The Unseemly Rise of the Modern Magalog
or The Ridiculously Bad Reviews of Rain Taxi
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 5/21/01
[This essay is quoted from in a 10/24/01 City Pages story!]
A while back I received an essay from a former poetic Academic Insider
named Briggs Seekins- it was called The
Poetry Workshop and its Discontents. It was an expose of the incestuous
world of workshops & MFA writing programs. While it recapitulated alot of
what I have said for many years it did strike a chord with a number of readers
of Cosmoetica. But the most cogent critique contained was Seekins’ denuding
the rather obvious (to those familiar with poetry criticism of the last 30 or so
years) ploy that book reviewers use to review books they have never or barely,
read. In sum, the 7 steps are: 1) Establish your literary credentials by culling
& using anecdotes from famous writers/critics whether or not they have any
connection to the work reviewed. 2) Use generic code phrases as, “In
his/her recent collection insert name of book….”, “Poet
X reconfirms/establishes/emerges his/her place as a force in American poetry.”
3) Read the book’s blurbs, select one or more & use a line or 2 from a
poem within to show the blurbist is correct. 4) Repeat step 3 as often as needed
to pad the review. 5) If the book has actually induced the critic to pry it open
you can share 1 or 2 mild opinions & even rebuke an unknown poet (but
gently- lest find yourself off the MFA grant-giving gravy train). 6) Repeat step
2. 7) Repeat step 1. The most telling part of this seeming parody is how
absolutely dead on this formula (or similar variations) is.
Other blurbs that get worked into reviews are, “He/she is the finest poet/lyricist/voice of his/her generation/ethnic group.”, quoting virtues that have nothing to do with artistic ability as if they do- i.e.- “So & so demonstrates a keen sense of justice in a world that lacks such.”- or “So & so shows us what it’s like to be a human capable of love in a time that has forgotten such.”- or they will quote the obvious ills that no reasonable person champions as a reason this poet is great because they stand against it: “His/her poems reveal the truly dark nature of nuclear war/racism/AIDS/the Holocaust like no one since poetaster of your choice.”- or they will make statements that are total oxymorons and/or nonsequiturs, “Poet X’s work always makes use of the facile nature of charm’s effluvia.”- or 1 word reviews from former students/professors/lovers (& sometimes all 3) who have gripes with the poet but refuse to badmouth them lest become Apostates: “Marvelous!”, “Stunning!”, “Bravo!”. Then there are the blurbs that are so indecipherable that one cannot tell if they are pro- the poet, or parodies (knowing or not) in masquerade: “His/her poetry crackles with the dew of a newfound notion glistening through the hollow timbre of a contemporary milieu so devoid of direction that Modern Man has forgotten how to love that inner well from which all art- indeed, all poetry- finds succor and refuge in, in a time of meager global conscientiousness.” Then there is the near ubiquitous tactic of damning most contemporary poetry, save for the few good ones as this poet being reviewed, while never mentioning any of the myriad bad poets, magazines, nor presses- nor why they are bad, and this one not.
While there are many journals that practice these dastardly tactics of reviewing it is the ones which solely do reviews that have raised it to- dare I?- an art form. Locally, in Minnesota, the 2 magazines that have made this garbage ubiquitous are the Ruminator Review (née Hungry Mind Review) & Rain Taxi. So oppressive has been their influence that the term magalog (magazine-catalog) has been coined to describe these ‘supposed’ journals which have become- in effect- mere book catalogs- they give title, author, publisher, price, a rosy review, & sometimes even ordering/contact information. And of these 2 it has been Rain Taxi that has exhibited the most unabashed ass-kissing in its attempts to curry favor for its band of mediocre-bad writers. Most are mainstays of the MFA scene, writers who have written for local arts paper City Pages (the corporate sibling of the Village Voice), or have come from the University of Minnesota writing program, or local writing organization The Loft- which dominates Minnesota writing grants. Familiar names include founder/editor Eric Lorberer, Joanna ‘Josie’ Rawson, Michael Tortorello, Peter Ritter, Fred Schmalz, Sarah Fox, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Melanie Figg, Roseann Lloyd, etc. All aforementioned are long-time Minnesota poetic failures & retreads- as well buddies of Lorberer [Did that surprise you- even a little?- See?] Editor Lorberer even used his unstinting, uncritical praise of John Ashbery’s terrible poetry of the last 2 decades to garner publication of 2 pieces of his doggerel in American Poetry Review- where Ashbery just happens to sit on the board!
