Review Of Chris Wong’s Songs For Margaret Cravens

Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 3/10/11


Addendum   Update   5/11/11 Announcement   Yale University Press


  Some time ago I got a request to review a poetry book from a young poet who had spent a few years on my website’s e-list. Over several years I only had a few email exchanges with him, and he seemed content to be what is called a ‘lurker.’ It’s an odd thing to realize that probably less than .01% of people who ever read your work online ever contact you. Those that do, unfortunately, always want something from you. This may be a request to wave a magic wand and make them great writers and artists without expending the effort, or, sometimes, it’s an old acquaintance who contacts me not to catch up, but to ask me to do something for them, without remuneration, just because they have an idea, but don’t want to put in the effort themselves. In the case of stalkers and trolls, this aforementioned lack of contact is a good thing, but in the case of young wannabe writers (and some with talent) it can be frustrating. One watches the hits on one’s site build up, into the millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and even billions, if popular enough, and having a website with many pages, and one notices patterns. Not only the pages and essays that are most popular, but those that vary with the seasons. Or, sometimes a film or book comes out regarding a topic you wrote about years earlier, and out of the raw air a page gets millions of hits in a single month. A few times, some ‘lurkers’ on my website have gotten more active on the e-list, and on other occasions a lurker turned out to be impersonating me on the IMDB movie discussion boards. Chris Wong is none of those cases, and I therefore can take no credit for the good in his verse, nor blame for the bad.

  Having said that, his debut book of poetry, Songs For Margaret Cravens, is a good book of poetry, and given the current state of publishing, and given that Wong is a budding Academic (the book boasts that he teaches English at the University of Arkansas), this is a quite remarkable thing. The book is not great, nor ‘remarkable’ vis-à-vis the great books of poetry and the great poems of the past; but compared to the likes of Wanda Coleman, the Cave Canem poets, the Neo-Beatniks, and the stale Academics that litter college poetry presses, this book, from USPOCO Books shows that there are some writers of talent and potential in the belly of the demon.

  The book’s title is based upon a female friend/lover of American expatriate poet Ezra Pound, most infamous for his insanity and support of Fascism through World War Two, but who, in the second decade of the 20th Century proved to be the most vigorous of the High Modernist poetry set, with a diverse array of critical skills that helped foster the careers of poets as wide-ranging as Richard Aldington, H.D., Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot, among many others. Cravens was, before this book, merely one of those semi-literary names that hangs around in one’s mind, although she had no real artistic stake of her own (think Neal Cassady- the muse of many Beatnik poetasters), and her lone claim to fame is a series of letters she wrote to Pound before suiciding. These form the basis of the poetic series. Note, I call the series of 52 poems with a Roman numeral, and one unnumbered epilogue poem, a series, not a single book length poem because the poems, while quite repetitive in themes and style, really don’t work as cantos or stanzas of a long poem. Seen as such the over-arching feel of the book is of an edifice that is about 60% longer than it needs to be. Taken as individual poems, the weaker and more repetitive poems can be more easily backgrounded as such.

  Compared to similarly structured sequences- think Berryman’s original 77 Dream Songs, W.D. Snodgrass’s The Fuhrer Bunker, or Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems, these do not compare. The protagonist in Berryman’s sequence is much more interesting, even though he is a fictive creation. Cravens, as portrayed in these poems, is just not that compelling; nor frankly is Pound, nor a third female character that seems to be a romantic rival to Cravens- a character named April. Vis-à-vis Snodgrass’s work, these poems lack the historic and emotional heft of those poems, and compared to Olson’s poems, these poems are not as daring in their narrative. Olson’s poems are all limited in their own ways, and make for mediocre poems read singly, but act synergistically to create a quite compelling character portrait of person, time, and place.

  The 52 main poems are all numbered, untitled, and all contain epigraphs; usually from Pound’s letters to Cravens, or a comment by the editors of the correspondence between Pound and Cravens. Dramatically, here is an error: epigraphs are almost always poorly deployed and should be used sparingly. If one is quoting something it should be memorably phrased, well written, or contain a profundity. Of the 52 epigraphs for each poem, maybe 5 or 6 work on that level. Perhaps one or two more work if one knows the circumstances behind the quote. Also, epigraphs should act as a defining point for a poem- something the poem embodies and/or plays off of. Very few epigraphs affect their poems that way, including those Wong deploys. In short, while the epigraphs may have inspired Wong’s writing of the poem in question, to the reader it means very little, and comes off as intellectual preening.

  The book’s first poem is emblemic of much of the book- a well wrought poem, neither great nor bad, with pluses and minuses. It introduces the three main characters and their dilemma, and ends strongly, although it neither captures Pound’s High Modernist impulses (nor do any of the poems which, at best, exact a faux Modernity, even those ostensibly spoken by the Pound character, as this) nor falls in to the trap of sing-songy quatrains:

And what is the big reveal as shadows wane?

