Friday, August 07, 2015

And I love You So.

This came out on the s/m page of one of Sidekick Books co-founders and editors, Jon Stone. Who, with the very talented Lincolnshire, Louth poet Kirsten Irving, the real power behind the throne, i suspect, are just doing it. Publishing great books. I know, i am biased, but these days the division between private and public is becoming more and more fraught. 

American poet Quincy Lehr, tho never having exchanged any text with Poetry editor Donald Share, was blocked from reading Share's Twitter, because of the private trash-talk a handful of s/m friends were happily engaging in. Trolling Share on updates set to 'friends', and ergo, private. Share must have read them somehow, indeed, i suspect, was/is monitoring Lehr's facebook. I wrote about it in An Apology for Don Share, published on the American blog, Tuché And Automaton.

The Stone update was a link to Belfast poetry critic Dave Coates' August 4 blog response to a grumpy Guardian review by the life-long award-winning, not exactly very intellectual, Yorkshire light/heavy weight in what Coates calls the (UK) Magic Circle, Sean O'Brien, reviewing a new Faber and Faber English conceptual poet and hotshot from the Ironic Social Media school, Jack Underwood's debut collection, Happiness.

In it he refers to Sean O'Brien as SOB. It is common In Ireland to compress people with an O starting the surname, down to their initials. The legendary Irish rugby captain who retired a few years ago, Brian O'Driscol, has always been known in print by the affectionate name, BOD.

Another fb friend of Stones noted, in the first and thus far only response to the update - apart from a link to here - with the one word: "SOB", impelling my own mind to write this.

---

I dunno if i am the first one to refer to him as SOB, but i have been calling him that in print for several years now. It first appears in a below the line comment on the Guardian. I was there (the same as Jon Stone) six/seven years, practising for free how to engage with others, from across the full conversational spectrum. From the world-class critically intellectual multi-participant and mutually beneficial discovery of a true and eloquent poetic wisdom caste; to the anonymous troll class of conversation. 
 
My own journey publishing on the Guardian began there on March 22 2007, as a thirty-nine year old Ovid Yeats, after i was deleted and blocked from the long extinguished and supplanted by Facebook, Poets on Fire forum, by its owner, Jane Holland. 

I'd been a PoF member, Ovid Yeats, since it began, empty and silent, doing my own thing, talking speculative discourse. Because i'd been slung out of another forum, the online forum that was supposed to be the real online forum, the short lived and long vanished online forum Poem UK

A place for the twenty and less established, thirty-something poets in an inner online UK & Ireland circle that seemed crippled by social protocol. Or rather, there being no detectable set social protocol, just a lot of opaque rules, and passive-aggressive snippy and snarky short one-line exchanges of opinion, with everyone dancing on eggshells round one anothers' egos. I lasted two months there, and Holland, a fellow member, taking pity, or perhaps advantage (lol), using my writing to get readers, was happy to have me writing at her empty forum.

She had an unintentionally comic reign at the top of the online (UK) poetry tree at the start of the big bang of online publishing. Over two or three years Poets on Fire went from being a kudos-less and rarely active forum for England's Midlands performance poets to get in on tha printed word action, to being the in place you simply had to join. Then say absolutely nothing in. 

PoF had a brief and glorious flash of literate fizz and activity, culminating in, what in my eyes seemed a bizarre socio-cultural online reflection of the English class system. In which it was clear that the membership grew the worse Holland's day to day dictatorial editorial style and unintentionally comic behaviour in the role of a massively successful poetry forum owner, with full Mouse Control and sole personal charge of the admin and editorial trays, spun more and more comedically to its final denouement with every new ban of some poor harmless dolt daft enough to join her forum and have the temerity to say what we think. 

To not agree with her Monarchist version of reality, in which she represented, as queen H, all the best bits of English culture. A supremely intellectual figure whose mind we should all bow down to.

The bannings, or textually public humiliation and shaming rituals, ranged from the petty to the downright cruel and psychologically abusive. But, you could not feel sorry too long for the PoF 'victims' she'd rant and rail about because if they were going to join a place, as writers, and not write, maybe they are not cut out for the rough and tumble of this intellectually robust critical knockabout called poetry criticism.

