It’s a fool’s game to respond to criticism of one’s art. It legitimizes the critic, for one thing. For another, the artist is automatically perceived as “defensive,” which I most certainly am not. Unfortunately, the sheer viciousness of the attacks and the underlying motive of the attackers must be exposed, thus I am forced to respond.
The main points of my response are as follows:
- Ongoing attacks against Marge Simon, editor of Star*Line magazine
- Mike Allen’s baseless claim that “The Green Reich” is “hate-speech”
- Rose Lemberg’s delusional belief that the whole thing is about her
Where it concerns Ms. Simon:
Understand from the outset that this fabricated outrage has a lot less to do with me, or my poem, than it does with an ongoing crusade by a certain segment of this poetic community to impugn the editorial philosophy of Marge Simon, if not Marge Simon herself. Marge Simon doesn’t need me to defend her editorial decisions and I do not presume to do so. I’m not inclined to clutter this response with a bunch of links (I despise that sort of thing and if you don’t believe me then you should click HERE, or OVER HERE, and then CHECK THIS OUT) but I have written extensively on this topic. If you want to know more you can scour my blog www.sak6.wordpress.com, or you could just ask Rose Lemberg, who apparently has a link to everything that I have ever said (or thought) or written. The bottom line is that I find it thoroughly disgusting (if pathetically predictable) that this “certain segment of this poetic community” will use trumped-up outrage at my poem to attack Marge Simon, or diminish in any way her accomplishments as editor of Star*Line. Beyond disgusting is the fact that Ms. Simon is being forced to render apologies where none are needed. As I understand it, both from her email to me on this subject and the things that I read on Mr. Allen’s blog, she intends to run his letter of indignation along with an apology in the next issue of Star*Line. I am certain that I will not be extended an offer to rebut Mr. Allen’s claims in that issue. You see, if you don’t like somebody, or if their ideas do not “jibe” with your own, then in this day and age you need merely call them a racist, or label their words as “hate speech,” to win an argument against them. People will flock to your cause, even when they disagree with you. To do otherwise would be, well, racist, yes? Hateful, yes? Nobody wants to be that.
In fact, I wrote a poem about it.
Where it concerns Mr. Allen:
I don’t mind being called an asshole. I’ve been called a lot worse. I don’t mind that you think my poem is an egregious waste of good paper; I signed on for that kind of critique when I offered the poem up for publication. But I do expect to be critiqued fairly, and without prejudice. Unfortunately you fail in both of these regards.
From your blog (And I repeat, I am not going to provide links. People can go to your blog and search it all out themselves. If you or your sycophants choose to rush back and delete things that they have written, well have at it. We all know what has been said.) I understand that you believe my poem “The Green Reich” was written to intentionally say “hurtful, hateful things about gays, people of color, and so on…”
And so on? Doesn’t that phrase strike you as a little vague for such condemnation? Such vehement, specific, condemnation? When you make this claim, sir, you are not attacking my poem. You are attacking me. So that we are clear, from what I have read of your critique of my poem, you believe that I have written the poem to intentionally hurt or say hateful things to gays, people of color, and so on.”
You base this belief on a few lines of the poem taken utterly out of context. Of course, you can do this because you’ve already labeled it “racist hate-speech,” and who dares disagree with you, however uninformed your assertions may be? You object very specifically to the phrase “young black hispanic disabled tri-sexual manFEM/cybiotic jewslamic skinhead.” Sir, how could any human being be ALL of those things? Name for me one “black hispanic skinhead” who is offended by this phrase. Are disabled people outraged? What exactly is a “tri-sexual manFEM/cybiotic?” And even if I WAS making fun of or being hateful toward “tri-sexual manFEM/cybiotic(s)” (which, to the very best of my knowledge, don’t actually exist…since I made them up in my head) how in the hell is that hateful to the regular old hetero/homo/bi-sexual folks? And which one of THOSE groups is it more hateful towards? Please be specific.