I found in your letters where you said to him:

My loneliness is not that I’m alone

but someday that I must and will and am.

  The second poem has a few clichés (the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning, all I knew of death), and these sorts of descents into banality are seen throughout the book, but not in overwhelming numbers, and this poem does counter the trite imagery (which is not lessened by being spoken by a character) with some good enjambment, and nice turns of phrases- in one instance at the same time, as line 8 reads-

among the night. The first fire even came from thundering, latening

  -wherein latening is a nice phrasing for the act of getting late, but, directly after thunder, and as the last word of the line, evokes lightning when spoken aloud.

  The third poem is the best poem yet and then a run of solid poems follows. Wong makes pretty good use of leavening the thudding would be iambic rhythms that formalists would declare he is mimicking (of course, smart poetry readers and lovers know classical meter is a fallacy) with the skilled use of off, eye, and near rhymes at line ends. The whole sequence has a maddening quality of inconsistency. Poem 6 (VI) is easily the worst poem the reader will yet encounter- as it is a bathetic ‘love poem’ larded with phrases and images that have been used literally millions of times in bad love poetry. Wong does keep the formal structure tight, but it matters little if what is said is shit. And given that the poem is likely spoken from the Pound character, it really fails to capture Pound’s Neo-Medieval tone. Yet, the very next poem is very strong (excepting the epigraph) and ends very strongly.

of rain which silenced them. And now I drive

twelve hours across the states to pay you visit.

It isn’t so long we both remain alive.

I hope it’s long enough to see you. Is it?

  Now, let me digress for a moment, if one is thinking that I am being too hard on Wong’s book. Back to reality: in just these few examples (all positive) I have shown, literally (I repeat, literally) more good writing and poetic technique, skill. and accomplishment than I have seen in all but the best couple hundred books of poetry (by big name published poets throughout world history) of the ten thousand or more that I have read over the decades. So, even on a simple statistical basis, I can state that Wong’s book and verse is at or near the top 2% of all poetry that I have ever read. And considering I have found myself to be the best read and critically best poetry reader I’ve ever known, that says much. But I will admit that I wish Wong had taken far better advantage of not only my critical mind, but those of the best poets on Cosmoetica’s e-list, for many of the poems’ flaws are easily remedied by twisting and inverting clichés with rhymes of the key words in a phrase. Thus, a reader will ‘hear’ the comforting cliché, then glide by it, be forced to reread it, see its difference, wonder of its actual meaning, and appreciate the richer poetic texture, as well as the deeper meaning of the cliché subversion. Things as this, and other simple remedies that could have been addressed would have pushed this book closer to that top 1%.

  A good example of easily remedied work comes at the end of the twelfth poem:

never to see me again, and the guilt

that accompanies the fact: I left

her first. She left me last. She spilt

the last of all her many tears. I wept.

  This is an excellent stanza, technically, in its deft and complex use of enjambment. Line one implies that the self and guilt are being left, although, grammatically the guilt is an addendum to the next line’s fact. In that line, one can elide the colon, and most listeners to a spoken version of the poem will. The third line’s end of the sentence lets that line act as a de facto argument caught in medias res, and the final line’s final two word sentence can, like the colon two lines before, be elided into a single line/statement. Unfortunately, while the stanza is technically complex, it loses much of its power by the emotional and intellectual content of its trite and tritely phrased ideas (the guilt, the leaving, the spilling of tears). Wong, though, had opportunities in these sore spots. As example, and using the examples I point out, since the poems are rife with off and near rhymes, simply changing the word ‘guilt’ to ‘gift’ really doubles back the reader who will initially hear ‘guilt,’ but realize the speaker has far more complex emotions at that moment, and connects ‘gift’ with ‘spilt’ and ‘left.’ And changing ‘tears’ to ‘fears’ or ‘years’ would do much the same thing in rehabilitating an easily avoidable cliché. These two minor changes would lift that stanza up significantly, so that its content’s quality would rival its presentation, technically. In the 23rd poem in the book, Wong actually does subvert clichés with a well-conceived and executed meta-narrative, but more often than not these ‘opportunities’ go unrealized.

  By about the twentieth poem another problem creeps up, and that is the sheer repetitiveness of the poems’ subjects, addresses, and the conceit of a conversation by and about characters. In short, poems start recapitulating and simply rephrasing things brought up earlier in the book. Taken as a book length poem, this becomes problematic, even though the individual poems (say the third attempt at a theme or moment worked before) is solid enough, because it is the third attempt, it makes most readers go, ‘Oh, I got that….next!’ And, given that the ‘lead’ character is Ezra Pound, it seems odd that the subject matter his character addresses is so severely delimited. The real Pound had no such limits, even when addressing a specific thing, person, situation, or idea, so one starts noticing a mono-dimensionality to the narrative and characters. To the neophyte reader this is not as big a drag on the book, but to one knowledgeable of the reality the book descries it is a sizeable (albeit not insuperable) impediment to fully engaging the book as deeply as possible.

