Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Things I'm into/not into lately

Things I am into lately:
  • Vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar, salt and pepper, a touch of honey and big glugs of this Olave olive oil I got on sale at Whole Foods. It is from Chile and ridiculicious.
  • Slumming-it chilaquiles (as if regular chilaquiles weren't already slumming it): Poach eggs in thinned out salsa, pour over crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. The hot liquid melts the cheese and softens the chips. This has become my go-to solo meal for any time of day. I eat it at least three or four times a week because it's fast, cheap, filling, vegetarian and gluten-free and I never seem to get sick of it. I should probably lay off the fried chips, but it wouldn't be as tasty on a bed of braised greens.
  • A perfume called Winter Woods from Sonoma Scent Studio, even though it's not winter and winter is the only season I have no fond feelings for. I think amber, not vanilla, is my comfort scent.
  • A black & white cardigan that lends a soupcon of Breton to any outfit.
  • Doing NaPoWriMo on the sly.
Things I am not into:
  • Whole Foods. The last time I went, they packed a container of yogurt in such a way that it exploded all over the inside of my reusable bag, rendering the yogurt inedible and the other groceries and the bag yogurty. The time before that, we were overcharged and double-charged for items, and when I got home I discovered the bag of shredded cheese I bought was a bit shredded itself. I ate the cheese anyway and haven't died, but surely that wasn't an aid to freshness. Why are there no reasonable one-stop grocery stores around here? Unless you buy strictly processed crap, the normal chains like Shaw's are even more expensive than Whole Foods.
  • Issues of journals with all-male contributor lists. It's not designated as a special all-dude issue. I just don't get how editors don't notice a discrepancy like that and feel weird and wonder how it came about. People always say that this happens because all the submissions are from men. But if you're a new magazine (this is Issue 2 of We Are Champion), how about doing some solicitation? I'd venture to guess the editors are already doing that. If you want more submissions from women, publishing all-male issues, without disclaimer, doesn't send the best message.
This post contains a hidden backwards smiley face. By which I mean a frowny face with the eyes oriented on the right.

75 comments:

  1. Aw, you don't even like the all-male special issue on Ron Silliman in jacket?

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  2. Well, Special Issues in Male Criticism of Ron Silliman is an important field.

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  3. i'm not into issues of journals.

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  4. "all-male contributor lists"? I know women named Chris and Tyler.

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  5. I remember being surprised when I read WAC's submission guidelines--their list of aesthetic influences is heavily bearded, something like two women in the whole huge bunch.

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  6. Dammit, I hate that too. That happens ALL THE TIME when people are asked to name their fave authors/influences: a parade of men with maybe a token Virginia Woolf/Gertrude Stein here and there.

    Here's the relevant 'graph in the guidelines (Yep, if you're only getting submissions from men, here's why):

    In regard to aesthetics, here's a shortlist of things that keeps us satiated: Samuel Beckett, Donald Barthelme, Animal Collective, Barry Hannah, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly, the movies of Truffaut and Godard, the movies of Sam Peckinpah, early Truman Capote, Cormac McCarthy pre-Border trilogy, other literary journals (in particular: NY Tyrant, NO COLONY, Unsaid, Hobart, and American Short Fiction), Ol' Dirty Bastard, David Foster Wallace, Gary Lutz, the movies of Harmony Korine, Gordon Lish, Christine Schutt, John Cage, the movies of David Lynch, Sam Lipsyte, the comedy stylings of Eugene Mirman, William S. Burroughs, Ben Marcus, Gilles Deleuze, Illmatic, Futurists, Marty McFly's Nikes and hoverboard in Back to the Future II, Jordan dropping 55 wearing 45 at MSG, and on and on.

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  7. i'm not proud of it or anything, but my list of favorite authors, off the top of my head, would probably be mostly guys too. didn't aim for it, not defending it, just saying that's how it's accreted. i've had to make a conscious effort to read more women. it's embarrassing that i haven't, i know! just saying it's not on purpose. there are probably sociological reasons why it happens.

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  8. It's because the whole world is biased that way. In school you read more men than women and the influences just keep perpetuating. It's not your fault, really, and at least you're aware of it and make a conscious effort to counteract it to some degree. What really bugs me is when people refuse to question the status quo or even acknowledge that there's a bias, much less attempt to correct it.

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  9. Anne, That's a good question. I know that there were at least two females who were asked for contributions, but in retrospect there should have been more females asked. Best, Ian

    http://thespicedlife.blogspot.com/2009/08/power-of-garnishes-sopa-tarasca.html

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  10. well, i hated everything i read in school, so i can't really blame that... i honestly can't remember how i heard about the various authors i'm interested in...huh.

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  11. Either way, your friends probably recommended men, or the blogs you read did, or they were more prominently displayed in bookstores, won more awards, etc., etc.

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  12. ha, well...almost all my friends are women, i only started reading blogs a couple years ago, i always go to forward-thinking bookstores (i think), and i tend to avoid award-winning books on principle. this is not looking good. i'm out of excuses.

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  13. Yeah, I guess it's all your fault after all!

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  14. When I was coming up, my thinking was this: yes, okay, women writers have been overlooked in the past, but our culture has come a long way, and there are so many women of undeniable genius at work right now that readers can't ignore them any longer, hurrah! And then I got on the internet, and saw how many men there were--progressive, dedicated readers--who just didn't read books by women. That terrified me and still does, because as long as literary criticism remains a predominantly male field, this will continue happening, and as long as men who read just don't read books by women this will continue happening. Women aren't being actively excluded from the canon anymore, but if women are mentioned less often in the literary conversation and then allowed to fall out of that conversation entirely, the end result is the same.