It seems obvious to me, it seemed obvious to the few people who critiqued this poem at the Absolute Write Water Cooler (a point that will loom large in the next section) and it seemed obvious to Marge Simon, who bought and published this poem, that the aforementioned stanza is impossible. That the point of the aforementioned stanza was that it is absurdly impossible. I find it very telling, Mr. Allen, that no supposed “minority group” (your words) has stood up to express outrage and indignation at the hurtfulness and hatefulness of these lines that I have written. I find it particularly telling that you have chosen to stand up and express their outrage and indignation for them. My, aren’t those unfortunate minorities lucky to have YOU as their advocate. I can only wonder why you feel that they are incapable of speaking on their own behalf.
Especially the tri-sexual man/FEM cybiotics. They are quite eloquent, in case you didn’t know.
Where it concerns Ms. Lemberg:
Beyond doubt, the most absurd aspect of this feigned outrage is the point at which, in the comments section of one of the posts in which Mr. Allen presumes to express the thoughts and feelings of people whom he feels are not capable of expressing themselves, Rose Lemberg barges in to inform everyone that the whole poem is about her. She has links and a mysterious IM that she copied and kept (in case anyone doesn’t believe her). Mr. Allen seems to agree with her even though it directly contradicts his original claim that I wrote the poem to “hate” and “hurt” the “and so on” people. But that’s okay. It’s racist hate-speech, right? Mr. Allen said so. Let’s not bother with the details.
But I am going to bother with this one tiny detail. The original rough draft of “The Green Reich” was written somewhere in 2008. It sat, like all my poems do, until I had a draft that I thought worth offering up to my friends at the Absolute Write Water Cooler Poetry Critique forum. I submitted this poem for critique on March 3, 2009. Here I will give a link, but it may do you no good. You have to be a member of AW to get to this section, and the poetry crit section is further pass-protected with a freely available password that is given on the site. Here is the direct link:
It is probably easier to log on (you have to join up-and your welcome, Mac), then use the search function to search “green reich” in the poetry critique section. I leave it up to the reader as to how far down the hole you want to chase this particular rabbit.
The bottom line is that the poem could not possibly be about Rose Lemberg and our overtly public “falling out” given that it was written sometime in 2008 and posted for critique in March of 2009. Our “spat” didn’t begin until late July of that same year. Follow Rose’s own links (they are in the comments section of one of Mr. Allen’s numerous posts concerning this subject) for proof.
A somewhat unfortunate aside is that (another!) former friend who goes by the screen-name “Dichroic” decided to join in the Mike Allen “let’s bash S. A. (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SCOTT) Kelly again” parade. In a comment on his blog she opined:
On July 2nd, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC), dichroic commented:
I don’t think I’d say that “skinhead” always refers to a Neo-Nazi type; I’ve also heard the word used to refer to shaven-headed multi-pierced punker types who were likely to believe in the opposite of Nazism. At least back in the 1980s; I live a more insulated life these days and don’t seem to run into any. But yeah, that’s a specious argument anyway, since it seems clear that the poem is referring to the Neo-Nazi type. Speaking as someone who is Jewish and used to be friendly with Scott on AW (until he started making some extremely nasty comments about other people I like) I’m disappointed.
I am curious Di. Even in the thick of the distorted, specious—if I may borrow that most excellent word from you only momentarily—attacks that Rose, Shweta, Jules, and eventually their sycophant, Mike, brought against me…you were always fair. I remember that.
And because you were fair to me then I’ll try to extend you the same courtesy now (meaning that I’m not going to post links or quotes). What precisely disappoints you about my poem “The Green Reich” now, as compared to the comments that you made on the draft that I posted in the AW poetry forums back in March of 2009? The published, edited version is not very far from the version that you critiqued way back when. I’m sorry for asking Di, but I must.
Everybody deserves a chance to have his or her say. This is my “say.” My “say” is that Mike Allen is using my poem, and his obvious hatred of me, to attack Marge Simon. My “say” is that certain other people are hopping on board to help him in this endeavor. My final “say” is for Rose. Your comments on Mr. Allen’s blog regarding your Rhysling nomination were unwarranted, untrue, and very mean-spirited.