Every issue of the quarterly since its inception in the mid-90s has been larded with these formulaic & hackneyed reviews. As of this writing the latest edition was the Spring 2001 edition (Vol. 6 No. 1), an atypical issue in that instead of the usual 7-8 critical cliches per 400-500 word review (not counting the vacuous poem quotes) there were only 3 or 4. Whether an anomaly or a trend I do not know- nonetheless there is plenty of shit slung in this edition, as well. To flesh out a sense let me quote some directly from reviews & articles on poetry alone (as Rain Taxi also reviews fiction, non-fiction, & graphic novels). In this issue there are 2 interviews with poets & 17 reviews of poets & poem books. Page 22 reviews the book The Best Of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, edited by Peter Johnson, White Pine Press ($15) [I swear that’s the 1st & last time I will give the press & price!]. Befitting the garish book title, reviewer David Foster Wallace tries to be outrageous with a patented ‘gimmick’ review- the kind which, naturally, reveals far more of the reviewer than the reviewed. He sums up the book in bulleted presumed factoids (true or not?) which while avoiding most clichés soon grows tired by the middle of the 2nd page length column of the 3 page, 6 column review. But it is an earnest, if trite, approach. P. 25 is the rare negative review from Rain Taxi. Patrick Durgin rips A Salvo for Africa by Douglas Oliver, albeit mildly. Yet some standard clichés remain: “Oliver jettisons the ironic tones lacing contemporary U.S. verse….”- although he never mentions which American poets are so damned! The standard 2 bland poem “quotes” occur, & the mealy-mouthed damnation does end with this typical sentence: “But for a brand of poetry designed to activate the white imagination (which is nothing if not sure of itself), it ‘almost’ succeeds.” This review is followed by a poorly drawn & vaguely ironic comic strip in which Rain Taxi decries the Academia it so stirringly fellates. P. 26 (top) sees Thomas Kalb take on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated by Arthur Golding & lob this gem at the reader: “Let’s start with Ezra Pound’s insistence….”. He then veers into the silly speculation that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare & that- indeed- he too (the non-Shakespearean Shakespeare- follow?) may have penned Golding’s translation of Ovid. A typical trick of reviewing translations that needs comment is how a reviewer often discourses on many things other than the excellent nature- or not- of the translated poem. The last paragraph has the obligatory comparison between the reviewed version & a ‘supposed’ inferior version; although- as is frequently the case- the ‘inferior’ seems (at 1 line’s worth) the ‘superior’ version- but after all, why quibble when you can gossip about the Bard? The bottom of p. 26 reviews Jorge Luis Borges’ book of lectures, This Craft Of Verse. Lorberer himself rhapsodizes about Borges’ rhapsodizing about the rhapsodies of poetic prosody, yet gives no inkling of the poet’s views- I guess we should take his word at the rapture within. En face, on p. 27, is a Susie Meserve review of an anthology of poems inspired by Emily Dickinson called Visiting Emily.
--By now a discerning reader should notice 2 patterns emerging. 1 is
the tendency for publishers to publish a lot of superfluous poesy-inspired
work featuring Branded Names: i.e.- yet another edition of a translation,
of a famous Classical poet; a series of lectures by a foreign writer
noted mainly for his prose, not poetry, contributions; & an encomium
of poetastry for an iconic poet. The 2nd trend is for magalogs & their
journal brethren to review these dubious works of import simply
because there is a recognition factor that an obscure poet of caliber
seeking to break through will not engender.--
And Meserve’s review tosses out banal snippets from the poems with the worst of this ilk of review. And yet another denizen of the critical cliché zoo emerges- the ‘collectivization of thought’ ascribed to the work- i.e.- phrases as, “Our collective obsession with Dickinson....”, & “a book that asks us to see in ourselves something....”. I’m always amused at the presumptuousness of critics, who fundamentally don’t get something, to hide their ignorance by claiming (unwittingly) their blinders as a communal thing.
