Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bye bye, Blackbird

Funny, having been a denizen of blogland lo these many years and published in net reviews coming out of places as far-flung as Berlin, London, Geneva and Santa Fe, I've come to assume that pretty well any internet journal that did not expressly state otherwise was open to writers from the world over. Well, welcome to Blackbird. Certainly one of the handsomest and most distinguished literary journals on the net, this one claims at least to have excellence as its sole criterion. But looking through the poets it's published over the last three biannual issues, virtually all -- about sixty in total -- are American. I've never seen anyone not from the US publish there. Hard to believe that there haven't been plenty of good submissions from other places. (Indeed, impossible -- yours truly was turned back a couple of years ago. Not that I mind. No, really...OK, a bit.) Anyway, the pattern is clear, and I rather doubt I'll go through the effort of perpetuating it again.


P.S. I just sent this post to the editors of said review, with the letter below (they do invite reader feedback). It will be interesting to see if I get a response.

Dear editors,

I just wrote the post below on my literary blog, Out of the Woodwork. I wonder if you would care to refute it? Is it because of the complexities of international payment that you don't have more international representation on your web pages? If so, why not just say so -- or say that you publish the best in American writing? Anyway, I do respect much of the content of your review, despite the rather huffy tone of my post.

Sincerely, from Canada,

Brian Campbell

15 comments:

Andrew Shields said...

"Good on you, Brian!" says this American, pretending to be Australian, though he lives in Switzerland (which some people think is right next to Australia, whose capital, they think, is Vienna).

Brian Campbell said...

Thanks for the Aussi ex-pat encouragement.

I was also under a distinct impression that this review was an almost exclusive showcase for American MFA graduates and professor poets, but a quick peek-through of bios of 32 poets published in the last two issues revealed a more varied profile: 10 MFA graduates, 8 professors (English or Creative Writing, some of whom also had MFA's), 4 who had received major awards (whose academic quals. were not described), one editor of a major review, two who taught creative writing in smaller colleges or libraries (hey, that could be me -- at least a few hours of my life)and 5 who, apparently, had only (only) published books or in other magazines. (I'm not sure why, but the sociology of this review interests me this evening.) One poet in the bunch was American, but like you had been an ex-pat for many years; indeed, she lives in a country right beside the one you inhabit -- New Zealand. ;-)

Brian Campbell said...

... I should say 4 who taught in major colleges or libraries.

Anne said...

This is kind of off-topic but I was wondering if anyone has access to Yehuda Amichai's "Concrete Poem"? I am trying to track it down and cannot seem to figure out where it is published.

Thanks!
AB

Brian Campbell said...

Sorry, Anne, can't help you there.

Andrew Shields said...

Sorry, my comment was apparently confusing: I live in Switzerland, but was pretending to be Australian by saying "good on you, mate," which I have never heard anyone say who was not either from Australia or ironically quoting Aussies! :-)

Brian Campbell said...

I know you live in Switzerland. You're largely responsible for the frequency of Swiss hits on my site meter. I was just playing along with your joke. See the emoticon? Wink wink... ;-)

Andrew Shields said...

I'm just a bit slow sometimes. :-)

R. W. Watkins said...

I've often gotten the dark feeling over the years that the Number One modus operandi behind the acceptance of my poetry submissions in the U.S. is the fact that I am, for the most part, an 'outsider at home'--someone atypical of the Canadian literary experience. American editors seem particularly interested in anything by me that Canadian editors have adamantly turned down.

For example, my latest offering to be found online is the 'Jenseits von Gut und Bose' ghazal at the resurrected online version of the legendary beatzine Evergreen Review. Online or in print format, this poem would not have had a prayer in politically correct, apolitical Canada.

Brian Campbell said...

I'll have to look at that review. Other edgy American online reviews that would be highly unlikely flowerings out of Canadian soil are Exquisite Corpse, Shampoo, Drowning Boat, and Can we have our ball back? (even their names suggest a certain funkiness that is notably absent up here). Drowning Boat is more academic, however, devoted to "avant guard", and Shampoo and EC have their own annoying sense of cool. The closest Canadian equivalents to these, come to think of it, have been What magazine (defunct) and Rampike (status uncertain). Blackbird is kind of like Exile or Descant, tres distingue -- because I'm so politically correct myself, excuse me, please, I'm sorry, I beg to differ sometimes, let me apologize, I thought it might be an impressive place to have a byline or two.

Brian Campbell said...

I looked at the review, and read your poem. The review looks interesting, and the poem is certainly very good. Tight, disciplined, ascerbic, incisive par excellence. The only Canadian review I can clearly imagine it in is Exile (if you can stomach their self-important submission guidelines.) Pls. excuse a tiny twinky twinky editorial comment: seems to me a semicolon rather than a comma would serve better in that final line. Just a little dot above that comma. *ping!*. Out of curiosity, what does that German title mean?

R. W. Watkins said...

Hmmm...I think a comma's as good as a semicolon in this case. Somewhat torn between the two, I remember 'drawing the comma out of a hat', so to speak. 'Der' ('Der Ubermensch') was supposed to be italicised as well, by the way. 'Jenseits von Gut und Bose' is the original German/Deutsch title of Nietzsche's Beyond Good & Evil.

Brian Campbell said...

Well strickly speakin', a semi-colon is used, among other things, to link two closely related independent clauses not connected by a coordinating conjunction as in,

Some people write with a word processor; others write with a pen or pencil.

(I filched this from a grammar site, one of the first that came up when I googled semi-colon use.)

Seems your last line is structured like that, and you employ semi-colons elsewhere in the poem like that. Semi-colon use, though, has declined somewhat in recent years; indeed, global warming (social cooling?) is causing a precipitous decline in numbers of both semi-colons and commas.

Have you ever taken a comma and increased its font size to say, 78? It looks just like a dolphin leaping out of water. Dolphins are also on decline, except in captivity. That would suggest semi-colons should doing better, since blown up to that size they look like a dolphin bouncing a ball over their heads (semi-colons could therefore be thought of as commas in captivity). Unfortunately, however, that doesn't seem to be the case.

R. W. Watkins said...

That's a nice poetic image--the dolpins and commas and seals and semicolons. I think there's at least a haiku or tanka lurking in those comparative thoughts somewhere....

Brian Campbell said...

Put a tiger in your tanka -- or rather, a dolphin. Funny, I was thinking of writing a mock-epic. Anyway, I'll see what poetik use I can put to these...