I myself, knowing the game was up, that she was getting worse and worse, and that my writing would not be tolerated there for much longer, because, tho harmless, Holland's psychosis viewed it as personally offensive to her royal world view - staged a comic exit formulated to cause maximum self-publicity. Writing individually to all members, because Holland had disabled the group communication facility for inmates in the PoF gulag, in a classic divide and conquer trick. Making it difficult for free and easy communication she claimed was the purpose of the forum, that was the ostensible window dressing draping her massively huge ego.

I wrote to the ones that weren't out and out Holland lackeys, and really stirred it up with her. After several hours, my work complete, a concerned member informed one of the lackeys, who sent Holland a copy of what I had spent several hours diligently copying and pasting then sending, one by one, to fellow members. 

She made her biggest declaration of public disapproval of anyone yet in her announcement that sounded Hitleresque in its delusional comic quality. Ranting about Security Settings and spending the next weeks and months with a full time team in place, and with the sole purpose of checking each new membership. The application process of which she beefed up to laughably invasive levels. Each new member having to verify and pass the test of not being me. Denouncing me in a clearly outraged voice, sounding on the page unintentionally comedic in the process. 

I like Holland and she has gone on to far more lucrative things. I admire her spunk and no nonsense attitude, which did, it has to be noted, alienate her from a lot of other poets. But then, as the great epigrammist Cyricl Connolly noted, "Poets arguing about modern poetry: jackals snarling over a dried-up well", and SOB himself (third paragraph down) likened quarrelsome poets to "ferrets fighting for mastery of a septic tank."

Actors on a page in the fist-fight in a phone-booth that is a contemporary global poetry village in the come all ye everyone is now a poet era. In which we can in a handful of clicks set ourselves up as the real thing, publishing the instant we write the popular and widely read textual gold everyone is selling.


After i left Poets on Fire, the Banning Announcements became a staple feature of the forum's final few months of Holland in her s/m bunker. One that consisted of all the up and coming poets in England, who were just getting their work published, and who it was very noticeable, rarely spoke a jot to one another, in the main. But you'd see their names join and Holland would also make Welcome Announcements, the more exciting and high profile the prospect, the longer the welcome. That she would lay on more warmly, declaring how proud she was and how much she admired and loved them. The young award and prize winning poets.

And i remember thinking at the time, fuck me, they love this shit and just want to be a part of it. Like LFC fans that just love their team and get off on the buzz of our supporters from across the planet, also buzzing at what we do. Like everyone wants to be Irish (for a day) so too Holland's forum had its day in the sun. It was, for good and bad, the go-to English, Scottish and Welsh gaffe for anyone who was anyone starting out in mid-noughties Britain as part of the brave nu online publishing revolution.

~

I lasted four months as Ovid Yeats on the Guardian, before, the editor of this then new blog, put the word out and the ominously and scarily titled CommunityModerator deleted and blocked me from publishing the harmless doggerel and prosaic drivel my three year old post-grad self was took up with writing. 

I bounced back straight way with a new pseudonym on 20 Sep 2007, and as Human Love was left alone for a month by the CommunityModerator, before getting slung out of the golden circle again. 

I returned as Practicing Artist, lasting six weeks as PA before being condemned and cast out again. Three days before Christmas, 2007.

Then began a cat and mouse game, that involved me being slung off by the anonymous CommuntiyModerator, and immediately creating a new account and going straight back on. I remember really upsetting the Editor on 7 May 2009, reaching a next level with despenser, defending a famous poet from the English golden circle, Faber and Faber poet, David Harsent, from the very serious collective s/m trash-talk assault he was getting from the regulars in the comment section of a snarky piece he'd written about the then yet to become ennobled (Sir) Andrew Motion, the then UK Poet Laureate: There's nothing poetic about the poet laureate.

In fact, i see looking at it that Jack Underwood is there, CJUnderwood

(Ah, yes, i remember now this name from my early days on the Guardian, but never linked it, until now, with being the Jack Underwood thrashed by O'Brien.)

