You’re All Good

A few years ago, I got a mass email from a poet acquaintance. Sent to a dozen of his peers, this poet offered to pay “the usual fee” to anyone who would review his new book. Needless to say, it should be positive. Not quite in the loop, I didn’t know there was a usual fee, though I had already figured out that reriews of contemporary poetry weren’t primarily about literary assessment, but schmoozing. Dishonesty isn’t just rampant, it’s more or less required. The reasons should be obvious. The poetry ghetto is tiny. Sooner or later, you will pretty much meet just about everybody. This week in Denver, host city of the Associated Writing Program conference, you can probably do it in a night, if you know which after hour karaoke bar to pop in. (Do check your cane at the door, Rigoberto. I won’t be inside, waiting to give you a hug in solidarity. Maybe some other time.) In such a cozy community, even a vaguely negative review can have nasty consequences. You have just made a lifelong enemy, someone who can deny you a grant, job or reading invitation down the line. With the pie so puny, you gotta lick each crumb before someone else does. Pen a puff piece, however, and you have just gained a new ally.


No comments: