1. Attacking the Fortress: An Analysis of the New York Quarterly
2. Probing the Fraudulent Valhallas: New York Quarterly Revisited
1. Attacking the Fortress: An Analysis of the New York Quarterly
[...] I keep receiving these chirping,/ chuckling, carping, crappy little/ magazines in the mail,/ attempt to read them,/ then must/ trash them.// it seems endless./ and there is one female poet/ who appears in almost all of/ them./ she must write 100 poems a/ week.// she sent me an advance copy/ of one of her books once,/ and asked for a "foreward" or "at/ least a blurb".// I trashed it, then went in and/ took a shit.
—Charles Bukowski, “ah, look!”
These delicate, sensitive, highly educated persons who valued beauty often turned out to be cowards, quick to cave in, adroit in excusing their own vileness. They soon degenerated into traitors, beggars, and hypocrites.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle
I’ve tried in vain to find a publisher for this essay, as well as for a similar one critical of academic reviews, “Sameness: Defining Trait of the Typical University of X Literary Review.” Webdelsol.com, Locus of Literary Art, provides a reason for establishment rejection:
"I’m balancing good vs bad. I agree with a lot of what you say, believe me. Since Don Lee [Ploughshares editor] is a friend of mine, etc.. Would it be possible to get the point across without blatantly naming names? Toning it down a bit? I know you probably don’t want to, and I don’t blame you if you feel strongly against it."
Now, I'd quoted Don Lee, so how could I quote him and get rid of his name? Toning down is equal to whoring. There’s too many whores out there, too few iconoclasts. The world does not need yet another literary whore. I choose not to tone down.
As a cartoonist, I just finished a sketch of a fortress, where behind the walls were the editors and publishers of Ploughshares, New Yorker, Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, Antioch Review, New Letters, and The Kenyon Review, amongst others. I hesitated with New York Quarterly because I’d just sent an essay to the editor with a complimentary issue of The American Dissident. Also, Gary Goude, a poet published in NYQ with whom I correspond, keeps telling me how nice William Packard, editor of NYQ, has been to him and how Packard has written anti-academic editorials. Gary reminds how Packard was also publishing Bukowski when the academic journals weren’t and wouldn’t. All of that is good. But in this essay I examine the 1999 Packard, not the 1990, 1980 or 1970 models.
I’d published a cartoon on NYQ in my first issue but figured, hey, NYQ should be able to take a little reproach. The cartoon criticized the review for stuffing SASEs with subscription forms... not even form rejections. I figured if a review gets too big and starts doing that kind of thing, then maybe the review ought to die. Weren’t there already too many New Yorker and Ploughshare journals out there already?
The two issues of NYQ that I analyze here are both on the web (www.nyquarterly.com), issues 54 and 55. My first observation is positive. NYQ has not fallen prey to web site hypola. Indeed, there are no humping and pumping egomaniacal images and photos of cutesy looking poets. Bravo. The site is simple, clean and wholly unpretentious. There are no ads. Bravo to Packard for not becoming an Amazon.com Associate whore. Ah, but perhaps that’s an NYQ project in the making. History tells us that bigger is not better. It tells us that bigger is worse, more corrupt, more anonymous and more harmless to the status quo. Yet the goal of so many small magazines is to become big.
My second impression is negative. NYQ seems to be playing the name game. Besides Bukowski, whose name could sell anything today, including detergent and deodorant, there are the other familiar names like Lyn Lifshin, whose work appears everywhere like a literary plague (How can I possibly read her poems objectively without thinking of her massive self‑marketing campaign as illustrated at www.linlifshin.com?), Michael McClure, whose performance in the film “Poetry in Motion” was anything but brilliant (“how sweet to be a rose by candlelight or a worm by full moon”), and soon to be appearing “craft interviews with Joyce Carol Oates, Derek Walcott, Carolyn Forche and Patti Smith.”
I am especially suspicious of Walcott, academic at BU, colleague of Pinsky and all the other black-robed yes men and yes women, hand-shakers and curtseying court jesters. It seems like the desire to become a literary whore might be too strong for NYQ to resist, if in fact it ever wished to resist. The key to literary whoring is disengaged writing, that is, writing that does not offend the power structure, academic, literary or corporate. Sadly, most American poetry constitutes such writing today.
How many academics figure in the lot of NYQ contributors (40+/- in each issue)? Well, a handful do mention their occupations as English professors. I suspect others too have that occupation, but did not list it out of embarrassment. Not one of the poets listed mentions having blown the whistle on some aspect of American corruption.
