Friday, May 14, 2010

I spent the afternoon gathering evidence proving No Tells', the authors' and my own legitimacy. This isn't the first time I've had to do so. Every so often somebody's livelihood depends on it. These situations tend to boil down to "So-in-so who holds my future in his sweaty palm says [insert poetry project] doesn't count because No Tell/Reb isn't legitimate because a) online, b) pod, c) micropress, d) not a contest (?!?!!!!), e) not affiliated with _____ f) Reb is total freakbutt, etc. If I don't make a convincing counter-argument, my career will be tug jobs in the B&N bathroom."

I know the game pretty well and as it turns out No Tell, the authors and I look pretty damn fine on paper. Like centerfold-bringing-a-tasty-milkshake-to-the-yard fine. We got enough of the grants, awards, nods by the right folks, mentions and reviews in the right places, the fancypant publications, all the bells and whistles. Yee-haw. Not that the people making these judgments really know anything about what any of that means. All they know is that they heard of the NAME and it's supposed to be prestigious or important. That's all they really want to know anyhow.

It's never: "I know the work and believe it to be shitty."

It's always: "They're doing it wrong."

No, not about the work, it's appearances that count.

This is why I have never applied for a single academic position and plan to never ever do so.

I really respect those who love and truly care about teaching, but I think artists pay a very high price to teach in an academic setting. Or at least a lot them seem to do from my vantage.


  1. I pay quite a price for teaching high school.

  2. I taught junior high and high school, but I stopped paying ....

  3. Maybe put it all in a paragraph on the "About" page at No Tell Books? That way if anyone ever asks again, you can refer (most likely) him or her there.

  4. Well, most of that information can already be found in the author bios and on the book pages, which is on the website. The purpose of the site isn't to prove legitimacy--it's to provide information about the books and authors. I find this all very off-putting and it's not how I want to present the press (like we have something to prove, we prove ourselves with our books), but I certainly send along information to help people get tenure, jobs, etc. Perhaps I'll keep a file on my laptop that I can just forward along when the next need comes along.

  5. Reb, I think keeping it in a file for future use (since you KNOW you're going to need it again) is a good idea.

    I totally get your frustration. The whole idea of legitimate vs. not strikes me as bunk...I mean, who says? Seems very unAmerican, the idea of some academy offering sanction...makes me want to drop my drawers and tell them to kiss my shiny butt.

  6. I'm generally in favor of freakbutts.

  7. I weary of defending quality pubs on the web.

    I just had to do that at the Poetry Society of Virginia Festival- the old biddies are so scared someone will steal their crappy poems

  8. I love you, Reb. I really do. In that gay best friend, let's go have a Cosmo and gossip about all the academic loonies type of way. :)