But now, rather than bore you with titles, names, & review-specific clichés I will merely pick out a cliché apiece from each of the remaining poetry reviews. Note how closely they hew to Seekins’ 7-point critical syllabus: “Continuity Girl never feels academic or impenetrable. Packed with tinsel & charm, it reveals much about our culture….” [collectivization again], “Whatever Lisa Jarnot is or is not, Ring Of Fire proves she is a poet of the highest order….” [another one?], “his unflinching insistence on language as the prime material and actual substance of poetry….” [Uh….duh. Another trick of critics is to state the obvious while attempting to couch it in quasi-mystical terms that only the poet, reviewer, & educated reader are supposedly ‘in on’.], “These are poems that ask the most….” [The art as sentient being approach], a review of rock musician Thurston Moore’s book of poems which makes up for its lack of critical cliches by dazzling us with such lines of poetry as, “sick of sonic youth/and sonic youth rip-offs.”- not quite Hart Crane but…., “Klink affirms the places where we most survive.” [If the art fails one can always fall back on good intent- & clichés derived therefrom.], “The poems….persistently press against the thin membrane that separates outward calm and concealed chaos” [impressive-sounding gobbledygook.], “Like the fine poet Kathleen Fraser….” [Read- former student/teacher/lover/some combination of the aforementioned], “Martin Heidegger has suggested….” [You too can establish yourself as a literatus- see Seekins!], “the self proves insignificant and gargantuan at once….” [Viva Deepak Chopra!], another gimmick review in the form of a missive [Originality, thy name is Rain Taxi!], “As in her earlier books, film provides a rich field of confluence for how we come to know each other.” [code for “I saw a reference to film in the 2 poems I read in this book & it sounds literary & progressive to use confluence.”], & “In a publishing industry which rarely supports innovative let alone interdisciplinary work….” [A chance to use 2 long words that begin with i- & name names, dammitall, or shut the fuck up!].
Part of the problem with such reviews is obvious: there really are no ‘professional poetry critics’ out there. By that I mean folk who are the equivalent of film critics. People with no vested interest in the system save to be enlightened, enjoyed, & entertained, yet people with a working knowledge & understanding of poetry’s fundaments & intricacies. All of these bad critics are either failed poets who have acknowledged their failure & seek back-door admission to the party as critics of the craft they like, or failed poets who have not yet acknowledged their failure & seek to still get in the front door by holding open the door for folk who have the power to invite them in. Editor Eric Lorberer is a prime example of the latter category. His reviews & interviews, as well as his hosting of local readings featuring prominent academics (& wannabes), reveal a man who has read prodigiously (breadth) with almost a total lack of understanding (depth) of poetry as an art, craft, & vehicle for fun- not to mention its history & essence. Yet, almost ironically, he is by no means the worst purveyor of this type of approach to poetry, literature, & art- merely one of its more successful & colorless drones. That a sentence such as : “McPherson’s text is lush with ‘the distance that separates’ us from each other, from ourselves, and from the language we would use to contain such experiences.” [Rusty Morrison’s review of Brydie McPherson’s Abandon’s Garden- p.41] appears in a supposed serious ‘review’ gives stark testament to how bad editing of critics begets bad criticism begets bad poetry en masse. This is flat-out bad writing. It is generic, clichéd in its use of a quote, more clichéd in its use of a clichéd quote, in its collectivization of thought, & its absurd grandiloquence- even excessively florid grandiloquence (got it, Eric?). And that is without even knowing whether or not the comment is apropos. But that is not the point since my concern is the writing itself, not the P.O.V. And an editor’s concern should be the craft of the criticism, not its concerns. Those are open for debate, review, & rebuttal, as they should be. Bad writing should be open only for excision. This is a perfect example of putrid editing.