NYQ enjoys a sort of anti-establishment, anti-academic reputation. Oddly, I did not notice very much of anything at all in the two issues reviewed that might confirm that reputation. On the contrary, the name-game direction taken by Packard must inevitably constitute an academic, establishment one. My eyes are always peeled for the black- robed species, often characterized by cowardice, toady-ness, obedience, mendacity, civility and politeness, and otherwise willing to do anything for grant money and promotion.
Academics seem to have a problem understanding my problem with academics. Yet it is quite simple. In the institution where I once taught, all but one academic (she and I were living together) refused to lift a helping hand despite the fact that most agreed off the record that I had become the object of a witch hunt. All of them, but one. Would Packard and Walcott have lifted a finger? I don’t know. All I know is that the odds would have been very much stacked against it. Academics have learned like trained Orwellian dogs not to contemplate the corruption in their own backyards. Sure, they’ll criticize academe but only in general terms or against distant institutions. Their see-no-evil-hear-none-either modus operandi will be supported by unoriginal rationalizations. Solzhenitsyn was quite aware of that.
If I might continue, I sent letters to all the English professors at that institution where I once taught, questioning how they could be teaching Ibsen’s “An enemy of the people,” while refusing to envisage that I, their very colleague, was a striking example of an enemy of the people, and they were the very people, the very establishment, Ibsen so despised in that play. Not one professor, of course, responded. Should I be surprised that English professor William Packard has yet to respond?
In any case, familiar names help sell magazines. It bothers me just the same when I hear of a small literary review like NYQ having trouble surviving. Packard notes in his editorial (#55): “after a futile year of seeking affiliation/support.” NYQ’s hype to obtain subscriptions is not justified. If Packard is a full-time academic, he should have no difficulty printing NYQ with his own money. Well, he’s also got a publisher who supplies money and who seems like she’s holding the whip over his bare rear-end.
My experience underscores that one can publish two professionally printed, flat-spined, card-cover issues per year for less than $800, postage included for 200 copies in total. NYC academics must earn about $50K per year minimum and have access no doubt to funding. NYQ will survive without subscriptions... if it really wants to. If it wants to become a slick New Yorker type of review, then indeed it will need lots more money and will have to sacrifice a good part, if not the whole part, of its very soul. Why the push anyhow to become bigger and bigger and bigger? Won’t bigger and bigger and bigger radically alter the review in line with the System and the literary establishment? Indeed, it will, if it already hasn’t.
Packard seems to be following the pack also with regards to the national affirmative action sham. “Since its inception, NYQ has been dedicated to publishing the very best of contemporary American poetry, without regard to prevailing gender or ethnic bias.” I underscore sham because the System will back a black man, native American or female as long as he/she tows the party line. Color and gender really have nothing to do with it anymore. What Packard and others in the literary establishment will regard is bias against prevailing differences in thought. When I was teaching college, I’d met plenty of black and female colleagues who were backed by affirmative action and who didn’t give a damn about the truth and justice. We need to stop compartmentalizing poetry into women’s, black, native, Hispanic, academic, blood and guts, haiku, edge or whatever. We need to consider poetry rather on the simple basis of hardcore truth telling.
As I read through Packard’s editorial (#55), I find the self-congratulations and self-aggrandizements all too familiar with the speeches of high school principals and college presidents. “This finest poetry magazine in existence.” Give me a break, man. Are we getting senile? Is it the New York pollution? I fear that NYQ, if it continues in its quest for grandeur and fame, will end up like a two-faced politician, if it already hasn’t, talking the talk, but never walking the walk. It will be too easy to quote a Whitman, Jeffers or Bukowski, while playing those parlor games and trivial pursuit of the who’s who of the Guinness Book of Bulk Verse. Most of all, it will be too easy to write criticism off as banal cynicism, bitterness, spitefulness, rave, diatribe, as-grinding, and all those other epithets used by the editors of the literary establishment to avoid debate.
Moreover, I fear that NYQ will continue the pretense that it is different from Ploughshares, Poetry, Sewanee Review, The Virginia Quarterly, and all the other academic-ruled literary reviews, while at the same time doing precisely what those reviews do, that is, publishing only those poets and writers who do not criticize the review. Bukowksi, NYQ’s own mascot poet, himself had a problem, that of criticizing the likes of academic poets while underneath desperately trying to appear in print next to them.
