The Park

Northern pintails brushing blue,
the crescendo of their wings,
weaving windsong into words
some say that, “Up jumped spring.”

The rising sun, through veils of dun,
atop a pool of glass
with flitting beams, does bend the streams
to cast a liquid brass.

Children fashion cradles,
and white whiskers out of string,
and fumble through foxed pages,
grazing grass on slowing swings.

Some, in a pensive mood do trace
the wisps that form the whale,
as froth stirs in a weightless sea
the poets long to sail.
And yet, despite the fluxing airs
that turn the tails to grey,
those perched below,
where quill pens crow,
will write of how they play.

 

 

The Boy With No Name

There once was a boy with no name
upon who no man could cast blame,
who by his born right,
despite being bright,
could never cash checks off his fame.

 

 

Family Tree

An apple once asked of his dad,
“Why is it our bunch is so bad?”
To which he replied,
“Guess it stems from the side
of Smith, for it’s granny who’s mad!”

 

 

The Clever Man

There once lived a man who was clever
who thought he’d invest in a lever.
One dime for each yank,
attached to a bank,
he’d coin as “A Gripping Endeavor.”

 

 

Amy Struthers is a peasant with a penchant for writing in rhyme. Presently, she resides in the Bay Area with her parents and cat Clio the Corruptible.


Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.”

27 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    Amy, Welcome to the SCP! I enjoyed your poems. “The Park” reminded me of the pointillist paintings of Seurat, where seemingly random daubs of paint create an impression of a scene that is most clearly seen when the viewer steps back and views the picture as a whole from a distance. Like Seurat’s daubs, the individual parts of your poem are not expressed in clear, clean English (in the way that a painter like Gainsborough paints clear, clean lines on a canvas) but the cumulative effect attains some measure of success, nonetheless.

    For example, your opening phrase. “Northern pintails brushing blue,” is lovely, insofar as it offers an image of the passing blur of a pintail in flight. (although the word “blue” seems out of place since pintails are white, gray, brown, and black). The following phrase, however,

    the crescendo of their wings,
    weaving windsong into words

    although it sounds nice and has a poetic/rhythmic lilt to it, does not make a whole lot of sense, at least not to me. How do wings crescendo? How do crescendos (or wings) weave? What is “windsong?”–the sound of wings beating?–a sound not particularly musical to my ear. (Nor would the sound of the pintail, itself, qualify as a “windsong, since it is a quack). And what are the “words” which are being woven into the tapestry? Are they the words of the poet?

    Formal, “Classical” poetry of the sort that is encouraged on this site, generally uses meaningful words and phrases to communicate deeper, more abstract thoughts and feelings.

    Yet, even though your daubs of words do not always make sense, they do contribute to the overall “impression” of the poem.

    The SCP motto is, “Rhyming, Rhythmic, and Rapturous,”

    You are headed in the right direction and have a good eye for capturing a feeling or impression of things. My challenge to you is to create poems with a consistent rhythmic/rhyming pattern (unlike “The Park” which shifts from one to another). You might find the SCP resource article on “How to Write a Sonnet” helpful in this regard.

    The limericks, by the way, were witty and followed form fairly well. I hope to see more of your work in the future

    Reply
    • Lannie David Brockstein

      To the reader at SCP: The female northern pintail does, in fact, make quacking sounds, whereas the male northern pintail does, in fact, make high-pitched fluttering sounds that are similar to those of a flute, which is a wind instrument.

      Reply
      • James A. Tweedie

        Lannie and Isabella, Thank you for your responses both to Amy’s poems and to my comment. It should not be a surprise that different people respond to particular poems in different ways.
        By the way, a recording of the male Northern Pintail can be found here
        https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Pintail/sounds

        And you are, of course, correct to suggest that in music, anything can be made to crescendo. Even a duck, as Prokofiev so memorably demonstrated in “Peter and the Wolf.”

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    In “The Boy With No Name,” the second line should start “upon whom”, not “upon who.” The objective case of the pronoun is required.

    Reply
  3. Isabella G.

    Amy, lovely work on this. All your poems were well written but “The Park” was especially evocative. Just as fellow commenter Mr. Tweedie, the phrase “the crescendo of their wings, weaving windsong into words” stood out to me. As a classically trained musician, I found comfort in this familiar language. You painted the scene as well as Seurat, and to me, as clean and precise as Gainsborough.

    The phrase instilled in me the image of a majestic bird, taking off in flight. Its wings beautiful and strong, maneuvering through the cool and whistling breeze, turning the stagnant air into a musical phrase. Anyone wondering how wings can crescendo can turn to Vaughn-Williams “The Lark Ascending” for a lesson in this.

    To me, the poem made perfect sense and painted a beautiful picture. Well done!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Isabella,

      In a way, I admire the consistency of your delusion, but perhaps you should stick to music.

