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A Call for Secession

by Adam Sedia

The fine arts currently lie atrophied in utter decline and degradation. Poetry is no exception. Ever since the advent of modernism in the decades leading up to the First World War, traditional aesthetic, which features realism in narrative and depiction and adherence to form, structure, and harmony, yielded completely to the modernist aesthetic, characterized by noncontextual imagery and avoidance of any structural formalities.

In poetry, modernism took the form of “free verse”—the abandonment of rhyme, meter, and form—and the abandonment of narrative in favor of pure description. In adopting this style, early modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot consciously followed the path blazed by Cubism in the visual arts, which deconstructed the visual image by presenting it from different perspectives at once, leaving it up to the viewer to conceive the full image. Using language instead of images, modernist poets presented series of images, leaving ultimate interpretation to each individual reader. Classical music, too, experienced a parallel revolution at the same time, with the adoption of the twelve-tone technique that consciously avoided any tonal center.

Despite some notable exceptions—Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Richard Wilbur in the United States and Walter de la Mare and John Betjeman in the United Kingdom, among others—modernism remained the overwhelmingly dominant aesthetic in poetry. And so it has remained with the other arts, as well.

The modernist aesthetic is at its core nihilistic. It denies objective reality, and therefore meaning. Without meaning, no objective standard for beauty exists—hence form and harmony become meaningless, or “tools of oppression.” And without meaning, art becomes less an expression than an elicitation of a reaction; the artist’s task is to throw something out and let each individual in the audience try to make sense of it. And none of them will necessarily have the wrong answer. Thus, art devolves into the realm of radical subjectivity.

With such nihilism at its core, the modernist aesthetic had as its chief virtue only the shock of its novelty. It broke all the traditional rules. It was revolutionary, and like every revolution, it had to maintain its momentum lest its energy flag and it perish from inertia. Rushing feverishly to “break new ground,” modernist art embarked on a perpetual quest for the new. Inevitably, this led to pushing boundaries of taste and even decency. Almost immediately, modernism devolved into “found art” such as Duchamp’s famous urinal and in a few decades it would result in Basquiat’s street graffiti and Serrano’s bodily fluids being exhibited as high art.

Poetry devolved in a similar fashion, though not quite as spectacularly. A century after modernism’s first stirrings as Imagism, poetry devolved into lifeless lists such as Elizabeth Alexander’s 2009 inaugural poem or casual prose chats split into lines as in the works of Billy Collins. But poetry has mostly followed academic trends, fetishizing racial, gender, and sexual identities as the essence of being. Nearly every contemporary mainstream poet has fallen into this vice, and the identity-pushing has only accelerated with the ascendance of critical theory.

Thus the current state of the arts—a state of decades-long atrophy. What poses as avant-garde is actually reactionary. The aesthetic ideals that first materialized around the First World War remain unchanged: abstraction in the visual arts, atonality in music, free verse in poetry. Stylistic details may vary, but the language remains unchanging and monolithic. For the past six decades, dominance of the modernist aesthetic over the art world has been unquestioned. Only those artists, poets, and composers who operate within its framework receive the prestigious prizes, the lucrative commissions, the media attention.

And woe to the artist who dares deviate from this orthodoxy! At best, he will be condemned to work “outside the mainstream,” with only a “cult” following. Those who do garner attention are labeled as some form of reactionary, likely compared with the Nazis—a favorite label of the mainstream left, as that smear discredits instantly (although with diminishing effectiveness due to overuse). The reaction to traditional art is an aversion that smacks suspiciously of fear.

Revolutionaries challenge the dominant hegemony. Reactionaries perpetuate it. The artistic mainstream, preserved in the aspic of its century-old aesthetic and lavished with funds and commission from private foundations and government agencies, clearly fall into the latter category. But accusing another of that of which the accuser himself is guilty—“gaslighting”—is classic psychopathic behavior. This is not to brand all mainstream artists as psychopaths, but a certain paranoia cannot but underlie an establishment that so zealously labels those who question its orthodoxies as “reactionaries.”

But what, after all, is wrong with this state of affairs? Should classical artists not, as the establishment would urge, “get with the times.” As it turns out, the fixation of the artistic establishment in modernist aesthetics has led to a massive retreat of the fine arts from the public sphere. The public, increasingly mystified or even offended at the excesses of what is called high art, write it off as incomprehensible and retreat to the more familiar and comforting world of popular art.

Poetry once played a central role in public life; no major event occurred without a celebratory poem. The very office of poet laureate was created to satisfy the need for public poetry. Yes, the poet laureate was political, tasked with glorifying the king, but that a succession of kings saw a need to have their deeds glorified to the public through poetry testifies to the great value once placed on the art. And outside the royal court, poems were written for and recited at any public occasion. Poems were inscribed on monuments.

None of that happens anymore. Poetry has receded into the background, relegated only to the small circles of those who write it, and they write it primarily for each other. It becomes an echo chamber, detached from the wider world and wielding no influence there. The same can be said of all other fine arts. The utter esotericism of contemporary styles leave only its most fervid devotees interested in it, and venues to showcase it little more than vanity projects to allow for mutual preening among elite circles.

And as the public retreats from the fine arts, its gravitation towards popular art coarsens the culture. Popular art, consciously or not, imitates high art. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the aesthetic pathologies plaguing high art have their parallels in popular art. High art became incomprehensible; popular art became crude. Both are nihilistic at their core.

A revival in an aesthetic of the fine arts that speaks to human imagination rather than cynical denial of reality, therefore, is necessary as a public service. In increasingly turbulent times, art will become necessary to reorient humanity towards meaning and towards the good that must exist in opposition to so much evil.

Thus, the arts—all arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music—need a secession.
“Secession,” of course, to American ears resounds with the echo of the Confederacy, and is therefore tinged with the air of reaction. But artists, even in the United States, should not shy away from the term. If anything, its connotation with the events of 1860-61 are wonderfully attention-grabbing, and a marvelous way to troll the morally preening.

An artistic secession has nothing to do with armies, or with America, for that matter. It is an artistic term with a storied history. Several artistic secessions have sought to elevate artistic standards and freedom. The first such secession was the 1890 Salon du Champs-de-Mars, founded by the painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and the sculptor Auguste Rodin as a rebellion against what they saw as declining standards in the visual arts. Secession movements caught on, particularly in the German-speaking world. The Munich Secession of 1892 and the Berlin Secession of 1898 formed to operate free from establishment oversight. But most famous was the Vienna Secession of 1897, led by Gustav Klimt, which sought to achieve a “total art” that combined painting, architecture, and the decorative arts. This group included the painters Alphonse Mucha and Max Kurzweil, the architects Josef Hoffmann, Otto Wagner, and Joseph Maria Olbrich, and the designer Koloman Moser. Of a slightly different stripe was the Dresden Secession of 1919, which was an Expressionist reaction to the turmoil following World War I.

The time has come for artists—poets included—to build on this tradition. What, though, does a present-day artistic secession look like? In fact, it resembles very much a political secession.

First and foremost, its members must forswear any participation in or glorification of establishment honors. What commands the adulation of the establishment, especially the establishment media, they must hold in contempt. Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, Academy and Tony Awards, laureateships, endowed chairs—these must no longer be mentioned with any air of awe or praise. These are nothing more than the stamp of approval of a cultural mainstream that has unquestioningly accepted—and in most cases fostered—the degradation of the fine arts. Far from advocating for high artistic standards, these awards and positions have become indicators of cultural degeneracy to the point where they can no longer be taken seriously by artists with high aesthetic standards. They have become contemptible, and should merit the contempt of serious artists.

Second, the secession must set up its own parallel structures: publishers for poets, authors, and composers (self-publishing is not enough; our publishing must be free from the whims of Amazon); galleries for the visual arts; concert venues and ensembles for musicians; theaters and troupes for actors; studios for filmmakers. All of these organizations must be allied. The establishment will ignore them at first, but any degree of success will draw an attack. Strength lies in unity and numbers; only a united form will withstand the full fury of establishment wrath.

These organization should cultivate a parallel system of awards and honors—secession equivalents for the Pulitzer Prizes and the poet laureateships. Monetary prizes, grants, and scholarships should also advance poets, artists, and composers working in a traditional aesthetic. Funding is the lifeblood of any organized effort and will be key to establishing a parallel system of venues and prizes.

And finally, and most basically, individual creators—poets, authors, artists, composers, performers—should work together in mutual support. Minor differences in artistic visions, political ideologies, and individual styles, as well as basic personality conflicts are only natural and are bound to occur. Seceding artists must navigate these as in all human relationships, but they must never let them interfere with either the vision or mission of the secession. Without a united front and a network of mutual friendship and both moral and financial support, there is no movement, and any effort by individuals in its direction will be doomed. Remember the leviathan of entrenched, well-financed, mass media-supported interests arrayed ready to crush any opposition to the official narrative. An individual confronting it can hope only for martyrdom; a united front alone can achieve victory.

Great things have small beginnings, and every one of the most prestigious establishment awards once started as a first-time experiment, without the dust of age or the halo of prestige to distinguish it. So this movement must start, but with dedication and perseverance it, too, will one day achieve a level of prestige on par with establishment awards. Indeed, they may one day supplant the establishment altogether.

If we, not just classical poets, but all artists who work in a traditional aesthetic, truly believe in our ideals, we must put our beliefs into action, stand up for our ideals and against those who despise them, and—most importantly—be willing to sacrifice acceptance of the mainstream to build something. The artistic mainstream—as with the political and academic mainstream—is utterly bankrupt. What satisfaction could any serious artist have from its acceptance? None. Our solution is to build—to create where our detractors would only destroy. So let us build!

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60 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    An interesting and thought-provoking read, Adam.

    I find it interesting that children’s poetry is virtually always ‘in a traditional aesthetic’, and yet children’s interest in such poetry – or even poetry full stop – is not sustained.

    Half way through reading your essay, as a reaction to what you were saying, I sent off a couple of traditional poems to a national British newspaper that occasionally publishes a little something of mine and publishes only work in traditional styles.

    There are competitions and markets for traditional work still – the Maria W Faust sonnet competition, for instance, and People’s Friend magazine – but fewer than perhaps one would expect.

    Those are just a few initial thoughts and reactions.

    Thanks again for the interesting essay, Adam.

    Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    Adam,

    I applaud your suggestion but would like to add a few thoughts of my own.

    First of all, not all of the arts are equally degraded. Unlike formal poetry, classical music of all kinds continues to be mainstreamed in public funded venues through opera, symphony orchestras, ballet and, to a lesser degree, chamber music and the like. Schools like Julliard celebrate and sustain the greatness of the past and although most modern musical commissions are instantly forgettable, the hunger for Mozart, Beethoven, Gabrieli, and Bach is palpable and near-universal.

    The problem is creative movement. Just as deconstructed visual art and atonal music has degraded into meaningless self-parody with nowhere left to turn, its origins in the late 19th century were, in part (along with the post-war poetry of Eliot & co) came about because incredibly-talented artists and writers had reached a point where the classical Western arts had also reached a point of self-parody. Even terms like Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite imply a reactionary return to earlier forms, secessionist movements inspired by the perception that doing the same-old same-old under the self-selecting eye of the Paris Salon was no longer compelling.

    Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism and Dada all emerged from out of the same sense of creative suffocation by a “dead end” establishment status quo.

    Modern poets writing sonnets may be seen as comparable to a composer creating music in imitation of the style of Bach or Mozart. I can do that to a degree, but what does that add to the existing musical corpus? Is the future of the arts destined to be nothing more than a resurrection of the past?

    Sure, let’s secede–I’m all for it–and let’s all write sonnets and terza rimas forever. It is, after all, exactly what I am already doing. And let’s paint pictures that look like they were painted by Rembrandt and Raphael. But why bother when we already have the originals?

    We not only need to reclaim the past but we need to find some way to redeem it for our particular time and place in a broadening and diverse global culture. Other than wrapping the Washington Monument in macrame and projecting laser tie-dyed images onto Gothic cathedrals, what do you suggest that secessionist art look and sound like?

    The rhythm and rhyme that continues to survive in popular music and rap proves that modern ears still resonate to even the most inarticulate attempts to echo classical forms.

    So, there is hope of a sort for preserving the past and carrying some celebration of it into the future, but unless the foundational principles of Western thought and civilization are able to resist what appears to be a terminal malignancy of post-modern, supra-rational, subjective aesthetics, then I fear that any attempt at poetic/artistic secession will prove to be useful primarily to merely maintain the present classical status quo rather than to advance it.

    My ramble is nowhere near as well thought-out as your essay and I hope you will forgive me for it. But your words did succeed in provoking me both to react and to seriously reflect on your suggestion and I thank you for that.

    Reply
    • Andrew Benson Brown

      I enjoyed Adam’s essay and found myself agreeing with much of what he said. Then I read this and I found myself agreeing with what you say, James! You may call me a dialectical pushover.

      The Counter-Enlightenment comes to mind as a historical example of what you are talking about—reclaiming the past within the particular context of the times. Chateaubriand and de Maistre were writers who reacted against the Enlightenment dogmas of Voltaire and Diderot, etc. that led to the horrors of the guillotine, but they did so in a brilliant and original way that was not parodic or redundant. (Even though, as Isaiah Berlin made the case, Maistre said some crazy stuff that foreshadowed fascism, the point is that he was unique for his time…though let’s not perhaps try to mimic his particular contributions.) In response to Evan’s comment below that the proper term for what we are doing is ‘revolutionary,’ I would update that to ‘counter-revolutionary,’ since we are trying to do is reverse the nihilistic results of modernism.

      The difference between the major Counter-Enlightenment figures and us is that creative movement mirrored the larger political opportunity structure of the Bourbon Restoration, which fostered it, while we seem to have no such mainstream institutional backing. We only have…the Internet! Although I will say that the Epoch Times has helped to promote my own published work, which I am deeply grateful for. The Daily Wire is another conservative media group that is fighting back too. And there are Sally Cook’s poetical contributions to the National Review. Etc. So there are a few places still devoted to tradition, as Mr. Freeman said above.

      It’s also been true that people have been writing sonnets in English since Wyatt and Surrey, and until now no one has accused sonneteers of being ‘old hat.’ Of course, the modern world is different from the past in important ways, and we have to adapt in our way, as you say. Your poem “Allergies” in spondaic monometer is an example of how formal verse can still manage to be inventive, while also disproving critics of the SCP like Michael R. Burch who have written of what goes on here as mere second-rate imitation of earlier periods.

      I am reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was one of the greatest writers of the 20th C., and yet made no stylistic innovations other than being the prose Keats. He was just great. So, maybe all that is really required is that one write a masterpiece, pure and simple. It doesn’t have to be some massively “original” thing that’s never been done before, necessarily—just entertain and instruct. I would also suggest that in order for the average person to care about poetry again, it needs to be a vehicle for storytelling. Your own piece on ‘What Happened to Narrative Poetry’ is a case in point here, and as you say, free verse does not lend itself to this.

      I’ll stop myself there. What began as an intention to just say a few thoughts has grown into something far too long. Thanks for the food for thought, though.

      Reply
    • John Detwiler

      “And let’s paint pictures that look like they were painted by Rembrandt and Raphael. But why bother when we already have the originals?”

      I don’t have an original Rembrandt or Raphael. Do you?

      I beg your pardon if this seems snarky, but give me a few more moments. I have a lovely oil painting in my home, of a rocky seaside, with a lighthouse in the distance. I got it at an auction house, and the painter is probably some local amateur. The painting — the textures, colors, and overall presence — is far more interesting and beautiful than a print.

      That, and the person who painted it was formed by all the work that went into painting it — the training, the observation, the activity of painting itself.

      Those are two benefits if people MERELY paint like the masters. And what benefits they would be! However, I doubt that would happen in isolation. If a man loves beauty and wisdom, he will follow where they lead, even to the point of being original.

      If “Western civilization” is Christian civilization, then it can resist the “terminal malignancy” you mention. We can create works of art because we love beauty and truth. Who would know? “You… your students… God. Not a bad audience, that.” The author is right to have contempt for the inbred academies that applaud their own rot and decay — and we have literally no reason to seek their approval.

      So, is that what secession means? Make good art. Seek the approval of the wise. Don’t be tempted by the vanities and pomps of Satan.

      In the meantime, if some young artists sharpen their teeth making original works that truly sound like Schubert, read like Tolkien, or look like Michaelangelo — send them my way! I know some homes and churches I’d like to adorn.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Tweedie’s comments are vitiated by two false assumptions.

        First, he suggests that the arts prior to the coming of the modernist revolution had reached a sterile “status quo” that made radical experimentation and rebellion necessary. This is not true. Art in all fields from the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries was distinctive and well-done, and can easily be recognized as a product of these individual periods. They show changes and new developments, but they are beautiful and intelligible for half a millennium, and are recognizable as the work of Europeans. The idea that older art was stereotyped and played out and at an aesthetic cul-de-sac by 1890 is one of the propagandistic talking points of modernism’s apologists.

        Second, the idea that older art has to be “redeemed for our particular time and place in a broadening and diverse global culture” is pure left-liberal boilerplate. It’s the sort of cliche-mongering that might be suitable for a latter-day commencement address. Nobody has to “redeem” Caravaggio or Gainsborough. And great art is not produced by a “diverse culture” (a meaningless phrase). It is produced by specific individual cultures working within their inherited traditions.

  3. Evan Mantyk

    Dear Adam,

    Thank you for the excellent essay. One point, which I think you have nailed, is the stupidity in the way that some people throw around the term “reactionary.” Given the overall state of poetry and the arts today, it is simply inaccurate to call traditional arts reactionary because so much of establishment art sees traditional art as anathema to it. This is not reacting against something new (how is garbage art and garbage poetry new at this point anyway?), this is fighting for basic survival and advocating an entire paradigm shift based on truths ever more self-evident. As you have said, it is better described as revolutionary. To put it another way, it is simply wonderful and compelling in a more universal and perennial sense, and the call for more attention and organization is music to the ears.

    Reply
  4. Andrew Benson Brown

    Again, really enjoyed this. Am guessing, Adam, that this call to arms is the result of the tidal wave of woke jeering and brick-wall arguments brought about by your ‘Amanda Gorman’ piece in the Chained Muse? Last time I checked it had +250 comments. Ridiculous! Tried to come to your defense but nobody really paid attention. Doesn’t really seem to get anywhere to debate them. I would say we need to just overwhelm them, but their army is a lot bigger than ours. For now the key to survival seems being adept at bush fighting. The SCP is at least one such oak we can hide behind to get some shots off.

    Reply
    • Adam Sedia

      Thank you! I actually had the germ of this idea for some years, after I first heard about the Vienna Secession. “Wouldn’t my own secession be nice?” I thought. Then Evan suggested a similar idea, and I finally formed the thought into an essay.

      Even though it was unrelated, the timing of the Gorman essay was fortuitous. I appreciate the valiant efforts in my defense, but fighting the Borg is like struggling against quicksand — it just sucks you in deeper and overwhelms you. I just sat back and let the sewage spew forth. Its volume and ignorance shocked even me.

      Reply
  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    The tsunami of venom unleashed at Adam Sedia in the follow-up commentary to his essay at The Chained Muse on Amanda Gorman’s rotten poetry demonstrates what any proposed “Secession” movement in the arts is up against. Mainstream establishment control of K-12 teaching, academia, journalism, publishing houses, the wider media, along with almost all funding and support for aesthetic activity, is totally in the hands of the enemy. Barring divine intervention, such control will probably stay there.

    “Secession” movements in the past had a chance because there was a wider range of schooling, training, and institutional independence available. There was always some other atelier, concert hall, salon, studio, or school where artists could go and learn and work. Teachers with different or unorthodox viewpoints were around and uncowed. A group of artists could get together and say “We’re doing something else,” and the worst that they had to endure was ridicule, disdain, or just a lack of attention. Is any of that true today? Sedia puts the point clearly: “The leviathan of entrenched, well-financed, mass-media supported interests [are] arrayed ready to crush any opposition to the official narrative.” Globalized media and instant communications have made possible a totalitarian control undreamt of by past tyrants.

    The huge and vicious response to Sedia’s essay on Gorman shows that we now have a cultural and aesthetic Antifa and BLM movement that is prepared, at a moment’s notice, to pay PLENTY of attention to heresy, and come down hard on anyone who dares to express a viewpoint contrary to the currently approved consensus of polite opinion. Is a “Secession” movement in the arts possible when mindless mass protests can get an excellent Russian opera singer fired from her job, or Russian tennis players banned from Wimbledon, for the simple offense of being Russian?