  Poem 24 is an excellent example of the use of technique (parentheses, asides, repetition) to recapitulate the act of reading being read and cogitated over, but by the time one gets to the poems in the mid-30s, I think many readers will have gotten bored and started skimming the poems. There is an unconscious act that occurs when I am reading. If the writing (prose, poetry, essay, fiction, memoir) is engaging- on all levels- my mind slows down and savors technique and depth. When the writing gets predictable or repetitive, my reading speeds up, and in really bad writing I literally start reading paragraphs at a time. Not in the faux speed reading sense of those infomercials of years passed, but literally. It’s not something I can do if I consciously try, but it’s a surefire sign that the writing is not top notch, and I felt that metaphoric aerodynamic lift starting as I reached the thirties, in terms of the numbered poems. Because I was reviewing the book I resisted the urge, and would put the book down for a few moments, then resume. But, few readers have that discipline, and the poems at this point give little drag (in the good sense) to avoid that. Only so many love metaphors, so many guilt moments, so many ruminations on the same thing, can suffice. Surfeit then gives way to boredom.

  Poem 42 is a good example, as it ends:

Because I am without her, now I long

for her. Because I am without. My first

thought was, she loved me once. Could I be wrong?

Could I be wrong? As if that would be worse.

  Again, this is technically solid, with some deft enjambment (see how the 2nd and 3rd lines benefit from line 2’s end), but look at the raft of clichés and the bathetic phrasing, then, realize that this wan and melodramatic idea is being iterated for maybe the 15th or 20th time in the book, and my point is made.

  Poem 46 is a very good one, and, like some of the earlier good poems, is defined by its meta-techniques, which place the speaker outside of the main narrative and commenting on it. One of the best long poems I’ve ever read, the unfortunately yet to be published masterpiece by Don Moss, Dominions, makes its living with meta-techniques and, while reading this book I could not but help to think of how much better this already good debut work of poetry would have been had Wong’s only interaction with members of my website’s e-list been asking Moss to read his book length poem, and seeing how the mere act of reading great writing enacts great writing as a consequence. Earlier I mentioned the frustrating thing about a good portion of this sequence is how good and not so good poems follow after each other, which illustrates the length that Wong still has to go as not just a writer of poetry, but as an editor of it (both micro- within poems, and macro- of poem manuscripts), and this is evident in poem 47, which I will quote entirely:



I am trying to do a long poem, much more important than anything I’ve yet attempted, but that’s as far as it goes



My girl appears to me with eyes of smoke,

speaks softly through a dream. Her hair

curls down her cheek. It trembles as she speaks.

Throat soft, she murmurs. Murmurs here


and there of time lost spent. I wander lonely

echoes of her back. Trace down her spine

to find her waist. I kiss her, leaning

slight against her hips. We spin, I spin


my girl and dance her to the bed.

She settles and her breasts relax

to settle where she settles. Oh, it’s not so bad

to hold her. Even touch her where she likes.


She is not dead. She has not died,

though we both will someday soon.

As for now, we’ll find our peace inside

the quiet torment of the arms of sin.

  This poem reminds me of poetastric Poet Laureate Donald Hall’s most famous poem, My Son, My Executioner, although this is clearly a better poem. Hall’s poem was originally published with four stanzas, and then Hall dropped the last stanza to go for a really trite and execrable end. Wong’s poem has the opposite problem. Its last stanza is trite and melodramatic, whereas ending the poem at stanza 3 would significantly improve the poem because a) it would lose the bad last stanza, b) it would lose the lamentation of the loss that has, like the refried bathos of poem 42, been beaten into dust in prior poems, and c) it ends the poem at a technically well constructed juncture (as in all three stanzas), whereas stanza 4 is not only trite, but kinetically dead in that regard. It is in poems like this, which, if the first three stanzas in length, would be an excellent and saucy erotic poem, but which sinks to merely being a solid poem with its really bad last stanza, that Wong best shows his strengths and betrays his weakness, as a poet and editor. Hopefully, this weakness is a thing that age and experience will render moot in the future. Incidentally, the epigraph to this poem is one of the best in the book, but not for the reason Wong intended, but for its ironic meta-commentary on both this poem’s pros and cons, and those of the book in entirety.