    It is literally as scary as a shark movie

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  15. Once I sat at a bar in KC next to two local creative writing professors and in hours of hours of name dropping poets all over the aesthetic spectrum, they did not mention a woman's name.

    I didn't say who/what I was (though it was quite likely they would not know me, though I seem to remember they talked about things like "flarf"). I was learning so very much from the eavesdropping (beyond the fact that I am an eavesdropper, though I already knew this).

    Matt et al, I think implicit bias is just incredibly difficult to overcome. I've seen studies that even among the most politically progressive or educated groups (and among both men and women), it just sticks around and sticks around. It takes a kind of rigorous awareness that gets exhausting, or feels uncomfortable, particularly maybe for younger men still trying to figure out their "masculinity" (whatever that is). (Still no excuse.)

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  16. i'll just say that i don't seem to have this problem when it comes to contemporary poetry.

    it's when we're talking about novels of the early-mid 20th c. (my favorite time for novels), that this problem occurs. i'm very thankful for the nyrb classics catalogue, which has introduced me to tons of female authors i'd never heard of before.

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  17. My favorite trick of the male-biased critic: all women write like Anne Sexton OR Sylvia Plath. There are occasionally Elizabeth Bishop comparisons. But that is it.

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  18. Yeah I see that. It's up there with describing women poets as "sexy" (in reviews, not conversation).

    Whenever men (or women) list a whole bunch of male authors they like and one woman for good measure like a Plath or a Bishop or a Woolf it reminds me of people claiming they have a black friend like that means they can't be racist.

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  19. yeah. here's the thing. that magazine is solely my baby. i really don't give a fuck if you and your forehead and your paisley wall get pissed. i solicited plenty of women. guys too. for some reason this was an all male issue. but guess, what? you're right. we're only two issues out. and the first one had some women in it. some of my favorite ever if you can believe it. my thing is, i even had to turn down some tremendous pieces by stronger writers than you solely because my allegiances lie w/ trying to put out the best product i can. so even if some monster writer emailed me something and it was too similar to a piece i already had, i wasn't going to use it. i love the way jimmy's pieces flow into tyler's that then turn into mike young's strength and mark leidner's power and then miguel and on and on. i've never published anyone from nebraska or anyone asian and i'm an asian from nebraska. i love women. i love women writers. but i also had a deadline to meet and the writing to think about first and foremost. man, woman, child, alien. none of that shit matters to me. i took the best pieces that came to me in the order that they came to me in.

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  20. whoops i lied. i did publish an asian in jimmy chen.

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  21. Yes, well I noticed that gender breakdown as well. I've let several female critics know that I would like the symposium that the U. of Windsor is doing next year to not replicate that. If anybody is interested, contact Louis Cabri or contact me & I'll put you in touch.

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  22. gkwak, I'm pretty sure you do give a fuck or you wouldn't be insulting my forehead (?), or commenting at all.

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  23. Is it too pedestrian to say "Snap" here? :) I enjoyed the post, the insight, and the resultant conversation. Thanks for making Wednesday start out with a smile.

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  24. Elisa,

    I'm posting over at HTML.

    Matt,

    I'd say watch the room light up next time with male vigor and thrill when it's time to debate anything Pound related. It's exciting, something like an old fashioned jousting.

    But when it comes time to discuss the work of oh, I don't know, even say Lyn Hejinian, well, watch the discussion peter out into talk about what a memoir can do. Women's work gets boxed in as so much domestic chatter and we'll get included as writing mommy poems or feminist empowerment poems (recall the treatment of Clifton's hips in school?) instead of the work being related to the mechanics of the world. Because you know that child rearing isn't the work of the world, doesn't have a direct impact on what happens, etc. The connection gets lost or short fused in these discussions and people don't enter those discussions as though women's views and values are important or impactful ultimately. But bring up a battle or war or heroism and how it's written and you've got a discussion that goes well past the class change bell.

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  25. Elisa,

    I'm posting over at HTML.

    Matt,

    I'd say watch the room light up next time with male vigor and thrill when it's time to debate anything Pound related. It's exciting, something like an old fashioned jousting.

    But when it comes time to discuss the work of oh, I don't know, even say Lyn Hejinian, well, watch the discussion peter out into talk about what a memoir can do. Women's work gets boxed in as so much domestic chatter and we'll get included as writing mommy poems or feminist empowerment poems (recall the treatment of Clifton's hips in school?) instead of the work being related to the mechanics of the world. Because you know that child rearing isn't the work of the world, doesn't have a direct impact on what happens, etc. The connection gets lost or short fused in these discussions and people don't enter those discussions as though women's views and values are important or impactful ultimately. But bring up a battle or war or heroism and how it's written and you've got a discussion that goes well past the class change bell.

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  26. Bitches, please. How can you not recognize the sweet love this editor has for the women and the women writers? You just have no idea what it's like to live in Nebraska with a deadline.

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  27. Ron, I do think it has to be a lot trickier to solicit critical work (or to control just who is interested enough in our work to write about us). In this, I am sympathetic.

    "gwack" (?) if you love the work, as it sounds like you do, it's likely better to bring it to the world in a way that really shows that love. That is, I'm pretty sure the writers who gave work would rather us be talking about the writing -- not so much that they are on the guest list of a sausage party.

    I know & like Mike Y. but have a hard time imagining he would be enthusiastic if he knew he was signing up for a dude-only ejournal. I am willing to bet most of your contributors would assume some degree of rational gender balance (and certainly not "itsalldudesbutiswearitsameritocracy)as part of the deal when they kindly hand over work.

    I suspect you'd rather us be talking about the work too, but your "none of this shit matters" and "I don't give a fuck" results in you "not giving a fuck" really loudly and sort of obviously, and everyone else just noticing the giant dick on your head you didn't give a fuck about. That's okay for you, if you're into that, but kind of awkward for the people whose work your trying to represent, particularly if they didn't know what they were getting into beforehand.

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  28. Exactly. I forget why he had a deadline for his own online magazine though.

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  29. hey kwak, why don't you try acting like an adult instead of a fucking 2-year-old

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  30. Who launches a magazine with so much hostility? "here's the thing. that magazine is solely my baby. i really don't give a fuck if you and your forehead and your paisley wall get pissed." Is that the magazine's aesthetic? "Fuck everyone?"

    Also? The wallpaper's not even paisley.

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  31. A CHAMPION, that's who.

    I see the cover of a Wheaties box in somebody's future!

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  32. Dudes: when you say you're just trying to put out the best product you can, or you're just publishing the best writing you can find, or whatever pseudo-objectivity slumming art-made-me-do-it defense you're using, you are announcing VERY LOUDLY the limits of your vision/taste/aesthetic/editorial capacity/sweet sweet love/etc. VERY LOUDLY.

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  33. Yes, when you say that you just published the writing that seemed best to you, regardless of who wrote it, and everyone you published was a man, what that indicates is that you strongly prefer writing by men. That is actually a much simpler/more coherent explanation than that you CHOSE (not at random) what you thought was the best and all the writers "for some reason" HAPPENED to be men.

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  34. Elisa,

    I love your wallpaper and your forehead and The French Exit, both book and blog.

    1. Until I read 15 or so posts down, I thought gkwak was hilarious.

    2. Until last week, I thought Ke$ha was seriously ironic. http://martinseay.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/%e2%80%9cain%e2%80%99t-got-a-care-in-the-world-but-got-plenty-of-beer-ain%e2%80%99t-got-no-money-in-my-pocket-but-i%e2%80%99m-already-here%e2%80%9d/

    3. Also, until yesterday, I thought the $ was on the E not the S for some reason. Kathleen said, "$ on the E! That's too much. Even for Ke$ha."

    Befuddledly yours,

    E

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  35. The other explanation is the simplest though, isn't it? Succinctly: the best writing available is overwhelmingly written by men. Why pretend otherwise? That is why the numbers get so out of whack--because we're assuming some kind of mental and creative equity that has not been historically proven. In fact--to the contrary. I think there is probably a biological (probably a combination of hormonal and genetic factors plus life-style choices) that results in women just not being capable of superior linguistic production (besides one or two freakish examples per generation). Occam's razor. It's not society: it's the overabundance of the x. We are not looking at a problem with one editor's preferences but the poetic and quite prosaic inferiority of the entire gender.

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  36. Like many who commented on this post already, I've worked as an editor for both print & online journals. I think creating a new space to print creative work, especially poetry, is both brave & important work. I also defend any editor's right to dictate what is or is not published in their own magazine.

    At issue, for me, is taking ownership of that decision. If you solicited work & received work from men & women, and then publish a male-only issue, fine. Go for it. But acknowledge it. Say, hey, look all dudes here this time. That's what spoke to me, blah, blah. Say you did it on purpose. Say this is the work you chose.

    It feels like a cop-out to act as if it just happened, accidentally-like, while you went out for a beer or something. Unless you read submissions blind AND do production blind, at some point you must have noticed all the poems were by men. At some point you must have DECIDED that's what you wanted for that particular issue. So stand by your decision.

    Be bold.

    Start a dude only journal if you want. Name it sausage fest. Whatever.

    The editor of H_NGM_N wrote about submission guidelines & editorial manifestos this week: http://bit.ly/bwboOc. This piece doesn't directly touch on the gender issue per se, but it does urge editors to consciously, loudly, & boldly define their editorial visions/wants/needs & to defend them. I think this type of position allows you to print all men, all women, all haiku about cats, all vispo, all ANYTHING you want. As long as you own what you've done.

    I have a poem in the most recent issue of H_NGM_N. (Elisa was in the previous issue.) That's a journal edited by a man, who if memory serves, has found himself in the middle of gender debates like this one. But I don't think those conversations compromised his editorial eye or selection process.

    The first publication listed in my H_NGM_N bio is FOURSQUARE, a poetry journal run by a woman for women only. No boys allowed: http://foursquareeditions.blogspot.com/. Jessica makes no apologies for providing an exclusive forum for women writers, even though she has been criticized for this decision. A lot. Rather, she explains her position & defends it passionately. This, to me, is the epitome of good editorship.

    I'm equally proud to be part of both these publications, not simply because I am happy to see my own name in print (I am!), but also because I know both these journals are led by thoughtful, smart, discerning writers who have established a clear, careful aesthetic for their magazines. These journals aim to be part of a larger cultural conversation. They aim to be around for the long haul. I feel like in a world where anyone with internet access and a tumblr account can start their own online journal, it's important to support/submit to the right sort of editors.

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  37. Surely kirsten must be kidding. Surely.

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  38. The right off the bat defensiveness is what is making so many people feel irked. A straight up, "Yeah, no dames this issue. What of it?" would have been the better approach.