As for the McClure interview, I found it nauseating and couldn’t get through it because of the name game, the gregarious poet calling himself a loner, the poet jargon, and the thinly veiled desperation to idolize the poet by the poet himself. The bulk of poetry magazines seem to share one goal, that of raising monuments for poets, all poets, even though underneath all monuments, worms must surely crawl. Famous or unknown poets are no better than anybody else. In fact, it is difficult not to agree with Bukowski that they are probably worse. Just go to any poetry reading.
Poetry reviews should not have as their goal idolization. They should exist because they have a focus, hopefully socio-political. Poetry should be critical. Poetry should be against the establishment. Poetry should not be the servant of the latter yet, more often than not, it is precisely that. Because a poet has become famous does not make that poet a good one. The establishment brainwashes us early on to play that name-recognition game. I shall not automatically bow down when I hear the name Plath, Whitman, Bukowski, McClure, Olson, Snyder, Ginsberg, Oates, etc.. Yet most poets do. Again. Most are irrevocably indoctrinated.
As for the poetry in NYQ, I was surprised at how bad much of it was. So much supposed radical poetry today is focused on sex, yet sex is a bodily function and Freud, well, he’s long since been exposed. Dogs have sex, but don’t have complex thoughts. We need more hard‑core thought in the writing and less facile sex. Everything is sex in America today. Why? Because it conveniently keeps the heads of the people occupied and diverted from pondering the real USA behind the scenes, the moneymen and corporate and academic managers who pull the strings, not the puds. 90% of the poems in NYQ are couple related. We need to get out of the mire of couple obsession because that’s precisely where the System wants us to be, contemplators of our own bellybuttons or at best of those of our spouses, and not those of the System commissars. Too many poets are so egocentrically imprisoned that they really believe that the world at large should be deeply interested in their particular spouses and children.
At least, Lifshin writes a few powerful Auschwitz poems. Keeping the past horror present is important. Unfortunately, it is also easy to write about things distant from the present, both temporally and geographically. Just the same, the large majority of the poems published by Packard might be categorized as bellybutton poetry, illustrated by the following egregious examples, each taken from a different poem, though out of context, one actually from a Packard item:
“Her pussy feels like a tofu hotdog on a 100% whole wheat bun.”
“The ultimate orgasm, said Jock, your deposit in the astral sperm bank.”
“My lover is so meticulous he uses knife and fork, misses deep pleasures.”
“He puts your pantyhose on his head, doesn't know the words to You Made Me Love You, thinks Jack Nicholson is old, drinks any light beer, uses inexpensive condoms.”
“When you first opened and I read, you lay untranslated like a linen sheet beneath me, my question mark curved again and again around your tiny exclamations.”
“Across the aisle you sit stiff and still, a mannikin in tweed.”
“Arms strapped in clothesline, he raped, how he said, breasts wedged in dirt, hips lifted.”
“She had large breasts. Large breasts that nested like big, white birds, folded and dozing on ledges with one orange eye.”
“I once had a friend, a poet, I remember, who wanted to know if honey was actually bee shit. She asked me, Jesse, is honey really bee shit?”
“When you step on my testicles, when you fuck my girlfriend, when you knee me in the groin, when you stop sending me money.”
“Some homosexuals are virile. I have a vagina. He said.”
“Everyday my breasts shrink a little more. My skin is hard and shiny. I am a bathtub a woman has just stepped out of.”
In conclusion, I had thought NYQ to be an original journal of sorts until I started reading it. It seems more like the faux-underground papers Rolling Stone Magazine, Village Voice, The Boston Phoenix and... George. Would NYQ publish this essay? Of course not. Why? Because the essay would be labeled with all those epithets I’d heard before: full of personal animus, diatribe, spiteful, bitter, too personal, not personal enough, and too confrontational.
Upon reflection, I’ve finally decided to sketch NYQ into my literary cartoon, next to Poetry, Kenyon Review, and the New Yorker behind the great wall of the literary establishment. Incidentally, in front of that wall is a lone man on a ladder trying to find a crack to place a stick of dynamite. NYQ, like those academic reviews, is essentially politically disengaged, providing a forum for politically disengaged work and otherwise helping to divert attention from corruption in America. I shall not send this essay because Packard has become too big to respond.
Evidently, the curly fellow had not appreciated my reading, yet remembered it because I had lambasted poets for their disengaged, ineffectual verse. Anyhow, I set up my books, then sat down. The event was the Small Press Book Fair at the Jack Kerouac Festival. Few non poet-publishers would show up. It was sort of embarrassing, but I was convinced I’d get writing material out of the experience.
