these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.

thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.

my artist website is here.

Apr 22, 2010


(this post is all over the place)

um... i've been noticing for awhile now that poets (in general) don't really seem to like each other much... or even try to appreciate each others work... unless its work that is very close to their own work... and i'm talking about most poet blogs that are being maintained now, not poets of the past... although maybe it does have something to do with The Past, an inherited lineage of sorts... learned bias and aggression and intolerance or some sort of love affair with the notion of being a Genius... but my concern over this is basically: if no one really likes each others work... and everyone thinks everyone else's work falls short... and no one is really all that willing to appreciate the work of poets who aren't members of their own small club of aesthetic or conceptual concern... then... is it even really possible to be good at poetry? or do we all just make work for a very small segment of the population... for people who agree with us and like the things we like?

(if that's the case, i'm cool with it. it'd actually be a relief to have this confirmed so let me know.)

i don't know. i've just been noticing how catty and loud-mouthed poets seem to get about other people's work just because it gets a bit of attention. it's jealousy, yes, but it's odd to me that a community would attack itself over every single little difference so LOUDLY, so PUBLICLY... and maybe that's why poetry has fallen to such a state of disfavor among the general populace???

i think poetry is very important but a lot of the conversations that exist on the interwebs are LOADED with sarcasm and anger and animosity... i mean, really, to a very uncalled for degree. it makes having a sense of community on a larger scale (outside your own club) kinda impossible... i know it's definitely been a turn off to me and i definitely don't feel comfortable involving myself or asking questions in most online poetry discussions or blogs... and everyone is saying "no! I'M right!" and i didn't think that one could really get away with that attitude when it comes to art. aren't we are still learning? isn't this supposed to be more about questions than answers? isn't there supposed to be at least the common appreciation for exploration? for wrestling? for investigating? for risking getting it "wrong"? maybe i'm naive or i misunderstood the theory i read but i thought we were beyond the ARTIST IS GENIUS, ARTIST IS GOD thing. and i may have naively hoped that poetry (all art forms really) was about a little bit more than soap box antics and spewing hateful things at one another and was a tad more excited by variety than what i'm seeing.

if you guys follow poetry blogs have you noticed this too? are poetry classes like this? is it just the way the poetry world works?

i mean, there are definitely times when anger is warranted. there are the big issues of racism and classism and sexism and i'm all for a strong response to those things. i think it's heroic to stand up for certain virtues and that ethics should be a part of art... but intellect and creativity and ETHICS are NOT prized when there is a total reversion to name-calling and foot stomping and railing against other people's practices or modes of making. there's a lot of the i'm-smarter-than-you attitude floating around and it shuts the door on conversation and the exchange of ideas. in fact, it actually encourages thoughtlessness. and if someone fancies themself a writer than shouldn't they be able to express themselves with words in a more eloquent, intelligent, thoughtful way then dropping the word "douchbag" on people? what's up with all the personal attack? that is not "critique". if someone's skillz are lacking, that's one thing. but unleashing a barrage of complaints about them as a person or the magazine who published them and yadda yadda yadda is not only unnecessary and mean, but completely irrelevant.

i'm not saying that the poetry community can't be rowdy (passion is good), but it seems inclusive (on blogs anyway) of very malicious behavior and i don't see how that helps anybody. has anyone else noticed this? or am i frequenting the wrong blogs? or am i just overly sensitive?

in the visual art community there is an appreciation for the creative impulse, no matter what a person's work looks like, because, in this country, art is pretty much not appreciated by the general public. so... we're at least happy that people are interested and trying to learn and making exploration a part of their day. attacking them for being at-the-beginning does nothing to make art a bigger part of the dominant community. people need support at whatever level they are at and their interest in art should be encouraged. everyone is allowed to stumble and make mistakes and change their minds. if a person's work has failed and they ask for a critique, be honest. but why attack them personally? and why not offer some suggestions of how to make the work better? just pointing out what's wrong does not mean you've helped them. pointing out the "wrong" is not the same thing as pointing out the "right".


The Storialist said...

It is true that poets are very skeptical of popularity. For example, I think of the many poets who have verbally separated themselves from Billy Collins and his so-called "problematic accessibility." Regardless of my feelings about his work (actually, I really enjoy his playfulness!). I feel that this kind of railing against popularity is just not helpful or productive.

However, negativity can be ok, I think, in the right spirit. Jason Guriel (poet and lit. critic) had a really interesting review in Poetry magazine called "Going Negative" where he negatively reviewed a book of poems, and also wondered aloud whether the negative review has a place in lit. journalism (he says YES it does).