    But what do I know? I'm a photographer, for one, and even worse (gasp!) I am a 30-year-old mother of young children. So my brain is essentially mush.

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  39. I took one look at the journal skimmed the names and moved on. I thought another drunken frat boy journal to mirror the drunken frat boy blog. I would never send work to this journal nor will I read it because if the list of contributor names bores and irritates me then I don't hold out much hope for the insides.

    Loudon as in Rebecca as in female. Also, I buy books.

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  40. wow rebecca, i had no idea so many drunken frat boys blog and publish journals! thanks for the 411. fyi, i'm going to be on the lookout for drunken sorority chick blogs and journals so i can dismiss them with as much apathy.

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  41. ps. To the editor of the drunken frat boy journal: your insult to Elisa was childish, vulgar, and pretty much what I've come to expect from the drunken frat boy set. I think Elisa showed a great deal of grace. Had you written it on my blog, I would have told you to go fuck yourself then deleted your comment.

    It will be fun to see where your journal goes in the next year, with you at the helm.

    Rebecca Loudon

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  42. Hey there internet,

    This isn't so much my medium, I'm a blog newcomer, but I thought I'd comment and maybe diffuse the situation a bit.

    I happened in a google search to find this blog and sent a link to Gene. He doesn't know I'm responding here, and maybe he'll get pissed, I don't know. The magazine is his love child and so of course he brought out his mother claws, people are known to do this when they get attacked. I'm not going to defend or condone what he said, it's not how I would have done it, but he's a passionate guy with a real fire for literature.

    I think what he was responding to most were some unfair assumptions in the original post. First, that he didn't notice it was an all male issue. I happened to be with him the days before it went live. We were on a little self-made writer's retreat at a friend's summer house -- it was me and Gene and six women whom we adore and respect. Besides having a good time we sat around talking for hours about literature. At one point he mentioned that the way it turned out it was going to be an all male edition of WAC, not by design, it was just the writing that turned out. He mentioned a couple of female writers in particular that he solicited based on previous work he'd seen (the second false assumption you made about him), but what they sent him didn't quite fit and he hoped in the future they'd send more material. We had a long discussion about female writers in general, named a heck of a lot more names than you've managed to come up with in this post, and lamented the fact that there weren't more monstrous tomes by women -- the main exceptions off the tops of our heads were those of George Eliot, Ayn Rand and Margurite Young. Gene is shockingly well read and I'm almost sure if you were to go book for book he'd have read more female authors. Gene had men and women submit, just like he did in issue #1, but this time the writing simply fell with the names that corresponded to men. Next time it might be all women, I don't think he could say for sure.

    I guess I'll simply ask the female writers out there a question: If a man is editing a lit mag and so far he's picked all male writers (even if he is biased) do you really want him to look at a piece of your writing and say, "well, I like this other guy's piece better, but you know I need a chick in order not to get criticized so I think I'll include her work"? Is that how and why you want to get published? Is that really the kind of equality you're looking for? I think he could take submissions blind and it wouldn't matter, Gene's a good man and I'd put my money on the fact that if he encountered more women who wrote language based work that spoke to him he'd be thrilled about it -- he doesn't care who's doing that shit, he just wants writing that matters to him, words on the page. He might even get her face tattooed on his arm if he liked it enough.

    What kind of disclaimer do you want on a magazine? Why would he want to say, "Warning! All male edition!" if he wants to make women feel included in the future? Should he really apologize for publishing writing he likes? What kind of integrity is that?

    We're writers. I'm not ignoring gender bias, but come on. Lets talk about our words on the page, not our genitals.

    -ezra

    (ps, of course some pieces will deal directly with genitals, I'm all for that when it's called for, and clearly I was speaking figuratively above...)

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  43. Hi Ezra,

    Thanks for your comment. I didn't assume that Gene didn't notice; what I wrote was: "I just don't get how editors don't notice a discrepancy like that and feel weird and wonder how it came about." You're saying that Gene did notice. My question was, did he feel weird about it and care to address it or change it. The impression I got from his response was no, he didn't give a fuck. I mean that's basically what he said. On HTML Giant he seems to be indicating otherwise.

    And no, I don't want men to publish my work because I'm a woman, I want them to publish it because they like it. I edit a magazine, and I strictly only accept work that I'm excited about. It "just happens" that I get excited about writing by both men and women. I don't think anyone needs to compromise their editorial standards in order to include women. Do you think publishing a reasonable ratio of women automatically equates to a compromise on quality of writing?

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  44. Ezra,

    I appreciate the fact that you took the time to explain Gene's aesthetic/selection process. I appreciate the fact that he's your friend, & you respect his taste/intellect/intentions/project. I thought you raised some good questions, & I thought you seemed very open to discussing this whole enterprise -- alleged or deliberate bias towards gender, form, subject, genre in publishing -- in an intelligent & thoughtful way. You used some excellent rhetorical strategies to make a point.

    You know what's a lousy rhetorical strategy? This:

    i really don't give a fuck if you and your forehead and your paisley wall get pissed

    That's not really much of a conversation starter. And, as Rose mentioned, that sort of immediate defensiveness can set the wrong tone.

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  45. Also: I didn't say anything untrue about the magazine. It's a superficial fact anyone could see on their own. Stating the obvious (that Issue 2 consists solely of men) shouldn't turn off the journal's potential readership unless they were going to be turned off by the obvious anyway. This controversy is actually bringing much more attention to the journal than Blake's original announcement post. If the editor is proud of the journal, then more eyes on it can only be a good thing. To act like I did the journal a disservice is silly.