The curly fellow walked slowly past my table, eyeing my collection of items like an FBI agent. Buddah who sat down to talk, informed me that the curly fellow was co-organizer of the event. A few minutes later, the Stone Soup Poet Society director, co-organizer, whom I’d met before, walked up to the table, looked down with pouted lips upon my book of cartoons without even saying hello or inquiring about the American Dissident.
“Do you think they’ll accept this?” he said standing there for a full minute as if frozen, then walked away, leaving me with the feeling of criminal intent. Indeed, the FBI agent had ratted out my cartoon book, Welcome to Massachusetts: The Fuck You State. Three hours later, I decided to leave because the event turned out to be a fiasco. I hadn’t even handed out a flyer. Before I walked off, however, I approached the Stone Soup Poets table and said to the director: “Why are you poets so incurious? It seems quite un-poet-like to me. You came over to my table, gave me a dirty look because of my book, and didn’t even ask about my new review. You seem more concerned about the nefarious Authorities, than free speech. Aren’t you aware that the word ‘fuck’ is legal in the state?”
To my surprise, the director came out with a confession: “Well, our poets don’t like you. You humiliate them.” Was I dreaming? No, I was having my nose rubbed into the reality of the poet world. Then out of the blue, he said, though scarcely even knowing me: “You never do anything. You’re all talk. When was the last time you picked up a cigarette from the street to beautify a town?” Then he scuttled off chuckling nervously, evidently wanting to avoid debate, to seek the comfort of fellow poet admirers in another corner. What I had learned, well, I had already known: “Speaking the rude truth in all its ways,” including criticizing poets was a no-no in the literary world. I was now banished from Stone Soup Poets Society. Was I disappointed? Not in the least, for besides finding poetry readings highly dissatisfying, I wholeheartedly agreed with Léo Ferré.
As of late, I have been trying in vain to find a literary review to publish several essays highly critical of academic literary reviews and poetry. As part of the experiment of those essays, which I update periodically, I have sought out academic and quasi-academic literary journals, whose response, more often than not, has been no response, that is, the typical, unoriginal form letter. Indeed, one might assume that academic editors, with their nine to 12-hour teaching loads, are so very busy that they don’t have time to write a 30 second note with maybe a little critical advice; after all, aren’t academics in the business of teaching and helping?
So far, I’ve received one personal note out of about 14 reviews, regarding my essay, “Poetry in America Today: Hype and Entertainment as a Means, Fame and Diversion as an Ends, and the General Corporate Takeover of Literature.” The editor of Mid-American Review (Department of English, Bowling Green State University) wrote: “I think this essay begins with clear valuable assertions. I like that. But after that it seems to continue to be a tissue of interesting assertions. I need more specifics. Poems. Mags. Analysis. Sorry to disappoint.” Unfortunately, I have been through the not-enough-specifics-too-much-specifics runaround a number of times, especially regarding my state-college whistleblowing essays. Indeed, the NEA’s Thought & Action editor, for example, had requested I revise one such essay on academic corruption by adding specifics. I had eliminated all names in the hope of getting the item published. Now, I was being asked to add the names. Needless to say, I resubmitted a revised version, and never heard from the editor. A year later when I queried, the editor sent a form rejection.
In any case, clearly, the editor of the Mid-American Review was not interested in my resubmitting a revised version with specifics, for he would have made that request. Clearly, he was not really interested in my “valuable assertions,” no doubt being concerned about his audience and perhaps even the university president. As all academics know, university and college presidents do not like to see their academic charges “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all its ways.”
2. Probing the Fraudulent Valhallas: New York Quarterly Revisited
Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.
—Henry David Thoreau
Why criticize New York Quarterly again (see “Attacking the Fortress: An Analysis of The New York Quarterly, posted at http://www.fyuocuk.com/nyq.htm)? Why not criticize The Kenyon Review or Ploughshares instead? Well, I continue to criticize those reviews too. However, NYQ seems to enjoy a reputation above and beyond most small-press poetry journals, at least in the minds of non-academic and so-called maverick poets. It seems many of the latter want to perceive the journal as different from other journals of equal repute, including Agni, Poetry, The Iowa Review, The Indiana Review, etc.. But is NYQ really that much different? General lack of engagement in the writing seems to tie all these known reviews together, including NYQ. Sure, whereas Mid-American Review and The Atlantic Monthly might prefer academic-sounding verse, NYQ may prefer gut or bowel-sounding verse. However, that difference is superficial. Besides, NYQ also publishes academic-sounding verse.
