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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.'
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.
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!