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  46. Nicole Mauro was unable to post this comment so I'm posting it for her:

    "We had a long discussion about female writers in general, named a heck of a lot more names than you've managed to come up with in this post, and lamented the fact that there weren't more monstrous tomes by women -- the main exceptions off the tops of our heads were those of George Eliot, Ayn Rand and Margurite Young."

    Ezra--

    I can't determine whether you and Gene are lamenting the fact that important works by women have not received the critical attention and reception they deserve, or if you are seriously "lamenting" the lack of "monstrous tomes" by women (assuming size is the primary criterion of a tome), and are further suggesting that what "monstrous tomes" have been written are the "exception." If the latter, I am having trouble buying your claim that you or your buddy are "shockingly well read."

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  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  48. Jon: Whatever. Jump down Gene's throat? Read what I wrote. I didn't even mention his name. I didn't know who edited this journal, if it was a panel or one person or a man or a woman. I remarked on the outcome and didn't invoke Gene personally at all. Gene's the one who showed up and insulted me.

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  49. jon, when the guy responds with such hostility to a legitimate criticism, it's fair to make "assumptions". if you don't want people to assume you're sexist, you shouldn't say sexist things.

    "you're not inside his head" is a sad excuse for an excuse. to outside observers, a person consists of his/her actions.

    "i admit my client robbed a bank...but your honor, he's such a nice guy *on the inside*!"

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  50. I appreciate people responding reasonably, I try to be reasonable. I am a man, and my main goal is to try to be a good man.

    Gillian, thanks for engaging. I don't know about rhetorical strategies, I was just speaking my mind. Like I said, I won't condone or defend Gene's strategies. It simply seemed to me like an emotional response gone awry, and on the internet those become permanent.

    Nicole, our discussion about female writers wasn't just between me and Gene - like I said we were with 6 women, 4 very serious writers and 2 others who are well read. It was a long talk, and I'm not going to patronize it by condensing it. We lamented both that there seem to be fewer long tomes written and also that they haven't received the attention they deserve. There is something we respect about novels with a large scope/ambition that can pull off a huge pg count and change our lives, it excites us. I welcome a reading list from you or anyone else of these types of works from women since they are rare, period. I never claimed that I'm shockingly well read, I do ok, I'm no heavyweight - but Gene is, plain and simple, he's read and retained more than any writer or prof I've known in my humble days.

    Elisa, I have to say I'm a little disappointed. I've just been told this morning what's been going on at HTML Giant, I'm not a regular reader but I looked at the long post and while I heard some reasonable voices I mostly thought people were being shallow on the subject. I'm disappointed by your statement, "To act like I did the journal a disservice is silly." To boil this down to publicity makes my heart hurt, just as did Amy King's post in which she ends by plugging PARROT with a whole thing about pricing. It just makes my skin crawl as a writer. I get the business element and promotion of the internet, but if that's the price I pay then I hope I'm always a dirt poor writer. As for wider readership, I don't know if you've read WAC, but Gene's not exactly appealing to a large crowd, it's not the kind of stuff you find in Tin House or Best Of series. We've talked about this, he doesn't want a lot of readers who don't enjoy what he puts out, he just wants the right readers who appreciate language based pieces. He and I differ in our aesthetic often, I'm not sure I get everything he's setting out to do, maybe I'm not his ideal reader, but I try to engage with and understand everything I read. Maybe your blog and books are out to reach the masses, but he's not and I'm not - I'm not posting anything on HTML Giant because I'm trying to reach out to you as an individual here. I guarantee you that if Gene could make this all go away, to erase the publicity, he would do it in a second.

    You have done him a disservice. He'll go on because he feels an obligation to his work and aesthetic, but I'm sure from now on people will second guess him, his gender count, the new bias you've placed upon him, and his magazine in general. He might even second guess himself next time around.

    He did feel weird about the gender split when he noticed it, but he decided the work was more important than counting heads. In response to your question, I'm not sure I know what "a reasonable ratio of women" is, I don't have a mathematical equation for good writing. Of course I don't think including women automatically compromises the quality of the writing - but I do think publishing women because they are women (instead of writing that touches me regardless of gender which sometimes comes out in skewed numbers one way or another) compromises my quality as a writer, a human, and as a man.

    Can we evolve beyond the playground, in terms of our gender ideas and in our tactics of attacking each other? This has been a longer post than expected, but I truly am at a loss for words.

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  51. Some loss for words. I repeat: I didn't say anything untrue about the journal. I stated a simple, obvious fact. That's really all that needs to be said.

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  52. Ezra,

    We are (mostly) all writers, or artists, or readers here, and as such, we all recognize that revision can occur at any time in the process. Gene doesn't need to walk around second guessing himself. He can continue to put out his journal & he can continue to rely on his own aesthetic judgment. Honestly, he is not the first editor to be accused of gender bias (Read my original comment in this thread.) I sincerely doubt he will be the last.

    All I'm asking of him, all -- I feel -- the majority of commentators here and at HTML GIANT are asking of him is to define and describe his editorial position clearly, calmly, with conviction. You're right, in that this is a case of an emotional response gone awry, on the internet, where nothing ever goes away, really.

    But he's the one who made the emotional response. He didn't try to "engage" with Elisa. He just insulted her, very childishly, and then seem surprised when people compared him to a frat boy.