      Reply
      • Isabella Grimes

        Mr. Anderson,

        Glad you enjoyed it! What a kind thing to say. 🙂

      • Lannie David Brockstein

        To the reader at SCP: It is a fact that the rules of SCP, as posted by SCP itself above the comments section of every literary text it has published, state that whereas contributors such as Isabella G. are meant to continue posting their “civilized and fruitful comments”, trolls such as C.B. Anderson are not meant to post their “barbaric and barren hate speech”.

        There was absolutely nothing “civilized and fruitful” about C.B. Anderson having falsely told Isabella G. that she is delusional and that music is separate from poetry. There was everything “barbaric and barren” about his having done so.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    Lannie,

    No need to get your knickers in a twist (unless you like them that way), but I stand by my words. I was criticizing a critic, as is my right, and nowhere is it written that my words must be kind. It’s clear that where you come from free speech (especially if it is true and barbed) is not valued the way it is in the U.S.A.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      C. B.
      Freedom of speech is paramount. We support your brutal honesty. In fact, it seems like all honesty is brutal now. It might even be considered an act of rebellion according to Orwell. I know I don’t have to encourage you, but there it is nonetheless.

      Reply
  5. Isabella G.

    Lannie, thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I’m not entirely familiar with the poetry world, but just wanted to convey the way I saw this poem and music intersect. I’m very glad that someone else sees it too!

    Reply
  6. Amy

    I became aware of the post’s publication on the ninth and waited several days to respond as to let the spirit of intention publicly reveal its fruit.

    I don’t believe it needs any more of an introduction than that.

    As a writer, I’ve come to expect not everyone will like my work. With any creative endeavor, there comes a certain risk in publicly exposing one’s heart. Where I know I am strong enough to handle criticism, I am troubled by the message SCP is comfortable sending off into the world: that it is perfectly acceptable to denigrate the opinions of others and claim universal truths of a work intended to communicate one’s personal experience. Seeing I’ve done a poetry workshop on ‘The Park’ and received both confusion and understanding, I am of the belief each person’s attitude towards the poem is marked by their life story and character. As there will always be naysayers, I write for those who sense with the heart what is invisible to legalism.

    I’ve been keeping an eye on SCP for some time, specifically with regard to the comments section on several poets’ posts and where I would like to say I am disappointed by what happened, it’s not out of the ordinary. Many SCP members have a track record of scratching the backs of their people, while inappropriately ganging up on specific writers. Anyone new to this thread can follow the paper trail this comment section provides to the same persons and patterns on other submissions so as to draw their own conclusions.

    When my poems were first published to SCP, my friends took to social media to share the link, which to me, provided one of the most valuable lessons: that the Society is not dazzling the public with their credentials, but rather, is publicly revealing themselves as a petty, pay-to-play echo chamber. Due to the links shared on social media, I’ve received responses from people I’ve never met, in addition to comments from individuals I know, who cannot believe an organization’s representatives could stoop to such a childish level. Why many of them are not getting involved here is because they feel what’s taking place is akin to a group of Harvard undergrads trying to one-up their classmates. Perhaps two of the most telling responses came from a mother who typed, “What a jackass” and another woman who wrote, “He’s using the gift of knowledge for evil.” Why I’m stepping in to respond is because of my responsibility as a writer.

    Why I type this is not to ridicule you, or have my friends flood the comments section with insults they are holding back with clenched teeth. It’s to communicate how your organization and mission statement are being received by the people you claim to serve. If you are alienating viewers due to your tone and yet by the same breath claim to love rhyme, you are doing a disservice to the craft. If you insinuate or claim every poet who you do not understand is incapable, when there are readers who can dissect the subtleties of references, then perhaps it is not everyone else who is blind. My misuse of a comma (while important on the technical scale), is secondary to the response the work evokes in the reader. It’s not to say that things of this nature shouldn’t be brought to my attention, it’s to say that if my technical errors automatically negate works that substance-wise, speak beauty into the lives of others, then SCP’s vision is one I don’t wish to be a part of.

    I don’t claim to be a genius and goodness knows, I routinely make mistakes; it’s what makes me human. But I hope I never get to the place where I tell someone who likes apples that they’re an idiot for not liking oranges. While criticizing the critic is a form of free speech, and insults are protected, it does not mean they are right or beneficial. A critic, much like a writer, educator, or filmmaker, has a responsibility to point out what is right with the world and where the arrow diverged. To only spotlight the negatives is the mark of a bully, where to only gild the positives is the mark of a sycophant. Balance is key, as in balance, that is, being humble in both delivery and reception, we honor knowledge for the gift that it is. Mr. Salemi was right to correct my misuse of ‘upon who’ to ‘upon whom’. It was in error. Though I could pull a similar card of, “Wow, SCP’s editor really dropped the ball for not checking in with me to see if the error was intentional before publication. Stick to your day job”, that type of response is not my style and in the end, achieves no lasting victory for either party. The editor, as well as myself, made a mistake. We acknowledge our humanity and move forward.