But it is symptomatic of editing & reviewing in general. Poetry criticism may have the worst case of the rickets but it is not the only bow-legged criticism out there. Ask yourself- are you not tired of biographies, histories, or science books which when reviewed become merely the targets of a dissenter’s philosophical disagreement? Why is it that so few critics are able to distance themselves from the philosophy of a work of art, & merely concentrate on the art of the art they were hired to discourse upon? In the last decade probably the most savage reviews of ‘major’ books that I can recall being published (obviously not in poetry but in areas where savagery is still encouraged) were of the infamous Ronald Reagan biography Dutch: A Memoir Of Ronald Reagan, by Edmund Morris & the sociology tract The Bell Curve: Intelligence & Class Structure In American Life, by Charles Murray & Richard J. Herrnstein. The reviews were so ridiculously biased that even now I feel I must state 1) I never read either book in toto- only snippets at bookstores & 2) I loathe the former’s protagonist & latter’s premise. However, I am even more distressed at the almost total abdication of literary criticism foisted on the books. In the former’s case, where the author invents fictional characters & events to interpolate them into Reagan’s life, the reviews were acidic in their attacks on the technique (& thereby its historicity- valid points) while briefly- if at all- mentioning (much less showing) whether the writing was supernal or dreadful. To this day I have not a whit whether critics thought Morris a competent wordsmith, only that he’s a charlatan who should be stoned & his corpse littered over Bobby Kennedy’s grave as apt punition for his ‘sin’. In the latter’s case, as well, all I heard were the rails against the book’s scientific veracity, methodology, & conclusions. Again, valid points; however, unlike Dutch, The Bell Curve’s reviews contained not a hint of criticism of the work’s prose stylings. Forget what they said, I am clueless as to how they said it. In other words, while one may validly despise the portrayals of blacks in Porgy & Bess or Gone With The Wind, one can still admire the art of the music or camerawork. And do so without risk of being kneekerkedly labeled a racist! Yet this was sorely lacking in the critiques of Dutch & The Bell Curve. Even moreso it is absent in contemporary poetry criticism. And more tellingly in the editing of poetry criticism.
Why? It all gets back to the idea of using criticism as a foot into getting a book of poems published. You simply cannot be negative in the climate fostered via the workshop mentality. Yet it is this very climate that claims to value ‘truth’ above all else in art- poetry especially. Barely a review is published which does not, at least, osmotically attempt to ring this point into the reader’s brain. And published poets repeat this in the hopes of having it inculcate so deeply in the young reader’s/poet’s crannies that they will unquestioningly perpetuate the silliness, thereby hoping to spare their own work from any hard eye which would easily root out the poor qualities which ooze from it. P. 17 of Rain Taxi even has novelist/poet Toby Olson declare: “….I hadn’t written poetry in ten years, and I decided I better quit fiction and return to it. But I felt I couldn’t return to exactly the same thing I’d been doing before. Always, in the past, I’d marked the distinction (paraphrasing Jack Spicer’s words): poetry as disclosure (truth telling), fiction as invention.” OK. Count the number of clichés & Seekins Points in just this snippet. Note the sincerity (or presumed so). Note the insidiousness & seeming authority- not just from a published writer but from a published writer who quotes an older, published writer! Note how the quote of the other writer attempts to lend a genuineness to the sentiment, as if Olson struggled with this ‘verity’- rebelled against it, only to embrace it in the end. The placement of the word felt is key- too often critics & artists value feeling over intellect. The moral, young poet: tell the truth from the beginning! I.e.- play the game, don’t make waves, blurb as necessary, write banal-to-positive reviews only, etc. Finally, note how the whole thrust implicit in the sentiment is parenthesized- to draw attention to what needs no attention. Again, insidious as it is superfluous. Now, multiply this snippet by the millions over the past few decades. Is it any wonder an Eric Lorberer is peddling his bad writers as he does? Is it any wonder that the magalog came into being?
Recall the last poetry review you read. The chances are high that words connoting the emotional power of the poetry abound. Words which hint at intellect (if there are any) are usually hidden behind some of the florid gobbledydunk I quoted earlier. It’s almost as if it is embarrassing for these poets & critics to speak of the art in intellectual terms. And the reason for that is simple- they would be embarrassed if they had to truly speak in naked intellectual terms of poetry. Without the sugared euphemisms & banal code words they trade in people like Lorberer & his band, or any of the other critics writing, would be utterly lost in attempting to tell you why (or why not) any particular poem or book is (or is not) worth reading. And putting individual poem critiques aside look at how utterly bereft of any sense of ‘bookness’ most poetry criticism is. When was the last time a poetry book veered from the dread Selected & Collected modes (pull the poems & keep them in the section devoted to the book they came from)? Or, even worse, the banal 40-60 page ‘contest-winning’ book of poems, divided into 3 sections, with trite &/or airy epigraphs adorning each section, the poems 1 per page- even if a couplet- so to allow ‘breathing room’. And all this is without mentioning the packaging of a painting on the front cover, poet photo on the back (usually in dramatic or cogitative pose), & assorted blurbery. Rare is the review that talks about poem placement in a given book’s structure. And the few that do will skim over such an important aspect with a curt “the poems flow” [Into what?], “there’s a structural coherence” [How?], or “the antiphonal nature of the poetic structure of the book inheres its essence in the bravura ending of poem titles’ juxtaposed with the onomatopoeic nature of their being” (More nonsense that sounds impressive!). Again, all this is due to the need to cover up the critic’s technical lack of knowledge; a thing deemed superfluous since art/poetry is primarily (in their limited view) about feeling- especially as it relates to the act of telling the truth.