  The last poem of really high quality is poem 49, excellently enjambed and filled with a vivacity rarely seen in the book’s second half; and then the book sort of whimpers to an end. The last poem, the 53rd (unnumbered) is unfortunately one of the worst, and its last stanza and last line put a bathetic exclamation point to that fact, as the poem is also the longest in the book. Again, a more skilled and experienced poet would not have let the book’s end: last poem, stanza, and line just evaporate, but having said all that, the positives, as shown, outweigh the negatives. In the 53 poems I can claim a good dozen or more as very good or excellent, with many moments of those qualities in the lesser poems. Wong has talent, skill, and really only needs to develop critical skills and an ability to recognize that these are objective things: can anyone really argue, as example, that poem 47’s last stanza is a killer to its poem? If he can do that he will certainly be a poet of quality, despite his MFA background.

  Of course, this talent existed before Wong went into writing programs, and the likelier reality is that they actually retarded his development. Now that he is a teacher, hopefully he can and will be more daring, and not apply the strictures that so many MFA mills do, in their suffocation of human creativity on the altar of conformity. Songs For Margaret Cravens is not a great book of poems, and Chris Wong is not a great poet….yet. But, the potential is there. Statistically, he likely won’t arrive there, but if he can recognize the flaws this essay has pointed out, his odds certainly increase.

  Wong’s flaws I’ve laid out. Let me recap his strengths:

  1) he is not mired in his own ethnicity. Too often poets cannot get around the victimization gambit if they are a racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual minority. Too often they pander to such. A good example is a Minnesotan Vietnamese slam poet named Bao Phi (go ahead and Google him). In the 15 years that have passed since I first met him, his verse has stagnated, regressed, and whatever early potential he had is long gone. He does not even maintain a website, as I write, and has fallen into the crannies as a literary factotum at a reprehensible arts organization called The Loft; his once ‘promising’ career- at least in terms of connections (not his ill wrought, trite, political screeds masquing as verse), has waned, revealing him as the hack he was destined to be. Wong does not wallow in his ‘Chinese-American’ status.

  2) his poetry gets beyond himself and reaches into the past, as he embraces the art’s history and practitioners.

  3) he is technically a good poet, with a bevy of pluses: good music, good enjambment, and a sense of narrative vs. moment in a poem.

  The only thing Wong needs is to read more, engage more with poets of quality (there are a few on my e-list that he could learn from), and recognize when poems derail because of repetition, bathos, and clichés. I hope he does these things, and explores more forms and free verse. If he does, I look forward to a career as not only being a good Chinese-American poet, but a good (possibly great?) poet. Period. Perhaps the best thing I can say of the book is that after having written poetry for over two decades, I felt a desire to try other forms, so in 2005 I stopped writing poetry, and started writing other forms. This book made me wish I still had time to write, read, and edit poetry (some day I shall return!), even as in the last six years writing for and editing submissions to Cosmoetica, my own fiction, reviews, and a day job, have squeezed my time too much. That says much. Songs For Margaret Cravens, while not a perfect nor great book, is a good book, and one that holds promise. If you really enjoy and intellectually ‘get’ poetry of quality, I suggest you check out the USPOCO website I linked to (above) and invest in what will hopefully be an interesting future. Beyond that, Wong and time are in charge, not us.






Received this email today:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Keith
Date: Sat, Apr 23, 2011 at 5:07 PM
Subject: A review of your review!

So, despite the fact that Chris Wong requested your review and even praised it (with some trepidation, admittedly), somebody felt the need to review your review of it:
http://planetcitizenmedia.com/ 2011/04/01/fourteen-useless- ways-of-looking-at-chris- wongs-songs-for-margaret- cravens-out-of-dan-schneiders- review/
Insightful, eh?  I stumbled on this via a random Google search.



I read through the review, and laughed. No wonder poetry is in such a dire state when idiots like this Chris Pappas are publishing poetry. A few brief points: 1) note the juvenile writing style and attempt to be humorous, and how it fails time and again. 2) the piece claims I am self-serving and don't address the poem (look above and see how many specific ways I dissect the poem, pro and con. 3) attempts at actual criticism are at this level: 

This is an excellent stanza, technically, in its deft and complex use of enjambment

[Decided to hang back a bit to let the full uselessness of these statements sink in.]


In short, poems start recapitulating and simply rephrasing things brought up earlier in the book

[Okay. Finally a direct (and possibly relevant) claim to address. The reviewer has implied that "recapitulating" is not desirable, and that this poem recapitulates. Let me think about that one for a minute. Let's go to the next one for now.]

  Pappas must still be cogitating, because three plus weeks later he has no answer, and not a single reply has been had.

Poem 24 is an excellent example of the use of technique (parentheses, asides, repetition) to recapitulate the act of reading being read and cogitated over.

