inability to debate the issues. Funny how some of you characters go absolutely whacko when criticized. Look at yourself yapping about shooting people. Apparently, you haven't engaged in battle very much. When you mention that you and yours are the "right folks." Do you mean on the right, as in ultraconservative or in accord with Jim Hightower's thought that “ultra PC characters are quite similar and often unmistakable to ultra right wingers.” I think all that sex is crap and diversionary and anything but revolutionary. What do I care if some dork you publish fist fucks the virgen Mary... and you call me a teeny bopper? I mean how puerile can one get? You're producing trash and for some curious reason you think you are a revolutionary. You are precisely what the oligarchy wants... another producer of diversionary garbage. Why do you think I voted for Bush? Why publish Miller if you had to radically alter what he sent you?
From a subscriber Dennis S. Smith: […] Just because some folks are "doing time for a crime" does not make them all "political prisoners" and "victims of the System," giving them a right to have a sounding board in a publication. Nor does the amount of f-k's in a stanza make a quality poem. Shock value is fine, but it should not be carried to the extreme in the Arts. You have some very good political and societal themes in your cartoons that you publish. But they should be done by one with more artistic talent so as to render their meaning more graphically to the reader without distraction. […] The bottom line is, Mr. Stone, is that I am proud of who and where I am on this "twirling Top" called a planet. I do not attack life in general, just because it has dealt me a rough hand. This nation is the only one I have and my ancestors had. We fought and died for it many times over. If anybody is in the position to criticize it, I can. Criticism is a healthy stimulate for the making of a healthy society. And it should be done to make folks think and aspire to higher goals. I do not belittle it just to make good copy. Neither did Emerson or Thoreau. […]
Dear Dennis Smith: I’m just a bit perplexed as to what you might have thought a review called The American Dissident would be about. The tone itself is the message is the tone. This is why I refuse to censor and reject any piece that has the word fuck in it. Please, note I will publish your criticism nailing my cartooning skills, for if I’m not man enough to do that then why the hell am I editing this journal? If you have better cartoons, then send them. Regarding your dislike of my use of poetry by prisoners, I’m not happy with the cops at all, or with the horrendous prison situation in this country. Who knows how many innocents are rotting in our prisons? Contrary to you, I am not proud to be an American. If I were permitted to work in Canada, I would have left this sick society years ago. I am not, as you imply, belittling society “to make good copy.” That is bullshit. Besides, if I were making such “good copy,” why can’t I even give away free subscriptions to the local colleges and high schools? Yes, I have tried. Thoreau was especially disappointed with his fellow citizens.
Dear American Dissident (from Major Daniel E. Jamroz): As the Commanding Officer of Tactical Operations, the Mounted Section falls under my command. I have been provided with the copy of the investigation that was conducted by Captain Robert C. Laprel of my staff. I have found that this complaint that you made against officers assigned to the Mounted Sections for incidents that occurred on Sept. 8 and 9, 2000 at Walden Pond Park are Not Sustained. [N.B.: On 9/9/00 The editor was holding a sign protesting the lack of free speech at Walden Pond State Reservation, neither blocking nor approaching people, nor handing out brochures. Both state and city police ordered me to move or be arrested.]
Dear American Dissident: Since my query from March, I have begun to think that you are no longer in business. If not, I am sorry that you are not... In the meantime, I have inherited some money, and I was thinking of offering you support-but better yet, a partnership, which I would buy from you. If, however, you are no longer in business, I hope you would not mind if I appropriated your idea for the publication and began to publish it from here. Would like to hear from you about your situation. -Dr. J. E. Bennett (WV)
Dear Con Lehane, Ed. Thought & Action (NEA): Would the NEA, “trades union of the higher pedagogical functionaries,” (the words are Mencken’s) be interested in an essay written by a blacklisted, former college professor, "Omerta: Modus Operandi of Academe"? My experience confirms that, confronted with criticism, intellectuals tend to remain silent or, at best, respond with a hollow ‘best wishes.’ Rare is the intellectual today who appreciates criticism and engages in meaningful debate, unless, of course, such may further that person's goal of ‘getting ahead.’ Today's intellectuals tend to reason that to respond to criticism (at least that not coming from a superior or known personage) would be belittling of a person of their stature as known poet, editor, publisher, or simply well-seated professor. Intellectuals and their PG13-rated reviews (e.g., Thought & Action), form a vast fluff barrier in defense of the status quo. Many have become thinly disguised sales agents of themselves, often diversionary, substance-less verbosity. Some even adorn a transparent, faux-radical veneer (e.g., the nation's so-called ‘tenured radicals’).