I agreed with the trolls, but as an intellectual exercise, found an uber polite, kind, respectful voice that successfully countered the trolls vicious trashing of Harsent, and i had a great time being a new bestie on the page with this senior fellow, reading, i suspect, and something happened. I writing as despenser lasted a day, two comments. The final paragraph of despenser's toxic offensive shit to the English rose Editor of the time:

Imbas, is an Irish word that encapsulates the sense of poetic and writerly intuition that leads to discovering the calm space in the centre of the storm, in the purest sense, which in Gaelic literary culture prior to its implosion four hundred years ago, relates to a mythical well called Seigas, which at one time symbolized the whole enterprise of textual creation. Now however, attempting to speak of such things is a very dangerous business for the online writer especially, as it brings out the worst in those who would rather Seigas well was not talked of.

Desmond Swords

After lasting a day and slung off for writing my real name, i returned the same day as OhGodNotHimAgain, but knowing that i could never sign my real name to any of the writing as that would get me instantly slung off. Just my name, Desmond Swords. A combination of my father and mother's surnames.

The writing worked, i was left alone, until the final straw came four months later, in a harmless piece of writing responding to a Robbie Williams story, that ended on the line so highly offensive to the editor it got me deleted and blocked again: 

I have just been reading up on the story so far, and am wondering if he needs me to write songs for him to sing, Bobsicle: Williams and i, one day he could be making me millions.

Of course, it didn't stop me. Scores more names had preceded it and, over the next four years, scores more followed. Indeed, one of my recent compliments came from the observation made by a senior English poet, that I 'had a different name every week'. Sometimes you'd get thru five a day. They'd delete the accounts all together, and so the majority of these short lived one and two comments written in name after different name after different name, were wiped; but now and again one turns up. The only other two that i have saved in bookmarks are TWilkinson, and my current one, gwionb

After six straight years, after being beaten by all the cat and mouse head games with the anonymous editorial force systematically going all out making sure my writing never saw the light of publication there; the well written experimental speculative discourse and spontaneous commentary, getting immediately deleted and blocked because of petty mind politics with anonymous literary editors and the anonymous CommunityModerator, in 2013/14, i took a break from publishing there.

When i returned last year, June 2014, the petty politics had moved on, and it is now clear for all to read, i think, that far from me being some idiot that was saying stupid shit there for no good reason,  something else was happening there all those years I was just doing it. 

 ~

And in just doing it, so you discover and learn - by just doing it - how to write for intellectual enjoyment and creative pleasure. That leads, by a process of trial, error, practise and failure, after failure, after failure, to where many never reach to get past. When you don't need permission/validation from Sir OMG, and lose all embarrassment and fear of who thinks what of your voice. And work out unencumbered by social psychosis and class paranoia, what you truly think and believe, by speaking your voice in print.

By rehearsing on the page all the various, competing, and different, voices' thoughts, positions, and what they love and hate. Eventually, as an arbitrary number, say, fourteen years later - the time one spent becoming an ollamh 'poetry doctor' in the Gaelic tradition - if you are still at it, you stand a chance of creating your own real voice from the mass of voice/s you began imitating with on the search for this fabled inner literary happiness we're all looking to find but which no-one else's approval, thoughts about us, opinions, judgements, or awards, create. That the individual human being will make within their own mind and imagination. Or not.

There are no magical otherworldly short-cuts as there are in the Finn McCool and Taliesin tales. You can't buy a mental-state. No amount of titles, awards, prize-money or the kudos of being bessie m8s with Famous, is gonna substitute for experience. Nobody else does the writing for you. Reaches the final goal, purpose of writing, and the end of art. Peace.

You do not find happiness by buying into the royal con of keeping a dutiful life-long silence on His Majesty's service. Silenced because we are very cleverly led to culturally believe our English voice is somehow intellectually and creatively superior or inferior, less royal born than others just because of the way it sounds, its accent. Its 'tone'. 

Reflected in our reality of the submissive ass-lick Tudor-courtier nod and wink, prize Crown model; with all its bullshit protocols, titles, and the kind of writing we take for granted as the sole publishing model there is.

Silenced by the 99% 'rejection' rate when seeking a 'permission to continue' what we love doing anyway, from the exterior approval and validation of lovers like O'Brien. Eff that bo**o*ks, i have always thought. Which meant that we, Jon Stone, and i, just got stuck in doing it.

Feeling blessed and a bit sorry for those not so lucky. Wanting to talk in print but staying silent and unable to self-asses and evolve critically because they are stricken with a personal human paranoia that only exists in their own minds. Unable to write because of an all gripping, unwarranted, unreasonable, and truly unreal, fear of what others will silently think.

