Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Last post

Well - we gave it a shot.

I thought maybe if we had a spot outside of the Clevelandpoetics list serve to have an opportunity to expound in more detail - provide an outlet for varied opinion that was a bit more user friendly than a list that went unfiltered to 500 plus folks. A place where conversation could be uncensored but not intrusive, a place where feathers could be ruffled respectfully without becoming mean spirited; I intended to merely set up the site and let it run – much in the same way as the Clevelandpoetics list serve is really no one person’s - that was the intent for this blog. To get the ball rolling then get out of the way.

I think we almost achieved that – at least we raised some hackles and had a little fun too. I had more than one request to remove a posting or a poll but I felt if the author was willing to put it up I would honor my oxymoronic promise of hands off moderation. I later learned this policy ended up costing me in the end but I still believe it was the right course.

Even so, unfortunately in this day and age of social networking and oversaturation of info it is really hard to keep the ideas coming. One can only ask so much of a volunteer staff. I thought maybe there was a need for this blog in fact I still do think it is a good idea, we just didn’t hit the right note this time out.

I don’t consider this throwing in the towel – more like stepping back and reevaluating what to try next. Thanks to all who have written and commented here – all have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Nothing is going to change over at the list serve and we’ll keep the doors open here for another week or so.



John B. Burroughs said...

Just a few ideas....

Maybe triple the staff. I thought (and still think) you did a fine job of choosing the staff. All have talent, much to contribute, and different perspectives and areas of expertise. But at the same time, all have busy non-cyber lives and/or careers. If you increase the number of staff from 8 to (say) 24, you may risk losing a bit of quality control, but you'll also likely get a lot more involvement and variety. Though I have my own blog and site, I'd be happy to contribute to ClevelandPoetics: The Blog upon occasion. I'm sure others would too. But frankly, I'm more likely to do so if I can post as will and whim dictate without suggesting an idea to a moderator, awaiting a response, etc. Sometimes impulsiveness is good for getting the body engaged. You've been very helpful and accomodating the couple of times I've submitted an idea/poem/blog. But I think for the forum to thrive, it needs either (1) a devoted full-time contributor/moderator/promoter/instigator for whom it's more than just a side project or (2) to have the doors thrown wide open so anyone (or at least a lot more people) can contribute at will to (and feel invested in) the endeavor - even if what they post is controversial, even if they might occasionally use off-color language. Essentially (1) more hands on or (2) hands more off.... If "the people" feel it's their blog as much as anyone else's, they'll be more likely to get (and stay) involved. I think the list serve remains more vital than the blog because anyone can post anything at anytime. Of course that means occasionally we get bullsh!t in the inbox - just like democracy in government means sometimes we get bullsh!t in office. But I think the benefits of democracy make the risks worth taking.

Shelley Chernin said...

Sorry to see a good thing end. I checked in regularly, enjoyed reading, and commented only very occasionally. Never thought I'd use this term to describe myself, but I guess I'm part of the "silent majority." Perhaps there are more readers out there than you think. I wonder whether there's a way to count.

I like the idea of more regular contributors. Thirty-some people, each maybe committed to one post a month, wouldn't burden any one person, but would keep up a steady stream of posts, and hopefully conversations. It would be great to have a diverse group of contributors that reaches into some of the far corners of the poetry community, which tends to be pretty fragmented. Thank you to Mike and all the other contributors. I'll especially miss Henry Maxwell Stearns' posts on Lesser Forms.

Anonymous said...

I'll be sad to see the blog go. I enjoyed the mix of community oriented and poetics oriented that made this blog stand out.

I like the idea of opening up a bit, as suggested above. If nothing else, at least leave the blog online; the field guides are worth preserving.

pottygok said...

I'm not sure why you're closing the doors? I think, like any blog or message board, things might simply be in a state of hibernation. Sometimes everyone gets busy all at once--April/May seems to be a hectic time, especially if a lot of the staff are educators readying for finals. I'm sure that, in the summer, I'll have a lot more time to dedicate to blogging. I know I've got at least two books waiting for reviews, I just haven't had time to read them, let alone review them.

I think if you keep things open through the summer, it'll pick up again. I agree on the idea of a few more contributors, though. More voices, regular voices, can only help by giving readers more to discuss.

michael salinger said...