    I'm going to plug Nate Pritts' piece on editorial manifestos again. It's at We Who Are About to Die: http://bit.ly/bwboOc. I think Gene might get something out of it.

    Also, you know, Elisa is one of my best friends, and she is also an extremely well read, extremely intelligent person with good instincts and good aesthetics. She reads EXTENSIVELY -- male writers, female writers, poetry, prose, perfume blogs, and I know for a fact some of her closest friends are male poets/editors. So, if you'd like to get off the playground, maybe get your friends to stop making this about personal attacks.

    And, you know, leave her forehead alone. I've seen it in person. It's lovely.

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  53. I find it bizarre the number of times guys on this thread have suggested the issue "just turned out" to have all men in it, as if no one could possibly control that. THE JOURNAL HAS A FUCKING EDITOR. THE EDITOR SHOULD DO HIS FUCKING JOB. If I "just happened to have" seven consecutive Featured Poets who were men, I'd wonder what the fuck I did wrong. It would mean I wasn't doing enough as an editor. I would be fucking embarrassed, and I would be doing a disservice to my journal.

    If I then proceeded to personally insult the person who pointed it out, and/or posted a series of intellectually dishonest rhetorical questions designed to muddy the waters, well, I guess it would be worth a few hundred comments. Most of the dissenters here remind me of overly clever, underly experienced college kids who are just so damn sure they can't be affected by longstanding institutional bias, but who haven't gone out into the world yet and realized what a crock of shit that is. Which is too bad, because I would have thought Blake Butler was smarter than that.

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  54. "Most of the dissenters here remind me of overly clever, underly experienced college kids..."

    they also remind me of republicans who can complain about "liberal activist judges", claiming that a judge's job is to "call balls and strikes".

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  55. (oops, strike the word "can" from that comment)

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  56. this'll be the last thing i write on this:

    i admit i lashed out childishly, but, as i said on htmlgiant, i felt like i was doing so in as superficial a way as i felt my magazine was being read.

    i apologize again and am refraining from deleting said post to show my stupidity. that being said, i still feel like elisa's "i stated a simple fact" is a bit disingenuous.

    first off, again, you're positioning things within the dichotomy of things "i'm into" and "not into." the language might be a bit less aggressive than like or hate, but we all know what you're getting at. and then you write: "I just don't get how editors don't notice a discrepancy like that and feel weird and wonder how it came about." this seems assumptive.
    again, it'd be a different story if you were attempting to engage in a discourse on the male-female disparities in submission ratios affecting readership or any issue you like, or even just posited it as a question, but it felt like a lot of assumptions and an outright dismissal due to being lumped into a "thing you're not into."

    i agree with a lot of stuff you've said elisa and disagreed with a lot of it as well, and the way htmlgiant works in such large threads is that ideas get lumped even though different people are voicing them simply because it's hard to keep all the disparate parts/opinions separate, but know that i wasn't simply falling into a "i just published the best work and the best work happened to be men" fallback.

    for anyone interested, go read the thread about my process in regards to this particular issue.

    lastly, elisa, you tried to say that this thing was simply about editorial position but on your twitter you go on to say that i was just publishing the same old names and publishing friends just to get an "in." if that's not a judgment on the writers, i don't know what is. and, let me tell you i've never published anyone to get an "in" or created the magazine to get into a community. i created the magazine i really wanted to read. bottom line. i love the work of no colony, ny tyrant, lonesome fowl, and others that the writers i've published edit/create, but i've never submitted a single thing to any of them as i'm working on a big, unwieldy project that's taking up near all of my writing time.

    eh, i'm not sure where i was going with this, but i had to get those last sticking points off my chest. i don't want this to be about friends having to stick up for friends, which it's getting to be in some cases, but i also had to point out that the "just stating the facts" is ignoring the verbiage and framework that elisa put forth in the first place. ones that triggered my ire as stupid and no-excuse as that is.

    anyway, my last 2 cents.

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  57. Matt, I agree a lot of the arguments sound like they're coming from Republican senators. Transparent defense of the status quo.

    I also want to reiterate that I didn't "place a bias upon" WAC. The bias, intentional or not, is already there. I just pointed it out. And I'm not the only one on the Internet who can count to zero.

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  58. Gene, I do think you were publishing people you know, if not in person then via the Internet. Those writers are commonly published in journals started up by members of the HTML Giant community. There's nothing wrong with that, in and of itself (I have published people I know) and it may not be true of everyone in the journal, but when people start claiming that you can't tell gender from a name ... that seems irrelevant. We know who these writers are, and we know their genders.

    Also, when you put something on the Internet, you're inviting people to criticize it. When you publish a book, you're inviting people to criticize it. For better or worse. It's fair game. Have you never criticized a journal because you didn't like the work inside or the authors represented?

    But, again, this is not a criticism of the authors. I bear no ill will whatsoever to the authors.

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  59. Gene,

    I think it's admirable that you're taking "ownership" of your original comment by not deleting it & by trying to apologize/explain.

    I don't really understand what your rationale/vision for your accidentally? not accidentally? all-male issue is, if you aren't using the "it just happened" approach.

    Can you give me the link to the thread about your process? (Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I don't have the time/energy to wade through a maelstrom of HTML comments today.) Or just sum it up for me here in, like, a sentence.

    You're the editor. You can do whatever you want. It's your magazine. I'm just wondering what you wanted to do. I'm just wondering how it happened.

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  60. This will be my last post/read of this blog because I can see I'm on someone else's turf, and even trying to offer another side I don't feel particularly welcome here. I'll stop wasting your time.