Usually boring, grumpy, and award-winning literary drama-queens that pass judgement on others aloud in print, that can be v horrid about what is most personal to the silent paranoid 99% of working-class kids taught by the royal wans peddling a pedagogic ass-lick model.

And it remains that way until one finds on the page their own alternative safe-place to talk freely and critically evolve as a happy, tolerant and kind person lucky to have found and experience in letters the odd moment of joyful textual tranquility. Like u can here, or the Guardian culture s/m pages.

For free, exercise in writing, publishing anything you want, without having to ask no-one. Toil, work out, and get rid of the cultural class chips we are all born with as products of England's cultural and social class system. Make our endless literary faux pas in anonymity, and write as much embarrassing shit as we want. 

And have to if you are gonna get round the bases and stations; navigate over a mountain of public and personal class politics, petty unfair behaviours, hates, divisions and prejudices - to the promised land a fully realised and playfully critical bore with a practice of making yourself and the Reader happy, in a message of poetic peace.

Writing on what, imo, is the purest and most democratic field of contemporary play. Evolving one's own creative-critical practice, and over the longer term clarifying a poetic on the experimental page; using a form of 'speculative discourse' i picked up from the British Poetry Revival professor, Robert Sheppard, in the church of my first poetic learning at Edge Hill University (2001-4), in my home town, Ormskirk.

 That he lays out in his fifteen year old statement, The Necessity of Poetics

 My journey into evolving a practice founded on Speculative Discourse, led, eventually, to an understanding of how Sheppard's professorial SP was, essentially, a contemporary equivalent of imbhas forosnai, the apical filidh poets' form. 

Taught to forty generations of Irish poets as the most important piece in their trade, craft, art and life of composing their most expensive and prophetically inspired works of praise and satire; and that, if it was going to happen, come out from within them, it was from the sixth year of study on. 

The first SP was an ungraded but mandatory Self-Assessment, that accompanied every graded piece of creative writing. A piece of creative-critical writing that could be anything at all. The crazier the better. It could be three hundred lines of 'fuk u bob sheppard'.

Tho in reality it is the student writing about the process of writing the graded piece. One's own assessment of what we'd written to be judged by others. Some of whom we will personally dislike, and vice versa. It is Sheppard's successful contribution to his discipline of academic creative writing, that many other university creative writing progammes across the world have copied and implemented as a core component that counters the all pervasive self-consuming influence of the industrial creative-writing complex and network for all sorts of lunatics who prosper as award-winners of what, intellectually, really is, fuck all.

The 'speculative discourse' model that Sheppard has written extensively of online at his blog, Pages, founded on the introduction of a critical Self Assessment process from the first module, ingeniously obviates the danger of a student falling straight away into the po-biz mode of network writing that is being created solely to cultivate and please only a handful of interconnected approvers, tutors, teachers, judges, prize givers, and 'award-winners.'

The SA was very useful because it often ended up the more creatively successful piece of the two. Sometimes you'd write a graded creative piece, and not be happy with it, but not know why. And writing the SA would be the key unlocking your own successful articulation of whatever it was you were unhappy about in the graded piece. So even if the graded piece was an ambitious failure and got a lesser mark than you wanted or expected, you'd have a more 'real' and better piece of writing in the ungraded but mandatory self assessment.

In Sheppard's pedagogic teaching model the grade one bardic foclo 'word-weaving beginner' student, is, from the very third-level start of their journey in writing, introduced to a parallel self-critical process, that, when you work hard and keep it up after graduating, many years later, you might get to become one of the first of a new wave of national treasure social-media trolls.

One of my more recent proudest moments was a compliment paid to me in print by an ultra-polite, and ergo, usually silent and saintly, Kathryn Gray; when she was agreeing on phasebuke with an American poet who presents herself as deeply crazee in a professional writerly way - that i was 'a weirdo'. 'Desmond Swords is a well known troll. He has been around for ten years.'

