"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Thanks for the mention, but...

Lorna Dee has a list of "Top 30 Po Bloggers," which is fine, I suppose. I'm on there, toward the bottom of the list (which is fine, too--I'm shocked that she included me at all, given our somewhat contentious history). But--is anyone a little uncomfortable with the whole ranking thing?

I quote: "This list is based solely upon the quality of the poetry posted on their blogs and is in order of the very best."

I mean, sure, Lorna, you're in your own home, but this--well, I guess this is just something I wouldn't think of doing. Because it's...is "weird" the wrong word here? Probably. I'm just saying that it might strike some poet as odd to know that according to Lorna Dee Cervantes, Famous Poet, that his or her poetry "quality" is oh, say five poets better than X but 7 poets worse than Y.

On the other hand I'm in the pinche jaula, which is worse than being on probation, so I probably shouldn't say anything.

In any case, it's good to see people whom I actually know and like (Ali, C. Dale, Eduardo, Charlie, Peter, Reb) on the list, it just bothers me a bit to know that I am one poet "worse" than one of my friends and one poet "better" than another.

(And I can't help but feel that I made the list, at least partly, not for my poetry but for my blood...)

Peace, y'all. Viva la raza y la Escuela Tortilla.


Ali Davis said...

Oh, I thought you wrote Top 30 Ho Bloggers.

Which would make sense why I'm on it.

P.S. I think you're great, poet and friend.

Justin Evans said...

I am not saying I belong on anyone's "top-Whatever" list (except for maybe "Top-Pessimist") but I can count on three fingers the times when I have posted my own poetry on my blog. As for others' poetry on my blog, I am going to post what I like in rare moments.

Truth be told, I don't write a blog to put my own poetry up, and I don't read other blogs to read people's poetry. My blog is mostly reserved for dealing with my own insecurities---all of which are firmly based in reality.

On one hand I am a bit out of sorts about the ranking thing. I mean, she certainly doesn't speak for me, and on the other hand, so what. She obviously doean't speak for me.

I like flying beneath the radar and being the last one picked for kickball.

Now, I've got to go post a few really great poems on my blog so I can start impressing famous poets.

Stuart Greenhouse said...

I know you guys have your thing going, and I don't want to step in that, all I want to say is I was happy to be there, and it struck me as honest. No different than your blog-list down the right.

Tony said...

Hi Stuart,

I'm not trying to be "start something" here. I'm just saying that the list itself was fine; the way it was presented, however, struck me as a little weird.

My blogroll is not arranged from "best to least good" poet.

Justin Evans said...


I was agreeing with you. I think it's strange to rate those who post their poetry on their page. I suppose we all need to get together for some encounter group discussions on the whole issue.

I meant my original reply to your post to be tongue-in-cheek, and was in no way an attempt to garner any real favor from anyone. It was a joke that obviously was not understood as a joke.


Stuart Greenhouse said...


Good point.

Charles said...

Was Lorna's list in an order?

Whimsy said...

Wow. Yeah, odd. Some of those people seldom post their own poetry, mainly that of others. Many poets have admitted that their roughest draft shows up on their blog. Then, there's the ranking thing. Hmm. Well, all's fair in love and blogland, I suppose. Besides, I'm happy to see AR on the list.

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Taken for what it is--one blogger recognizing about 40 others--it doesn't seem like anything worth being interested in. I'd probably be a tad more enthusiastic if I made such a list.

Radish King said...

Yes, it was odd, and made me uncomfortable. I left a post on my blog about it, Rank, it's still up, but no one seemed to have made the connect. But lots of stuff I read on blogs (including yours) makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I just go on to something else.

Nick said...

Whenever I think of "rank" I think of putting in sequence a number of animate or inanimate objects/entities/ based on quantifiable criteria.

When it comes to art/poetry and one is considering poets that are more or less all "accomplished" in their own fashion how does one even entertain the thought of stating poet X is 5 times better than Poet Y? And even if asked, why would you even want to try?

666poetry-finchnot said...

(this post should be called:
all about me me me)

i'm thrilled to get any recognition
pleased to be in the company of
many people i consider great poets
my contemporaries

me / i was at the bottom /
last place
which is / in my life / a
familiar place for me / usually
no one notices me at all

i think an endorsement from lorna dee is a great thing / @ least for a relative unknown such as myself

yes / may be it was presented a bit
weird lee / / but one must remember
this is only one persons opinion of what they like & the order they like it in / that's all right with me

thanx for the ear

~ jenn

666poetry-finchnot said...

btw (this post is in reference to my comments not the post the comments were in reference to)


Lyco said...

Yeah, glad you said this, Tony.

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Please read my latest post on this. Please note it says, "I don't like it. But I face it."