It's funny, because many of the writer's blogs I read are very much the opposite of this sentiment. The comments I get and give are extremely positive and encouraging.

The place I see camps forming is in literary journals, and published interviews.

Honestly, poetry is very important to me as it is a space for concentrated expression (as is any art)...I am glad that it stirs up these feelings in people, because it gives me hope that some people still read and care about poems. The cattiness I could do without, but, you'll have that.

angela simione said...

hi hannah! thank you so much for letting me know about that essay. i WILL read it and i think it'll help me get my mind together. i have no problem with negative critique at all. it's the personal attacks that are starting to get to me. but based on what you've said here, it may in fact be that i've not yet stumbled across the "correct" blogs in terms of critique and discourse. and again, i think you're right that cattiness will always come along for the ride. no "portfolio review" for personality... there just seems to be so MUCH of it! it gets to be discouraging because i find myself spending a lot of time trying to weed through the cattiness to get to some ideas that i can actually learn from... especially ideas i might not agree with upon my first exposure.

angela simione said...

p.s. i should add that part of my issue stems from the fact that i feel very much at the beginning of things when it comes to learning about and writing poetry and i haven't yet found a place online where i feel safe asking questions since i've seen so many people who have tried basically be ignored or called an idiot... like attempting to learn something (by admitting you don't understand or know who a particular poet is) is treated as shameful.

this seems very unproductive. none of us can get to the next level if we're all calling each other stupid.

i'm going to cruise through your blog roll. i have a suspicion i just might be hanging out in a crappy sand box.

Roz said...

angela, you are not alone in these observations.

poetry communities of the past 30 years or so have been inordinately contentious & factional.

there are many reasons for this, too many & too complicated to list, really.

one big one is the ongoing legacy of the poetry wars of the 1980s, which featured language poets vs. iowa workshop poets, experimentalists vs. traditional narrative lyricists.

another big one is that poets, moreso than artists or any other genre it seems, tend to place great importance on not just poetry itself but also the discourse among poets. a sense of grandeur & self-importance that has far-reaching aesthetic, moral, philosophical, and political implications: "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world" as Shelly puts it in his defense of the genre--

that's the most eloquent way i can put it. this would be the positive passionate aspect of what you're talking about.

but you're also talking petty, you're also talking name-calling, you're also talking angry.

i have noticed this too, not only on blogs & online forums but sometimes at live readings too.

i follow the harriet blog on poetry foundation and occasionally comment on it--tho they've closed down the commentbox for the poetry month of april, to protect the poets from each other perhaps? ;)--but i try to stay away from the big controversial debates & arguments, not b/c i shy away from controversy but b/c i've noticed these forums tend to encourage soapbox behavior, reputation building, ego stroking, power plays, and cliquishness. a lot of it seems to be about power & reputation to me. that's what i've noticed too at some live readings-- people aren't that friendly esp. to newcomers or outsiders, they're kind of closed in on themselves and in their little cliques, they seem edgy anxious & tense. and competitive. there's a big emphasis on hierarchy, even tho the community tries to insist that there isn't.

i can't help but think this can't be good for the poetry itself in the long run.

well, those are my shared negative observations. it felt cathartic to share them just now. but i couldn't go on following poetry & poetry discussions (which are v. important to me personally & aesthetically) if there weren't also sites & places that fostered more positive interactions and energies. i have a number of poetry/poetics blogs listed on my blogroll--some of them do succumb to negative tendencies & feel competitive, but i try to tune that out & just focus on the ideas. others feel more positive and community-building to me, and every once in a while there will be a singular gemlike post that gives me hope. i don't know which poetry sites you're following and don't know if you'd feel comfortable identifying them, but if i got a sense of which styles of poems/poets you like & what kinds of discussions you're interested in i might be able to suggest some sites to check out. i've been following the poetry scene for a while now, mostly from the so-called experimental wing but i know a little bit about other schools/tendencies too.

angela simione said...

roz! this is amazing! thank you! especially for the history lesson, seriously! i love that kind of thing and think it's so important to be informed about. i've rolled around in your blog roll since you started a blog and really like what i've been seeing... which is sort of where this post came from, feeling like maybe i've landed on a few sites that, although exciting, seem to be very encouraging of seperatist anxiety and outright verbal abuse fired at specific individuals. and it is usually in the comment threads.

i tend to like most poetry but more and more my personal tastes run toward the conceptual, experimental stuff (though i have a deep and abiding love for the confessional). i've read a TON of stuff that rebecca loudon recommends (who is herself one of my favorite poets!) and also kate zambreno.

right now i'm reading A Lover's Discourse, Dies: a sentance, and Wonderful Wonderful Times. and also, i keep going back to Aase Berg's With Deer.

but i also think it's important to read widely and attempt to learn from people who have a different take on what art can be (or be about). if not, i would've never landed on the stuff i'm reading now. i would've never gotten beyond what is offered at Barnes & Nobel.

it's very good to know that i'm not the only one who's noticed this. and also that newcomers are generally given the stink eye. hurts my feeling less to know that. ;)

Alesa Warcan said...