    A.B. Brown is correct. There is no sense at all in even trying to talk to such people. Dostoyevsky would have called them “the possessed.”

    Reply
    • Adam Sedia

      “The possessed” is an apt description. I thought that having been cancelled once, I could deal with the expected response to the Gorman essay. But I have to admit that even I was unprepared for the avalanche of sheer ignorance, vitriol, and – yes – racism and sexism (of the “reverse” kind) that was unleashed. It really opened my eyes as to how far gone a large segment of the population is — and that is the segment that our “elite establishment” courts! There is nothing redeemable about such people, and serious artists need to separate themselves at once.

      The cancelling of Russians isn’t limited to the living. I know of concerts that cancelled programmed pieces by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov simply because they were composed by Russians. But this goes deeper: I notice a trend of crowding great concert pieces out of programs in favor of second-rate works by marginally known women and black composers. Such “wokeness” presents a genuine risk of some of our greatest cultural treasures being forgotten simply because they don’t fit a political agenda. A secession is as much about preserving these works as continuing their tradition.

      Reply
    • David Bellemare Gosselin

      The “short of divine intervention” sounds like a fine challenge.

      In many ways, it’s actually a fun and interesting challenge because the reality is there’s no one else taking the position, or take the position well with some good intellectual bits. Those like Adam who can become important for just that reason. Because on a higher level, the desire for beauty, truth, contrary to the cynical Huxlian Brave New World outlook where everyone has been so hyper sensualized that they no longer care about any of the deeper or sacred things, I think we can observe that the sheer level of disgust with our modern culture and entertainment industrial complex has definitely bred a desire for something more meaningful. The hunger and desire there.

      People are sick and tired of meaninglessness banality.

      In this respect, I think we need many more fun and combative polemics like Sedia’s.

      I’m currently working on one about Rupi Kaur and the death of contemporary verse. Her poetry is essentially that of a millennial nourished on a heavy diet of inspirational memes from social media, and the banalization of the real mystic poets, like Rumi—Rumi reduced to greeting cards and memes.

      Another fun one might be, “Did Sylvia Plath Create a Generation of Sick Artists?”

      All that to say there are many sacred cows worth revisiting.

      Reply
  6. James A. Tweedie

    In his response to my response to Adam’s essay, Salemi challenges me on two points.

    First, he challenges my assertion that the classical ideals of Western art appear to have reached an impasse at the end of the 19th century leading artists to pursue new directions to channel their creativity. Yet he gives no evidence to support his assertion. He makes reference to the readily identifiable movements of Western art from one century to the next–from Gothic to Renaissance, to Mannerist, all the way to the 19th century which is, I suppose, represented by a number of “schools” including the Pre-Raphaelites–a century that, in the end gave way to Expressionism, Impressionism, Cubism which devolved into the various fractionary art movements of the 20th century.

    And yet Salemi does not offer one example of a 20th century art movement that has carried Western art into anything remotely comparable to the movements that evolved over the previous centuries. I know of none and he did not cite one because there is none–which is why I raised the possibility that, except for imitating the past, Western art has seemingly ceased to evolve.

    This is not propaganda. It is an objective observation.

    Second, Salemi challenges my suggestion that Western art needs to find new expression that reflects the current state of regional and world culture and speaks to it. For the life of me I cannot see where this is ill-conceived since that is exactly what led to the appearance of every previous art movement from Sumerian, to Greek, to Egyptian, to Roman, to Byzantine etc. etc.

    Every art movement reflects their respective age and Western art adapted to every age until the 20th century when, for all practical purposes, the foundational principles of beauty, truth, reality, faded into the fog of Impressionism, shattered into the fragments of Cubism and deconstructed into the aptly named catch-all movement called “Abstract.”

    I challenge Salemi to identify any current movement of Western art comparable to those that emerged one after the other over the previous centuries. It has had over 100-years to arise. Where is it?

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Apart from some scattered efforts by isolated individuals working in their inherited traditions, there is no current movement of Western art because modernism deliberately KILLED the traditions that would have supported it. That’s the entire point of this discussion. People like the young Ezra Pound and those writers whom he championed and promoted made sure that the traditions were strangled. Pound himself in 1970 expressed horror at what had happened, denying that he was personally responsible for “all this disorder.” But in the early twentieth century he said that the first task of the new poetic movement was “to break the iambic line,” and he supported the anti-rhetorical verbal parsimony of the Imagist manifesto. As a young man in Venice at the turn of the century, Pound said that he could still sense “a living poetic tradition in the air,” and he was glad to grasp it and be a part of it. But like many impetuous types at the time, he was revolutionary on principle, and worked to distort and strangle poetry into what it has degenerated to at this point. Pound was a great artist, like many of the early modernists in all fields. But he was living off the gasoline fumes of an empty fuel tank — that is, his early training and education gave him his artistic strength, and it disguised the really destructive aesthetic consequences that he was unwittingly promoting.

      This was happening in all the arts at that time — painting , music, dance, architecture — and it metastasized after World War I into the horrors of Dadaism, Surrealism, and Bauhaus ugliness. Everywhere there was a concerted effort to reject the old, and replace it with something new. That killed the traditions, and those who did the killing (along with their whores-on-retainer in the galleries, the publishing world, the academic echo-chamber, and the trend-conscious critics and collectors) deliberately and consciously set themselves up as the new arbiters of what was acceptable, and what would be celebrated and funded. They created the Modernist and Post-Modernist Establishments. That is why (apart from isolated artists) there is no “current movement of Western art comparable to what emerged one after the other over the previous centuries.” A murder has taken place.

      If the traditions had not been killed, we could do more than merely imitate the past. Wordsworth and the early Romantics criticized much of eighteenth-century classical poetry, but they did not kill the inherited traditions of Western poetry. Dryden and Johnson may have rejected some of the practices of the metaphysical poets, but they did not kill the inherited traditions of Western poetry. Chaucer may have discarded the alliterative practices of other Middle English poets, but he did not kill the inherited traditions of Western poetry.

      Frankly, all of this is a mere sideshow in a much larger and more dangerous development that is now engulfing us: the worldwide anti-Western, anti-European, anti-white furor that has worked its way into every major institution and public activity. Some people are suffering from the delusion that poetry and art will save the world. What a pathetic joke! When your enemies are out to kill you, impoverish you, or degrade you, poetry should be the least of your concerns.

      Reply
      • James Sale

        ‘…poetry should be the least of your concerns.’ Yes, but here you are Joe – it’s clearly a massive concern of yours, and of mine! I agree with you – the events in the world and what I call the ‘wake-takeover’, which if it were to occur would mean a French style revolution and reign of terror, seem far more serious than debating free versus formal verse. But I think we are all of us appointed to be where we are, and to mine for truth at that point. There is some sense in which poetry is THE most important thing – for it can transform hearts and minds, although truly the soil we are in now – and your exposition of its historical origins are a joy to read (my only caveat being I can’t stand reading Ezra Pound!) – is meagre in the extreme. However, if we can’t find love at the moment, surely together we can have hope and faith?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I have no objection at all to what you say, Jim. For some of us, poetry is all we have left at the present moment. We can’t do any more than merely try our very best to produce good poetry in the inherited traditions of our culture. OUR culture — not any “globally diverse” culture.

        As for hope, all I can do is quote what an Italian soldier said towards the end of a hopeless and losing war, after he had listened to some pompous officer give a silly, morale-boosting speech to the men:

        Boia chi molla, ma mona chi gli crede.

        It’s too obscene to translate.

  7. BDW

    as per B. S. Eliud Acrewe

    Mr. Sedia, in “Call for Secession”, continues his own, thoughtful excursion into the ever-controversial, arena of literary criticism. His forays continue to reveal his attitudes, which are worthy of response. I did find his comparison to the Viennese Secession creatively humourous, if but one more example of Modernist failures.

    Modernism, which, for historical purposes, I demarcate as around 1900-1950, contains much more than merely free verse, and some of that quite good. Within its phoenix-like creation, Modernism was filled with the writings of millions across many nations, and some of it, though certainly not most of it, was exciting. In English literature, take one small example, literary criticism. Despite flashes of perception in writers, like John Dryden and Samuel Coleridge, and judicious organization in writers, like Alexander Pope, I have no compunction whatsoever in saying T. S. Eliot’s body of critical work in English is our language’s highest achievement in that arena.

    But as no literary period has ever exceeded all others in all forms of writing, the same is true of the Modernists. Take, for example, just one area—poetic drama. No Modernist, PostModernist, or NewMillennialist has approached William Shakespeare’s body of plays (certainly not T. S. Eliot).

    Reply
  8. James Sale

    This is a great article and there are some great responses to it, which all add to the debate, although we all realise that we collectively are all allied and sadly a small number relatively. Taking action that is purposive is always good, but my point would be this: in a way the writing of poetry is like the practising of a religion. It starts off ‘good’ – visionary even – think St Francis. Then after a while it becomes commodified – a business even. And finally, it becomes corrupt – a racket even! Then there has to be some process of renewal if the poetry, the religion is to survive. So the difficulty is in thinking through what is the contemporary language we have to develop that speaks to our contemporary world. In religion: how can we express theological concepts without them sounding cliched or memed? (At the same time of course as retaining the ‘truth’ of them). So with the poetry. The sonnet form – to take one example – will be relevant to the English language so long as the English language exists, BUT writing in the style of the ancient models (from the C16th to C20th) will produce (excepting where we use the models for practice) inauthentic poetry. The issue, then, is how do we imitate the greats but not slavishly follow them, sound like them? A good example of somebody on our pages who has achieved this is Andrew Benson Brown with his Legends of Liberty: yes, Byron is writ large over it, but it is a contemporary idiom of speech; and there are others here too. Put another way, the problem is: how to write like Shakespeare but not sound like Shakespeare; how to write like Robert Frost, but not sound like Robert Frost; or more generally, how to use the models but not sound like the best practitioners of those models. I hope that makes a bit of sense – but thanks everyone for some excellent points on this vital issue for us all.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      James,

      As usual you are more articulate than I am. What you suggest is virtually identical with what I was suggesting when I wrote, “We not only need to reclaim the past but we need to find some way to redeem it for our particular time and place in a broadening and diverse global culture.”