[WTF? I don't know what this sentence says really, but I am pretty sure it implies now, that recapitulation can also be good. We need a manual or something to keep up with all of this. Where does it come from?]

  The answer is from a knowledge of poetry, not a snarky grin because you've finally been able to tickle that sweet part of your colon with your middle finger.


Again, this is technically solid, with some deft enjambment (see how the 2nd and 3rd lines benefit from line 2’s end), but look at the raft of clichés and the bathetic phrasing, then, realize that 


[blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


  Perhaps Pappas has found his calling as a member of a retarded Greek chorus?


  I can’t stomach any more of this. Either you get the point by now, or you don’t. Read the review for yourself if you like. But we think you will agree this is a very very very very very very fair assessment of it. If anything Dan Schneider writes in his blog post about Songs For Margaret Cravens seems at all useful (in its original form linked above or in this revised Poet Juice edition), then you should subscribe to Schneider’s website.


  Note Pappas's criticisms are always better when he repeats words without punctuation. And, he cannot even tell the website is NOT a blog. Unreal.


  And, the emailer who informed me of Pappas's puke was correct. Wong was appreciative of my efforts because HE asked me to review it personally. I usually turn down dozens of requests A WEEK and did a favor to Wong because my website gets much traffic from possible readers, he has been a fan of the website for years, and I RECOMMENDED the book. Herein the correspondence:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Schneider
Date: Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 3:48 PM
Subject: Re: Book Review
To: Chris Wong

Overall it was a good book. I'll write a detailed review in the next week and post it online.
I think the whole sequence works better as a series of individual poems rather than a 'book length poem'. There are several very good poems and even the least of them are well wrought.
I'll send you the review, with more detail, when I get it done and online.
If you've a website, and subsequently want to use any of the positives from the review as a blurb or praise, you can do so.

Thanks, DAN.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Wong
Date: Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: Book Review
To: Dan Schneider
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it to some extent. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on it, positive and negative.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Schneider
Date: Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 6:39 AM
Subject: Re: Book Review
To: Chris Wong

http://www.cosmoetica.com/ B1102-DES800.htm

The link. I tried to post it on Blogcritics but they want dumbed down shit. They thought it too long and complex a review. Next month I'll try to send it to another site, like Hackwriters.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Wong <cwong4@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 8:12 AM
Subject: Re: Book Review
To: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>

Thanks again for taking the time to read my book and write an incredibly thoughtful review. I really appreciate the depth with which you explored the text and while I don't necessarily agree with all you criticisms (obviously!) I think all of them are well-founded and give me plenty to think about and consider deeply as I work through my next and future books. As always, your reading abilities and ear remain impressive and an important source of poetic contemplation. I wish I had more time (as an academic, albeit a serf in the academic fiefdom) to interact with your listserv.
Incidentally, if you have a chance, could you give me the names of some of these poets you cursorily mention at the end of your review? Are they different from those in the neglected poets and vers magnifique section of your site? If you have a chance.
Thanks again,
Chris Wong


Perhaps Chris Pappas should send his puerile, incoherent rant to Blogcritics. Chris Wong, the poet, actually appreciated and understood the review. It's amazing that such a dolt like Pappas cannot, since it's so clear, pointed, and precise. Then again, idiots like Pappas clearly cannot read nor write well, and simply are drawn to what they like. And on goes the stupidity. Chris Pappas, newest member in the parade of online idiots!








Over ten days have passed, and it looks like Chris Wong was behind this all, as he has not replied to my email requests. It's a shame that someone with artistic talent can be so bereft of humanity within. To ask for critique and guidance, get it, then pout and stew about it, and not even have the balls to act like a man and voice a complaint directly....


As for Chris Pappas, what can one say, save he's the loser handmaiden of a loser?






More emails:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:34 PM
Subject: Re: Follow up
To: Chris Pappas <uspocobooks@gmail.com>


There is no tension. You are an idiot. Your author asked me to review his book. As a favor, because he's spent a few years on my e-list, I did. I get 1600+ emails a week from people wanting to send me review copies or Indian PhDs begging me to read their poems and teach them what Khrishna did not. Furthermore, I gave a positive review, saying it was in the top 2% of poetry books I read, all time, and I've read likely 10k plus.

Given that I have gotten over 400k poems submitted to me in over 10 years, and including all that I've read I can state unequivocally I am the most well read poet and poetry reader that has EVER existed. Furthermore,, as demonstrated by the review, I KNOW what I speak of, and back it up.

When Keith showed me your post I laughed and responded in about 10 minutes, half of that in upload time. I'm guessing you're in your 20s. When you are 40 years old and read that post you will be embarrassed. You come off as an idiot, and a childish one. And an ungrateful one. Mor epoets read Cosmoetica than any other website online. Buffalo Poetry Center? Wed del Sol? Poetry Magazine? No, Cosmoetica.

