Comment on Bradenton Poet's Echo Chamber

The trigger for this piece of writing was a pseudo-personal public update published in the social-media phasebuke echo-chamber of Florida Bradenton's Bethany Pope. An academic poetry doctor, Faulkner-Wisdom Awards finalist, and author of A Radiance, and a forthcoming collection, Persephone in the Underworld. Resident in Swindon, England, she wrote, 'Oh sweet, suffering Jesus'; telling the public she was unable to get a refund from Amazon after downloading a kindle book that was full of 'the most asinine and idiotic' 'notes written by Oprah', that she couldn't turn off: 'When I saw this sentence I was compelled to carry on'. Dear sweet Lord Jesus, Merciful Buddha, Tender Vishnu, SOMEBODY save me from this horror before I throw my kindle clear across the room.'

The conversation below it consists of very short single-line comments that range from, what seems, or could be contextualized without much real effort to seem, as asinine as the Oprah note Pope evinced as proof of another writer's idiocy.

The first comment to strike this reader's ear as sounding, in a purely literary sense, somewhat asinine on the page, is: 'Try asking Oprah for compensations for a laugh.' The humour here can be read either way. It could mocking Pope, or be genuinely trying to cheer her up over the money, that, at this point, before receiving a refund (the subject of a further public update), Pope believed she'd lost.

The conversation then quickly took a negative turn when the contributor that made the joke about asking Oprah for a refund, wrote:

 'I would put a review up saying how terrible these notes are. Might warn others.'

I didn't forensically analyse the forty-two comment stream there, but quickly grasped, scrolling and skim-reading the one line aphoristic comments; that after a few one-line notes performed in a tone of annoyed disapproval, the bulk of the exchange turns into a series of one lines condescendingly mocking as supremely distasteful those that claim not to read much poetry themselves, but who write and read their own in public. An innocuous and mundane conversation consisting of comedic comments and tones of displeasure, irritation and complaint; that became a trigger for one's own writing and response to it published here.  

'In the past two decades the publishing model has been utterly inverted. We've gone, historically speaking, very briefly from one extreme to the other. Twenty years ago if one wanted to become a published poet it took a lot of extremely hard work and dedication. Writing writing writing until eventually one is writing so much a voice readers recognise emerges. And though the odds were more than a one in a thousand chance of a fairy god-editor plucking from a slush pile the first manuscript you sent out, when you plugged away one eventually connected with a coterie of like-minded poetry lovers and writers, producing, when compared with today, a tiny amount of store-quality publications.

The whole business of getting a manuscript into printed book form was far more expensive and time-consuming than now. Someone wanting to publish their own books twenty years ago would spend years learning the many different roles needed to go from a hand or type-written fistful of poems, to a shiny new attractive publication. And the vast majority of poetry books that were published, unless it was by a corporate press, had very little-to-nothing in the way of advertising and getting the word out even regionally about their poems for sale.

It was a very socially lonely time for most poets, unlike today; with no way - unless one had millions of pounds to buy air time and pay for commercials - of reaching in print the millions of book-buying people all over the globe we take for granted are the audience and customers we can instantly connect with today. And all the things that were then in the hands of a very few globally powerful editors, are now at the fingertips of everyone. We are, finally, all on a level playing field, professionally, in relation to the publishing and business side of selling poems; because anyone with an internet connection can decide we are an independent po-biz editor, and within hours be publishing and selling books worldwide. We can create in a week what previously took years of dedicated learning, continual slog, rejection, learning and experience; not to mention many thousands of pounds, and tens of thousands of hours of writing. And the powerful attraction to that profoundly playful source of our own writing, which we're blessed to be born with in the digital age 

There has been a revolution throughout the world, in publishing, and culturally, in the way we communicate, and in how one can present ourself in public as someone whose language the Reader can trust the words of when it comes to English poetry.

If one is English it helps, when speaking, virtually, in America, to drop the reserve, one finds, and get stuck in trolling and trash-talking with fellow Americans in that uniquely global capitalist poetic culture we share online. When one restricts one's vision to the purely domestic realms, the free back and forth conversational flow rarely reaches the anything-goes post-avant level of linguistic exchange and open craic one experiences when in the thick of debate with fellow N. Americans.

I think this is because we English are very much a product of our birth status in a multi-tiered Class and Honour System, that can be very spiritually challenging and difficult to get our head round when we are one of the 99% of English people born outside it. A child of immigrants, without a title, only with what can be subtly contextualised as that most culturally distasteful of things by posh-sounding snobs performing in letters little more than a disapproving one-line note and tone of voice; the openly working-class English voice speaking from the English Republic of Letters; in which everyone is welcome and free to write whatever the heck ye goddam wanna. Issuing not the short and snarky superior literate ejections that reveal an entire intellectual apparatus built of falsehood, fear and envy; but an honest voice.

Cheers ears.

May your hair grow golden and your heart be filled with joy
May your eyes always see and your ears detect duende
May your mouth sing from the soles of the feet up highest

May your hand and head together make the greatest poetry.