      Also agreed that “we collectively are all allied and sadly a small number relatively.”

      Reply
      • James Sale

        Yes, I think so, James, thanks. The real enemy we have is huge, monstrous even, but fortunately I am a great believer in the story of David and Goliath. Truth, ultimately, will prevail – there is no substance to the nihilism that is reflected in contemporary art forms? Why, how could there be when even the word nihilism is a void?

  9. Julian D. Woodruff

    What we all want to do, it seems to me, is to write the kind of poetry etc. we want to write, and hope that it will through its embrace of positive artistic and esthetic values (subjective) have a positive impact on the general attitude toward those values. Vain hope, I think. In other words, I think that to get out of the malaise no secession will really work. We have to engage at a more fundamental level: restoring widespread recognition of the value of children and the health of the family; which means in turn, among other things, building the general recognition that government, particularly as it affects obstetrics, public schools (which we are obliged to support), and higher education as an institution, is the staunch enemy of the young, from before birth through graduate school (if a student can be conned into hanging on that long). How is a young individual (the kernel of a healthy society) to be encouraged to esteem such values, and artistic attempts to embody them, with abortion mills still within easy reach for most, with too many teachers, administrators and school board members gaga on woke-ism or cowering in fear of reprisals from its adherents? The hope lies in home-schoolers, the resisters running for school boards and their supporters, and the students and faculty (like Jordan Peterson) ready to call the bluff of the entrenched academics. All this is not a secession, but an engagement–which is what Mr. Sedia was about in his piece on Amanda Gorman. Of course the reaction to that was blistering hostile fire, of the sort that might incline many to vacate the field of battle. But some, as articulate and informed as he, have to be ready to return fire. Some have to have the stomach for polemics and political engagement along with the heart for poetry.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      What you’re saying, Julian, is the French phrase “politique d’abord.” It means “politics first,” or “politics above all else.” I think that is the absolutely correct line to take.

      One gutsy politician (the Governor of Florida) has done more to kick left-liberalism and counter-culturalism in the face than ten thousand poems or pictures. He has hit the “woke” Disney corporation hard, in the pocketbook, and he has not apologized for it. And he has told the LGBT vermin to stay away from children.

      Reply
  10. BDW

    “But the most famous was the Vienna Secession…which sought to achieve ‘a total art’ that combined painting, architecture, and the decorative arts.” I am reminded of a poem of five years ago.

    The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
    by Red Was Iceblue

    The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer done by Gustave Klimt,
    done in the Jugenstil, golden-silver oil glint,
    the final representative of his grand, golden phase,
    the faintest face and pale shoulders, beauty borne of grace.
    She gazes out from opulence upon the canvas back,
    in slender, clinging dress, her cheeks are pink, her hair is black.
    Her cape of circles, squares, triangles, and symbolic eyes,
    surrounds her with a grandeur which displays a soft surprise.
    So quietly she sits there, grayish fingers intertwined,
    as if we could, almost, look ín to hér observant mind.

    I do think the idea of combining all the arts and sciences a worthy endeavour; yet to do so requires an enormous vision, like that of the Classical Period of Ancient Greece. I do agree that Mr. Sedia’s lyrical accomplishments are fine, as far as they go, but he, like everyone @SCP, has a long way to go. Are there any perfect poets @SCP? No. But can we glean “things” from the writers here? Yes. And even more so, we can glean “things” from not only the English tradition of the last 1000+ years, but also the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, etc. and writers @SCP are attempting such.

    But just in writing alone, there is so much to tackle:

    Writings
    by Wilbur Dee Case

    One never could describe the writings of a period,
    because all of the works therein would be a myriad:
    There’s oratory, allegory, satire and romance,
    epistles, journals, memoirs, sermons, law and reference,
    didactic, lyric, epic, education, history,
    translation, science, criticism, and philosophy;
    there’s comedy and tragedy, math and biography
    short stories, fables, novels, essays, and theology,
    expository, politics, descriptive, prophecy,
    persuasive, narrative, e-mails, proverbs, poetry;
    there’s drama, sketches, articles, how-tos and monologues,
    advice, opinions, dissertations, resumes, and blogs,
    notes, copywriting, editing, research and technical,
    wit, humour…Damn, the best thing is to be eclectical!

    As for monetary support; that never accomplishes much. I am reminded of Ovid’s father warning his son to stay clear of poetry, giving the example of Homer’s poverty. I would suggest that rhyme and meter, though fine poetic elements, are not the only elements, and are not even classical (as in the Ancients), but are rather more modern/traditional. Though Ezra Pound is underappreciated @SCP—“I can’t stand reading Ezra Pound”, as Mr. Sale suggested, from him we can learn the importance of the breadth of the line, as opposed to, say, only iambic pentameter.

    As to Mr. Sale’s point that we should not sound like Shakespeare; I don’t think we have to worry about that. There have been no poetic talents of the last four centuries who have achieved anything like the Shakespearean style; it is that extraordinary.

    Where I think Mr. Sedia is most clearly on target is when he says “Our solution is to build—to create…” Yes, for that is exactly why I created the bilding, as well as other poetic structures, many decades ago; and that is what I think we should do: build and create here in the New Millennium.

    Let me borrow an iambic pentameter line from Tennyson:

    “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

    Reply
  11. Julian D. Woodruff

    “To strive, to seek, to find …”: that’s what I want to do, Mr. Wise; and I suppose that it’s true for everyone at SCP. But it also held for DeKooning, Stockhausen, Joyce, and any number of other figures you might name, so more specifics from you might be helpful.
    In the world of music (more familiar to me than poetry) I would seek a place somewhere between Babbitt (“who cares if they listen?”–which seems roughly equivalent to the typical academic attitude toward poetry), and the blare of commercial “music” at shopping malls etc. (By chance I recently found myself at a pro hockey game and wondering at one point, “when do they schedule ‘Chopin nocturne night’?” Or longing to be able to select Cage’s 4’33” (of “silent” piano music) on the diner juke box. Continued receptivity to either the current academic or commercial/popular “track” in any artistic or political/social realm is, in my view, indicative of a malaise that demands more than simply “we’ve just gotta keep on keeping on.”

    Reply
  12. C.B. Anderson

    Where do I sign up, Adam? Oh, right: All I have to do is write a narrative epic that captures the general public imagination, and then sign my name to it. That should be easy.

    Reply
  13. Joseph S. Salemi

    Adam Sedia isn’t calling for us to convert people to our viewpoints, or to have a friendly debate with our enemies. He’s calling for a “secession,” which is a conscious and deliberate separation of ourselves and our work from the Mainstream Muck that engulfs us. His argument is that the people who violently reject our viewpoints are simply not worth talking to. Only dreamers think that we can still find common ground with those who are too far gone in their stupidity and malice.

    Reply
  14. Martin Hill Ortiz

    A Manifesto for Inclusion

    by Martin Hill Ortiz

    The fine arts are now and have for centuries been a plurality of voices. The great painters and poets were often outcasts. The notion that a single form of poetry is noble is nonsense.

    I write formal poetry and have had about a half-a-dozen pieces published here. (I guess I can’t place links in these comments.) I’ve won several awards, one here and at least ten elsewhere). I believe those poems are well-written.

    I also write non-formal poetry which I am proud of. It does have a rhythm. I would compare it as being jazz versus a good Cole Porter tune, both of which I love. I love be-bop. There have certainly been formalists in history that considered jazz to be the devil’s rhythm.

    I have actually had a non-rhyming poem rejected for rhyming. I know it was rejected for rhyming because I got a personalized rejection slip. My poem began:

    I was born cute
    Killer cute
    Electro-cute
    The rag man was there. . .

    I wasn’t trying to rhyme cute with cute. I was using it to develop a rhythm, a jazz rhythm, a hard knock at the end of each line, and not a formal rhyme.

    Nihilist? Maybe, not being into nihilism, I haven’t run into much of it. As for modern writers of poetry my first thought would go to someone like Maya Angelou and her expressions of soaring hope.

    I’m not a fan of provocative art: art that exists to offend or to force you to ask the question: what is art? (That said, I enjoy that question.) Part of the goal of the provocative artist is provoking the viewer by the piece: don’t give them what they want.

    I think the essay is plain wrong about poetry being marginalized. I’ve been going to poetry readings since the 90s. There was and continues to be a huge boom in “spoken word.”

    The number one New York Times best seller in fiction at the start of 2022 was a book of poems. As with other things I’ve not read, I’m not going to comment on it for or against.

    Rap is a culturally dominant poetry form. I am not an aficionado of rap, so I couldn’t tell you how much good poetical rap is out there. I’ve certainly heard some of it. A friend of mine who showed up to poetry readings in the mid-90s when I lived in Florida was a master at it. He made you think, he made you smile. Delivering spoken word poetry is a talent and he had that. I remember a piece of his “I Like Alicia Silverstone, Even if She’s a Bit Chunky,” as being moving and hilarious.

    Beyond the prevalence of rap (and hip-hop), lyrics are now and have always been poetry and they make up a lot of artistic space. Most lyrics are crap, but I remember that being often true of my younger days. “Sometimes When We Touch” makes me cringe, start to finish.

    Of course, some lyrics then and now, are transcendent. Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon. Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize. Oops! I’m not supposed to mention that. Nobel Prize, Nobel Prize, Nobel Prize. That’s what I think of the essayist’s advised censorship.

    I will say from 100 to 1000 of Dylan’s lyrics read as great poems: something few poets achieve. I haven’t studied how much formalism he uses, but they do fall into a musical harmony. Sondheim is one of my formalist writing heroes. Was. Sigh.

    Although I greatly advocate formal poetry and am aware that it gets unjustly snubbed, I also recognize that most formal poetry is crap. This is because it is harder to write. Great formal poetry has everything that good non-formal poetry requires and then has placed on it a high demand of structure. Failing at that is easy.

    First, about bad poetry, I have a fondness for it. Also attending poetry readings were the young and the elderly who recited badly expressed outpourings of their hearts, some rhyming, some not. Few had rhythm. The experience was like receiving a valentine from a friend covered with glued-on pasta. It’s not good art, but I was grateful for the valentines.

