Now then. Don't get it twisted. When it comes to erasing the margins, I'm down to bust a couple of metaphorical windows, burn some shit down. Politeness never got us anywhere, as June Jordan eloquently reminds us.
I've heard tell of Black and Latino writers being reticent to submit their work to certain journals and anthologies, because they represent something of an insidious system...a bell hooks-ian white supremacist kind of system. Of course, who am I to disagree with bell hooks? Hell, anyone who's seen "Sicko" can attest to the fact that the good-ol-boy structure is definitely alive and well. But what's the proper response to a system that spits us out? Do we threaten to burn down the academy until they put some Black people on the wall? Do we boycott the Oscars until they give Pedro Infante a lifetime achievement award?
OR...am I Black enough/Latino enough/Chicano enough, to complain on your behalf? (Now THAT would be an interesting argument, wouldn't it?)
Here's the bottom line, as I see it. When you write well enough to be noticed, when you build the proper coalitions on your own, and when you create for yourself a voice...one that is undeniable and unassailable...YOU become the institution.
It all comes down to what institution you want to fight, and what particular mission that institution entails. A publication like Poetry has a pretty broad mission, I'd say. I mean it's right in the title: poetry. Big concept, but not without risks. The question for the poet is this: How much more legitimacy would the institution lose if it didn't publish/recognize YOU? In the long run, can Poetry afford to pass you up? Imagine if an entity like Poetry had left out Gwendolyn Brooks. You could safely use it for toilet paper. If the same can be said about your work twenty years from now, who then has the power to legitimize and de-legitimize? The answer, o seeker of power, is you.
Poets: Do the right thing. SUBMIT YOUR DAMN WORK. Don't let somebody tell you that your shit is no good for "a certain kind" of magazine. Cultivate that voice. Write your shit down. Show them who you are, by making them read your work...or making them trash it...at their own peril.