    Of all three Society staff members who posted prior to this response, I don’t know what (honestly, not sarcastically) you wanted to convey to me as a creative by the nature of your comments. To give up? To modify the poem to your exact specifications and repeatedly affirm your ego for publication slots? No. I have more integrity than to post one more piece of writing on a platform where readers can’t even enjoy poetry without being harassed for having an opinion different from SCP’s people. The fact you went to such an extent as to taunt two readers for defending my work and Lannie, for defending Isabella, demonstrates that SCP is nothing but a haven for insecure parrots bold enough to peck those they believe are inferior.

    Lannie and Isabella did not have to write the responses they did, but did so because their conscience attuned them to the digs directed at the writer, which were viciously directed back at them for daring to disregard SCP’s copyright on feelings. For this, I am grateful, because they had nothing to gain by sticking up for me. I admire this quality in others as it, both for myself and those watching, did not go unnoticed and left a meaningful impression.

    If you believe my work is awful or has a long way to go to be considered worthy, please tell me that outright. Heck, host a burning party of my work if you want and tag me in the comments so I can roast marshmallows with you. Just, for the love of what poetry is, don’t pull a J. Evans Pritchard in the comments section and then try to pass off your passive aggression as a charity.

    Reply
    • The Society

      Dear Amy, I’m pasting below what is in fine print (maybe too fine?) on every single post:

      Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.”

      -Evan

      Reply
      • Amy

        Hi Evan,

        I’m thankful that you responded with what you did.

        Before writing my response, I did make note of SCP’s statement and my interactions up until this point with regard to submitting my work for publication. They were nothing but respectful and pleasant.

        In typing my response, I was wrestling with that exact accusation. I wanted to craft such a response that included both ‘Many SCP members’ and addressed the idea of what a society represents.

        To me, I believe in the top-down theory and don’t mean this as an inflammatory call-out. It’s to say that the members who are doing this are making the rest of the staff look like enablers of bad behavior.

        While I do want to leave room for individual expression and not stifle free speech, I am generally wary of groups that claim to have a set mission statement and yet remain divided on foundational issues. SCP’s mission statement is to:

        “preserve humankind’s artistic traditions; to reestablish poetry as one of the most widely appreciated forms of literature, communication, and entertainment; to increase appreciation of centuries of rhyming or metered poetry; to support poets who apply classical techniques in modern poetry through publication and performance opportunities and awards; and to advance language arts in education and culture.”

        What took place in the comments section was harassment of individuals to whom an appreciation of its imagery and form spoke to. Mr. Tweedie and Mr. Anderson are entirely entitled to think my work is lacking, but it seems antithetical to the mission of SCP to have representatives attack poets and their audience. What took place was not supportive. The comments made by staff members reflected of an organization dedicated to reestablishing poetry, that the craft is so elitist as to brand certain poems and poets as unworthy (unworthy of ‘what’ is the question). Into community, this sent the message that the feelings of the persons who do ‘get it’ are invalid.

        For however much I enjoy writing and would love a career as an author, at the end of the day, I am responsible for the works I send out into the world and the handshakes that I make, whether with organizations or individuals. It’s unfortunate that this happened and I hope it can be addressed whether by an apology to each individual affronted or by some sort of address privately, at the staff level. I don’t want to write a fixed assessment of the persons’ character who were involved in this, I just know of where I am right now, I cannot, in good faith, green-light more of my works with SCP.

  7. James A. Tweedie

    Amy,

    I am surprised, saddened and somewhat confused to find my comments characterized as “thinking (your) work is lacking,” an “attack” on you and your audience, “unsupportive,” branding you (personally) and your poems as “unworthy,” to only “spotlight negatives,” “taunt,” “harass,” “bully,” “digs,” “vicious,” or label your work as “awful.”

    In my comment, I singled out and raised questions concerning two lines of your poem. Beyond that, I wrote, “I enjoyed your poems,” they “reminded me of the pointillist paintings of Seurat” (who I greatly admire), and that you “have a good eye for capturing a feeling or impression of things,” and, when I was critical, I carefully conditioned my comments with the phrase, “at least not to me” (which was meant to indicate a subjective opinion, recognizing that others–possibly everyone else–may not feel the same way).

    In reply to Lannie and Isabella, I wrote, “Thank you for your responses both to Amy’s poems and to my comment. It should not be a surprise that different people respond to particular poems in different ways.”

    In all that I wrote, I made a self-conscious effort to avoid being any of the things you have now associated with my comments. As I have said, this has left me feeling “surprised, saddened and somewhat confused.”

    I feel that I must also add that I am not an SCP “staff member,” although I do sit on the SCP Advisory Board. As such, I will make sure that your comments and concerns will be submitted for the Board’s review and reflection.