    Secondly, I fully recognize that much of informal poetry is crap. I have certainly heard some non-gems.

    You mentioned Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, et al., as being practitioners of traditional verse. I would like to add e.e. cummings. (excerpt)

    all by all and deep by deep
    and more by more they dream their sleep

    As most are aware, he wrote transgressively informal poetry, some of which is heart-breaking in beauty. (excerpt)

    in Just-
    spring when the world is mud-
    luscious the little
    lame balloonman

    whistles far and wee

    and eddieandbill come
    running from marbles and
    piracies and it’s
    spring

    when the world is puddle-wonderful

    (puddle-wonderful, one of the most brilliant coupling of two words.)

    Robert Frost wrote something that for me, changed my view of poetry: meaning has rhythm. That is the rhythm I most strive for. In the cummings poem above, the meaning explodes and dazzles like fireworks.

    Not all of us are cummings. Not all of us are Frost.

    My mother painted and my wife paints (recently ex-wife). Neither are into realism. In my office before me is one of my wife’s paintings. It has an abstraction that captures beauty and terror. It is the portrait of an alien figure (vaguely like Predator although that doesn’t do it justice) and is titled Warlord, a comment on some particularly nasty world leader in the 2000s, I don’t remember who. I wrote a poem for its premiere:

    Warlord

    The warrior wears shrunken heads for trophies.
    Even his own.

    I’m proud of her painting. I bought it so she wouldn’t sell it to someone else. I’m proud of my poem. (What rhythm in that poem? Meaning has rhythm.)

    Secessionism leads to Balkanization. There is too much Balkanization in the world and the world pushes for more. The problem, as I see it, is classical poetry being absent from too many journals and not the need to go find a playground of our own.

    I would not want to participate in a break-away republic without e.e. cummings, or my wife’s or my mother’s paintings. My only standards for art are grace and engagement. And those standards are very demanding.

    As I said at the beginning, this is a manifesto for inclusion. I believe the Society of Classical Poets should include well-written free verse. I have no desire for it to publish much of this or to lose its identity. However, I think, this journal should not practice exclusion like journals that don’t publish traditional verse.

    I have stopped publishing here. The attitude expressed by many and by this essayist, that there is a correct ideal of poetry or art, is snobbishness. (Ha! No. They are the snobbish ones! Many times that is also true.)

    I found the right-winged-ism presented here to be nasty in its expression, especially around COVID. I have researched viruses for 30 years, having to put up with conspiracy theorists and those anti-vaccine (I’ve taught vaccines for 20 years). I’ve been told I am part of some Big Pharm scheme. (I am very critical of Big Pharm.) I fully believe those who are anti-vaccine kill people. That comes from my decades of experience and having anti-vacciners send me articles that read like the frim-fram of the kabooble is framst.

    Sincerely,

    Martin Hill Ortiz, PhD

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      You’re clearly in favor of a “Big Tent.” So why don’t you talk to the Mainstream Free-Verse Establishment convincing THEM to have a big tent? Or are you afraid you’ll get cancelled if you try?

      If the SCP were to allow free verse and rap and hip-hop and all the other current garbage to be posted here, in a month the site would be overrun totally, and its identity would vanish. I have seen this happen several times with websites that started out to be metrical and formal, when all of a sudden some dreamer started orating about “inclusion” and “diversity.”

      You also seem unaware that the terms “inclusion” and “diversity” are now standard weasel-words, regularly used as a way to dis-include certain people, certain beliefs, and certain attitudes and approaches. You yourself seem inclined to dis-include “right-winged-ism” [sic]. I guess you don’t want us in your “diversity” pool. Did you notice that Sedia’s essay at The Chained Muse got close to 300 vicious and nasty responses? Are those the people you want us to “include”?

      Finally, if you really think that we are murderers, then maybe it’s best that you get lost. We don’t want to sully your virtue.

      Reply
      • Martin Hill Ortiz

        Some places should be Big Tents, some Small Tents.

        “So why don’t you talk to the Mainstream Free-Verse Establishment convincing THEM to have a big tent? Or are you afraid you’ll get cancelled if you try?”

        Umm, yeah. I’ll call them on the phone. I did mention in piece (briefly) that I’ve had trouble publishing poetry in the mainstream magazines. On occasion I have been informed that was due to rhyme. Other times it was probably due to rhyme and not being told. I don’t know how to get them to open up. I have argued in other forums for the beauty of formal poetry. I personally have a least a little bit of a chip on my shoulder when people try to correct me when I present a formal poem and think that I don’t know that there is any other.

        “If the SCP were to allow free verse and rap and hip-hop and all the other current garbage to be posted here, in a month the site would be overrun totally, and its identity would vanish.”

        I stated “I have no desire for it to publish much of this or to lose its identity. However, I think, this journal should not practice exclusion like journals that don’t publish traditional verse.” I would never want this journal (or any journal) to publish garbage. That you lumped all freeform into garbage is sad. Did you not think the cummings example was breathtaking? If you didn’t, and you are entitled to your opinion, we completely disagree.

        “Did you notice that Sedia’s essay at The Chained Muse got close to 300 vicious and nasty responses? Are those the people you want us to “include”?”

        No. I did not read the essay or the responses. As I said above (and will again below) I disappeared from this site. I have not posted in a year.

        “You also seem unaware that the terms “inclusion” and “diversity” are now standard weasel-words, regularly used as a way to dis-include certain people, certain beliefs, and certain attitudes and approaches.”

        I can’t control how inclusion and diversity are used out there in the world. They are not weasel-words. They are great concepts that people can use rightly or wrongly.

        “Finally, if you really think that we are murderers, then maybe it’s best that you get lost. We don’t want to sully your virtue.”

        I don’t say all of you are murderers. Those who promoted antivaccine killed a lot of people. I’ve done the research on that. I’ve written about fifty essays on U.S. states and COVID death rates. And the research hardly ends with me. Beyond that, I made it clear that I did get lost.

        So why did I write this? I received an email, my first from SCP for a goodly time, that said, “After causing a stir with his piece on Biden inaugural poet Gorman, Adam Sedia expanded his vision in a piece at the SCP this month calling for a secession in not only poetry but all of the arts. Read his piece and comment here. ” I read his piece and commented here.

        After writing what I wrote previously, I went to a couple of the most popular poetry websites (as ranked by visits). The poems I clicked on were freeform and weren’t nihilist. In part this was probably because they were slipping in Mother’s Day’s poems. Nihilist Mother’s Day poems: it sounds like a satire on death metal. One of the primary disagreements in the essay is that poetry has died. It hasn’t.

        I support formalist poetry and I support free verse which you categorized as garbage. I don’t support those who would pronounce one ideal of poetry as being the only one with virtue.

      • Martin Hill Ortiz

        Nope. And I didn’t prove the moon landing was faked or discover the evil inside of Hillary’s emails. Nor do I promote the wonders of testicular tanning.

      • Martin Hill Ortiz

        This should have been my response: I get these sorts of links all the time. For ivermectin (which doesn’t help in COVID): but have you seen this? Yes, I considered the article they sent me along with twenty other ivermectin articles. I’ve had a graduate student research that question for a presentation. He probably spent 40 hours on it (from the quality of his report). He began by believing it probably worked. Then he scratched beneath the surface.

        Bad science, and that includes claims like the ones made for ivermectin, are easy to generate. They kill. They kill because they take up time in clinical trials that could be used for more worthy agents. They kill because some people are placed on ivermectin versus standard of care.

        Good science takes a long time. Proving the unlikely notion that ivermectin would work took well over a year.

        What were the origins of COVID-19. By that I don’t mean China, but a lab accident versus a bat market versus whatever else. There’s a good chance that will take five years to know. It took 10 years for HIV (which I’ve researched since the 80s. And there are still some folk out there who send me an article saying HIV came from some strange alchemic reaction of gay sex. Or it was government invented. Those articles are not impressive.

        I said I left this site specifically over Dr. Zelenko promoting azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, and zinc as a treatment for COVID. It was obviously phony (but Giuliani promoted it!) and dangerous.

      • Mike Bryant

        Right, Dr. Ortiz. How could Dr. Zelenko ever measure up to your brilliance? His protocol is obviously terribly dangerous, unlike the experimental mRNA jab, which is 100% safe and completely protects against the CCP virus.
        But still, Americans are sovereign individuals and can legally choose what to accept into their bodies. My body my choice.

      • Martin Hill Ortiz

        One of the things about this antivaccine thing that I don’t get is: how did mRNA become a dirty word? Experimental? Well, I guess all new vaccines are somewhat experimental. The safety of these vaccines has been followed in exquisite detail.

        Did you not ever hear of mRNA before this? I mean, I remember it from like the eighth grade. Conceptually, an mRNA virus is safer than a DNA vaccine. The difficulties in storage is probably a main reason they haven’t been used until now. Any graduate student who works with mRNA can tell you: it falls apart. (No, falling apart is not dangerous. All mRNA has rapid turnover.) Hence the minus 120.

        I have had done the background research to look into the safety of the COVID vaccine. (By that I mean, literature search.) I did this to teach medical students–at the same time as I taught the safety and hazards of other vaccines. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I remember that the COVID vaccine is about 10,000 safer than not taking the vaccine (with the endpoint of mortality). I’m sorry if that is wrong and it’s only 3000 x, I taught it in January and I’m getting older. Or, hell, maybe the number is bigger. Frankly, vaccines, on a safety/toxicity ratio are one of the several great achievements in medical history.

        My body, my choice? Parents of chicken pox kids claim that and then infect classrooms and kill. Being antivax is as sensical as planking. (A thing from about 15 years ago that involved lying in the street and having cars swerve around you.) Your body, your choice. You can kill the people in the car.

        The concern of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine being pro-arrhythmic isn’t something that appeared because of Zelenko’s protocol. It’s been around for awhile. I’m guessing 10 years for azithromycin and for hydroxychloroquine at least thirty years. I teach students a mnemonic: if it is has quin in its name, it’s potentially arrhythmogenic.

