Instapoetry & Literary Criticism; or You’re Free to Express Your Opinion, unless You Aren’t

 

  • “PG doesn’t claim to be an expert on all 21st century poets and writers, but doubts any have written anything like the following excerpts…” — David Vandagriff (aka PG) states his personal point of view, then proceeds with this quote from The Solitary Reaper, 1807 by Wordsworth:

I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

It’s fair to assume PG is not Rupi Kaur’s fan. What if he decided to criticize her Instapoetry? He wouldn’t be ostracized because of his poetic preferences, would he?..

  • “Most often, it seems, when the poet in question is a young woman of color, critics will be particularly intent on proving by a+b why her brand of poetry is blandly generic, consumerist in nature, trite and predictable. This is also often the opportunity for critics to dish out their definitions of what characterizes “good” or “bad” poetry—and those definitions are often shaped by voices from past centuries. Those voices most often happen to be older, if not dead, straight white males, and the critics justify their choice by highlighting the supposed impermanence and universality of their criticism. … Hailing Wordsworth as the end-all in terms of how we must consider poetry implies we’re erasing so much context—political, social, economic, cultural—from the equation. (How could you possibly use Harold Bloom to talk about gender, outside of a narrow, hypermasculine view?) ” — argues A.K. Afferez.

She condemns the practice of placing moral labels “good/bad” on texts. By analogy, placing a label “bad” on human beings, and marginalizing them because of their sexuality, race, and genderstraight, white malesseems “at best misguided”, doesn’t it?

Do you question “the profound instability, the slipperiness of any (italics mine) written text”? Do you always feel free to voice your opinion?

Share in the comments.

  • The notorious “toxic masculinity” may have a profound effect on a female writer:

“I had a really good father, and two really good grandfathers, and three really good brothers—far more men in my life than women, in fact. Probably that’s why I don’t think of male characters as being all that foreign to me. The biggest stretch I’ve had to make is reminding myself that men need to shave in the morning.” — Anne Tyler.

If you enjoyed the post, press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

 

Image: Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

 

 

 

 

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Ouch! The Real Cost of Poetry Book Contests

Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort)

“Everyone, including aspiring poets, including even those stuck in the MFA system, would be better off if the contest system were abolished, and publishers once again took responsibility for promoting individual strong aesthetics, rather than outsourcing the decision at every stage, and supporting safe conformist meeting-room-style outcomes.”

“Numerous contest finals and wins validated my work. Indeed, I ultimately found my agent and publisher through contests.” — Kristin Bartley Lenz

So, how do you feel about contests? Share in the comments.

  • In case you feel like entering a free poetry contest, try the rhupunt challenge for a chance to get published in Writer’s Digest.

If you like this post, press the “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

 

Image credit: Paul Cézanne. Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort), 1896–1898. Oil on canvas, Overall: 51 3/16 x 38 3/8 in. (130 x 97.5 cm). BF929. Public Domain.

 

 

 

 

 

“Curious Wonder” vs. “Critical Judgement”, or Ways to Read Poetry

Reading (La Lecture)

  • Emily Dickinson is nobody’s business but my own. I will not share her with anyone. I would no more tell you about my relationship with her poems than I would tell you about a love affair. If she is yours, I hope you feel the same way.” —  from Mary Ruefle’s essay “My Emily Dickinson” quoted in The Paris Review
  • “Some are surprised that the rigorous analytical approach PG learned to apply to poetry has served him quite well in analyzing contracts and other legal documents.” — from the Passive Guy’s post on The Passive Voice blog

How do you read poetry? Do you as a reader note, for instance, prosody — the patterns of rhythm and sound? In your opinion, should poetry be analyzed? Simply enjoyed? Both? Do share in the comments.

  • Just one more thing (as Columbo would say): head over to Indies Unlimited to vote for your favorite flash fiction entry (will it be mine?). Hurry: the voting closes at 5 pm Pacific time today. Thank you.
  • For some strange technical reason when I post the link to the voting page, it doesn’t open properly: it shows the results, and doesn’t give you an option to vote. So, if you really really want to vote for your favorite entry, please go to Indies Unlimited, open the post ‘Which “Ocean of Sand” Flash Fiction Story Gets Your Vote?’, and vote from there. This should work. Thank you.

And if you enjoyed this post, press those “like” and “share” buttons. Thank you again.

Image credit: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Reading (La Lecture), c. 1891. Oil on canvas, Overall: 18 1/8 x 22 1/16 in. (46 x 56 cm). BF107. Public Domain.

 

Men & Women of Letters vs. Content Providers, or Writing in The Age of Computers

On the Beach

“The virtues of the ­computer—faster, easier, simpler—are vices when it comes to writing. The pen personalizes the labor of writing, reminding us that we are responsible for what we write.” — from PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE HAND by Mark Bauerlein

Anne Tyler writes in longhand, then revises in sections in “quite small and distinct handwriting – it is almost like knitting a novel”. When the “knitting” is done, she types up the manuscript, then writes it out in longhand — again. The whole thing.

Anne Tyler is not alone in her love for the old-fashioned tools of the trade (in particular, white paper with no lines, and a Pilot P500 gel pen), but some writers take it to the extreme:

“A blank computer screen makes me want to throw up,” says Niven Govinden. “It’s not conducive to good writing.” Or is it? What do you think?