    I must also add that I have a difficult time picturing myself as being an elitist snob who promotes, supports, promotes, or participates as part of an SCP culture of cliquish, self-promoting insiders. I am simply an amateur poet trying to improve my poetry in every way possible. Although I have not found every critical comment directed at my own poetry to be graciously or helpfully expressed, I have carefully read and considered everything that is said, gleaned what I found to be of value, and channeled that input into my work. As a result, I consider myself to be a far better poet than I was when I first began posting on this site 2 1/2 years ago.

    I am truly sorry that you have taken such offense in response to my comments. While, in retrospect, I might have preferred to reword several phrases, I am unsure as to what, exactly, I should be ashamed of or what I should apologize for?

    As I concluded in my original comment, “I hope to see more of your work in the future.”

    Reply
    • Amy

      Hi Mr. Tweedie,

      Why I responded as I did was not because I personally took offense to your comments. In my own life, I’ve come to learn that neither praise or insults influence my worth as an individual. At the end of the day, I am responsible for how I treat others and how I live my life in relation to my work. I pointed out what I did because of how it was received by others via social media.

      I hold to the 9/10 rule, which is to say, that if I perceive something is rude that the majority of people observe is perfectly fine, it’s likely I am in the wrong and am approaching what I see through a lens I need to address. I do believe that the 9/10 rule can also take on the shadow side of a confirmation bias. To avoid this, I listen to the opinions of those I know, as well as those who don’t have a vested interest in me or my work. While I know my friends are quick to point out my flaws, people who don’t know me can come to perceive that my friends are only supporting me because they are my friends. I want to know what the room sees.

      As I perceived your first response as being backhanded, I wanted to know if I was the reading the comment wrong or if others saw the same thing. The unfortunate part is that others saw the same thing.

      While you did type, “I hope to see more of your work in the future”, it was attached to an opinion in which you also linked, “Formal, “Classical” poetry of the sort that is encouraged on this site, generally uses meaningful words and phrases to communicate deeper, more abstract thoughts and feelings.” This line is one that several others felt was a passive-aggressive dig. Whether intentional or not, it affronts the author’s sense of worth by insinuating ‘poetry (unlike yours) that’s posted on SCP is deep and meaningful’. In the same breath, it pokes fun at the sort of reader who enjoys it. As this was also attached to your comment, “Yet, even though your daubs of words do not always make sense, they do contribute to the overall “impression” of the poem.”, it appears that you contrast your previous mention of Seurat and Gainsborough to the detriment of Seurat.

      Of this apology, the same thing was noted:

      ‘the ending seems condescending/Like why should i say sorry. You should say sorry to ME kinda vibe’.

      ‘Tweedie was especially interesting. He complimented you and then raked you over the coals about the bird and told you to read one of their publications. When others challenged him, he had to produce a recording of the bird’s sounds. In his last post he couldn’t understand the problem because he is not an elitist (BS).’

      While I wanted to believe this was a sincere apology, it still bears the stamp of passive-aggressiveness. I received it in the same way it is seen.

      If you cannot see why you ought to apologize, I can’t tell you how to make things right. A sincere apology comes from a place of seeing how your actions affected others, whether or not that was your intention. Though you claim to be doing that by this reply, it is still projecting a tone of victimization rather than apology.

      You begin your reply by citing specific words I scattered throughout my post in brackets. Much like I typed in my first post, they are interpreted through the lens of legalism. ’Spotlight negatives’ was a generalized example of what constitutes a type of dig. It was not in response to your comment. With each word you bracketed, they are not in relation to fixed judgments of you- they are generals I used to express disappointment over how the whole of the situation in the comments section manifested and was interpreted. I used the word ‘staff’ as I noted you and Mr. Salemi were on the advisory board, where Mr. Anderson is an editor. As I associate ‘staff’ with anyone listed as a representative, I can see where our definitions differ.

      While ‘at least not to me’ is subjective and a term I admire of critics, it’s woven to absolute claims that are backhanded. Again, as I cannot say with 100% certainty that they’re intentional, and don’t want to believe that they are, this is why I typed the clarification of the ‘impression’ SCP is making.

      It is my assumption that Lannie jumped in to combat a perceived attack against me, as Isabella addressed the exact same points in her response. My friends were stunned by the same tone they observed. When I first read the post, it appeared as another reader put it, ‘If he’s a professional poetry critic or whatever, he was being intentionally obtuse, to denigrate you.’

      My response here is not to make you ashamed, or have others shame you, or force you into an apology, but to say several readers found your responses to be ill-spirited, despite containing compliments. In a way, the best way I can put it is that the nature of the whole comment essentially rendered the compliments as meaningless. What exacerbated this view was Mr. Anderson’s response to Isabella and Lannie that caused such a universal hostility, I had to pm people to not get involved in a slur-filled war his tone had incited as a defense.

