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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Get Called Out. I Respond.

I called Jason Bredle a cry baby for complaining about solicted work being rejected. And I brought up this comment written by Jason Bredle when I asked in a recent post if he knew that Elisa Gabbert had just been published by Typo.

I'm terrible. I know, I know. In response Jason left this comment:

Hi Eduardo,

I didn't know about this because I don't follow the contemporary poetry scene very closely. I used to, but I found that watching others' successes alongside all of my own failures as a writer and a person to be too hurtful to me emotionally. It seeped into my personal life, I lost friendships because of how it affected my attitude and my self-esteem. Weirdly, after deciding to stop following poetry, one of my books won a prize. It made me feel good because it made me feel like perhaps I wasn't a failure and being true to what was inside me was worthwhile after all. However, I continue to not really follow poetry because I still don't have the power to keep from taking a lot of things personally, even though I know that I shouldn't. It's great that so many other writers have that power, but I just don't. I once did, but I lost it between 2000 and 2004 - I graduated from an MFA program with a very earnest belief that "the art of poetry" would prevail over everything, including all the business and networking aspects already in place, and I would be a part of that. Obviously now that I'm older I realize how naive and stupid it was to think that. And then I experienced four years of having much of my earnestness and beliefs crushed - I moved to a city for a girl who never loved me, who lied to me and left me, I was diagnosed with and now suffer from a degenerative cornea condition that has changed my life, and I spent two years temping, being turned away for real jobs the entire time, all while rejection after rejection after rejection piled up in the background.

So how did I end up here at your blog? I have a google alert for myself because I love to occasionally find someone who's read something I've written and is engaged in the thing I've written. Reading others' comments about my own poems and how they might relate to their lives or how they're thinking about poetry reminds me of the earnestness I felt about poetry when I was younger, and for brief, illuminating moments makes me feel like "poetry" is, indeed, meaningful. On Keith's blog, I admitted that the post I had on my website for about a week regarding solicitations/rejections was written in a time of hurt and was a mistake to post - I'm a person and I make mistakes - I had done it hastily and from a place of emotion rather than intelligence. I hadn't even thought about Elisa in over a year - since the time she told my friend that she liked my poems in our chapbook. Elisa responded to Keith's post, making the issue about her. Your comments still hurt a lot, though - I find them snide, passive agressive and mean-spirited, and based on very little actual information. What do you know about me? You've never written me to find out anything about me, never gotten to know me or tried to understand what I might really be like in real life, so it doesn't seem like you know that much about me.

Jason


Here is my response:

Hi Jason,

My comments were snide and mean-spirited. I'm like that sometimes on my blog. And I make no apologies for my blog persona. If you felt hurt by my comments then I hope you got over them quickly. Life is too short to dwell on what folks may think of you.

I don't know. You don't know me. So I'm surprised you would be hurt by my comments. Maybe I'm a hard-hearted poet. I’ve learned how to deal with negative attacks/ comments. I don't let them hurt me emotionally. Growing up fat, queer, and brown in America will give you thick skin.

If you let comments by strangers hurt you then there's nothing I can do to alleviate that hurt. It's your problem. Not mine.

I do admire your frankness. Your jealousy and competitiveness with your peers is common but often not talked about. I’ve seen some of my classmates at Iowa seethe with jealousy. I’ve watched some Iowa peeps give up writing because they weren’t “keeping up” with the awards and book deals of classmates. Sad, sad, sad. Reading that a prize made you feel like you weren’t a failure makes me sad too. I’ve never let awards/ fellowships define me. And conversely, I’ve never let the lack of awards/ fellowships define me.

I still believe Poetry soars above all the noise of the po-biz. I’ve learned how to separate the backstabbing, the gossip, the blatant career climbing from the true work at hand: the writing of good poems. Call me crazy, but I want to write at least one poem that will stand the test of time. I know the odds are stacked against me. Against most of us. A wise poet recently told me that most of the poems published in our lifetime will be totally forgotten. The Void will win out.

I promise I won't make anymore snarky comments about you on my blog. Though may I suggest you delete the Google alert for your name? It doesn't make sense to expose yourself to negative comments if you can't handle them.

Thank you for your comment, Jason. All the best to you.

5 comments:

bjanepr said...

Wow. This letter to you is almost TMI (was it cool with him for you to blog his email to you?).

I will say this much: there are so many poets who take stuff so personally, such hurt and oversensitive people in the po-biz world.

Rather than say "get over it," I'd advise, as you have, that poets develop a thicker skin. If a poet can't handle criticism now, how is s/he going to be able to handle it when the book reviews and academic papers about the poet's book(s) start showing up in journals and other pubs?

Eduardo C. Corral said...

hey bjr,

he left what i posted as a comment. he didn't send it as an email.

and yes: tmi.

bjanepr said...

hey eduardo, thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

Eduardo is a big asshole.

--La Virgen de Guadalupe

Elisa Gabbert said...

I liked your response Eduardo.

Re: your Typo post, I was actually laughing at my own expense rather than Jason's, or at the whole situation. It's the slow foetry movement -- I was rejected the first time I sent to Typo and waited two years to try again.