Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"That Special Place in Hell" Madeleine

mentions "for women who don't help other women."

And it resonates, yes, even with my not-so-private endorsement of a man for president--but beyond that or in addition to that--and especially in the world of poetry where I have tried hard to help anyone I could (man or woman). Still, it was so often those like my friend L-Bo to write a complicated, ambitious review and to place it well and my friend Veace to shape the manuscript in a fashion (and market it and pay her hard-earned cash for my entry fee) that would inform the shape that made the ms. into a book, at long last. By shape, I mean hours of arranging, typing and re-typing, table of contents to acknowledgements. I mean hours of love and care that is hard to muster for anyone's work. And yes, my friend at I Should've Been a Locksmith with her amazon review, and boys, there were those: Steve Fellner (not even acknowledged in my book as we were having one of our famous "friend break-ups") reviewed me carefully, fairly, and who could forget Prabhakar who gave me entry fees (sometimes many) for every birthday, who hit with an amazon review and who cheered me on when I was about to stop bothering with "the book dream". Other friends have taught the book (I believe even Matt Guenette whose own book Sudden Anthem should already be in your hot, little hands or wishlist at very least.) Many more people--Simone Muench, Kristy Bowen, lots. And I've zeroed in here and focused on women (though acknowledged the men--men weirdly, whom I've helped not at all with their careers) because it's extra crucial in the arts that we continue to help one another, Girls. At the first book level, things are often pretty good for us. We have some exclusive contests, even whole lit mags and editors like Kristy Bowen who are Super Women and super women-promoting. But it does get skinnier as we climb. There's still an unspoken belief that making it in the big leagues of verse means being endorsed or accepted by the men in verse, not that only men are there, there are women (check out Paul Guest's blog for some of the star-girls of verse) and women like my own dear Eleanor Wilner are no slouches either, but when we think of really famous living American poets, I hear many more male names at the very top. Here's my meme: write a review for a woman writer today--if time is limited, jump on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If not, pick a journal that does reviews and publishes your writer and one that you want to get into. Query or write a review for her and score a little frosting for you. Another time: review choose one of the boys who do nice things for us (Steve Fellner, Matt Dube, Alan May, Matthew Guenette, Anthony Robinson, Ander Monson, I'm just getting started) and write a little something for one of them. Teach the books of emerging writers you like, esp. women, shore them up for the career ahead. Do this--be you a boy or a girl--because it should be done and because, most of the people I've done things for do not correlate with the ones that have been so (ridiculously) kind to me. That's karma, the gift of it all, not the keeping-score.

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