      I don’t need a positive review or even another apology. You have to do what feels right to you. I just wanted to type this as something to think about with reference to future conduct.

      Of criticism, I typed what I did because input to improve any aspect of my life, not just my my writing, is something incredibly valuable to me. While I might not agree with every sentiment expressed, I have found certain corrections are warranted to produce a stronger work. The following story is to relay why I reacted as strongly as I did:

      When I was younger, a man sat across from me who openly addressed deficiencies in my character he saw as downright toxic- both for community and myself. Though at first I was offended, I came to recognize my offense came from a place of being blinded by a truth my pride did not want to acknowledge. Several years later, this repeated itself in the form of an English professor likened to the character Fletcher from ‘Whiplash’. Though we personally disagreed on almost everything, and he was on the record for roasting me and several other students alive, I had a respect for his technical correction because it was spoken purely for the sake of one’s growth. Why I parted ways in support of that particular professor was when his technical frustrations bled into absolutes of feeling and his tone continued to drive more and more students away from English and poetic analysis. While sitting in my humanities class, another student expressed to me just how hard and disappointing the last few years of her life had been, specifically with relation to college. In that same conversation, she revealed how they had a poetry analysis assignment in which that specific professor had publicly rendered her feelings as silly and inaccurate. As a result, this student was not only paralyzed from taking English classes at our college, but came to associate poetry with intellectual snobbery. She confessed that she had enrolled in a nearby community college to not only get her requirements over with, but to get away from a local department she felt was inherently corrupt.

      To me, there was something incredibly humbling and terrifying in seeing a student on the verge of tears over what one professor had said to her. Though in my own life, I keep company with individuals who are highly critical and direct, I have to acknowledge that that style can generate apathy and dissociative behaviors in persons who come from unsupportive backgrounds. In my friend circle, we communicate in blended sincerity, irony and sarcasm. However, we know it’s not for everyone and have had to clarify what our dialogue means to others (ex: several people thought my best friend and I hated each other in observing our interactions). While at university, an autistic student came up to me who said he preferred if I did not use sarcasm with him because it hurt his feelings. While I wanted to deny it and justify my default form of communication, I couldn’t deny what it had done to others and was doing to me.

      Of anything I critique, I want to be careful that I don’t paint the other person as irredeemable, but rather, am focused on the specifics of their words and/or actions. SCP’s mission is meaningful to me because poetry is a big part of my life. However, a love of poetry alone is secondary to the ultimate calling of my life: that I am a steward of everything entrusted to me. If something I support or say is causing varying forms of suffering and discord in others (insofar as eternal prosperity is concerned), I cannot, in good faith, support it or justify my behavior. At the end of the day, for however much I would love a career as an author and have the luxury of time to write more poems, stories, and essays, if my success (whatever that means) comes at the expense of others’ misery, I have to be willing to let that vision go and move on to a place or situation where both my gifts and service align.

      I said what I did because I don’t want SCP to make the mistake of being the English teacher who stunts the love for creation and language in their students. I don’t feel any teacher sets out to do that for their kids, but when or if it happens, it’s dealt with (whether on the individual or communal level) and forgotten about as if it never happened. Much like Socrates, I’m a firm believer in modification and address above harsh punishment, and believe, that only in exceptionally rare cases, that something as serious as firing should even be considered.

      I hope SCP’s board review proves to be fruitful and that no one tries to pit staff members against each other or use my response to justify a reaction I detest. People make mistakes; it’s where you go from there.

      Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Mr. Tweedie,
      Your responses are always supportive and spot on. You should never apologize for being encouraging and truthful. I know this because your comments have encouraged my wife, Susan. That is the way I see it, in spite of the lengthy psychoanalysis that you have been subjected to. YOU should receive an apology. You are most certainly NOT “passive aggressive”. You care. My wife and I know it. Thank you!

      Reply
  8. Mike Bryant

    This site is not for everyone. I have written hundreds of poems that would be shredded if they were published here, and rightly so. Free speech is of the utmost importance to me. The fact that anyone can have any comment on their poetry removed seems like a nod to the post-modern authoritarians. SCP is just fine as far as I’m concerned. Without criticism no learning ever takes place. Mr. Tweedie’s comment was complimentary, thoughtful and fair. Mr. Anderson’s comments were definitely Mr. Anderson’s comments. This is what free speech looks like.

    Reply
  9. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dear Ms. Struthers —

    I have only just learned that this lengthy exchange has occurred, and have read through all of the postings. I would like to add a few comments.

    The SCP is a beleaguered minority site. We are what is called in leftist academic circles “a safe space.” We welcome metrical, formal verse at a time in history when such verse and its practitioners are largely despised or ignored. In addition, we do not blackball poets who have unpopular or politically incorrect views, nor do we ask them to apologize for such views. That makes us very different from any other on-line poetry venue.