NYQ seems to have obtained a lot of its current reputation from having published poet Charles Bukowski, when most academic journals would not or did not. But is publishing Bukowski sufficient to keep a journal esteemed and unique? And does publishing Bukowski necessarily make the review different from the academic ones? Besides, some of the latter have also published Bukowski, including Midwest Quarterly Review. As Howard Sounes noted in his biography, Bukowski himself seemed to talk out of both sides of his mouth, criticizing academic poets, while at the same time sleeping with academic poets (e.g., Gerald Locklin and William Packard) and sending submissions to academic reviews even towards the end of his life. Perhaps deep down, Bukowski aspired to academe because he viewed literature as a god form and academe was and is, like it or not, the Valhalla of literature.
If one takes a close critical look at NYQ, one will discover that a number of its contributors are in fact academics, including Gerald Locklin and Red Hawk. One will also discover that most of NYQ’s advisory board (why does NYQ need an advisory board?) members are academics or at least have the odor of academe in their writing, including Robert Creeley, James Dickey (curtseying presidential inaugural poet) Allen Ginsberg (now deceased), Michael McClure (“how-sweet-to-be-a-rose-by-candlelight-or-a-worm-by-full-moon”), Toni Morrison (curtseying before the president and first lady), Joyce Carol Oates, W. D. Snodgrass and Derek Walcott (curtseying poet laureate).
Apropos, playing the fame or name game takes focus off of the issues. Extolling the poet is caving into capitalism’s game of extolling starlets, and diminishes poetry. Extolling poetry diminishes the issues. Indeed, for many poets, poetry has become a reason unto itself, verse for the sake of verse, no matter how bad. Yet poetry should be a tool, not a reason unto itself. It is not some divine art form. All art should be tool. Yet many poets view it as deific form, which is why they like to refer to themselves as poets, hoping to aspire to the Valhalla of poetry. But poetry is not deity. Truth and justice are deities, not poetry. Poetry is an excellent tool for expressing the latter.
Furthermore, NYQ is similar to the academic reviews because it has been supported for years by academic grants. In fact, what got me to write this essay in the first place is one such grant. Just the other day, I’d picked up an old copy of NYQ (No. 57) from the give away box at Concord Free Library. I had sent the editor, William Packard, a complimentary copy of the first issue of The American Dissident. He never responded. Sure there was a little cartoon in that issue poking fun at NYQ, but I didn’t think that would keep a tough literary person from responding. On the contrary, I thought it might even provoke him to respond, to at least explain why he’d sent a subscription form (not even a rejection form) in the SASE I’d sent with some poems six months earlier. When I opened the NYQ issue–I had never seen hard copy of the magazine before–I noticed, to my utter astonishment, a four-page advertisement of Fitchburg State College, where I once taught and which I’d lambasted in The American Dissident editorial sent to Packard. The ad announced its new affiliation with NYQ. “The New York Quarterly would like to thank Fitchburg State College of Fitchburg MA, for its recent contribution to NYQ.”
Was I dreaming? Talk about a chance discovery. One of those pages was entirely dedicated to selling a book authored by a former colleague, Bill Keough, who like his colleagues would not lift a finger in the name of truth and justice. And I thought why should that college be paying to advertise his book with taxpayer money? Indeed, why should the college have paid me off with taxpayer money? Well, this was Massachusetts, where cronyism, loyalty, and corruption reign.
Fitchburg State College is an inbred, intellectually corrupt institution, rampant with professorial cowardice. So, as much as I like Bukowski, I could not help but perceive that affiliation as a massive NYQ SELL OUT. Is that what editors like Packard must do to keep their national reviews with glossy covers flourishing? Why the hypocrisy? I suppose it sells copies. But what a disappointment to see an editor rather take the money than examine the truth or at least discuss the issues. Is the editor of NYQ much different from the editors of the academic reviews I’ve contacted? Not at all. His is silence. Theirs is silence. To imagine Packard fraternizing with the cowardly toadies in the English Department I once knew was enough to boil my innards. So many academics choose convenience, salary, funding, and general curtseying over the truth. The problem with the Keoughs and Packards is they all seem to have the same bizarre delusion that they are somehow different from their dull, kowtowing colleagues, yet they tend to be so pitifully alike.