        But no, we should consider Zelenko competent because he named his treatment the Zelenko treatment and sold it direct. His initial letter about its efficacy was dated March 23, 2020. He claimed it effective in 500 patients. Beyond the fact that he had no institutional board approval for a clinical study, which is horrific, how did he have 500 patients in New York treated for enough time to say that? If all of the people in New York who had tested positive for COVID as of March 12 were on his protocol, he would have 328. Ah, you could say that more people were infected than those who were officially positive. Absolutely true. But then what standard was he using to say that his patients (100% of them) were not progressing with disease unless he had something to show they were infected? No hospitalizations and no deaths, he said. Deaths over 11 days. No one on the Star Princess died in the first 11 days.

        Real research and findings take time. Good research is maddeningly and boringly slow. Bad research moves at the speed of Zelenko.

        As to whether I am a genius, I have some things I do well. Evaluating research is one of them, something I’ve done for many years. Zelenko (from what I stated above and for other reasons I did not state) is a quack. He is not measuring up to “my brilliance” because he is dumpster diving for ignorance.

        Completely unrelated to this forum, I’ve been putting together a post on bad science which includes Zelenko. I’ll link it when it’s done. Or maybe it will be just too depressing to post here anymore. There’s no convincing those who think making a Bronx cheer is an argument.

        I left for a long time. I will again. I don’t need another news article about how COVID vaccines are killing children. I accused the antivax of being killers. You do recognize that by my being provaccine you are making the same claim about me and killing children?

      • Mike Bryant

        Yes, Dr. Ortiz, you are far too brilliant to question the current thing. It would do me no good to give you links to people smarter than you, because no one is smarter than you.
        You said, “Conceptually, an mRNA virus is safer than a DNA vaccine.” Hmmm… Webster’s had to change the definition of “vaccine” because the ineffective jab is not a vaccine. I’m sure you’ll disagree with that, but, again, it will do no good to post links, because any link I point to is disinformation, misinformation or malinformation.

  15. Joseph S. Salemi

    To M.H. Ortiz —

    I never said that all free-form work was garbage. In fact, in several essays and postings here and elsewhere I have defended the efforts of the early modernists like Pound, Eliot, Stevens, Nash, and others like Cummings, who had been well educated in the earlier traditions of poetry, and who had produced much interesting work. But those men are long dead now. What we face today are the current mass of incompetents and poseurs who produce aesthetic refuse. Rupi Kaur and Amanda Gorman come easily to mind, but they have thousands of clones.

    You say that we shouldn’t practice exclusion. But you freely admit that you are powerless to change the exclusionary practices of free-verse journals and websites. So give us a cogent reason for opening the floodgates here, other than providing a venue for your wife’s and your mother’s paintings.

    You don’t think that “inclusion” and “diversity” are weasel-words used regularly by left-liberals to ostracize their political enemies? They are, in your view, “great concepts”? If that’s what you actually think, I have little respect for your understanding of rhetoric and language. “Inclusion” and “diversity” are weaponized words used for political manipulation and moral pressure. They no longer carry any neutral objective meaning for anyone who actually reads English.

    But let’s cut to the chase. The real reason you have come back here has nothing to do with poetry or aesthetics. You are simply infuriated that many thoughtful and intelligent persons do not accept your viewpoints on the treatment of COVID, and you are bursting with a desire to lash out at them for failing to recognize you and your colleagues as “experts” who must be obeyed. Sedia’s essay was just the excuse you needed.

    The jig is up, Ortiz, both for you and for Fauci. So go ahead and wear your masks and get your booster shots. But stop imagining that you can tell the rest of what to do. Got that?

    Reply
  16. Martin Hill

    Mike Bryant: “Yes, Dr. Ortiz, you are far too brilliant to question the current thing. It would do me no good to give you links to people smarter than you, because no one is smarter than you.”

    I prefer Hill Ortiz. That is my last name like Conan Doyle.

    So your argument has devolved into “smarty smarty pants thinks he is so smart.”

    Genius is 99% perspiration. I do the work. I’m sure you could find an article that praises Zelenko, probably on the same site. You’d probably consider that work in finding an article critical thinking.

    For me, Zelenko as a fraud was a no-brainer. There is no way someone could have studied any treatment for COVID in America in 500 people by March 23, 2020 and come to a meaningful conclusion. The dozen other signs he was a fraud were mere icing.

    “You said, “Conceptually, an mRNA virus is safer than a DNA vaccine.” Hmmm… Webster’s had to change the definition of “vaccine” because the ineffective jab is not a vaccine.”

    I don’t know what your point is. Are you saying that because Merriam-Webster included mRNA viruses in their definition of vaccine, a normal thing when a new sort of vaccine comes out, that somehow negates COVID vaccines? Or maybe that’s not what you meant. If that is what you need to maintain your conspiracy theories (dictionaries are against me), you need to add a little perspiration to your thinking.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Dr. Hill Ortiz, I am a sovereign individual. You, as an expert, cannot compel me to take anything into my body that I don’t want to. Is that simple enough for you? Leave me and my DNA and my mRNA alone. I don’t have a lot of faith in experts. You are supposed to be some high-falutin’ researcher, but the last time we crossed swords, you couldn’t research the location of Dr. Zelenko’s practice. So please spare me the gobbledygook and leave the dissenters alone. You are not GOD, and you do not get to decide who lives and dies.
      Respect the Nuremberg Code.
      YES! The jab is experimental. Real vaccines undergo eight to ten years of trials, your man Trump rushed this mRNA jab out in less than a year. The definition had to be changed because this is a completely different thing than a vaccine. I am not anti-vax and most of the people that have done their own research aren’t either. However, you keep smearing people with that label. Stop it.
      Is an mRNA virus safe?

      Reply
      • Martin Hill Ortiz

        As an expert in poetry, I cannot compel journals to give a better opportunity to formal poetry. I cannot obviously not influence or even graze anything going on in your mind.

        I can do personal things involving myself. Maintain integrity. Fight the fight against junk science. You don’t believe that I do, but then, I can’t convince you of anything.

        Yep, you clearly don’t trust experts. We were probably lying to you when we said “don’t suck on lead.”

        Sorry if I mistook Zelenko’s practice spot way back when. I don’t like being wrong.

  17. The Society

    Dear Martin Hill Ortiz,

    Opening the SCP up to free verse is an interesting idea. We do publish haiku, clerihews, blank verse, shape poems, and other forms less dependent on traditional English meter and rhyme. Do we publish out and out free verse? No. The SCP has a very specific mission and is legally a non-profit bound to that mission of supporting traditional poetry, also known as formal or classical poetry.

    Secondly, it would not make sense under my editorship. While I earned a degree in English literature and enjoyed reading and writing classical poetry in college, my focus turned to more practical non-fiction after college, particularly journalism and legal writing. I was part of the vast majority of Americans to whom poetry is dead. And here I refer to poetry in the sense of what is primarily characterized as poetry, not what is primarily characterized as music and song lyrics and may also be secondarily regarded as poetry, as in the case of Dylan (the fact that he was awarded a poetry prize for music lyrics could also just consummately confirm that poetry in the primary sense is dead in the mainstream). At the age of 30, I and a colleague who was more or less the same as me had rekindled an interest in poetry—not free verse, but rather traditional poetry. We really had zero interest in Cummings, Eliot, Pound etc., so there is some fundamental difference in aesthetic perspective there. I find such poets’ work interesting but never very compelling.

    This is an interesting opinion we recently published and you may appreciate more than Sedia’s essay. We do welcome a plurality of voices: https://classicalpoets.org/2022/01/21/rescuing-contemporary-poetry-from-vers-libre-an-essay-by-leland-james/#/

    You may regard your differences of opinion about vaccines as part of the plurality of voices. People will always disagree on politics. What’s new? Combine politics with personal health and the level of disagreement is going to be amplified. I took a punch in the face from an idiot who thought I wasn’t vaccinated (I was vaccinated, only for work) and thought that having a negative covid test within 24 hours wasn’t enough to justify not wearing a mask. Are your extremist opinions (calling anti-vaxxers murderers) fueling such dangerous idiots? That is real violence and ignorance-fueled hatred you are ostensibly contributing to. Should I delete your post? My 68-year-old step-father also passed away a few months after receiving the vaccine in a condition precipitated by a blood clot possibly brought on by the vaccine, according to his doctor. Anyway, just a different perspective on the issue. I know at heart you mean well. Everybody has their own perspective. It is better to not get too hung up on the politics and focus on what we came here for: good poetry.

    Evan Mantyk
    SCP Editor

    Reply
    • Martin Hill Ortiz

      Oh, how I wish this site focused on good poetry and not politics. I can’t refer my friends here. Even when referring to poetry it is about how we should secede, take our baseball home, and not play with others. There is a huge arrogance in Sedia’s argument. He denounces the other side as incomprehensible, nihilistic. He seems to spread his argument to all non-formalist art. I believe that is a horrendous caricature.

      No one should punch someone in the face for being unvaccinated. I’ve heard of fights from people who refuse to put on masks where it is required.

      Thanks. I don’t regard my difference of opinion about vaccines as a plurality of voices. Those here have said vaccines have killed countless children. That makes my advocacy for them murder in the eyes of the anti-Fauci crowd.

      From a scientific perspective those who have posted here are slipping on banana peels and crying ah ah! I won.

      I know I’m coming across as arrogant here. It is because I have a black belt in this subject, which was very hard earned. I have a chip on my shoulder because I see my years of training medical students in modern medicine negated by a public who retreats to superstitions (aka conspiracy theories) and snake-oil salesmen.

      Is it possible to return the conversation to the poetry side of Sedia and my arguments? That’s 90% of the arguments I made in my post.

      Reply
      • Evan Mantyk

        Martin, you’re a very discerning man. You just have to take a principle and apply it both ways. Probably most or all conservative SCP poets would be happy to be published by any liberal publication and wouldn’t take much issue because they know everyone has their own perspective and people disagree over politics. Just apply the same principle in the reverse situation and you can see there is no reason to get upset.

        The available data may be on your side, and maybe that’s all that matters in the realm of PhDs and statistic flinging, but real life always involves an infinite number of inaccessible data sets. How many people have been adversely affected by vaccines? We may never know but knowing that could drastically alter your interpretation of the numbers. That is to say, you may be right, but you also have to consider that you may be wrong. It’s just common sense. No PhD or black belt needed.

      • Martin Hill Ortiz

        How many have been adversely affected by vaccines is a matter that is studied in exquisite detail with individual cases documented, high and low estimates of injury / mortality performed, and confidence intervals.
        COVID vaccines were not released in a vacuum of research. They went all around the world with studies to match them from all over the globe.
        There is a saying: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. I believe people lie with statistics and they lie with words. They can enlighten with either.