    In general (there are exceptions) persons who post here make the assumption that they can say whatever they want, in whatever style or tone that they want. This does indeed make for some very rough criticism at times, and some nasty exchanges, but there is an expectation that we all have thick skins, and that anyone who comes here has to have such a skin also, or develop one quickly.

    Moreover, we are not in the business of coddling snowflakes. If some persons are overly sensitive or prone to emotional vulnerability, why should that be our concern? This isn’t a therapy ward. If snowflakes get traumatized because of a cutting remark or a sharp reproof, well… maybe they had better just grow up.

    Your 9-10 rule sounds very much like a recipe for conformism and fear. Since when do we take votes in a free republic on what is acceptable in speech or expression? Oh, I forgot — we do make restrictions now, and they seem to get tighter every month. If you think that’s OK, that’s your privilege. But nobody can come here and tell us what we may or may not say, or give us dire warnings about what anonymous persons on “social media” think. We really don’t give a damn about “social media.”

    James Tweedie didn’t say anything offensive or rude in his remarks about your work. All he did was give some criticism. Would you prefer that the SCP become a vanity site, where no comments are allowed except fulsome praise and empty congratulations? This happens to be one of the most visited poetry sites on the internet. Is it that important that it be intellectually gelded just to coddle psychologically troubled snowflakes?

    Let me end by saying that there are a few persons who come here solely as trolls, with the agenda of turning the site into just another politically correct watering-hole for liberal Democrats. I won’t mention their names., because they know who they are. But you can always tell their aims when they start raising Cain about “offensive” comments or “obscene” remarks or “hate speech” or “insensitivity.” They clearly want to change the SCP into something more to their liking. But as long as we have tough types like C.B. Anderson and Mike Bryant and a few others here, that won’t happen.

    The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is today under very severe attack and foundational assault. The SCP may be a small operation, but we are one of the few places where people dare to assert the right to unfettered free speech. Right now, in American universities, the First Amendment is a dead letter. It isn’t here. And to hell with snowflakes and “social media.”

    Reply
    • Amy

      Hi Mr. Salemi,

      Thank you for your response and for articulating why you feel as you do. I agree with the pain you feel over the encroachment of postmodernism, though we don’t use the same tone or language. In this way, I believe my responses and intention have been misinterpreted.

      I reacted as I did because I am not a member of the Democratic Party. Though I have friends ashamed of me for this, I am a conservative Republican who also happens to enjoy analyzing human behavior and charting patterns that manifest in the past repeating itself. An important distinction about my split from an identity politics Republican is that in the 2016 election, I chose not to vote for any candidate due to a repeat justification I noted in young adults that was hostile and apathetic towards the church. From a distance and up-close, I observed how the arguments for atheism and socialism were growing stronger due to intelligent literalists using scripture to confront obvious hypocrisies in conduct that can’t excuse blind faith.

      I’m comfortable stating here that I do not support legislation for bills that perpetuate compelled speech and was saddened to learn Canada’s C-16 passed. Free speech is important and is inching evermore closer to its dissolution. While I could go into it more and would love to discuss policy and statistical data at length, that’s not the issue at hand.

      While I might not agree with someone’s tone or the language they use to communicate an idea, they themselves are entirely entitled to their own opinion and methods by which they express criticism. I don’t want to silence the commentators here and in no way want to encourage violence or threats towards any of the individuals I disagree with. That’s the exact thing I sought to diffuse. In the same breath, I don’t want to suggest anyone owes me or anyone else observing SCP’s actions an apology. I would like if there was a humility of critique and sensitivity to audience. This is why I clarified my first reply with, “While criticizing the critic is a form of free speech, and insults are protected, it does not mean they are right or beneficial.”

      I want to articulate the specifics of my departure and criticism, as its relates to the views we do share.

      I don’t need SCP to feel validated and SCP does not need me to feel assured. It goes both ways. Both of us have thick skin. My concern is related to the address of, “At what point does skin become *too* thick?” My response stems from the observance of similar reactions SCP’s representatives are provoking in individuals of opposing ideologies. If a new Christian is driven to hostility by the same comments a vocal (blind-malevolent, not intentionally-malevolent) socialist is, something is fundamentally wrong and that something is unaddressed and unique to each individual. As SCP is adamant about the dangers of communism, their tone is acting contrary to their professed beliefs, which is why I stated I cannot, in good-faith, support an organization that in the process of exchanging poems, is generating and insulating a discord they claim to combat.

      If you are ok with that image, that is entirely your right. Why I point it out is solely for the sake of personal reflection.