The academic environment is a prison, though it differs from the ordinary prison because all the professor prisoners think they’re wardens. Well, in a sense, they are wardens, but their prison is still a prison, one for wardens, whose minds become warped by the cell bars of special favors, in-house corruption, denial, obsequiousness, omertà, and rationalization. Professors become captives of their titles, doctor, emeritus, honorary degree recipient, Harrod lecturer, dean, chairperson, or simply professor. They wear the black robe uniform, striped with chevrons on the arm, and the square black Frisbee hat, once the tall cone auto da fé cap. They become prisoners of faculty meetings and department bureaucracy, salaries, and leisure. They become prisoners of closed- door conversation, small talk, copy cat mimicry, and most of all rigid hierarchy.
Many, if not most, professors were nothing but accomplished memorizers and assiduous homework doers in school, then in college, until finally occupying secured positions in ivory dungeons where they spew memorized dictum like thumbtacks at new converts. So profound is the punishment that most professor prisoners can not even perceive it. Professors seem to seek the security, rigidity, uniformity, drudgery, and general lack of surprise of the prison environment. Academe is the worst kind of prison for a person of independent thought and courage. It is certainly the worst kind of prison for a poet. The sad truth is that very few American poets and poetry journals today threaten business-as-usual institutions, governmental, corporate, judicial and academic, which, slowly but surely, are transmuting American democracy into plutocratic oligarchy. Bukowski understood the prison. But what he got wrong were the Locklins and Packards. The sad truth is that neither NYQ nor Bukowski were threats for Fitchburg State College. The sad truth is that very few poetry reviews and poets are threats to the many nefarious institutions like Fitchburg, which is precisely the problem with literature in America today. Is Packard really any different from Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky who spoke at Fitchburg State during commencement for who knows how much money? I can envisage both of them shaking hands with the intellectually deprived college president, sycophant deans, and goo-goo eyed, money-grubbing English professors.
By the way, this essay must not be perceived as a personal attack. I have never met Packard. It is rather an attack on hypocrisy and what hypocrisy has been doing to the poetry scene. In that issue of NYQ, hypocrisy seemed omnipresent. One must wonder how its contributors and supporters can be so blind to that hypocrisy. The only way to explain it is that bizarre delusion mentioned above. On the one hand, Todd Moore’s essay proclaims “poetry should be dragged kicking and screaming from the universities,” while, on the other, four pages of advertizement proudly proclaim the new money association with a university and, as mentioned, what about the university gang on NYQ’s advisory board? It seems NYQ and most other big name reviews willingly drown their souls in grants, stipends, fellowships and all kinds of academic dependencies. It is hypocritical for Todd Moore to put NYQ on a separate plateau.
In any event, fraud must be exposed. Deifying journals, editors and poets will not help poetry at all. It will only help the genre’s proponents continue on their desperate course toward becoming regulars on “Hollywood Squares,” at the White House, and in People magazine. Too many poets and editors are eager to SELL OUT. When the latter push to increase circulation dramatically, SELL OUT must inevitably result. As mentioned, what has happened to the art of poetry is that it has been deified by the poets for the sole benefit, not of the truth, but rather of the poets’ egos. It is no longer a tool, but an ends unto itself, verse for the sake of verse. It has become engulfed by or into Hollywood, which is the Valhalla of America. What should be important is the truth and justice... nothing else. Poetry must return to that fact and become a means of expressing truth and justice, rather than a means of attaining individual fame and attention. Very little poetry today expresses truth and justice. Robinson Jeffers is an excellent example, but he is dead.
Moreover, a poetry review should not be announcing how great it is, as in “America's finest poetry magazine.” That’s what NYQ proclaims itself to be. A poetry editor should not be proclaiming himself in a full one page advertisement as “a playwriting master,” as does the editor of NYQ. Let others proclaim those things and not in the pages of NYQ. Finally, in theory and in a perfect world, there should not be a conflict of interest between being an academic, a poet and editor. Where the world is quite imperfect, however, there tends always to be such a conflict: Whole departments of gutless, hypocritical English professors teaching students gutless, hypocritical ways. This is why those English professors have such a bad reputation among non-academic poets and writers.
To cite another grotesque example: the English faculty at the University of Lowell decided last September to prevent Kerouac author Gerald Nicosia from speaking on their campus because they thought he might be too controversial, though in reality whatever cash they were getting from the Sampas foundation, which controls Kerouac’s oeuvre, might be jeopardized if Nicosia spoke there. Again, it seems that money always takes precedent over the truth in the ivory tower. Imagine crush free speech in order to avoid controversy. This has become the doctrine of English professors throughout America. God help the nation!