I have no qualms with bringing more folks on board. The intention behind starting this was to give a place for more in depth conversation. I had hoped to create an opportunity and then step into the background.

I still think the site is a good idea – but having it languish with no activity is a pretty sad state of affairs. When the only posts left were the Field Guide and Blind Review for long stretches it gave credence to those who would like to assume this blog somehow belonged to me. This was never my intent – and, if there are folks who want this to continue I’d be happy to bring on a dozen or so more contributors. Maybe we would need to instate a policy that if no posts were made by a writer in over a month they are dropped? I’m way open for suggestions – I do not want to be part of a fallow endeavor though, I can accept that maybe there is no need for this forum with all the other outlets of communication available. Attempting this project has not been without consequences.

Seems that some in the community felt I should have been stricter with editorial policy – not allowing views that may not be wholly in line with a certain board I was on be voiced. These critics could not separate the fact that I opened an account and then threw the doors open to the folks I asked to contribute (the list of those asked was three times the number of those who accepted.)

Well, I can guarantee that if we do resuscitate this thing – I will not censor anyone gracious enough to volunteer their time.

Anonymous said...

I must concur; currently I'm engaged in a mandatory rest period, but I plan to resume my contributions upon my return/escape.

--Henry Maxwell Stearns

Pressin On said...

i have a similar feeling of frustration regarding Lake Erie Effect Poetry fest. over and again i read the same sentiment here and in the listserve, that people feel it is always the same poets reading or in the spot light.

i invited and still do invite one and all to pick a time slot and hold their own reading. it is as inclusive as it gets---you want to read, or want your friend to, make that happen.

with May's tres versing the panda fest i had to give the mic to mainly the folks traversing the map to get here. and then i filled in with cronyism, or the first few people who inquired about participating. as it is i have a dozen poets at each reading--almost overload!

so i presented LEEP.. to be inclusive as anyone makes it. a chance for all the poets in this city to have a stage. it could take place as early as 2010---but collectively we need to set a date, and collectively we need to pull it off.

literally, if YOU want to go to lakeeffectpoetry.blogspot.com right NOW and set the date, it
could be The Date. but maybe people were kidding around when they signed in here to say they do want a city-wide inclusive fest.
i can rest on my laurels but think it would be swell--proof, even, of the community i know exists here.

Kate the Great said...

I just found this blog today! You can't shut your doors now when there is so much more exploring to do!

Theresa Göttl Brightman said...

I too admit that I haven't commented much lately...but that doesn't mean that I've stopped checking in. This is a problem that a lot of bloggers encounter, I believe: the misconception that lack of commenting means lack of readership. I think it's a shame to see this page fall by the wayside.

...and I'd be happy to try ruffling some feathers myself.

John B. Burroughs said...

Out (Not Fade Away)
- Jesus Crisis, 4/29/2009

I did what I did and I knew what I knew
And it all came to nothing
Maybe if I did what I knew and knew what I did
It would have come to something
But then again maybe I
Both knew and did
Long before I was young
And it still came to nothing

What's new

Someone with no clue how to fix his or her life
Told me how to fix mine
Gave me some books or records they thought
Divine sublime or something of the sort
And whether I took their advice or not
It all came to naught
Like when I
Played wreckereds or gave books
To other folks
Who thought
They were nothing

They just folking stared
Maybe the extra are
In scarred or out

Our scared

Though I could not tell front from behind
The pearls from swine
Before I knew what it meant to kneel
I gave my advice a swell
I gave ad
I gave vice
I gave sugar and spice
Naughty and nice
Head to the shoo
And it all came to something resembling little
More than anything at all
But me and you

Who am I fooling
No matter how many worlds of words I put it into
It still comes to nothing

I traded in my bicycle for care
My care for a car
My car for another car
My other better car for the same old bicycle
And this endless cycle for more care
But it all came to nothing

I read books and did chores
Distinguished between bores
And boars and boors
But could never extinguish
Wars and worse

And though I tried to rush her
All I did was hush her
Perhaps even crush her but
I could never crush hearses
And they still came
To nothing

I wrote and I wrote
And I typed and I typed
I wrote about this type or that
I typed about this rote or that
Rotor this
Wrote her that
And it all turned to piss
Or even less
Till no one in particular hit the flusher
And it all went to shit