    Gillian, you're more than welcome to stick up for your friend's forehead. You're allowed to like any forehead you like. I think Gene's editorial position is clear, he likes language driven works that speak to him without consideration of race, religion or sexual orientation. He's allowed to like any writing he likes. I'm not going to make my friends do anything -- he and I disagree about a lot of stuff, and I speak my mind to him. But Elisa also didn't reach out to the editor of WAC before she knew him to say that she felt he was doing the literary world a disservice -- instead she created a public forum and (I'm sorry) did make assumptions that the editor didn't notice that there were no female writers and that he didn't feel weird about it. Like I said, we had a long talk about it. Issue #1 which was entirely solicited had a number of women in it, all because of the quality of those particular pieces, not because of their genders. The person who does the graphic art for his site is a woman, the only other person working on the mag, and he works with her because he likes her art and aesthetic. Should male graphic designers be upset because he isn't including the artwork of a male artist every other issue? He puts up what he likes.

    In this way I'm really offended by Steven's comments that he would be "fucking embarrassed" if his magazine included all men, and ask himself what he did wrong. Fine, that's how you would feel, but I think there's something just as wrong with that. I'd be embarrassed if I couldn't like something for what it was, not what gender produced it. If I actually went back and took out men whose work I liked and put in women just to include them I would feel like I was going against the very egalitarian way I was raised. the editor was doing his job, just as I've done as a reader of a lit mag in the past, I look for what grabs me. I would never not read a lit mag because all the names were women, and doing so with men seems not liberated to me as well.

    Ok, I've said too much already. I'm signing off for good because I think this discussion has become something other than what it was originally meant to be. There are important issues at hand, questions with multiple answers, and I hope we can be open to a lot more perspectives than our first reactions.

    - ezra

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  61. here are some parts from my two comments on htmlg that reference the process of this particular issue:

    funny thing was just that morning, before the issue went up, i was talking to my friend, ezra, and telling him that it was weird that we didn’t have any female contributors this go-round but unfortunately, however arbitrary, i’d posted the timeline for issues and would feel that it would be doing a disservice to the writers and readers to mess with those timelines. no, matt cozart, writers shouldn’t be treated like you’re doing them a favor. if anything they’re doing you just as much of a favor and so, even if the deadlines are arbitrary, i’d already long established them and owed it to writers and readers to get the work done on time. c’mon. you’re acting like you’ve never heard of a deadline.

    i try to keep my contributors to less than ten an issue. i know a lot of online lit mags bombard you with contributors and i always felt that was a bit overwhelming so i try to keep it small. were most of the subs men, yes. i feel like i shouldn’t even have to justify shit but here goes: knowing this did i try to solicit more women? yes. i solicited maybe 4-5 male writers and out of that group, although many told me they’d be happy to submit, i only got two pieces. it was mostly due to bad timing. i solicited eleven different female writers and out of that group only received poems from one incredible writer. again a lot of it was bad timing. maybe it was a bad time of the year because of academia, who knows? i received incredible poems from a “monster” of a poet (yes monsters, strength and power can definitely apply to women, jesus) but i’d received them so late into the process (i had one spot to fill) that i really felt like her poems, as amazing as they were, didn’t necessarily fit into aesthetic of that particular issue.

    look, fair or unfair, i have a particular aesthetic in mind but it all starts to take shape based on the first handful of contributors. jimmy’s and mike’s were the first pieces i received. i loved the barthelmean humor behind jimmy’s. which then led into chris’ almost raunchier barthelmean dialogue pieces. then mike’s powerful odes to love, then really incredible short poems by ben mirov and goosey and chris and then leidner’s longer, boundary pushing piece. and before that, the longer beast by miguel morales. and the tempo to reynard’s story just perfectly capped things. i really try to think of it as a whole and how all the disparate stories and poems fit together. i got some incredible stories and poems from writers that were perfectly crafted but just didn’t fit the mold.

    i respect magazine’s that have that ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ mentality, but that isn’t mine. not in regards to this particular magazine. i know the aesthetic is narrow. it already cuts our submissions. i do agree w/ elisa in that it sets a bad precedent, but also, give me the benefit that it’s only the second issue and it obviously takes any magazine a few issues just to get a wider audience, wider swath of submitters, etc. but i also disagree and think it’s weird that, as elisa stated, a woman would see that there were no women in a particular issue and that would prevent her from submitting. or at least i’d hope that wouldn’t be the case. i mean, shit, i never see asian names so i might as well call it quits. that’s a weird defeatist stance i’ll never understand. again, i think she was talking hypotheticals and so am i.

    i really don’t care whether or not you believe i have a gender bias. again, what irked me was that elisa was basically dismissing the magazine (THINGS I DON’T LIKE) based on numbers. read it and hate it, fine. glance at some names and dismiss it, i have a problem with. and the issue of bios is moot. at least for me. i barely even read over ‘em after i’ve accepted and only to make sure i’m getting the right things italicized. chris okum’s only reads: chris okum is from los angeles.