And since one is truthtelling, how can one seriously rebuke it, especially when the critic longs to tell truths of his/her own? Besides, such a simplistic view allows everyone in- not just those who have succeeded via the hard work of craft. Yet any thinking person knows the fallacy of that contention, In fact, perhaps the only real ‘truth’ about art is that it simply is not about ‘truth’; rather it is the expression or conveyance of ideas in a higher form than the norm.
An ancillary demerit of this supersimplistic ‘truthtelling’ view of art/poetry is that rarely does a poetry critic discuss serious side issues involved in the art. One such issue that would seem tailor-made for an in-depth discussion is the over-priced nature of most poetry books. Critics & poets (mealy-mouthedly, with phrases as ‘unlike the general public’s tastes….” or “unlike film….”, I admit) bemoan the fact that poetry has a micro-audience in the USA, & even the rest of the world where it flourishes by comparison- or so American Academics would have you believe in an attempt to guilt Americans to buy the crap foisted as poetry on these shores. Not even the introduction of the blatantly mainstream-striving National Poetry Month [April if you’re out of the loop!] has done a thing to counter the recession of poetry from the masses to the green grasses of Academia. The usual retort is “Well, poetry is the highest art, very few can appreciate it.” This is one of the rare valid ripostes. (After all, poetry is the art the other arts use as their standard- how many painters are referred to as novelists? Or philosophers called painterly?) However, a century ago the masses were far less literate (despite decades of propaganda bemoaning a Golden Age of American literacy) yet far more liable to have a small collection of poetry books in their homes. Why? The most likely answer is that poetry costs far more per word & page than prose does.
A new book of those 40-60 page ‘contest’ poems will generally run $9.95- $14.99 (paperback!). This is for a totality of work on those 40-60 pages that if condensed to rid itself of the white space used for line breaks, stand alone poems, ‘breathing space’, & space between poems & sections, would run 12-20 typewritten pages at best. A typical new book of Selected or Collected (for poets not yet in public domain) will start at $14.95 to upwards of $30 or more (again, paperback). Compare this to the average price of genre fiction, & even popular fiction. Paperbacks are still often well south of $10 for an average book of 2-400 pages. In a world that values bargains why do you think a lot of people who get hooked on romance or sci fi do get hooked? Now, I am not saying that all or even a large percentage of the vast reading audiences for genre & pop fiction would turn to poetry- after all, the raison given by Academes is true. However, I do not doubt that poetry’s micro-readership could grow exponentially if even only 5-10% of those would-be poetry-cum-genre fiction readers were not priced out of the market.
“But poetry is so much harder to market, it’s a labor of love, it makes no money for the publishers, etc.” True- to an extent. But sky-high pricing has never been a way to recoup losses via smaller quantity. And no poet ever expects to make any money on their work. Who [unpublished poets among us?] would not trade a negligible remuneration for the possibility of a substantially increased readership? And even without a total recoup of money from the increased quantity of product sold, it’s not as if the small presses are in a bind. Don’t listen to any of that bullshit you hear about the NEED to support them or the (fill in the bogeymen) will end art as we know it. They can always pander for more grant money- from the government or guilty corporations seeking to salve their consciences- or actually take a flyer & try publishing & promoting quality as a reason to buy their books. And yes, those that do not scramble well enough for the money, or publish enough quality, will perish. So much the better! A lesser need to put out ‘any’ product may force a bit more selectivity- especially if quality poetry can sell enough to justify such changes. An admitted gamble considering America’s lowest common denominator reasoning- but worth it! A drastic cut in prices may not result in more poetic readership- especially without a serious upgrading of the quality- but we will never know if quantity can make up for decreased profit-per-book until it is tried. Let’s face it: the prices charged for most poetry books would be hard to justify even if all the books were guaranteed the quality of a Yeats, Hayden, Plath, or Whitman. But a roster of Sharon Olds, Donald Hall, Thomas Lux, & Maya Angelou, etc. makes such outrageous pricing policies unconscionable- as well execrable.
