A good amount of mail is flowing into our inbox, ranging in character from enlightening to provocative to willfully ignorant. While most receive private responses, a couple have been posted and annotated here.
“The name’s Samoud. Al Samoud.”
Shelly K writes:
“I like your articles, but I’m curious why you havent said anything about Iraq. In fact you never say anything political. What is up with that! Either you don’t care which kind of makes me think you aren’t living in the real world, or you are afraid to say what you think. Whatever it is, it makes me think less of yuo [sic] so what is your reasoning here.”
There is nothing to say about Iraq or any other political issue that hasn’t been said before. Anyone interested in these issues usually knows where to find opinions and information on them. As a matter of fact, we do have well-grounded beliefs concerning just about any issue of which you can think, and the Editor can occasionally be found debating these in other forums, both on- and offline.
As far as this publication is concerned, however, we are not interested in saying things that have been said elsewhere. It is simply too easy to write forceful articles about political topics, which are usually charged with undeserved emotional fervour and make for cheap ways to provoke responses from readers. At times we have cleared our throats and coughed up an article that had political connotations, but these always concern points that few others are raising, such as the assimilation of Canada and the abolition of the metric system. We are not afraid of making enemies now and again, but not at the expense of originality.
Stricken Collegiates Strike Back
A few people took exception to our editorial on modern poetry. Randy Singer, himself an admitted academic, writes:
“…Who are you to say what is ‘real’ poetry and what is ‘fake’ poetry? Work’s like Merrill’s are every bit as valid as Fitzgerald’s, and I myself enjoy both with equanimity. The real difference is that one style is primarily emotional, while the other is primarily intellectual. Just because you prefer the latter doesn’t make the former ‘fake,’ except as a matter of opinion.”
Where should we start? Skipping the fact that Mr. Singer has misused the word ‘equanimity,’ we note that he seems to have a definition of ‘poetry’ that is too wide and too vague. Apparently anything claiming to be poetry should be taken as poetry; but our stance is simply this: if it has all the essential characteristics of prose, and none of poetry, then it is just prose claiming to be poetry. That is what we mean when we say Merril’s poems are fake.
Mr. Singer also fails in his distinction between the two ‘styles.’ It is true that the ‘first’ kind appeals mainly to our emotions. It also assumes we have no mind, or that the mind is not the proper place for appreciation of poetical thought. But real poetry combines the heart and mind; it does not expel the emotions. Obviously the second is superior to the first.
All this shows how firmly rooted is this false notion that it is impossible to be objective in evaluating writing.
Seeing The Forest In The Middle of All Those Trees
Finally, Stephen H. sent this to the editor:
“Glad to see you back. Hard to find sites like this. I only have one question: who is your intended audience? just nerds like me, or what? You seem to be all over the map, at least in tone if not in content. Maybe you should decide exactly what you’re trying to accomplish here and dig in. Crossover types always end up alienating people.”
THE EDITOR RESPONDS: My intended audience is anyone who can read English, has a brain and uses it. The brain, I mean. What I’m trying to accomplish is writing about anything that interests me. Look again at the third word in the site’s title graphic.1
For many years the site’s subtitle was “Joel’s Improved Personal Website” ↩