ForGodot.com ruffles poetic feathers

Wow! This is a busy day for the blog. How many posts am I going to make today anyway?

This post was inspired by a developing story brought to me by my wife Tammy. First, she found this post on Atlanta poet Collin Kelley’s Modern Confessional blog: http://collinkelley.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-poem-at-forgodotcom.html.

It talks about an online “anthology” that is “publishing” poems by poets who are online from Jorie Graham to, well, Collin Kelley. Even some of my friends, such as Luc Simonic and Pris Campbell, are in this mega-nthology. There’s only one catch: None of the poems were actually written by the poets.

Anyway, Tammy also found some other blogs discussing this odd anthology:

From Amy King’s Alias blog: http://amyking.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/the-author-resurrected/

From Reb Livingston’s Home-Schooled By a Cackling Jackal blog: http://cacklingjackal.blogspot.com/ (check out the October 5 post)

Also, to check out the source, go to: http://forgodot.com/.

(Really, you should check out the list of poets for the first issue. After a while, your eyes will start to cross–poetically, of course.)

*****

So, this is probably some kind of joke on poets and the universe, but does it make it right? I don’t consider myself an elitist or a prude or anything like that, but poets who are in the anthology AND upset do have a legitimate gripe. For one, the poems aren’t funny (if that was even the intent). And second, people who may be searching out a poet’s work and find these horrible poems online may write off that particular poet as someone the potential reader no longer wants to read.

This site is NOT an obvious satire, and so poets could very easily be victimized by the misrepresentation of their work. This is especially damaging to lesser known poets–and, yes, there are a lot of them in the first issue.

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9 thoughts on “ForGodot.com ruffles poetic feathers

  1. Steve LaVoie

    Well I promised I would not comment on this post anymore and let bygones be bygones, but I saw Amy’s post and was curious as to why this guy would call poets b*******. so I looked at the blog and saw this:

    "Art is a toy.
    Art has no dignity. Art warrants no respect."

    I mean wow, just…wow. Pure ignorance if you ask me. I apologize to the editors at forgodot.com, this "jack" guy is a whole lot worse. I may only consider myself just a poet, not an artist but I know what art can do, how it moves people and has moved people for centuries. To say it warrants no respect is just plain ignorant. And since when have poets been egotistical? The only people I have met in my life who have inflated egos aren’t poets.

  2. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Of course, you all know me. I’m an activist and I have a big mouth. So even though the issue was taken down, I did take offense to one poster who referred to poets as "bastards."

    So I posted, and I don’t particularly care who thinks I should not have! Here it is:
    —————————————-

    From what I understand, you were falsely attributing work to poets who did not actually write it.

    That’s tacky at best and artistically reprehensible at worst. Please don’t do things like this and expect people not to react.

    This is art, not a toy. And Jack, I’m sorry, dear, you sound like you have no stake in this whatsoever. If you are a poet, you show an astonishing lack of respect. If you’re not, you are entitled to your opinion, but please don’t paint us all with the same brush.

    I’m a pastor’s wife, not a b******. I would appreciate your remembering that folks come from all walks of life before you blather on!

    Thank you. poetmomskas

  3. Paige

    This has been going on for a few days already and in my opinion is, this is a hacker situation. It will generate plenty of clicks and links that will count and jack it up in the search pages. Even if clickers don’t actually read anything. Y’all know the old saying any publicity is good publicity.
    I trust in the readers and lovers of poetry, that they have better sense then to even think these writings are real poems. They look as though they are computer-generated; where nouns, adjectives etc. were plugged in and the resulting sentences spilled out.
    And even my own comment here will peg it up the ladder on search engines.

    Plain and simple it is a hack job to irritate poets and create havoc. So far it is working well.

  4. Steve LaVoie

    Yea I will admit Evan has a good point about someone probably not scouring the whole 4000 pager to find a 5-line poem by a particular author. So maybe it won’t be as ruinous to new poets as I thought I still would rather have them use fake names though. Or maybe I’m not in on the joke either, I mean we all know bad poetry is out there and we all have written at least a few duds so don’t see the point of taking all the time to write 4000 pages of intentionally crappy poetry.

  5. Evan J. Peterson

    Shucks, JL, thanks for the shout-out. I see it all as harmless lampooning. If someone is curious about seeing more of my work and goes so far as to look me up on the net, I doubt they’d wait for this whole thing to download, then scour it for the poem attributed to me. Who would believe that an anthology of nearly 4000 poets, including names like "Hermit-Sage Tradition," could be real? And who, knowing anything about my work, could believe that I wrote this particular poem?

    So yes, I lampooned them right back by posting my dramatic reading of the poem. I hope they download it and use it in the project.

  6. S.E.Ingraham

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite cut it, does it? Of course the idea of the thing is genius, but we have no Jonathan Swifts lurking here; anyone can take a huge list of poets and generate doggerel and attribute it to them as a publicity stunt. Yawn – it might be more fun if it was well done, but well – it just doesn’t seem to be. Maybe it’s just me, too cynical and jaded.This reminds me more of frat boy antics than anything of substance – as in, I believe I’ll have another beeras opposed to say, a scholar, a gentleman and a judge of fine whiskey. There, I’ve had my rant and now I feel better.
    nsaynne

  7. JL Smither

    I dunno… Maybe I’d feel different if I was included (but let’s be honest, I’d probably just be excited for the Google Alert!), but it just seems kind of funny. There’s no doubt at this point that it’s anything but a fake, and ForGodot has certainly received a lot of free publicity from it. Some of the "included" poets have been able to make a joke out of it while simultaneously scoring some free publicity of their own, such as my dear friend Evan J. Peterson who has actually made a recording of himself reading the poem attributed to him (http://poemocracy.blogspot.com/). Seems like a sense of humor will always win out.

  8. Steve LaVoie

    I don’t think this is anything near satire. It’s more of a big middle finger to those of us who want to legitimately use the Internet to get our work out there and read. Ok maybe I am exaggerating just a little. I would actually be ok with someone putting out intentionally crappy anthologies if they wanted to but I think using legit poets names takes it too far.

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