      I maintain the view that Pharisitical dogma births a distancing of association, which generates an apathy, which cleaves to a substitute, which eventually fuels individuals to harshly criticize an identity based on known representatives and narratives. If this were not the case, Alistair Sooke’s article ‘Does Modern Art Hate Religion?’ would have slipped through the BBC’s cracks. PragerU’s video on artistic standards and Mr. Sooke’s article both featuring Chris Ofili’s ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’, is not a coincidence, it’s a commentary on our times that hears so much of church and yet sees so little of Christ. Postmodernism is a reaction to modernism’s failings. While I am not a fan of duct-taped bananas and find them to be a slap in the face to artists whose excellence of craft and subject matter awakens men to their potential, the moment I begin to silence postmodernists, whether by the callousness of my language or the banishment of their ideas in the public sector, I fail to be an educator in the pursuit of what that definition requires. Each camps’ harsh criticisms of the ‘other’ shed some light into what exactly is the root of their critique.

      The widespread decline in millennial church attendance and rise in communism is directly linked. As illustrated by Dr. Norman Doidge in the foreword of Jordan B. Peterson’s ’12 Rules for Life’, he writes, “Communism borrowed from the story of the Children of Israel in Egypt, with an enslaved class, rich persecutors, a leader, like Lenin, who goes abroad, lives among the enslavers, and then leads the enslaved to the promised land (the utopia; the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

      Of the varying millennial surveys, the new god is communism precisely because the individuals who claim to be followers of Christ are conflating an everything-is-permissible protection with the gospel. It’s not a spontaneous development- it’s a gradual progression of repeat slights that snowball into violence, artistic subjectivism and widespread abuses of power. Just because one *can* say something doesn’t mean they *should*. As professed believers, I hold certain SCP members to a higher standard for the weight of their witness into community.

      Democrats are not evil people, in the same breath the Republican Party is not the messiah of the West. Both camps have truly malevolent people lurking in the shadows and both sides have people believing they are knowingly pursuing a good. Why I dislike language like ‘snowflake’ and ‘libtard’ is because it quite literally exudes a lack of empathy and is just as charged as the identity politics dismissals of ‘bigot’ and ’sexist’ for anyone who holds to differing (often conservative) views. As as result, it achieves nothing but fast-passing people away and not towards your beliefs- at least not for the foundational reasons, that is. Wanting to genuinely convince someone of a lifestyle you claim is valuable to you and beneficial to human flourishing seems either superficial or misguided, if you adopt a ‘their problem’ mindset and cannot or will not acknowledge how this denies them their humanity in the eyes of God.

      People will continue to post poetry on SCP and there will be those who steer clear of it. What I’m saying is this: if a disgruntled ex-SCP poet created an entire thehypertexts.com page with multiple entries detailing how awful certain members are, and a variety of people on social media have come to the same conclusion of ’mean’ (some of whom claim to be believers), there’s not much else I can say other than I am sincerely grieved.

      Early Christians were not identified by their self-imposed title. At Antioch, they were recognized by the content of their public character.

      Again, you don’t have to do anything. Cleave to free speech as much as you wish and dismiss my analysis if that’s easier to accept, but please don’t, in the claim of following Jesus, write people’s feelings off with the language of cruelty so as to sedate an innate moral compass. While you may be advancing an idea of freedom, its cost is to the extent of others’ spiritual enslavement and apostasy. I wanted to bring this forward because I don’t believe any of the commentators present are aware of what their tone is ushering in and why, by no means, were my replies intended as a personal attack for the sake of upending politics and religion.

      Reply
  10. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dear Ms. Struthers —

    Thank you for your long reply. I think the problem here is that we have utterly different perceptions of the intellectual state of the world at this point in time, and therefore our reactions to what is occurring and our views as to how to fix things are completely at odds. So I’ll begin by saying immediately that there probably are no grounds for agreement or compromise between our standpoints. But let me comment anyway.

    Your argument seems to be this: very tough, hard-hitting, and seriously sarcastic commentary here at the SCP may in fact be counter-productive, since it will only alienate and outrage our opponents rather than converting them to our way of thinking. Your idea, as I understand it, is that our opponents will be confirmed in their hatred and anger if we answer them harshly rather than trying to be reasonable and polite. We should instead try to build some pathway to mutual, reasonable communication.

    This actually has come up before in a few discussion threads here at the SCP. Some mainstream conservative SCP members have made a similar argument, in cases where controversies grew really heated, usually on political or religious issues growing out of some poems. Their pleas were for tolerance, patience, forbearance, and the avoidance of cutting remarks or insulting vocabulary. Members such as James Tweedie, Joe Tessitore, and James Sale (along with others) are examples of this peacemaker attitude.

    I personally don’t go along with it, for a simple and — to my way of thinking — very obvious fact. The time for talking and debating is over. As I mentioned in a recent discussion thread here, too many mainstream conservatives and pious Christians are still dreaming that we are living in a time of peace and possible understanding, and that all we need is to get together and courteously talk over our differences. They are wrong. We are living in the midst of an open war. The guns haven’t been distributed yet, that’s all that’s lacking.