As for the comments. They will remain, as will this email. All email sent to my website becomes my property, and will remain

http://www.cosmoetica.com/ Contact-Submissions.htm

If you want to contact Dan Schneider, Jessica Schneider, or any of the other Cosmoetica contributors about the site, drop a line to cosmoetica - at- gmail- dot- com. All emails with attachments will be deleted unread, and any threats- personal or legal- will immediately be reported to the authorities. All contacts, emails, and submissions- electronic, print, or postal, become the intellectual property of Cosmoetica, which is free to do with them as it sees fit, for all contacts, emails, and submissions to Cosmoetica grant a non-exclusive license to forward or post online any contact, emails or submissions in perpetuity; subject to editing for clarity, satire, readability, logic, or any other reason Cosmoetica deems necessary for posting and/or publication on the website. So do all harassments, pointless rants, and curses, which may become the subject of mockery and/or satire via Cosmoetica's email list, and can be posted online at any time. Harassment will be reported to the authorities if of a threatening nature. By contacting or submitting material(s) to Cosmoetica, the contacter/submitter waives all rights to claims of damages (personal or financial) against Cosmoetica for any embarrassment or regrets suffered because of the rights the website exercises in posting contacts and/or submissions. Emails, by their nature, carry no expectation of privacy, and Cosmoetica will not allow people to hide their stupidity, nastiness, nor bigotry behind such. In short, if you are not willing to stand behind a statement that may be forever online, don't email it here. Cosmoetica reserves the right to use any email sent as an example of the asininity of most people. Only provable claims of libel and/or plagiarism are grounds for the removal of material from Cosmoetica. Due to the high volume of traffic and emails Cosmoetica receives (an average week includes 15-1600 queries, submissions, and assorted contacts, not including 3-4 times as many spam emails) it is not likely a reply to every email and/or submission will be granted, so if one is given, appreciate that it is likely because the email had some positive quality 99% of the others lacked. Posted works on Cosmoetica represent the opinions and copyright, solely of the attributed writers, and not necessarily those of Cosmoetica, although the intellectual property rights may belong to Cosmoetica, as well as the writers. All spam and promotional emails received are sent information on Cosmoetica. Ask and you will be removed from further emailings, provided you remove Cosmoetica from your emailing lists.

In short, I've had stalkers- one idiot on IMDB for 3 years pretended to be me, harassers, been sent viruses by bloggers, etc. You're nothing but an amusing idiot who got in shit deep and is now crying.

The very fact that you even use terms as allies and enemies shows your childish mindset.

Listen, think long and hard the next time you attack someone for doing you a favor.  And your other email just shows how silly you are, as I never attacked your ethnicity. I attacked your stupidity, as wantonly demonstrated in the post you have removed, because you have embarrassed yourself.

And, in case you are thinking of suing, believe me, I've been down this road before. The posted remarks above are there for legal cover, and I have Keith and my whole e-list as witnesses to your idiocy, so buck up, be a man, and GROW UP!

Any other responses will likewise be posted.

On Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:03 PM, Chris Pappas <uspocobooks@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Dan Schneider:
I have received a courtesy copy of Chris Wong's email to you, and so I write you now to suggest an end to any tension between us, concerning this review. 
As an editor, and a poet, my number one priority here is representing our authors' books fairly and presenting them with every chance to succeed. This was my motivation for the response in the first place. I hope we do not have to rehash the details and differing opinions here. I have been publishing poetry for more than five years and have never had a negative incident of this sort, which effected any poet we've published negatively. I am a stubborn man, yes, but in the interest of Chris Wong's promising career as a poet, and in the interest of placing the focus back on the content of his book, instead of the content of your review and my response to it, I have taken down my response, and now respectively request that you remove the "Addendum" to your review, which contains the comments I wrote you about yesterday.  
Furthermore, I invite you to collaborate with me in a live poem to set an example of how collaboration can give perspective to the most difficult aspects of war, as well as to the difficult disagreements of poetry. This is a theme we've been developing with Melee Live and USPOCO BOOKS over the past year, and will continue to develop in our support for the upcoming International event, 100 Thousand Poets for Change (September 24th, 2011). We are organizing a collaboration of 1000 poets from around the globe for July 4th to raise money for this cause, as a demonstration of collaboration's power for creating a new perspective of community. For we see the divisions between us as joining us together rather than splitting us apart. This is a genuine offer; you can view some of the previous collaborations we've held at the following site:
See The Original Poet Juice, and Poet Juice One and Two: http://manufacturedartists. com/category/poet-juice- collaborative-series/
The former request is not attached to the latter, but I really hope we can move on from this point, if not as allies, at least not as enemies. For I have found most of my allies somehow start as enemies. I hope that is the case here. If you are at all interested in the collaboration, let me know, and we can work out the details. I'll look forward to your response, in either case. Thank you. 
Chris Pappas
us poetry company



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:35 PM
Subject: Re: Request for a formal apology for needlessly attacking my family's ethnicity, etc.
To: Chris Pappas <uspocobooks@gmail.com>

See prior email.

