Monday, November 05, 2007

Sexism in Poetry?

Big discussion over at Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's blog regarding the numbers (real stats folks) in relation to women and publishing. Is this a shock to anyone? Really? I'm thankful to Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young for doing this work. It's important work, thankless, and generally gets you nowhere. And great that the Chicago Review has published this, provided the graphics, and made the essays available on their website for those of you who don't subscribe.

For my part: I don't argue anymore, I just take up space. And occasionally add a few statistics of my own, as in this old post on the Paris Review. Look for the essay on contemporary Canadian poetry in the next issue of Gulf Coast Review for a few other tidbits. And forgive the typo. Well, the one I found, there's probably more than that...

**As an end note to this...I just noticed another post on the topic over at Poetry Foundation in which one of the editors notes that many more pitches come from men than do women...

What bores me about this discussion is its obviousness...and the language of reviewing/blogging just keeps a lot of women and people who are just getting their poetry-legs out of the discussion.

What also bores me is the blatant "us" and "them" exhibited in the Poetry Foundation's editorial attitude:
Are these experimental types now the status quo? Do they crave recognition and economic security as much as the rest of us?
Huh?? And huh again:
Another way to say this is that Aragon, Spahr, and Young are primarily concerned with the results of literary production and where they are placed; whereas as an editor, I’m primarily concerned with circulating those results—the poems—among readers. Great writing about poetry—all kinds of poetry—stimulates interest in it and so improves its chances of being read.
Good lord, who (particularly women...) has the time to craft a lengthy, articulate response to any of this stuff... And why don't "editors" learn to accept the fact that if they are myopic, what they publish will also be...a thin slice of what they know and like. Is that so hard to understand? Is it so hard to understand that because an editor publishes only what he knows doesn't make what he knows the status quo. And I say "he" because really, I'm pretty tired of looking for the "shes" or the others of any variety...

Read outside of your comfort zones. Invite other voices. Why give the same old voices that know how to hustle themselves the same spot at the table over and over that how editors show their concern, their well thought out choices that are going to stimulate interest as the Poetry Foundation blogger seems to suggest? By taking what is being placed in their lap??

Yup, yup, and yup. Small world just gets smaller.

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