  18. Martin Hill Ortiz

    Salemi. You wrote: “If the SCP were to allow free verse and rap and hip-hop and all the other current garbage to be posted here”

    And then he wrote: “I never said that all free-form work was garbage.”

    I thought you were clearly lumping free verse with garbage. You made no distinction excluding “good” free verse in the above statement.

    “You say that we shouldn’t practice exclusion. But you freely admit that you are powerless to change the exclusionary practices of free-verse journals and websites.”

    Yes, that does sum up a part of my what I am saying. I mean, if I did have the power to change exclusionary practices of predominately free-verse journals, I would. I don’t have that sort of literary gravitas.

    “So give us a cogent reason for opening the floodgates here, other than providing a venue for your wife’s and your mother’s paintings.”

    I clearly stated a modest amount, not floodgates. My arguments are presented above. There is beautiful free-verse out there. It didn’t end with Cummings, et al. (I’ve read he liked his name capitalized when referred to as a person. That’s hard for me to remember to do.) Exclusion, which is practiced by snobbish journals, shouldn’t be practiced here. And don’t pick on my mama. (jk, I know it was directed to me.)

    “You don’t think that “inclusion” and “diversity” are weasel-words used regularly by left-liberals to ostracize their political enemies?”

    I’m really not familiar with this argument, it sounds like something that runs around in conservative circles and, from your expression of it, involves a lot of fist-shaking. Yes, “inclusion” and “diversity” are great concepts.

    By the way, if I did find out the conservative’s grudge about inclusion and diversity, it doesn’t sound like something I’d like to argue. I remember with Sotomayor’s confirmation “empathy” being tossed out like it was a bad word. So sad. I thought the argument that empathy in the law was a good thing went back to Jesus’s proclamation that the law is built for man and not man for the law. Or, let he who is without sin cast the first stone (that was in response to a legal judgment of stoning). Or Solomon deciding to not divide the child in half. Taking law literally, the lawyers in the New Testament, was presented as a bad thing. Gosh, I remember going to a service way back when where a preacher proclaimed “love” is a hippie word.

    “But let’s cut to the chase. The real reason you have come back here has nothing to do with poetry or aesthetics. You are simply infuriated that many thoughtful and intelligent persons do not accept your viewpoints on the treatment of COVID, and you are bursting with a desire to lash out at them for failing to recognize you and your colleagues as “experts” who must be obeyed. Sedia’s essay was just the excuse you needed.”

    Well, this I can speak to with 100% certainty. I came here to respond to Sedia’s essay. 90% of that response had nothing to do with COVID. You thinking that you know my motive is an example of you stuffing an assumption into your worldview.

    “The jig is up, Ortiz, both for you and for Fauci. So go ahead and wear your masks and get your booster shots. But stop imagining that you can tell the rest of what to do. Got that?”

    I live in Puerto Rico. We have had the highest vaccination rate here (in comparison to the 50 states and DC) and the third-lowest COVID death / cases, again in comparison to the states and DC. At least these were the numbers when I presented them to students in January). And that’s without a particularly good health care system. I’m proud of our numbers.

    The United States, mainly because of those who avoid masking and vaccines, has had approximately 3000 deaths per million from COVID. Canada, a country that is probably the most comparable to the US in size, general location, and affluence has had about 1000 deaths per million.

    In October last year, I ran the numbers on which states had the highest COVID death rate since Delta virus appeared in the US. Why since Delta? Because its appearance in February 2021 roughly corresponded with general vaccine availability. Being rates, they were adjusted for population.

    Those states, from highest mortality rate over the period February 23, 2021 to October 1st (when I did the analysis) down to 13 places: Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Idaho.

    You can find seven out of ten of the least vaccinated states on that list. (Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia, Idaho). Number 11 is Oklahoma. Number 13 is Oklahoma. (The vaccination figures also are as of October 1, 2021)

    The above involved genius. And by that I mean, work. Again, I am hardly alone in such analyses. Someone with more time went to the county level and found (surprise, surprise) low vaccination rate meant higher infection meant higher death rate. How can that happen with a disease?

    The numbers are available if you want to dive into it for yourself. Individual states put out the numbers, so if you want to say someone is faking them, blame Abbott, etc., for making their states look bad.

    So, we have that on one side. We have globalism, Soros, FAUCI! and the vaccine is killing countless children on the other.

    I’ll help you along with your conspiracy theories. I’ve met Fauci. We were on a panel together in the early 90s. Good, conscientious man, although I’ve not been in touch with him for 30 years. He errs on the side of caution. He will say, “unproven therapy.” I will point out “unproven in the sense that crawling hasn’t been scientifically studied as a means of winning a sprint race.”

    So you’re vilifying me and lumping me with Fauci. I can live with that. Consider his hard work and how he is treated, he’s a freaking saint.

    But you know what? The conspiracy theorists won. They didn’t take the vaccine. They avoided masking and/or fought it. And we do have three times the COVID death rate as Canada.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      To M.H. Ortiz:

      If you go back and read the comment that I posted on April 23 at this thread, you’ll see that I expressed some degree of appreciation for the work of the early modernists and free-verse poets. And this was before you entered the debate.

      There is no “modest amount” of poetic free-form garbage out there. There are tsunamis of it. If you ask Mr. Mantyk to accept and consider that kind of material, you are condemning the poor man to be inundated with a flood of pure crap and trivia. The SCP would be overwhelmed with it.

      Another formal and metrical website, Able Muse, allows non-metrical verse to be published, but they are obliged to keep the stuff carefully separated, like typhoid patients in an isolation ward. That’s how infectious such material can be at a website.

      What exactly is your objection to a purely formal and metrical poetry website that excludes material that does not suit its declared standards? There are literally thousands of poetry websites and chatrooms for free verse and stuff like it. Why should the SCP be compelled to make room for such material? Why should we commit hara-kiri to satisfy your sense of equity and inclusion? Once again — who the hell do you think you are?

      If there were a Society of Stamp Collectors, would you object to the fact that those who do not collect stamps may not join?

      If there were a Black Students Union at a college, would you object to the fact that white students may not join?

      If an opera house only puts on productions of classical opera, would you object that they exclude jazz and folk-music performances?

      Yes, ninety percent of your first post had nothing to do with COVID. But your subsequent postings have been heavily about the subject, and your personal prestige as a researcher. That’s clearly what has brought you here. Your posting just above is nothing but a pastiche of statistics designed (like all statistical displays) to overawe the uninitiated.

      Your attitude is that of a self-proclaimed expert who is infuriated at being disregarded and disobeyed. And your defense of the liar Fauci (a typical timeserving medical bureaucrat with a Messiah complex) is revelatory of your worship of authority and prestige. This also comes out in your argument that Bob Dylan (a caterwauling folk singer) is somehow a great poet because he got the Nobel Prize. Really? Do you know how many third-raters and nonentities in literature have gotten that prize? But like all authority-and-prestige worshippers, you can’t think of the “Nobel Prize” without getting wet in the crotch.

      You say “Some places should be Big Tents, and some Small Tents.” Well, this place is a small tent. Get used to it, or get lost again.

      Reply
  19. Joseph S. Salemi

    Let’s consider some very simple facts. M.H. Ortiz published several poems here at the SCP from 2019 to 2020. No one attacked him, or gave him trouble, or tried to censor his work. He was free to post material, and to answer any questions or criticisms.

    He left (he says) because he did not like some of the comments made here by other poets. That in itself speaks volumes about his attitude. Nobody gave HIM any flak for what he posted, but he feels indignant enough to come back here and make a huge stink about what WE post and believe. Is that not the essence of a censorious disposition?

    Consider his demands: 1) the SCP MUST allow the publication of free-verse and other non-traditional forms. IT MUST! In the sacred name of “inclusion” and “diversity”! 2) those SCP members who are skeptical about vaccinations and other elements of the COVID hysteria MUST stop promoting their viewpoints! THEY MUST! If they don’t they are murderers.

    Who the hell does this guy think he is? Since when does he get the right to dictate aesthetic policy to Evan Mantyk, and to summarily cancel the free-speech rights of others on a non-aesthetic issue?

    People like Martin Hill Ortiz (and the crackpot Nina Jankowicz) are a severe social problem today.

    Reply
    • Martin Hill

      “As I said at the beginning, this is a manifesto for inclusion. I believe the Society of Classical Poets should include well-written free verse.”

      Can’t you see the difference between my above quote and MUST. IT MUST. Can’t you see you exaggerated that out of all logic or reason? Nor did I dictate an aesthetic policy to Evan Mantyk. Cancelling free-speech? How did I do that? You clearly have the right to speak and call people crackpots.

      I did say promoting anti-vax is murder.

      I respect people who personally choose not to vaccinate. I don’t believe they are right, but you have a right to be wrong. In a public health perspective isolated cases of non-vaccination don’t make a difference. I don’t respect misinformed people who tell others not to vaccinate. Shouting fire in a crowded theater when there isn’t one can be murder. Hey, but it’s free speech.

      Vaccines are not fire. They are safe and the COVID vaccine saved millions. The science isn’t even close to saying they are dangerous. I’ve been fighting this fight for 30 years.

      I didn’t complain about people giving me flak for what I posted back when. I left because of the hatefulness of comments in general, not things directed at me. I personally thought the praise for Zelenko went too far and that sort of man is a killer. Doing a trial without institutional review board approval borders on monstrous, much less presenting phony results. I didn’t want to be on a board that was so brazenly outside the public good.

      Who do I think I am? I’ll leave you with your opinion. I’m a severe social problem.

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        Dr. Hill Ortiz, you don’t like Dr. Zelenko and you don’t like acupuncture. Heck, even the Mayo Clinic is ok with acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical procedure.
        https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/about/pac-20392763
        You might be a bit out of the mainstream. I believe that acupuncture could heal your recurring pain. Since I’m a practitioner and expert at voodoo acupuncture I’ve fashioned the correct doll. Please tell me if you’re feeling better now…

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Once again, notice the obsession with issues of prestige and authority. How DARE somebody run a test “without institutional review board approval”? This guy would have done well in the Third Reich. He doesn’t do anything without “institutional approval.”

