Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Comment on My Ranked List of 30 Best Po' Bloggers Discovered This Year on Justin Evans Blog

... I posted this morning, except that it was over 3000 characters and wouldn't post so I post it here:
(My response to this post of Justin Evans and this)

Hi there! No validation (isn't that for the DMV?) but I'd gladly offer some editing suggestions if you'd like - having been at it for as long as you've been alive. (33 years married to the Muse this summer.) As I once tried to explain to Tony R., it's as if you're a master framer and you walk into a house with great paintings or fine photos, but they're hung crooked. It's hard not to want to just nudge them into place. And it's better to ask first than attempt to do it while no one's looking. Or worse, while the whole world is watching and declare yourself a SOP a few centuries prematurely.

Hey, I can't read everything and, unlike Tony, I don't know everyone, so rest assured, this is a virgin blog I'm reading here. How do you do?

And, my list is not people who post the best poetry from other people (or self-same SOPS: self-created Schools for fish in the same pond) but the "Best of the Best Poets" who blog that I've discovered this (my first) year of blogging and discovering blogs based upon their own poems I've read on their blog or live links to poems on their template published on the net -- whatever of their work is available on their blogs to read.

Bottom line? Does it make me write? Write well? Write poems? Good poems do.

Sorry, but eeze my job (Job's job & that' ain't no reference to an Apple) and it's March, the ranking month. I've spent all February & March as I usually do, ranking poets over poets for various contests, panels, awards, recommendations for programs, conferences, awards, CWP students, TAs, and this year, reviewing "Digerati" which to most folk in the Po'Biz world spells: Bad Poetry. NOT SO! I say, which is also the name of my more professional blog, Lorna Dice or "Lorna says." And I say, most often: "Competition's for horses and Schools are for fish." It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. So, it puts me in a rank mood -- just in time for April, the Cruelest Month for (most) Poets left out on the Po' Porch or bumped off the bumpy Fence this month.

All things considered, this is a most sincere list, and totally mixed in style, persuasion, experience and actitud/ attitude. And I did it just because people ask. Heck, they write or call every week for dissertation interviews, theses, reports, etc., and I'm constantly asked: "Who do you read? Who's the best?" Particularly in regards to the New-Up-and-Coming. I don't like it. I don't believe in it. But I face it; poets always end up in one institution or another and I choose higher ed. I've been here for 17 years, but have been a editor/publisher for going on 30 years (July 4, 1976) and it's been my job for all of my adult life to know who's out there writing and most importantly, who's good. But then, I am of the persuasion of those who trust that poetry makes something happen -- good poetry. Even if it's just for the single life. (sorry if that's a pun in your personal life, anyone out there reading this, I can't resist Irony wherever she rests.) And often, the asking involves real money to a real poet which (usually) involves real change in a life in order for real good poems to be where they might not have been without it. That's why I do it. And, I just love poetry. I can shut off my Critic and just read. Or, turn it on. Because I'm good at it. I'm in it for the pudding for when it comes to The Poems, The Whole Poem, And Nothing But the Poem I let my inner granma be the Judge: "The proof is in the pudding" as she always said about anything I would say I was going to do or did. And "Name?" What's in a name? "Puddin'Tame! Ask me again I'll tell you the same!" as she would also say when it came to those questions of "Who's your mother?" or answers of "My father was. . . ". Ya' know?

And, tortillas, as always, are also irrelevant. Unless, of course, they are present or absent from an actual plate.

Cheers! Poetry on! Teacher? Salt of the Earth! Don't put your best stuff on your blog, send it out for publication and put the link to it on your blog. Or, yeah, why not, somebody might read it, and like it. Especially, perhaps, when one new to po' blogging has some kind of unbiased guide to The Best this year.

What do I like? l like how I put it on the masthead of my old crosscultural po' mag, RED DIRT, so many years ago: Poems rooted in the earth and rendered in blood. Duende. And what is good? Hey, it's like any aesthetic, like any artistic experience, like sex. As I often tell my class: What we want to go for is the unexpected inevitable. And, When in doubt, cut it out. You can always put it back. As for the rest: There are no absolutes in poetry. And that is the only absolute.