On Sat, May 7, 2011 at 4:46 PM, Chris Pappas <uspocobooks@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Dan Schneider:

I write to request a formal, public apology for your personal attacks on my race and your hateful name calling and references to sodomy and "retarded Greek[s]" in your "Addendum" cited below:

"No wonder poetry is in such a dire state when idiots like this Chris Pappas are publishing poetry."

"The answer is from a knowledge of poetry, not a snarky grin because you've finally been able to tickle that sweet part of your colon with your middle finger."

"Perhaps Pappas has found his calling as a member of a retarded Greek chorus?"

"Then again, idiots like Pappas clearly cannot read nor write well, and simply are drawn to what they like. And on goes the stupidity. Chris Pappas, newest member in the parade of online idiots!"

However you may feel about my statement in response to your review of Chris Wong's Songs For Margaret Cravens, their was, nor could there be, any provocation within it for these vile attacks. Your hate speech has embarrassed and caused much damage to my family, the Greek community, and to my professional and personal reputation. If I do not receive a response from you within 72 hours, I will assume none is coming and proceed accordingly.

Chris Pappas
Owner/Managing Editor
May 7, 2011


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM
Subject: Re: Internet Feuds
To: Chris Wong <cwong4@gmail.com>

Sorry, but since Pappas started this I will post this, and his emails, to show how wrong you were.

Chris, if you respect a childish idiot it says little of your own ability to discern character.

YOU asked ME to review your book. I gave it a GREAT review, in terms of content- scan anywhere online or off for a more detailed review, and I have peopel all over the world who'd love for me to review THEIR books of doggerel.

Then this idiot goes off on me and you do not even give me the courtesy of letting me know he's being an ass, or even replying. Jeez, what can I say but, like to Pappas: Grow up.

These antics are why people who are not creative look down on artists. Pappas is a living example of the self-indulgent whiney artiste type.

And, it's significant that, nowhere in this email, nor Pappas's two, is there an APOLOGY!

Think about it. I do you both a HUGE favor, and even recommend readers purchase your stuff, and this whacky boy tries to sodomize me.

Keep up with the writing. You are a good poet. When you're maturity and judgment match your writing skills you'll be able to take pride in both.

On Sat, May 7, 2011 at 9:25 PM, Chris Wong <cwong4@gmail.com> wrote:
Let me preface by requesting that you not print this letter. However, I'll write under the assumption that you may anyway.
I never intended for your review to cause such a stir in my editor and on his blog. I respect his opinions and appreciate his passion for my work, but I also very much appreciate you taking the time to so thoroughly read and review my book and as I have previously said, I found nothing particularly offensive or unthoughtful about the points you made throughout your review. I understand there has been something of an internet flame war. That was never my intent. Let me reiterate that I appreciate my editor's passion and respect his opinions. Let me also reiterate that I appreciate and respect the same in you.
I really have nothing else to say, but I wanted to write to clarify this and thank you once again for taking the time to review my work. 
--Chris Wong




Not content, Pappas digs in further and Wong shrivels:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: Internet Feuds
To: Chris Wong <cwong4@gmail.com>

Here is Pappas's last email. As you can see, he has something clearly wrong with his mind. As I said earlier, one day he will turn on you.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Pappas <uspocobooks@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: Follow up
To: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>

Thank you. I needed that. Poker rule number one: never call out the bluff of an unknown player. Hang tight, my friend. We'll give you something to post.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Wong <cwong4@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, May 8, 2011 at 1:47 PM
Subject: Re: Internet Feuds
To: Dan Schneider <cosmoetica@gmail.com>

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I have anything to do with what was posted on Chris Pappas's blog. I didn't. 
I'm sorry that you feel this way, but as I said, I appreciate very much you taking the time to review my work and I appreciated your view a great deal. Perhaps I didn't communicate that effectively in my previous email. Chris Pappas is his own man and what he does on his blog is not my business. When I heard about the situation that developed, I contacted you to let you know that I regretted that things progressed to this level. If that wasn't clear let me be clear: I'm sorry that this situation developed between you and my publisher. I didn't intend for that to happen when I asked you to read my book.
Hopefully this is clear enough. I am going to let the matter rest vis-a-vis my own participation in this situation, as this is between the two of you. However I realize you were very generous with your time and effort in reviewing my book, and as I said in my previous email (or at least as I intended to say) I am sorry that from that favor you did for me, the situation has progressed to this point.
Be well,
Chris Wong

And Pappas added back the deleted thread, showing he was never really sorry. Neither he nor Wong has yet to issue an apology.



