31 January 2009

Powell's question # 4

Here is my unsolicited answer to the fourth question raised by Adam Donaldson Powell:

"What are the literary career risks if one 'fails miserably' -- how forgiving and how understanding is the literary community (other writers, readers of poetry, editors and critics)? Is it perhaps acceptable to write some bad bilingual poetry, inevitable to perform some bilingual poetry badly but 'unforgivable' to publish bad bilingual poetry?"

At the moment, sad to say, there is no risk at all. It should be unforgivable to publish bad bilingual (or monolingual) poetry, but we always forgive the bad people anyway. At least, bad poetry is still poetry, but what really bothers me is that much of what is published as poetry is not even poetry at all, but prose cut up into lines, sometimes even bad prose that wouldn't be able to stand up as prose. The writing community is so small that it suffers from a siege mentality: everyone not against us must be for us. So we politely forgive people with no idea about what poetry is but that publish what they think is poetry anyway. We feel that anyone that at least pretends to be a poet must be with us; we think that we should not shoot down our friends, there being so few of them. But in the end, if we do not start insisting on quality, we will ultimately be the ones to suffer (assuming that we are the good guys that can write real poetry).

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