Dear American Dissident: I'm sorry the Thought & Action Review Panel did not find the article you sent right for our journal. We do appreciate the submission, and the panel would be willing to review anything else you wish to submit that you think would interest our higher education readership. Best Wishes, C.L.
Dear Con Lehane, Ed.: As mentioned, I am distressed by the total lack of indignation on your part relative to the substance of my essay. (No Response)
Dear American Dissident: I'm balancing good vs bad. I agree with alot of what you say, believe me. Since Don Lee [editor, Ploughshares] is a friend of mine, etc. Would it be possible to get the point across without blatantly naming names? Toning it down a bit? I know you probably don't want to, and I don't blame you if you feel strongly against it. -M. Neff, Ed. Webdelsol.com, Locus of Literary Art on the WWW
Dear Michael Neff: I am confused regarding your admission that you believe in “a lot of what I say.” By declaring this, you seem to be making a confession that you are not being true to yourself. Moreover, how can I eliminate Don Lee's name, amongst others, if I am quoting him? Would putting the Managing Editor of Ploughshares without his name make a difference? Clearly, Don Lee's words are so revealing of the inner workings of the academic literary game that I cannot simply delete them from my essay. Recall what he said: “Hardly anything ever gets published from the slush pile, and we don't expect [them to]. The function of our readers in going through the slush is to find incipient talent. If we like someone, we'll send a note, and the next time around that writer will bypass the slush.” My underscoring Lee's statement ought help educate new or unknown writers and otherwise deter them from wasting their time and energy. Lee has wasted my time, postage and energy. Everybody in this free country seems so bizarrely fearful of naming names. The great worry of lawsuit keeps the citizenry in their proper place. It keeps the graft and corruption, intellectual or other, running smoothly and the corrupt happy-go-lucky. Should I be surprised that you and Don Lee are friends? Of course not. I've already written an essay on in-breeding, rampant cronyism and back-slapping in academe. The problem with the extensive network of academic literati, and networking in general, is that when everybody is friends, criticism either disappears or becomes scandalously diluted and literature, of course, suffers tremendously. Finally, “toning down,” of course, would simply render me another whore in the nation's far-reaching literary prostitution ring. “Toning down” is the key point of my entire essay... “toning down” to the level of sameness. I'd rather let “Sameness: Defining Trait of the Typical University of X Literary Review” remain unpublished than join the ranks of America's literati and media whores The whole point is that literature has become a game where everyone knows everyone. You don't or can't get published unless you know somebody in the literary circle. Webdelsol knows the editor of Ploughshares and vice versa. The editor of Ploughshares knows the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, who knows the editor of Poets & Writers. You and they have become a protected group like a species on the verge. Protected from hunters like myself, hunting for hypocrisy, deceit, clubbiness, fame game, backslapping, and all the other traits currently destroying literature in America. Literature in your high circles does not criticize the plutocracy because editors, publishers and writers in those very circles are the plutocracy. I shall keep barking at your academic rearends and, like a lone pitbull, intend to stay there until I'm dead. Now, if you would still like to publish the essay as is, go for it, break away from the clique... or continue chatting at those NY-Boston black tie cocktail parties. (No response)
Dear Nancy Bernhard, Associate Ed. The Long Term View: A Journal of Informed Opinion (Massachusetts School of Law): I like the lofty subtitle: “A Journal of Informed Opinion.” “A Journal of Informed Spreading of Plutocratic Garbage” might be better, though. In any case, I am not surprised, given your academic background, of your total lack of interest regarding my article on legalized nepotism in Massachusetts. Yes, I too have a PhD but do not advertise it because I've met far too many lowlifes and sheepish cowards dressed in the black robe and tasseled pinto hat during my 14 years of college teaching. I've also met far too many lawyers who just don't give a damn about justice... only CLOSURE and the DOLLAR BILL. Shame on your stinking profession, Dershowitz, and all of you. It will surely help bring this great nation down into the dumpster. God save America. Enjoy your summer. (No response)
Dear Matthew Kearney (member, Georgia Council of the Arts): Thank you for your submission. I have read your poems and do not find them adequate for the American Dissident, which needs in-the-trenches, confrontational, angry, antiestablishment pieces. It needs, for example, writing highly critical of the nation's fraudulent public educational system. Also, the AD is particularly unfriendly to members of literary panels, be they Georgia Council for the Arts or the Massachusetts Council for the Arts. These Councils serve the corrupt American oligarchy, literary mediocrity, image-ridden fluff, obfuscation, and generally disengaged writing. The AD wants tough writing with Dylan Thomas rage, Arthur Rimbaud "et le poète soul engueulait l'univers," and Emersonian speak the rude truth. Feel free to resubmit.