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  62. second post:

    i’m going to continue and hope that i get more women in this coming issue. but i’m not going to say we want more women writers in the submission guidelines because then i’d have to include every race, culture, etc. and inevitably would forget someone. i want work by everyone. i do agree that the submission guidelines would make one feel like this is male-heavy, but those submission guidelines are a joke at best. they drop references to michael jordan’s illustrious night at MSG and back to the future II. a lot of the pieces i accept don’t follow the word count or amount of entries guidelines and that’s fine. because, like most editors (however deluded), i’d hope you’d get a sense of whether or not your work fit into the coterie of established writers based on the work. meaning the words and not anything else. there’s a definite weird, syntactic play, angular diction thing going on in the magazine and that’s pretty much my only bottomline as much as i have one. i mean, even the “about us” section is pretty much a joke.

    i never said i was publishing the best work and that the best work happened to be all male. this is in response to someone further in the comments.

    i was publishing the best work that fit into a particular aesthetic that came into me in order under a timeline and that timeline just happened to not work for some people this go round.

    for me it was just a weird confluence of timing and order and deadlines and submissions and non-submissions from the solicited.

    but elisa, to the point of people i know or don't know. all the people in issue one i knew beforehand, their work anyway, because you have to start a first issue off through almost all solicitations. this second issue, i only knew the work of mike young and mark leidner. everyone else i'd only read first through submissions to my magazine and then later sought out more work online or through print. it just so happens that most of the people that push the magazine both online and word of mouth are in some ways connected to the htmlg crowd, whatever that means. i also tried to get more press when the first issue went up through newpages and the millions blog. i'm kind of shitty at this online self advertising thing. but i never took into acct or was even aware of the fact that perhaps reynard knew joseph goosey who might have known ben mirov. sure i'm fbook friends w/ them now but that's only because i'm honored to have published their work and also because, since i obviously enjoyed it, i want to stay clued in on their future endeavors. at some point a lot of the circles tend to overlap. this happens in a lot of venues.

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  63. I really have no problem with publishing people you know, or getting to know them after you publish them. I do that too. I didn't mean to imply that that was a problem for me. My larger point was that I can find work by those poets in a lot of other magazines. I don't have time/inclination to read every magazine I hear about, and the fact is that if I get the strong feeling that a new magazine is exclusionary to women, I'll probably pass it by. I'm sorry if that makes you feel like your project was passed up for superficial reasons, but I think other women (not all women, but some) will feel the same way. If you don't want that to happen, then it might be worth addressing in future issues. Obviously, it is up to you.

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  64. "In this way I'm really offended by Steven's comments that he would be "fucking embarrassed" if his magazine included all men, and ask himself what he did wrong. Fine, that's how you would feel, but I think there's something just as wrong with that. I'd be embarrassed if I couldn't like something for what it was, not what gender produced it. If I actually went back and took out men whose work I liked and put in women just to include them I would feel like I was going against the very egalitarian way I was raised. the editor was doing his job, just as I've done as a reader of a lit mag in the past, I look for what grabs me. I would never not read a lit mag because all the names were women, and doing so with men seems not liberated to me as well."

    This is is exactly the sort of intellectually dishonest false dichotomy I'm talking about. Based on this thread and the HTML Giant clusterfuck, your half of the "debate" consists mostly of fallacies, word parsing, self justification, and misplaced anger. Really, if you're offended by what I said, toughen the fuck up.

    A good editor, shock of fucking shocks, can actually publish work that is (A) by a member of whatever underrepresented minority and (B) work the editor likes and isn't including as tokenism. Stop trotting out the bullshit argument otherwise. I categorically reject your notion that you can produce a journal issue with such an imbalance and then say "Oh, it's just the WORK I liked best" as if it's a Get Out of Jail Free card. Take some fucking responsibility.

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  65. I agree with Steven that this is bullshit: "If I actually went back and took out men whose work I liked and put in women just to include them I would feel like I was going against the very egalitarian way I was raised." No one wants you to do that, I promise you. Why is it difficult to understand that women can be included on the quality of their work alone?

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  66. Hey Ezra--

    I don't know if you're still here, but I appreciate that you and Gene talked about it, are talking about it now. As I understand it, you two indicated a preference for a certain type of writing (that seems to be long, and epic-ish in nature, least when it comes to tomes), and that the big tome (if tome is a genre) is one in which there aren't as many female writers. I haven't read everything there is to read either, but there are ALOT of tomes by women--in all genres (short fiction, poetry, critical essays, novels--JOYCE CAROL OATES has written in all genres, is incredibly prolif. and weighty, and some of her stuff is long too). What I hear is a preference for a type/kind of writing, in other words, which is totally cool. There's certain stuff I tend to like to. But, and I think this is what we're trying to figure out here, a big question that's arising is why, for example, when some of us read there's an equal-ish mix of men and women, and with others not so much...I mean something, other than writing, might be influencing us before/during our readings of in addition to the words, and I appreciate your effort to begin to figure out what these influences might be. (I haven't figured out mine totally either, but I do make a conscious effort effort to).

    Oh! I can provide a list of tomes by women (not an exhaustive one by any means, but a survey of/starter list beyond Rand, Eliot and Young) if interested. Gertrude Stein's novel The Making of Americans is 1000 pages long. It weights a lot. It's a fucking monster of a book in every way. And all typed out by Alice B. Toklas, who deserves some credit for the making of that tome.

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  67. Gene,

    What is this "particular aesthetic" that most female poets you encounter seem incapable of writing? I'm very curious to know.

    Amy

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  68. I think Chelsey Minnis said this well:

    I can say things that are not going to cheer anyone up...

    Like, "most poets don't have any dick or balls under their skirts..."

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  69. amyking-

    I know this "issue" is dead, but i'd say to check out the work of Ally Harris, A. Minetta Gould, and Rachel B. Glaser in the first issue.

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  70. man this is the second-best thread ever on tfe

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  71. I'm curious...why is it a topic on a french exit?... hehehe...



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