Good first half of your poem. Thanks for posting.

Lorna Dee


Blogger Suzanne said...

You're HOT today. Everyone is talking about you--you're the subject line at Chicana Poetics and one of your poems is on litwindowpane.

29/3/06 11:46  
Blogger Melissa Jones Fiori said...

"Poems rooted in the earth and rendered in blood."

Ah, Lorna Dee, just reading this one line makes me want to write write write write all the night long.

29/3/06 19:02  
Blogger 666poetry-finchnot said...

have you been drinking coffee
this morning lorna dee / hee hee

as suzanne says /you ARE hot to day

i kinda like that / ;)

love this bit here:

As I often tell my class: What we want to go for is the unexpected inevitable. And, When in doubt, cut it out. You can always put it back. As for the rest: There are no absolutes in poetry. And that is the only absolute.

i'm enjoying a half hour of quiet
before the day kicks in just a little bit more / take it while
i can


30/3/06 11:10  
Blogger Diana Marie Delgado said...


Where are you? I'm missing your posts!

3/4/06 16:38  
Blogger Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/4/06 19:11  
Blogger Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Hey there Diana! I'm missing you. I just got in from Dallas Writers Garret Conference, the "Writes of Spring" Book Festival a few hours ago. I teach tomorrow then off to Portland on friday for a reading at Reed College on Saturday night. Then I'm off to UC Berkeley the 26th.

I feel good because I feel good this trip. YEA, Po Chai Pills! And maybe because it was a book festival -- I love books. And low stress -- and, I stopped and stocked up at Wild Oats before heading off to the airport. Smart move.

I just spent too much time dealing with el chavalo T.R. writing this post:
Please read my latest post on this. Please note it says, "I don't like it. But I face it."

Tony, you were in an MFA program (studying at one of the "best" with one of the "best" I might add) and now dissertating and teaching in one of the better schools because you are ranked. Your letters of recommendation all included a rank, a very specific numerical rank down to the decimal scale and an X on a horizontal scale. You will be ranked by several committees down to the Regents down to the hundreth decimal when you go to apply for a job. The only reason you haven't won a major award or book publication is because you are being ranked. NEA, Fulbright, state grants, any grant proposal, any foundation, any editorial board (as opposed to individual editors or foundations; hence, my essay, whenever I get the time on how the best editors or publishers are the best poets) is going to rank you, and most now go for the corporate model (the antithesis of "humanites") of numerical convenience. Yes. Absolutely. Atrocious. My hubby was a middle manager in a fortune 500 corp (and he's an artist) and that's how he describes it: "They sit in these meetings and move peoples lives around like they were chips on a board and some they sweep off the table and then act as if they didn't exist." I just do it publicly. But I do it honestly. This list is based upon EVERYTHING in the archives from the beginning in the order the posts were written (Eduardo! AD! Tony! Y'all poof things, that is, y'all are mad deleters) which is how I read blogs after something catches my eye, and I confess I was relieved to somehow bracket Ron as who can read everything in Ron's archives through the years starting last March? And, Steve, this accounts for why you haven't made this year's list as I just clicked on you recently & I haven't had time to read all the way through.

Tony, what's your trip? Who said anything about your genes? You have some killer poems. And you have some killer depressions, or at least as expressed on your blog. I was just trying to help. You seemed discouraged about your writing and, THE POINT: You aren't writing, and not hitting them out of the ballpark consistently every time the Muse pitches them like Ali or Rebecca (who are like speed ice skaters in the Olympics: Ali "wins" by one one-hundreth of one one-hundreth of a second). And it's a shame. You're good. You need to play again. Or get mad and challenged. I tried to go for that. You wrote your best poem, that I've seen, during that time - and I said so on my blog. The one in No Tell Motel is "The Best." When I first heard about the anthology I knew it would be and requested the anthology for review so I could write about it; I knew it had to be in there. I'm supposed to be writing the review for it now, or soon, I missed the inaugural issue deadline.