Dear American Dissident: I understand, now, the focus of AD, and I applaud its mission. Most of my poetry, though formal and subtle, places into question not merely our established institutions, but our culture, language, and place in sense of time, geography and identity. I'll try to put some of those in the mail. Unfortunately, even someone like me who is struggling against the establishment, becomes, as I move toward “success” co-opted by it. The Georgia Council of the Arts is new for me, and some other groups of which I've become part of the hierarchy. I think more than anything that's the difficulty for the American artist. Success, even when we rage against it, leads to being swallowed, digested, and actively part of the machine. Thanks for the quick turn-around on the material and the honest feedback. I wish AD success, but to a measured degree, lest it become “establishtized.”
Dear Library of Congress (firstname.lastname@example.org): What is the Library of Congress doing for the dissident sector in America? Would the library help fund my review, the American Dissident? I shall stop here, because I sincerely doubt that anyone will answer this missive. Isn't that what America has become, Robot responses or no responses from the nation's politicos and foundations? (No Response!)
Dear Dr. Agnew: Are you related to Spiro? Did you vote for Spiro? What an asinine idea: assembling an anthology with “happily aging boomers who re-joined the rat-race”... after parading around as hippie flower children, I add. I place your Poets & Writers advert on my hall of horrors list right next to Palm Springs Life: “for wealthy, upscale people who live and/or play in the desert.” Why not just call your anthology: HOW TO SELL OUT YOUR IDEALS: STORIES FROM 60s TURNCOATS? You could even add to the hypocrisy by prefacing it with a quote from Emerson: “We must walk upright and speak the rude truth in all its ways.” So much goddamn corruption in your ivory tower and this is all you could come up with? I pity you and that Faustian deal you made so very long ago. Yeah, get fat, get clone children, get pension payments, grant monies, then cancer, then croak. (No response)
Dear Janet Landman (Psych prof at Babson College): Thanks for your submission and interest in the American Dissident. Your writing is very good. Unfortunately, I felt the theme a bit frivolous. You mention Clinton as opposed to Teddy K.. But aren't they still boating together on the Vineyard? In any case, I hope you might resubmit and even spread the news of my existence. I could sure use your support. In fact, I could sure use the support of academe, the NEA, NEH and Mass. Cultural Council. You might wish to read my first editorial and updated guidelines at members.theglobe.com/enmarge. Since there is so much corruption in academe parading around under the misnomer POLITICS, perhaps you might wish to treat that subject RE Babson College. I would certainly be willing to publish such an essay. You might also wish to ask yourself why Babson would never hire a blacklisted professor like me, who blew the whistle to the deaf ears of Massachusetts on corruption at Fitchburg State and state public higher education in general. Indeed, my three letters of recommendation have since diminished to one. You might wish to ponder what those three letters really represent: Certified Fearing, Fawning and Following. I hope you might prove different from all the other academics I've contacted, relative to matters of academic corruption. But I shall hold no illusions. Clearly, higher education has sabotaged America, selling the country off to corporations. Today, higher education is indoctrination, no longer bastion of American first principles. (No Response)
Dear American Dissident: After making some phone calls I have decided not to do the story. As you said, the records are indeed confidential. I spoke with a consultant to Massachusetts State College Association, and she confirmed that the collective bargaining agreement keeps arbitration records confidential. Mary Scott from Human Resources at FSC cannot discuss the matter per the terms of the agreement: "Records are absolutely confidential." [...] -M. Charalambous, reporter Massachusetts News
Dear M. Charalambous: No problem and no disappointment... and no surprise. As mentioned I'd already tried just about everyone and everything. The issue that you and the media cannot, or simply refuse, to grasp is: Why the secrecy in public institutions? How can the public verify anything relative to the state colleges? How can you as a citizen verify that there is or is not rampant corruption, cronyism, nepotism and favoritism at a public college, if all records are confidential? By the way, it has always been strange to me that nobody wishes to consult the stack of documents that I possess that prove all of my assertions. God help you. And God help public higher education. If Massachusetts News is so very interested in public education, which I assume it really is not, then it will have to look into this matter of secrecy. (No response)
Dear Northwoods Journal (ME): Can I interest you in a tough essay on poetry in America today? -The American Dissident
Dear American Dissident: Don't know, haven't seen it. Allowing me to think mercenary for a moment; how will its publication increase sales? -Best, Bob
Dear Bob: It should diminish sales. Anything that's done right, that is, in line with Emerson's speak the rude truth should always diminish sales. So the question is: truth or dollars? -The American Dissident (Bob actually ended up publishing that essay! There are some tough guys out there... but like looking for the needle in the stack, eh?