    If the position of these mainstream conservatives and pious Christians were a purely private matter, it would perhaps not matter so much. But it isn’t. They simply refuse to acknowledge that the enemy HATES US WITH A FLAMING PASSION, and wants us silenced, beaten, and even liquidated. You can’t talk things over in a friendly manner with people who want you dead, and who are determined to destroy your culture and your civilization. And these mainstream conservatives and pious Christians are therefore like ostriches with their head stubbornly stuck in the sand, hoping against hope that we can still reason with these fanatics and perhaps convert them to some measure of sanity. And it is exasperating to read their complaints about how we have to “be nice” and “not offend our enemies” or how they disapprove of President Trump’s “unpleasant” tweets, and how they might not vote for him because their stupid minister or priest said that he wasn’t “Christ-like.”

    To which I reply, in good Brooklynese, “Gimme a goddamned break!” We simply can’t afford polite language and tea-party courtesies in what is now AN OPEN WAR. There is a serious danger that a raving Communist fanatic (Sanders) or a malevolent globalist billionaire (Bloomberg) might become the next President. And mainstream conservatives and pious Christians are worried about the nastiness of Trump’s tweets? Good grief. Are these people that blind to the world around them?

    You complain about a “lack of empathy.” Why the devil should we have empathy for those who are trying their damnedest to kill us and wipe our culture off the face of the earth?

    Let me end by saying that I still don’t understand why you went to “social media” to find out the reactions of anonymous persons to what had been posted here by Mr. Tweedie concerning your poem. His critique was so gentle and even-handed that I cannot see what your objection to it was. But since you went to others to ask their opinion, it shows that you were troubled by it, and for reasons that you did not express clearly. And why be so exercised by what these “social media” people said? Trying to find out what a majority of people think is not a sign of independence — it’s a sign of defensiveness.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Amen, Mr. Salemi. God help us. We are in a war with an insane enemy. I’ve heard that one cannot reason with madness. At least you tried, and so did Mr. Tweedie. I, however, do not have the inclination or patience. I do appreciate the way you condensed a rambling diatribe to its essence… the difference between you, an academic, and me a plumber! Thanks for your insight and clarity.

      Reply
  11. Mike Bryant

    I have witnessed the call for ‘tolerance’ for many years. Guess what? The other side is not and has never been tolerant. And now that many institutions have been turned against the people, the time for tolerance and apologies is over. We must reclaim our sovereignty and our sanity in order to survive as a free nation.
    Thank God for sites like SCP who support free speech, and appreciate the craft of poetry. This site stands against Chairman Xi, so standing against the idiocy of the authoritarian wannabes of America should be child’s play for Evan and all associated with him.
    Thanks SCP,
    A Free Thinker

    Reply
  12. Joseph S. Salemi

    Ms. Struthers claims to be “a conservative Republican.” But in the 2016 election she refused to vote for Donald Trump, on the basis of something that she was hearing from “young adults.” She was willing to let a political monstrosity like Hillary Clinton win, just so that she could stay in the good graces of those “young adults.”

    It’s precisely this kind of timorous, sentimental, wishy-washy fake conservatism that we don’t need. Donald Trump is the last chance we have to save this country. And piety-soaked RINO conservatives are going around taking polls of millennials to see if it’s morally safe to vote for him? Unbelievable.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Perhaps my sentiments will be better understood in newspeak.
      Poetry, of course, is within the zone of proximity and synergistic effects that ripples through multiple modalities, which is self evident. As for politics, it stretches across cognitive and effective domains on spatial and temporal scales through a collaborative process. In doing so, high impact practices are compromised. The intersegmental nature of myth and reality converge and diverge to create and destroy cerebral chaos. A visionary, in this day and age, would be wise to employ a white stick. If you do not understand this simple truth… ask your friends.

      Reply
      • Isabella G.

        Mike,

        I can tell that you’re very passionate about this, and that’s great! It is important that our rights and freedoms are protected, and I’m glad people are fighting to protect them. With regard to your concerns about Ms. Struthers comments: you were a bit quick to mock and demonize her and her beliefs. Those types of comments create further divide, whether you realize it or not. I suggest stopping and taking a moment to think critically about a solid case for your argument instead of attacking the other side ad hominem. That way, you’ll be able to reach more people, and won’t end up driving them away from the fight for our rights.

        Sincerely,
        A concerned ally

  13. E. V. Wyler

    Hello, fellow poet and cat person! (I love the alliteration in “… cat Clio the Curruptible.”) The vivid imagery you produced in The Park proves you have a poet’s soul. If it helps, think of the above comments as finished pasta ready for straining. Let any mean-spirited comment that provides no redeeming direction be the water you flush down the drain, and let the comments that provide helpful guidance be the pasta you retain for your intellectual nourishment. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

    Reply

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