SOB was also used once, or twice, in one's own response to this durt-bord pedagogic literary buggering by erastes Sir SOB, administering a working over in a S&M session to an eromenos from the Ironic Social Media school, Sir Jack. That actually began life on Monday as a comment on Sidekick Founder & CEO, Jon Stone's Facebook, before i took it out from a draft form, to be published in its more reader-friendly and helpful current form, with notes (hyperlinks), on my ten year old Irish Poetry Blog (irishpoetry.blogspot dot com):

'Here, impelled by a powerful cerebral force of anwyn, and with the primeval male savagery and bass grunt of literary opinion draped in the velvet sheen of a faux supportive voice, SOB makes a very skilful piece of negatively charged writing. In which he manages to successfully convey to a general reader that he has Underwood's best poetic interests at heart as a fellow colleague in the demonstration of professional literary love. 

Whilst in prosaic reality, beneath the sentences' superficially supportive surface, Sir Sean is administering a condescendingly baronial thrashing to a new mercenary pretender on the royal manor, with all the self-suppressed restraint of a frustrated alpha-bear aristocrat at a semi-formal work event after an annoying day in the palace, dressed in a nazi, or wolf suit, perhaps, releasing their disgruntlement on a rough-trade twink up a Camden laneway.'

Dave Poems plagiarized my invention. The no gud lo down ol' frewd. Send in the plagiarist finder general, Dr Who, if she's not too busy playing with her hair, or too tired and emotional from nailing another bottom feeding literary perp to the cross of shame and depression, Whatsername? If she's not doing that she'll be with the personal professional selfie photo-critic doing the all important front of house self-publicity head and full body portraiture work.

My proudest boast is spotting the most knowledgeable and entertaining poet-critic in England & Scotland, David Wheatley, (yes, i know, 'none of us 'likes' it'), writing in one of his essays, 'the bard of Ballaghy'; i suspect, because i'd already coined Famous the Ballaghy Bard some time b4 Dave spotted it, (tho of course i may be wholly wrong); and so he couldn't use it uncredited without the possibility of me reading it, laughing at him, losing all respect for him, and seizing on it as a chance to take the big fella down in an obscurely published blog-post in which i joyously perform the role of a Chuculainary (copywrite John Cummins Poetician) literary assassin, and the (county Wicklow) Bray geeza is toppled. 

And, that, tho unrecorded by the SOBs and company royals recording the important textual events of the official annals in the imperial train, posterity would be kinder. I am certain of it.

Finally, the work in my pamphlet, The Eternal Heaviness of Velvet Shaped Blancmange, will take its place among the Ledbury Homend Poet Society Newsletter Roundup. One day. Well we all have our dreams, and, yeah, the Mossbawn Magus, i coined that. And have been calling Famous (rip) M&M for years.

The Arghmagh Bard Aul Plumdoon, i can't review anything of his bcuz its personal. That is all i am prepared to say at present without my legal representative here. Dave Poems. Who i have recognised as one of the finest undiscovered legal minds living. He is interning; i am generously allowing Dave to learn by being my new bessie number one go to Gae guy.

I live in Dublin, and am very popular here. I have very close family and friends in what Dave calls in this review, the Magic Circle, that is his own version of Heaney's Golden Circle, and inner circle behind the GC where the real work in Heaney's private Republic of Letters was done. By myself and several other trusted close personal colleagues in the wider Heaney publishing family Ogham business.

That, again, by talking about it, i will activate an immediate return order, should it be proven i broke any letter of what i can not talk about, refer, to, or even mention exists, because the contents of the documents in which the minutes of the inner circle special-executive task-force alpha-response bravo-team charlie, appear; are under a D Notice. 

That is all i am allowed to legally state at present. Thank you. I love you all. Being here is up there with meeting SOB himself. At a very select private proof reading of a manuscript i am not at liberty to discuss because it is currently banned from being publicly discussed under a security service F Notice, that relates to a beyond top secret platform of high-level amber code threats that are very complex and highly intellectual, but which i am sworn to secrecy and cannot reveal. Trust me. I'm not joking. 

If anyone says i am joking i will very firmly, wearing a contemptuous scowl because i feel so emotionally betrayed and psychologically injured by the unfair bullying of me, delete and block whoever says it. Even behind my back, because... Oh, no, i am becoming a self-obsessed ironic poet--'I's voice forced to speak unkewl shit against my will. Walking straight off the platform never to return. Slainte. Goodbye. Good luck. God bless. Grá agus síocháin. YNWA! 

 

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