But in spite of it I wrote on
Rode on
Right on
Rye dawn
Rite yawn

It all grew tired
Beautifully turned dutifully
And mutually undesired
Until untied began to end up
Reminding me of united
Except out of order and unrequited

In other words
It all came to nothing

When I found myself just pulling the levers
Trying to be clever
Dying to be better
And better at dying
I wondered what's the use trying
It's all coming to nothing anyway

Why not shut the fuck up and let it
And try to forget it

I drove tanks into banks
And I drank and I drank
And I sank and I stank
And it all came to nothing

I sat sober two decades
Even then I decayed
And grew more and more dismayed
As it all fell apart
And even my heart and hard
Drive came to nothing

So I finally gave up
Figured screw the indoors
I'd make love to the outdoors
Fuck the chores
Maybe have a sun
Who unlike me could successfully run
From everything that comes to nothing
Including myself
And this cold old earth

If I had to succumb
I'd at least go out feeling
Enlightened and warm
At least go out feeling like something
Hotter than cold
More young than old

So the sun starts to blaze and
Coming out of yore
And my haze I no longer wish
To earn and yearn
My way to a wormy grave

Fuck being grounded
Give me an urn

Kneel young is right
It's better to burn

Spirit Poems said...

I think you nail it when you talk about overexposure on the internet...blogs, list serves, etc. Yet, as our newspapers shrink art coverage or dissapear altogehter, the need for good talk about writing remains. I think maybe it's just living through waves of interest and concern. As with the coffeehouse readings, we just persist because the need remains for "good talk."

e b bortz said...

"success" should never be gauged
by mainstream media (or even mainstream literary)standards...hasn't poetry always been alienation and of "the other" (?)

celebrate the uncontrollable...this blog has many readers.

John B. Burroughs said...

Obviously there are details I don't know, which could make whatever I might say ignorant on some level. But whoever determined to make your relatively hands-off "moderation" of this blog "cost" you should be ashamed. To restrict freedom of expression to further one's agenda or cause - or for any reason - is in my mind totally antithetical to art. If a position/organization/whatever cannot withstand healthy debate, it is incapable of evolution and might even deserve dissolution. I know it's easy to be discouraged - I've been there - I am there. But I applaud you - especially for the statement "Well, I can guarantee that if we do resuscitate this thing – I will not censor anyone gracious enough to volunteer their time" - but not just that, for all the work you've put into this.

Dianne Borsenik said...

I'm afraid I'm another one of the readers who, although I've enjoyed the postings and comments, hasn't commented all that much myself. But I do feel that it would be a shame to lose this forum. And if my active participation would help to revitalize this blog, count me in. I could do a blog a month. Please reconsider, Michael.

michael salinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michael salinger said...

“over and again i read the same sentiment here and in the listserve, that people feel it is always the same poets reading or in the spot light.”Yeah – I’ve seen that too and have consciously cut down on the readings I do in town and pulled back from attending and organizing events because of this sentiment as well. We talk about having a “community” but once one garners a modicum of “success” whether it is national publication or a positive reputation outside the region one dons a target on their back because so many cannot believe that hard work coupled with talent equals accomplishment. It is assumed that there is always some ulterior motive or secret cabal that is propping folks up. I’ve seen this in spades in the performance poetry community. Then too, there are those who only feel accomplished by tearing down others. This puts any organizer at risk.

“I think you nail it when you talk about overexposure on the internet...blogs, list serves, etc. Yet, as our newspapers shrink art coverage or disappear altogether, the need for good talk about writing remains.”Which is why this blog was started – to provide an opportunity to discuss at greater length ideas and concerns outside of the list serve which is geared more toward announcements than debate. Over at the list serve though debate would crop up once and awhile and jam folk’s mailboxes – this site is an attempt to ease that tide and provide an alternative venue – for example the most recent haiku/Jazz Police thread – interesting to a subset of the whole membership – but do all 500 plus members want to receive every response to that thread? Maybe they do – I don’t know. Of course there is plenty of room for reviews and other fun here at the bog as well.

"success" should never be gauged by mainstream media (or even mainstream literary)standards...hasn't poetry always been alienation and of "the other"Success for me would be a site where we have at least a post a day from varied voices – the one thing I disagree with John a little on is having one person who is the Big Kahuna behind the site. I envision something more along a quasi organized melee. The intent was not for the blog to “belong” to anyone. I did do a little layout editing on other’s posts – but I would never change copy. Justifying type and changing font sizes on leads is not editing in my book it’s just trying to provide a streamlined look without imposing a style book on volunteer contributors. This blog needs varied voices to speak to the alienated. Every contributor had full access to the editing tools.