  20. Martin Hill

    I don’t like acupuncture? I don’t teach my students to be anti-acupuncture. A bigger question is where did you get that notion? Did you make it up completely? I may be on the record as to some aspects of acupuncture being difficult to reproduce (nerve maps of individuals are variable) but I’ve not dismissed acupuncture.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Good, I’m glad you don’t object to the treatment you’ve just received. I didn’t bother to get your approval for this admittedly experimental procedure, but I bet your pain has diminished.

      Reply
      • Martin Hill

        Mike Bryant.
        I don’t vaguely understand what you are saying? The treatment I’ve received? Acupuncture? Being called names here? Experimental procedure? Acupuncture by analogy?

      • Mike Bryant

        You have just received your first treatment of Voodoo Acupuncture. I have you scheduled for your second jab tomorrow. Don’t worry about making an appointment… it’s telemedicine. Don’t worry about the charges, the Voodoo Medical Establishment is taking care of it. Don’t thank me, I’m always happy to help.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        M.H.O. doesn’t seem to be very good at recognizing irony and satire.

      • Mike Bryant

        Shhhh, Joe… I think I got him just about ready to write a check.

  21. Martin Hill

    “If you go back and read the comment that I posted on April 23 you’ll see that I expressed some degree of appreciation for the work of the early modernists . . .”

    And you’ve made that point here. After you lumped free-form into a list of garbage as I mentioned above.

    “There is no “modest amount” of poetic free-form garbage out there. There are tsunamis of it.”

    And there are tsunamis of bad rhyming poetry. I hesitate to call it formal or metric when it gets that bad. As I said above, one of the reasons I love formal poetry done well is that it is so hard to get it right.

    “If you ask Mr. Mantyk to accept and consider that kind of material, you are condemning the poor man to be inundated with a flood of pure crap and trivia. The SCP would be overwhelmed with it.”

    Mantyk said no for him (above). Mainly because it is outside his expertise. (I hope I am representing him correctly). Every editor has a hard job and making it a harder one is a good reason for not going with my recommendation.

    “What exactly is your objection to a purely formal and metrical poetry website that excludes material that does not suit its declared standards?”

    I declared my reasons above. Exclusion is bad. A lot of good free verse out there. You objected to me quoting you as lumping free verse with garbage. And now you lump it with typhoid and say its infectious. If you want to say to some or most is garbage or quarantine-able but I advocate for good free verse, then say that.

    “Why should the SCP be compelled to make room for such material?”

    I’m not compelling anyone.

    “Once again — who the hell do you think you are?”

    I’m someone making a suggestion.

    “If there were a Society of Stamp Collectors, would you object to the fact that those who do not collect stamps may not join? If there were a Black Students Union at a college, would you object to the fact that white students may not join?”

    Most societies have written goals. If someone didn’t collect stamps but who promoted the cause of stamp collecting wanted to join, they should consider. It someone promoted the cause of the Black Students and wasn’t black, I believe they should be allowed to join. (I’m half minority but look white. I’ve been the different looking one in groups specifically for minorities. I suppose living in Puerto Rico, that’s the whole of my current existence.)

    “If an opera house only puts on productions of classical opera, would you object that they exclude jazz and folk-music performances?”

    In that example, well the Met certainly puts on jazz and folk-music performances. It would be a loss if they became exclusionary. Are there opera houses in the world that never have concerts that are not opera? Is there an opera house in the world that would have turned down Leontyne Price for performing an evening of opera and folk pieces.

    “Yes, ninety percent of your first post had nothing to do with COVID. But your subsequent postings have been heavily about the subject, and your personal prestige as a researcher.”

    I’ll confess this. I’m not a great researcher. When Isaac Asimov focused on writing, he said, “Does the world need another mediocre researcher.” I was never a good lab manager. Two of my last four research projects failed and the buck stops with me. That said, I can wield research as a scythe. And I am very good at examining bullshit, which makes up a portion of research and a fair portion of my job. I have won teacher of the year two out of the last four years due to genius and by that I mean hard work.

    “[COVID’s] clearly what has brought you here. Your posting just above is nothing but a pastiche of statistics designed (like all statistical displays) to overawe the uninitiated.”

    What brought me here was to comment on Sedia’s piece. What kept me here was the COVID material. As for the statistics, you are welcome to run them for yourselves. The data are publicly available.

    “Your attitude is that of a self-proclaimed expert who is infuriated at being disregarded and disobeyed. And your defense of the liar Fauci (a typical timeserving medical bureaucrat with a Messiah complex) is revelatory of your worship of authority and prestige.”

    As I said, met the guy, was impressed. I have certainly met unimpressive bigwigs (Gallo, or maybe he did impress me in a Dracula-like way.) Beyond that, I’ve listened to a number of Fauci’s presentations and podcasts on COVID. Not always right, but slugs about 600. Speaks with a lot of caution, it’s always (in extended presentations at least) “This is new. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.” Certainly, the demonization of Fauci is one thing that has put me off regarding anti-vaxxers.

    “This also comes out in your argument that Bob Dylan (a caterwauling folk singer) is somehow a great poet because he got the Nobel Prize.”

    I never said he was great because he won a Nobel Prize. He won the Nobel Prize because he is great. To think my love for Dylan started with the Nobel Prize is invented. From Dylan (excerpt):

    Though I know that evening’s empire has returned into sand
    Vanished from my hand
    Left me blindly here to stand, but still not sleeping
    My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet
    I have no one to meet
    And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming

    or, another song excerpt

    She wears an Egyptian ring
    That sparkles before she speaks
    She’s a hypnotist collector
    You are a walking antique.

    And he’s made at least a hundred as good. Very few living poets can claim that. It’s metered poetry, of a quality that this site should be proud to publish. In his own way, Dylan promotes the value of formal poetry. I own a book of his lyrics.

    I’m going to indulge in this next song bit of poetry, my favorite of Paul Simon.

    For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her

    What I dream I had
    Pressed in organdy
    Clothed in crinoline
    Of smoky Burgundy
    Softer than the rain
    I wandered empty streets
    past the shop displays
    I heard cathedral bells
    Tripping down the alleyways
    As I walked on
    And when you ran to me
    Your cheeks flushed with the night
    We walked on frosted fields
    of juniper and lamplight
    I held your hand
    And when I awoke and felt you warm and near
    I kissed your honey hair with my grateful tears
    Oh I love you girl
    Oh I love you.

    You’ve caught me. I’m a rank sentimentalist.

    The above lyrics have some slant rhymes, and true rhymes but as a whole it is closer to free verse (compared to most other great works of Paul Simon which are pure rhymin’ Simon).

    So, do I love Paul Simon just because won awards? That’s ridiculous.

    “Do you know how many third-raters and nonentities in literature have gotten that prize?”

    I don’t know how many “third-raters” won the prize. Maybe I missed them because I try to avoid third-rate literature. Scrolling through the list of Nobel Prize Winners in Literature, I clunted eleven of them for whom I’ve read at least one novel. (Or with Eugene O’Neill, seen more than one play.) The ones I’ve read aren’t third rate, but my sampling is limited. None of them are non-entities. Not anymore.

    Which gets to a question, open-ended, I’m not making an accusation. How many of the Nobel Prize Winners in Literature have you read and personally have determined as third rate? Are you using other people’s critiques? I would say as a standard (the one I used for me), you have read at least one whole novel or seen at least two plays. Or read one full book of their poems. I don’t think reading half a book counts. I know some books are hard to slug through, but if you really want to evaluate someone you need to read the whole thing. I’ve had an occasional book bruise my mind half-way thru only to find it genius. I would put Beloved in that category.

    “But like all authority-and-prestige worshippers, you can’t think of the “Nobel Prize” without getting wet in the crotch.”

    I’m kind of anti-authority. In teaching the history of medicine, I point out that one Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine and Physiology won for his discovery that cockroaches cause cancer. Two other controversial awards went for the discovery of DDT and lobotomies.

    The notion of awards going to the absolutely correctly deserving is a ludicrous notion that people should give up on. (Although I personally support the award going to Dylan as I’ve indicated.)

    I’m not pro-Fauci because he has authority. It is because my interactions with him (including just listening to his presentations) were positive. My interactions with a number of other bigwigs and authorities have been less than positive.

    You say “Some places should be Big Tents, and some Small Tents.” Well, this place is a small tent. Get used to it, or get lost again.”

    I guess I will get lost soon. I feel that those who took the time to respond to me should be answered.

    Reply
  22. Joseph S. Salemi

    “Oh, how I wish this site focused on good poetry and not politics. I can’t refer my friends here.”

    –Martin Hill Ortiz

    Sometimes a small slip of the tongue like this can be a real litmus test for someone’s basic attitudes and worldview. Martin Ortiz is desperately worried about keeping the good opinion of his left-liberal friends! In David Riesman’s terms, he is an “other-directed personality.”

    In point of fact, the SCP is NOT focused on politics. It merely happens that some poems and comments posted here are on current political issues. Since many of the poets writing are conservative or right-wing, naturally those poems and comments are likely to be representative of a specific political viewpoint, just as the poems published at left-liberal websites are likely to be representative of a left-liberal viewpoint.

    So what does the above quote from Ortiz essentially say? It says this, if I may put it into plain English:

    “Oh, how I wish there weren’t conservative and right-wing poets here at this site, or else that they never expressed any of their horrid opinions! Then I could invite my pals here without being embarrassed.”

    In a nutshell, Ortiz is an arrogant left-liberal who is simply incapable of comprehending why any articulate and intelligent person wouldn’t share his sociopolitical opinions. And he openly wishes that the SCP would transform itself into the kind of place where his right-thinking left-liberal friends could come without being appalled.

    Since he freely admits that the left-liberal and free-verse poetry websites will never change, and will continue to reject any poems that go against their viewpoints, his suggestion to us that WE should accept free-verse is very much like the attitude of those who say “What’s ours is ours, but what’s yours is negotiable.”

    It’s this sort of mindless, narcissistic, self-absorbed leftist tunnel vision that sane people all over the planet are beginning to rebel against. Ortiz can’t conceive why it’s happening. All he can do is repeat the mantras of “Inclusion!” and “Diversity!”

    Reply
  23. Joshua C. Frank

    Hey, so who’s going to start one of those parallel publishing houses for us? 🙂

    Reply

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