Are you drawn to the old-fashioned? Do you write longhand? Do you find the soft glow of a computer screen exciting and inspiring? Share in the comments.

If you’ve enjoyed the post, do press those “like” and “share” buttons. Thank you.

Image credit: Maurice Brazil Prendergast. On the Beach, 1896–1897. Watercolor with graphite underdrawing on wove paper, Overall: 13 3/4 x 10 in. (34.9 x 25.4 cm). BF695. Public Domain.

To Pay, or Not To Pay; or the Pros & Cons of Submission Fees in Poetry (& Other Kinds of) Publishing

Child Reading (Enfant lisant)

What’s your take on submission fees? Do you keep track of what you spend on submissions? Are you planning to pay-to-play in 2018? Share in the comments.

In case you’re leaning toward fee-free options, Erica Verrillo regularly posts lists of free contests, as well as lists of paying markets, for all genres.

Image credit: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Child Reading (Enfant lisant), early 1890s. Oil on canvas, Overall: 12 13/16 x 16 1/4 in. (32.6 x 41.3 cm). BF51. Public Domain.

The Battle of Two Annes, or Real Life in Memoir and Fiction

The Card Players (Les Joueurs de cartes)

Do “you own everything that happened to you”? What if you were not nice to them without realizing it? Is there such a thing as an objective memoir?

Is it okay if your “fiction is taken from real life”? Do writers have a right to appropriate somebody else’s life stories? Do writers “own everything that happened to other people”?

What do you think? Feel free to share your views in the comments.

Image credit: Paul Cézanne. The Card Players (Les Joueurs de cartes), 1890–1892. Oil on canvas, Overall: 53 1/4 x 71 5/8 in. (135.3 x 181.9 cm). BF564. Public Domain.

 

On the Birth of a Song, Originality, & Authority

Houses and Figure

  • “…the song — it’s not important that anybody knows the genesis of it, because if the language comes from that passionate resource, it will be able to embrace all passionate activity.”  Leonard Cohen, CBC Radio Interview (August 26, 1995).

If you do want to know the genesis of “Dance Me To The End Of Love”  here it is.

  • “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” 

 — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  • Does your website have DA (domain authority)? Find out using this free tool. Don’t get discouraged if your DA is low, or even absent — the new year has just begun! Among the factors that increase DA (and chances of Google finding you) is your site’s age. Keep at it.

Image credit: Vincent van Gogh. Houses and Figure, 1890. Oil on canvas, Overall: 20 1/2 x 15 15/16 in. (52 x 40.5 cm). BF136. Public Domain.

On Nino’s Art, Star Wars, & the Power of Persistence

Treat yourself to the magic of Nino Chakvetadze, and have a wonderful 2018.

geotv.ge

“Netflix might show them (science fiction and fantasy) together, but two genres couldn’t be more different.” Is Star Wars sci-fi? Can you add fantasy elements to a sci-fi story? Figure it out with WD help. 

(While you’re at it, read this NBC News article on the same topic.)

“Remember that rejections are a badge of honor. It means you are in the game; people in the industry are reading your work. … And, most importantly, there is no such thing as overnight success. To move forward in this business (or in any business), you must constantly learn, grow, and improve. Work hard and don’t ever give up.” –Kristin Nelson, The Power of Persistence 

 

 

 

On Author Bios, Writers of the Future, & 30 Poetry Prompts

Writing Lesson (La Leçon d'écriture)

To include, or not to include in the bio: that is the question. Find your answer in this post from Robert Lee Brewer, revisit Anne R. Allen’s post on author bios, and write a bio that will help you, and do justice to you, and your work.

Attention, new/amateur writers of sci-fi/fantasy short stories/novelettes. Ron Hubbard’s Writers & Illustrators of the Future is holding a Free Writer Contest with big prizes. Submit your work now. Deadline December 31, 2017. Don’t miss out.

Missed WD November Poem-A-Day (PAD) Chapbook Challenge? Robert Lee Brewer has collected all of his prompts for this year’s November PAD. Write your chapbook now.

 

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Writing Lesson (La Leçon d’écriture), c. 1905. Oil on canvas, Overall: 21 7/16 x 25 13/16 in. (54.5 x 65.5 cm). BF150. Public Domain.

On Poem Sequences , Poetic Xenia, & “Laughter & Smile”

 

Girl with Pink Bonnet (Jeune fille au chapeau rose)

Attention, poets! Have you written, and published, poems that form a sequence when brought together? You might be eligible for the $20,000 Four Quartets Prize. No entry fee. Deadline: December 22, 2017. Submit.

“…poetry is and has been, from its beginnings, not about being cool or mysterious or sad or “deep,” but about the health of the human spirit, which cannot be healthy without xenia (hospitality), cannot be healthy when it denies the inner life, or the outer life, cannot be healthy when it denies the past, or the present, or the future, when it denies life, or death, the visible, or the invisible. The healthy soul, like the gracious host, must welcome every stranger.” — Read Ryan Wilson’s “How To Think Like a Poet”

A free monthly photo contest from childphotocompetition.com. This month’s theme is “Laughter & Smile” — submit your black and white, and color photos, and win!

 

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Girl with Pink Bonnet (Jeune fille au chapeau rose), 1894. Oil on canvas, Overall: 16 5/16 x 13 in. (41.5 x 33 cm). BF118. Public Domain.