Wow, the temptation is to write a ton to answer that. I'll fight it and try to be brief.

You depiction of the US graphic artist community seems idyllic.

I don't know the writing community here, but I happen to be relatively aware of the graphic/plastic art community here through having had number of arty friends... it's pretty nasty.
And if my art history serves me at all, it has been for some time.

It strikes me that the attitude you describe is, for one thing, prevalent to the majority of people regardless of the field (ok, I'm not a people person, never claimed to be), and doubly so amongst people who do things "seriously". Sometimes the best place to find good will is amongst casual amateurs whose judgments are less polluted by what they have at stake.

I think the key is to find and question people you respect; and not to lose time and energy on the multitude of people who will blindly like you because you happen to be on the right side of the street this week, or who will blindly disregard you because you are young or old, or Martian or whatever.

What is your objective? If your objective is to be liked and popular, than writing conformist pap might be a better way to get there. If your objective is to create your own art, than you can buck the trends and flay the superficial epidermis from the body of things and get right into the heart of the matter.

Roz said...

yes, stink eye is right. hang in there. you will find more hospitable people & sites to connect with. unfortunately, as is the case with much that happens online, i notice that immaturity & insecurity draw lots of attention in the commentboxes, and the sniping energy just proliferates from there. it seems incredibly backwards to me, but often the most productive, thoughtful, generous, and wise posts on poetry blogs go uncommented on, either b/c readers are rendered speechless from contemplative admiration or b/c positive energy does not inspire many poets to post comments. i think it's weird: if an arrogant, sniping, controversial post can garner 100+ comments, why can't a thoughtful intelligent post get 100+ comments from people going "groovy," "i love it," "this is great," etc.

in short, i think your wtf reaction is a very healthy one.

your reading list is great! i don't know rebecca louden, will have to check her out. dies blew my mind when i read it this past winter. it's not like i agree with all of vanessa place's assertions that she makes in blog comments & essays, but i really dig her writing, she does amazing things with language. one of my upcoming projects is to immerse myself in more titles from les figues press, which she co-founded & runs. this is how i've been finding new blogs/writers, by following connections one at a time. and the les figues blog is how i landed at kate zambreno's site to begin with!

you might like looking through the archives of the delirious hem group blog. the few commentbox discussions i've read there have been really interesting & hospitable to women in particular. commenters are intelligent and respectful of each other. there's some overlap in what goes on at delirious hem and the stuff that kate is interested in. and i like browsing through the archives of lemon hound b/c sina queryas is v. good at gathering all sorts of guest perspectives from different disciplines--poetic, critical, & visual artist. she def. has a particular sphere of interests but within the context of that sphere she gathers a diversity of perspectives.

conceptual writing-- have you been to the ubuweb site?

i have to second what alesa said about the contentious energy being endemic to fields of people doing things "seriously." add to this poetry's historical alignment with rhetoric & the art of persuasion. making & winning verbal arguments is an age-old strategy for winning respect as a "professional" poet. and the "culture wars" (marginalized perspectives of feminist women, people of color, & queers vs. the dominant privilege of straight white male patriarchy) were and are most voiciferously fought in english departments in general and in poetry communities where poetry is seen as the "epitome" of literature. just more background, in case it helps. it's hard sometimes to cut through the shark-infested waters and just talk about literature! that's why i appreciate kate's blog so much.

angela simione said...

alesa, are you in france???? i hear the french art world is pretty rough.

it can get very heated here in the states in the art world too (there are all sorts of politics and preferences) but it does seem that, at least when an artist is still considered to be in the "emerging" category or is in school, that the fact they are trying to be an artist is important... that people who have decided art, as an entity and action, is relevant to their lives should be encouraged to dig and play. this might be due to the fact that The Arts in general are largely disrespected in the US. culturally, those who appreciate and study the arts are in the definite minority.