And speaking of the Good Gray Poet, was it not he who urged that great poets demand great audiences? Aside from the pricing, if the quality sucks then the possible poetry reader is ripped off twice. While lay lovers of poetry may not be able to tell whether a Whitman is greater than a Mandelstam, they can discern that an Olds, et al. are plain bad. Don’t believe me? As comparison, think how few movie-goers can tell you why a Citizen Kane or Taxi Driver is great, but can go on endlessly on why a Titanic sucks! No? One certainly does not develop a great audience by putting forth the meager products of workshops in over-priced books. While it is not a duty for any individual, or poetry (collectively), to foster a great audience, it certainly is a wise thing. What ‘name’ poet has actually fostered a great audience? None in the last decades that I know of, although I’m sure many would retort that all of the poets/hacks who attend workshops & forums do- but c’mon, is a Robert Bly fostering a great audience when he reads & rereads the same clichéd lines that failed to excite the audience the first time? Is a Donald Hall elevating the level of audience perception when weeping while reading his- or his wife’s-doggerel, & rehashing her death? Is a Lucille Clifton expanding the minds of young people by telling them they’re all special, that all of their poems are of equal worth? But this is yet another area where poetry critics fail- when was the last time you read such concerns from a poet or critic? And the few rebukes you do get are mild at best, or they will end with the writer’s own caveat that the mild damnations he/she has loosed do not apply to the poet/scene/publisher/org that he/she praises/attends, etc. Thus the magalog arose to merely puff up the bad poetry out there, exhort unknowledgeable readers to buy the shoddy product (especially if you are a poet you are prodded- Support this magazine!- Whether or not it’s worthy of support is apparently not a subject for discussion.); then when the audience rejected what was being pushed, retreated further into the recesses of self-denial of their own culpability for producing & promoting bad work which fails to find an audience. And the magalog, despite its near constant hucksterism, is still as dependent on outside revenue sources- 99% of the time from a grant which ensures its terminal docility.
Even less spoken of than great Poetic audiences is the great Critical audience for never does the contemporary poetry critic expect a great Critical audience. As guilty of this as poets are, the role of critics is even more abysmal since they are supposed to be the ‘cops’ who point out poetry’s failings- yet do not. There is always the lingering verity of the upward & downward cycling of things. Good quality verse being published inevitably leads to more quality & higher quality, for those who have observed the ordination of the good seek to emulate & surpass it. The flip of that is that by rewarding bad poetry other poets see that they need not strive so hard & long if the stuff they can churn out without revision or real effort is better than most of what is published. The truth is: Most artists do not have that inner desire to be excellent for excellence’s sake. And by knee-jerkedly toeing the academic line critics become as or more responsible for the horrid state of contemporary poetry than the poets & pedants. And without serious challenges to their lax practices- without ‘cops’ for the cops- how is the art ever to recover? Quis custodiet indeed!
But no one expects every book (or film, or album) to be great. It is not the job of the critic to constantly damn every piece of garbage spewn for public consumption. To do so would be self-defeating, as well as tiring. Most of anything that humans endeavor fails. But, of every 100 books produced there will only be about 4 or 5 books that are good (& a much smaller percentage that are great). The other 95 percent that sucks is to be expected. The job of the critic is to make sure that the 5% that is good succeeds & gets written, published, & promoted. The other 95% will fall of its own worthlessness- although occasionally cogent & asskicking rebukes as this are always welcome. And I would not waste a moment’s thought about the bad 95 if I knew that the worthy 5 were getting published. But when those worthy 5 are squeezed out for yet another book of doggerel by a Carolyn Forché or James Tate, or the 1st book of a Forché/Tate wannabe (quite possibly an ex-student/lover) is shoved down the throats as ‘the best ______ of his/her generation’, then there needs to be an accounting. The Rain Taxis & Eric Lorberers of the world need to be called the recrudescence they are. The era of the magalog started because of the lack of great audiences for poetry. It was that void & the one created by lack of quality poetry writing, editing, publishing, & criticism that allowed the magalog to evolve. It will be by closing that niche with quality poetry writing, editing, publishing, & criticism that the poetry reading public can make this bastardized hybrid of all 4 go extinct. And that will happen only when all the elements in the art get fed up with passing the buck of responsibility & start doing their jobs. Poets must write well. Publishers must publish excellent poets. Critics must weed out the crap that gets through, etc. For far worse than pornographers are the well-intended dolts that foist bad art on the public; & worse yet- those who refuse to call it so!
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