After having been denuded and embarrassed, the none too bright Pappas has resorted to sending me ill written essays of his that show he is 1) not a good writer, 2) dumb as shit, 3) mature as a pumpkin seed, and 4) clueless as a typical online troll. Between fingering himself and smelling the tips of his fingers to determine the firmness of his feces, it struck me that Pappas is like the Theodore Bikel character in an old Twilight Zone episode I recently watched, wherein a deluded man seeks to destroy all evil people in the world by turning them into two foot high midgets, only to end with him the midget, unable to reach his window sill.

But, like all bullies, once I bitchslapped him he whimpered off into a corner. Again, he removed the thread, but I have snapshots of it as proof of his idiocy. That back and forth shows how insincere and deluded Pappas is. The only real question is: is Chris Pappas mentally ill, delusional, or an emotionally retarded infant? Imagine, I write a piece that he could use to sell his product and he acts as if I wronged him. Pappas will now have to live down his idiocy because whenever his name is Googled people will see the real heel.

As for Wong? It's disappointing to see him take no responsibility, as he did not tell me of Pappas's post for weeks, did not reply when I emailed him of it, then acts as if he was not involved. This sort of self-serving activity is all too typical in the arts, and why people tend to dismiss artsy types, as well as small press wannabes. To claim that a praise-worthy review and an act of insanity by Pappas are in the same class is absurd. All it would have taken is a simple apology, and Wong's disowning of Pappas's assiness. But, by not doing so, and by framing things in a 'sorry you feel that way' sort of context, that denies any personal responsibility on his part, or voids any apology, Wong shows himself to be not much better than his rambling, incoherent publisher. Integrity is a word neither apparently has any ken of.

Ah, the arts!


5/11/11 Announcement

  After several badly written pseudo-essays, and a brief interlude of anal beads and self-pleasuring finger fun, Chris Pappas delivered on his promise that he'll give me something to post. He sent a lengthy manifesto titled Finger Fun 101 to me; soon to be released by his own vanity press. I shall, due to space limitations, and Fair Use provisions, print only a few of the many highlights.

In it, Chris Pappas, after showing such startling prescience in his well written theorizings on art, brilliantly declaims on the social issues of our day, like abortion: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

Afghanistan: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

Iraq: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

The Death of Osama bin Laden: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

Alternative sexual lifestyles: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

President Obama: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

The economy: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

Global warming: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

Nuclear disarmament: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

On which is worse, rap or country music?: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]

On the warm feeling he gets reading Craig's List and the Wall Street Journal while dipping his toes in Cool Whip: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


On the struggles of growing up with ADD, OCD, ODD, AT&T, CBS, TVA, and a host of other dysfunctional acronyms: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


On preferring Prince's old symbol instead of his name: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


On the joys of wearing Depends before the age of 30: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


On where Jimmy Hoffa is buried: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


And finally, in appreciation of all past and future readers, Chris Pappas opines on everything: [blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, ad infinitum.]


  Yes, Chris Pappas, author of Finger Fun 101, a soon to be released masterpiece of philosophy (suggested retail price $29.95- on Amazon for $.01 used)), opines on the world, the flesh, the devil, and YOU! Don't miss it! Get your copy today!


  You see, after all the nonsense, I'm still willing to help a struggling writer.




Yale University Press


The below was an email exchange I had with well known philosopher Robert Grudin, whom I interviewed. It seems my review was picked to be a blurb for a Yale University Press title. Let's see? A well known university press sees a great blurb opportunity from a positive review and USES it in their advertising. An unknown little press, with a publisher who is, on top of all else, a bad businessman, gets a great blurb opportunity from a positive review and does NOT use it in their advertising; instead choosing to go psychotic on the review and critic. Hmmm?

Which is the better business model? Which press is more successful?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: cosmoetica
Date: Wed, May 11, 2011 at 3:36 PM
Subject: Fwd: blurb

Yale University takes a blurb from me:
Here is a link:

http://yalepress.yale.edu/ reviews.asp?isbn=9780300161403

Design And Truth [is] a very good book. . . . It proves that the Golden Age of science and philosophic writing may not have yet crested. Get it, read it, and indulge the times.”--Dan Schneider, Blogcritics.org


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: cosmoetica
Date: Wed, May 11, 2011 at 3:30 PM
Subject: Fwd: blurb
To: Robert Grudin 

I'll have to check it out.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Robert Grudin 
Date: Wed, May 11, 2011 at 2:25 PM
Subject: blurb
Dan, just to let you know that the paperback of Design and Truth is coming out this month with a big blurb from you on the back cover!  Robert



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