“But whoever determined to make your relatively hands-off "moderation" of this blog "cost" you should be ashamed.”Yeah – that kinda sucked but it comes with the territory I guess. We get this thing cranked up again with a bunch of new contributors I might tell the whole story.

“And if my active participation would help to revitalize this blog, count me in. I could do a blog a month. Please reconsider, Michael.”My deciding to call it quits – give it a rest – whatever becomes of this was not a call to be asked to reconsider (although the sentiment is appreciated.) There is nothing stopping anyone from creating an account and inviting folks to share their ideas. That’s all I did. Now – I’d love to re-launch this thing with a dozen added writers and I think maybe that’s where we’ll leave it. If we get a dozen folks who want to contribute on a semi-regular basis we will give it another shot. FAIR WARNING to all the nit pickers out there. We will not be censoring content if we re-launch. In fact, if I may, I would like to foment MORE opinionated comment, MORE honest reviews, MORE questioning and investigation of authority and institutions rather than less.

And of course - we need to remember - whatever is written here probably won't result in a cure for cancer. There are more serious things in the world.

Shelley Chernin said...

I'll volunteer. Clearly, I have nothing to contribute to curing cancer.

And thank you, Mike, for putting your time and energy into this project. Although I understand that there's more of the story to be told, I appreciate your honesty about about the frustrations that you've encountered.

John B. Burroughs said...


Maybe everything comes to something after all. ;)

And for those critics who've complained that "it is always the same poets reading or in the spot light," I'd like to point out that I'm reading at Tres Versing the Panda - and this is the first time I will have ever read (or been invited to read) at a poetry festival - in fact, it's the first time I'll have even attended a poetry festival. And as of May 8/9/10 of last year (2008), I had never even attended a poetry reading or open mic in my life. So there IS new blood, contrary to popular belief! I suppose one could argue that I've gotten plenty of spotlight in other ways this past year. To that I would argue it was spotlight I created. I created my own website, took my own photos, tried to write some decent poetry, carried my butt to tons of readings, published my own (and other people's) work, and (with Dianne B.) created my (our) own monthly poetry event. It doesn't make me special - it's something anyone else with a modicum of talent and desire can do. And I encourage you to do so. I'm just glad we live in a place where we have so many worthy poets it's hard as hell to fit 'em all in a whole weekend of readings. We're fortunate. If you feel you're lacking opportunity, create your own. And let's all together celebrate the vibrancy of Cleveland's poetry scene(s). Ian Hunter hit the bullseye when he said "Cleveland Rocks."

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Well, as somebody who is a reader of clevelandpoetics: the blog, and not a poster, I'll have to say I'd be a little sad to see it die.

To some extent in a blog like this you'll expect to see some ebb and flow of posting, since some months you'll find that everybody is totally overbooked with other work. It's easy to say, well, in that case, somebody has to go canvass the neighborhood for people to write guest posts, but, that "somebody" somehow seems to always mean "work for Michael!" and I can see that this could get a little tedious for you after a while if you're the one doing all the pushing, and nobody else is chipping in.

It makes sense to try to get all the staff to pitch in, but what can you do, threaten to cut their paychecks? Might be worth reminding your staff that a post doesn't have to be a long, beautiful essay, but can be as little as a single link to an interesting site you found recently, saying what's interesting about it.

Jesus Crisis has, I think, the best short-term suggestion, which is to increase the staff. If more people are posting top-level posts, there's less of a tendency to have a week with nothing new. And, it might be useful to find a way to make it easier for people to do guest posts.

p.s.: word verification of the day = "abingory." My spell-checker suggests this is a misspelling of "binger". YMMV.

Poetic Genesis said...

I'm a part of the list serve and often check the blog (though I may not comment). I would hate to see it go. Plus, with blogger, once someone deletes the blog the name stays and all kinds of net ads are added to the page. I think a lot of thought and effort was put into this and it takes more than the time it's been up to really see it's value.

I'd hate to see it go, but as a blogger, I understand.

Stay peace


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau