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Old 06-22-2002, 03:19 AM
Robert J. Clawson Robert J. Clawson is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Massachusetts
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Although I'm not a regular, I sometimes feel that this is a little club indulging in backpatting for, well, sometimes relatively minor accomplishments. The Wilbur prizes are, indeed, impressive, as would be any publication in, say, Poetry or Hudson Review. I guess that any form of publication is positive, especially for "formalists," but I think that we should set our sites on recruiting more accomplished members who would fulfill the label.

While Robert Mezey was fooling around here, this was an important forum, as it was when Tim Murphy was fronting for Anthony Hecht.

But, too frequently, we're patting ourselves on the back for racking up credits in relatively inconsequential journals. I don't want to sound like a snob (I'm not) but I would like to ELEVATE the word "accomplished." And I think that the best way to do this would be to recruit more accomplished poets. Where'd Mezey go? Why didn't we keep him? Why haven't we attracted other such accomplished poets?

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Old 06-22-2002, 04:50 AM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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Bob: I think it's a fair comment to raise--I've raised a somewhat parallel point on a different forum and I'm getting creamed for it!
To some extent, I think I am responsible for "The Accomplished Members" board, so I'm going to acknowledge some truth in what you said but defend it anyway. In the early days of Erato I started touting the accomplishments of board members with the typical "I saw a fine piece by OUR Bob Clawson in The Southern Review". I don't recall mentioning my own credits very often, if at all, but Alex made a conscious decision to encourage people to do it for what I still think are valid reasons: 1) This can be a lonely hobby, and a little recognition for a measurable accomplishment is a good thing in and of itself. 2) It helps people striving to succeed to see what their peers are doing and gives them both the energy to see what is achievable and new ideas about how to go about achieving things.
Now, do I cringe occasionally at chest beating over very thin accomplishments? Well, yeah, a little now and then, but you have to remember what a big deal the first publication is for someone just starting out even if it is likely years later that first work will make them cringe in hindsight (which is all true in my case). It's part of the growth process and I'm Ok with it.
I hear you as making two other points. It's a real risk that poetry boards lose value because egos prevent candid feedback, and they degenerate into support groups for people with low self esteem. I don't think we're there. The balance is hard, but I think Erato is blessed to have talented and hard working moderators who have kept the tone quite good, again recognizing the inevitability of posts that will make one cringe. I should just add for the record as a former moderator that I think many of us here underestimate how much time our volunteer moderators spend trying to keep things civil without turning Erato into an Internet police state.
Finally, I miss Mezey too. Annie Finch as well--even though I disagree with her on everything from scansion to politics to the best beer in West Chester. And I don't know why they don't stay. However, I do think, without intending to do so so, you've understimated some of the awesome talent that is very active here--Tony, Paul, Alicia, Alan, Tim, Deborah and the rest are widely recognized and appreciated across the country by anyone paying attention to formalism. At least intermittently we get the Sam Gwynns and the David Masons and the Rhina Espaillats, and Tim has had Wilbur and Steele and other great ones as guests, and the list of people who would be terrific to see here who we don't see isn't all that long anymore. Dana Gioia's never been here, which is ironic because I'm not sure we would have Erato without Can Poetry Matter? Charles Martin, Mary Jo Salter, and a few of my other favorites haven't shown up yet, but I think we've done purty darn good--even though you're right on that it would be better if Mezey came back.
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Old 06-22-2002, 07:48 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Location: Fargo ND, USA
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We've not had Wilbur yet, but we've certainly had most of the best poets of my generation and the succeeding one. Charles Martin I'm sure I can persuade to join us one of these days. Michael Donaghy and Catherine Tufariello are also on my lariat list. Dana doesn't use a computer, although we could employ the Hecht by fax approach. Bob Mezey just got tired. He was compiling his Poets of the American West, which is now finished, and he posted twice last week. He's leaving Claremont to move in with his daughter in DC, and when he's settled we'll see more of him.
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Old 06-22-2002, 04:47 PM
David Anthony David Anthony is offline
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Oh, sorry about that, Bob.
I put down the Stoke Poges parish mag as a little light relief; certainly didn't intend that anyone should take it otherwise.
I wouldn't brag about my serious publications.
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Old 06-22-2002, 07:19 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Location: Fargo ND, USA
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Actually, David,I thought it was a charming posting, and I was touched by the desire you share with everyone here to reach a general audience. My own best experience of this came when North Dakota Outdoors, the journal of our State Fish and Game Dept., published the econd chapter of Ploughshare. Oh sure their 80,000 readers are less literate than Hudson Review's 5000, but I wrote that book for hunters and farmers, and I imagine I reacted much as you did to reaching out to your parishioners.
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Old 06-23-2002, 09:08 AM
Michael P. McManus Michael P. McManus is offline
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Location: West Monroe. La.
Posts: 878


That's cool. Today, there just isn't enough outstanding poetry written about hunting and fishing. My 'pastoral' poems, based for the most part on growing up for a while in rural Pennsylvania, have always brought me greater joy on being published, than my other work. Do you have a link, or addy where I could read some of your aforementioned work, or buy the book? Thanks in advance.


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Old 06-23-2002, 11:38 AM
Richard Wakefield Richard Wakefield is offline
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Location: Federal Way, Washington, USA
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With all due respect to Bob, I would vote to keep this forum as a place to list anything that feels like an accomplishment to the person who did it, or that looks like another person's accomplishment to anyone willing to list it here. I like having a forum where we can let each other know what we're doing and so let each other know what's possible at any stage of our writing careers.
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Old 06-23-2002, 12:17 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 4,864

I enthusiastically agree, Richard. Though I haven't canvassed all of the online workshops, I'd guess this one has more accomplished and "name brand" poets as members than any other. Any evidence to the contrary?


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Old 06-23-2002, 01:58 PM
Len Krisak Len Krisak is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 539

Dear David,

Yikes! I never realized. Are you
a catholic priest or a vicar or
something? How interesting!

Sorry to pry,

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Old 06-24-2002, 04:43 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Location: Fargo ND, USA
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I concur with Richard. There's nothing I like better round here than hearing that a beginning poet has achieved first publication somewhere I never heard of. Michael, Set the Ploughshare Deep can be ordered from Amazon. Just punch in Timothy Murphy.
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