And, frankly, rank and order is irrelevant for as all of us know there is only one "Best." Heck, what the heck is the Best Seller list? The best for this gal this year and just newly discovered po-bloggers this past year. But The Best is the Best for just one man, most often, and the orderlies supply a ranked list in case the original "Best" is unavailable or declines. Hey, isn't that The President and the Supreme Court who last elected him? Isn't that the Electoral College?

Anyway. Just read all the poems that are available (ideally in the order they were posted) from all thirty poets on this list and ask yourself, don't you think this is a fair ranking -- not based upon their books or other publications which would be unfair as I've only read books by 4 of these authors. Come on. Just read "Torn" and ask yourself, don't you think C. Dale Young is just a wee bit better of a poet than you? Consistently. And Ali & Rebecca Louden, they set my poetry bones to sing every time they chime. Y'all are good.

I will tell you a secret, yes, this one time because you're Chicano. Also because it's a bloody shame you don't write more and think better of your own writing. (btw the only reason I clicked on your blog in the first place is because you were one of the first to click on mine the day or week I put it up, and the title: Geneva Convention; I'm a peace activist) I am routinely asked to identify "The Best" based upon no other criteria but "literary excellence." There are years I have missed the deadline. This whole process is antithetical to everything I live -- but in some cases it involves real money for someone worthy, for example. I agree with everything you and others have said, especially Rebecca when I read her post -- I got it. I was going to write about but for numerous travels & teaching. Orale carnal, it's our Xicanismo that make us this way. But I feel guilty for missing deadlines to nominate, especially when all it involves is typing a single name, or a phone call. I'm blowing it for someone who deserves it. So to atone, this year, I decided, okay, here's my ranked list of this particular criteria, if the grant read this way, then this is who would get the money. See? Sucks. But, face it. This is the way it is. Po-Biz, I call it. But, don't worry, you're a personable guy, tall, good-looking, witty, undoubtly gifted, at least, that I know of, as a poet and by the evidence of your rank, that is, your present position. And, let's face it. You're a white guy. You're on your way. Your onda will arrive. I was just offering to "wax your board" -- your surfboard implying you had a ready made good one and the only reason you keep falling off the board at the big ones (like first book) is that you need an editor, that is, you needed a little wax applied the right way before the next big wave hits. How you got the crazy idea I was telling you write like a Chicano or put tortillas in your poem I don't know. (Although I would mind some of your amás' recipes in a poem a la Hass.) But what you wrote about the "Tortilla School" in your post on the New Sincerity I found personally and professionally insulting. And defamatory and professionally damging to me. Now all these poets think I'm about that -- and show me the text! If I were so inclined I'd win a law suit for defamation. My sitemeter plummeted and people were writing comments who never read anything else on my blog much less my response to that and other posts. Definitely defamatory. Now I'm the lady who's trying to "ghetto-pimp" your poems.

And, can't we all be friends? It would help to read the words on the page. And not go off interpreting or re-traumatizing on me, in regards to whatever happened to you in school.

If you knew me you would have heard, often and good-humouredly, "Competition's for horses and schools are for fish!"

But if rich people want to give their money away. . .

You, like all the others on this list can use me or this list as a reference, ask for a letter, send me a review copy of your books, refer to my published list whatever. Man, I like you! Poetically speaking.

P. S. The only reason Jenn is on the bottom of the list is that she's a stay at home mom with five kids without the luxury of a nanny or stipend to fund her writing. You get the raw stuff on her blog, and I recognize the feat. I added her to the list replacing Bruce Covey who was on my original list but I had to delete to be fair as he doesn't have a blog just a group blog member. He was ranked much higher. And I had already typed out my list title and wanted an even 30. The list I wrote rapidly in my notebook at the sunday breakfast table in a fit of pique over missing another deadline.
I'll be back soon with more than anyone would want to read!
April 6th is Luis and Susan Cervantes Day in San Francisco! Check out Precita Eyes Mural Center. Stop by the Mural Arts store, shop and ask for Susan. Plan a mural walk in my father's memory.

3/4/06 19:19  

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