"I think the key is to find and question people you respect; and not to lose time and energy on the multitude of people who will blindly like you because you happen to be on the right side of the street this week, or who will blindly disregard you because you are young or old, or Martian or whatever."

this is wonderful advice. i think i may in fact be suffering (possibly) from information overload, trying to understand everyone's point of veiw, desires, and motives. i definitely tend toward the (naive?) hope that even if someone might not LIKE my work, they can still look for its relevance. but your final paragraph gives me a bright resolve to not let this stuff get to me and i thank you for that. you are so right about finding a few individuals to dialogue with rather than try to take on everyones opinion and outlook... just move forward with my masterplan.

thank you. :)

angela simione said...

roz, the background information totally helps! thank you! it gives me a new perspective on all this. i read half of the bartleby essay and already i have a better perspective on what's going on... historically anyway. i guess since i come to writing primarily as a visual artist, the relief i experienced when i read The Death of the Author is in me as a reader and as a writer too. i do not aspire to be a genius or a legislator... but you know painting has "killed" itself over and over again and keeps on resurrecting itself so the stakes are very different, i suppose... there's a freedom maybe in visual art practice that is harder won in writing maybe.

i just stumbled across ubuweb 3 days ago! ha! i suppose i'm on the right track, following one link to the next and the next. it's just so nice to get a helping hand, pointed in a direction that might be interesting to me, and also to have a chance to talk with people who want degrade me for asking questions.

rebecca loudon is a wonderful writer and i think you'd love her work and her blog. she's the first link in my blogroll (Radish King). and on her blog, she's very free with information concerning her writing practice - the struggle of it, the reward - and also her reading practice... and her music practice too. she's a violinist and we've had really great conversations about how art, regardless of the form, comes out of the same place. the urge to MAKE STUFF.

i will definitely check out delerious hem! thank you thank you!!!!

Maggie May said...

I think to us- poets- this is fascinating discussion. I don't follow but a few poet's blogs, because I find them by and large to be b.o.r.i.n.g. ( thesis papers on blog type thing ) or incredibly snarky, without at least the incredible talent or charm or unique observations to pull off the snarkiness. So I don't 'hang' with much of the poet world.

Something commonly observed these days (i've read many a writer's essay or piece in Poet and Writer on this) is the intense scholarazation (did I just make up a word? awesome!) of poems, and I find for myself that many modern lit mags carry poetry that lacks emotion...which is so bizarre to me, because the entire point of art is to direct emotion toward a view of the world, a way of seeing things. maybe this has nothing to do with your point! ha! it's just nice to 'talk' about these things.

i believe the more disconnected artists get from the human day to day living and the closer they get toward the lackluster math like articulation of ideas, the more the art itself suffers. unless that was the whole point of the artist, which could be brilliant, but highly unlikely... :)

Elisabeth said...

Groups of human beings, Angela, especially when they aspire to pure forms of art, creative practices of whatever ilk, tend to become hot beds of conflict.

You should read about psychoanalytic circles, those issuing from Freud.

It's akin to what happens in families and religions and any of the -ologies and -isms that spring up in the world.

We all tend to be competitive, not just the poets, writers, painters craftsfolk of all types, but the builders, chefs, cleaners, embroiders, mothers etc.

By the way, I have noticed the odd spat among the blog poets, but equally I've seen such generosity towards aspiring poets that the one seems to offset the other.

It's probably best to steer clear of the bitterness, Angela, and to see it for what it is.

angela simione said...

maggie, it IS nice to talk about these things! which i guess is the root of my complaint: not being able to find many people to talk about these things with. but also, i've been totally proven wrong by all these wonderful responses! i'm definitely thinking that i've simply been hanging out at the wrong sites. sites where the snarkiness you speak of tends to be the rule and not the exception. i love firery passionate people who get excited about ideas and ethics and have a wide range of interests. but i don't like abusive know-it-alls and so i should definitely steer clear from now on.

i like talking shop all the time so feel free to start a conversation about this stuff any time you want! i'm always up for it! :)

angela simione said...

hi elisabeth,

i agree! was my naivety shining brightly enough? hahahahahaha!!!!

you raise a very VERY good point- remembering those people who ARE generous and encouraging and maybe just sticking with them for awhile. everyone who has commented on this post is definitely in that group and i'm so glad to have stumbled across you.

it's been a long long time since i've read any freud. and this morning it strikes me as something to scoot to the top of my reading list. especially since i've been reading so much Barthes, a philosopher and theorist that uses such romantic language. i digress. i'll get out my copy of the mourning and melancholia essay and read it this weeked. it seems like a good thing to revist, a good place to begin.

thank you! :)