Tony, you were in an MFA program (studying at one of the "best" with one of the "best" I might add) and now dissertating and teaching in one of the better schools because you are ranked. Your letters of recommendation all included a rank, a very specific numerical rank down to the decimal scale and an X on a horizontal scale. You will be ranked by several committees down to the Regents down to the hundreth decimal when you go to apply for a job. The only reason you haven't won a major award or book publication is because you are being ranked. NEA, Fulbright, state grants, any grant proposal, any foundation, any editorial board (as opposed to individual editors or foundations; hence, my essay, whenever I get the time on how the best editors or publishers are the best poets) is going to rank you, and most now go for the corporate model (the antithesis of "humanites") of numerical convenience. Yes. Absolutely. Atrocious. My hubby was a middle manager in a fortune 500 corp (and he's an artist) and that's how he describes it: "They sit in these meetings and move peoples lives around like they were chips on a board and some they sweep off the table and then act as if they didn't exist." I just do it publicly. But I do it honestly. This list is based upon EVERYTHING in the archives from the beginning in the order the posts were written (Eduardo! AD! Tony! Y'all poof things, that is, y'all are mad deleters) which is how I read blogs after something catches my eye, and I confess I was relieved to somehow bracket Ron as who can read everything in Ron's archives through the years starting last March? And, Steve, this accounts for why you haven't made this year's list as I just clicked on you recently & I haven't had time to read all the way through.

Tony, what's your trip? Who said anything about your genes? You have some killer poems. And you have some killer depressions, or at least as expressed on your blog. I was just trying to help. You seemed discouraged about your writing and, THE POINT: You aren't writing, and not hitting them out of the ballpark consistently every time the Muse pitches them like Ali or Rebecca (who are like speed ice skaters in the Olympics: Ali "wins" by one one-hundreth of one one-hundreth of a second). And it's a shame. You're good. You need to play again. Or get mad and challenged. I tried to go for that. You wrote your best poem, that I've seen, during that time - and I said so on my blog. The one in No Tell Motel is "The Best." When I first heard about the anthology I knew it would be and requested the anthology for review so I could write about it; I knew it had to be in there. I'm supposed to be writing the review for it now, or soon, I missed the inaugural issue deadline.

And, frankly, rank and order is irrelevant for as all of us know there is only one "Best." Heck, what the heck is the Best Seller list? The best for this gal this year and just newly discovered po-bloggers this past year. But The Best is the Best for just one man, most often, and the orderlies supply a ranked list in case the original "Best" is unavailable or declines. Hey, isn't that The President and the Supreme Court who last elected him? Isn't that the Electoral College?

Anyway. Just read all the poems that are available (ideally in the order they were posted) from all thirty poets on this list and ask yourself, don't you think this is a fair ranking -- not based upon their books or other publications which would be unfair as I've only read books by 4 of these authors. Come on. Just read "Torn" and ask yourself, don't you think C. Dale Young is just a wee bit better of a poet than you? Consistently. And Ali & Rebecca Louden, they set my poetry bones to sing every time they chime. Y'all are good.

I will tell you a secret, yes, this one time because you're Chicano. Also because it's a bloody shame you don't write more and think better of your own writing. (btw the only reason I clicked on your blog in the first place is because you were one of the first to click on mine the day or week I put it up, and the title: Geneva Convention; I'm a peace activist) I am routinely asked to identify "The Best" based upon no other criteria but "literary excellence." There are years I have missed the deadline. This whole process is antithetical to everything I live -- but in some cases it involves real money for someone worthy, for example. I agree with everything you and others have said, especially Rebecca when I read her post -- I got it. I was going to write about but for numerous travels & teaching. Orale carnal, it's our Xicanismo that make us this way. But I feel guilty for missing deadlines to nominate, especially when all it involves is typing a single name, or a phone call. I'm blowing it for someone who deserves it. So to atone, this year, I decided, okay, here's my ranked list of this particular criteria, if the grant read this way, then this is who would get the money. See? Sucks. But, face it. This is the way it is. Po-Biz, I call it. But, don't worry, you're a personable guy, tall, good-looking, witty, undoubtly gifted, at least, that I know of, as a poet and by the evidence of your rank, that is, your present position. And, let's face it. You're a white guy. You're on your way. Your onda will arrive. I was just offering to "wax your board" -- your surfboard implying you had a ready made good one and the only reason you keep falling off the board at the big ones (like first book) is that you need an editor, that is, you needed a little wax applied the right way before the next big wave hits. How you got the crazy idea I was telling you write like a Chicano or put tortillas in your poem I don't know. (Although I would mind some of your amás' recipes in a poem a la Hass.) But what you wrote about the "Tortilla School" in your post on the New Sincerity I found personally and professionally insulting. And defamatory and professionally damging to me. Now all these poets think I'm about that -- and show me the text! If I were so inclined I'd win a law suit for defamation. My sitemeter plummeted and people were writing comments who never read anything else on my blog much less my response to that and other posts. Definitely defamatory. Now I'm the lady who's trying to "ghetto-pimp" your poems.

And, can't we all be friends? It would help to read the words on the page. And not go off interpreting or re-traumatizing on me, in regards to whatever happened to you in school.

If you knew me you would have heard, often and good-humouredly, "Competition's for horses and schools are for fish!"

But if rich people want to give their money away. . .

You, like all the others on this list can use me or this list as a reference, ask for a letter, send me a review copy of your books, refer to my published list whatever. Man, I like you! Poetically speaking.

P. S. The only reason Jenn is on the bottom of the list is that she's a stay at home mom with five kids without the luxury of a nanny or stipend to fund her writing. You get the raw stuff on her blog, and I recognize the feat. I added her to the list replacing Bruce Covey who was on my original list but I had to delete to be fair as he doesn't have a blog just a group blog member. He was ranked much higher. And I had already typed out my list title and wanted an even 30. The list I wrote rapidly in my notebook at the sunday breakfast table in a fit of pique over missing another deadline. I decided to post it to my blog so people could use it. Why not? It's free.