Sunday, August 24, 2008

Laughing on the outside: Why you won't be submitting to Cider Press Review

Some turf wars are not worth fighting.

Read this, small press owners, and beware. Writers don't have to take your shit.

Word up, Stacey. I don't even know you, but that shit is gangster.

EDIT: DIZZAM. The shite-storm is in full effect. Every poet blogger I know is up in arms. (Rightfully so.)

Might I suggest:

--To the editor(s) of Cider Press Review: Your press is about to die a very inglorious death unless you make this right...AND FAST.

--To the outraged: Channel some of that rage where it belongs: Write to the editor.


Bill Knott said...

. . . most of the comments responding to Brown on her site are commiserating with her, and saluting her bravery in exposing this nonsense——

but none are slamming his honor the Hoagland who bops in to these contests and does his ten minute stint as “judge” and then scoots off with another tick on his resume, another notch on his reputation, who doesn’t give a damn if it’s a scam, he doesn’t care if the process is fair and the press treats its poets properly, all he cares about is cashing that fee and that boost to his ego . . .
Hoagland is a Po-Biz whore who will obviously sell his ass out as a “judge” at every opportunity legitimate or ill- . . .

if you’re going to condemn the presses, you must also censure the “judges” of these contests: they’re part of the scam . . . they don’t give a damn about what happens after they take their money and run . . . Hoagland is as much to blame here as Cider is.

Rich said...

Hey Bill. I'm a big fan.

At this point, I'm sure someone has forwarded this stuff to Tony Hoagland, as well as to this year's judge, Lucille Clifton. I hope so, anyway.

In all fairness to Hoagland (who, truth be told, is not one of my favorite poets either), there may not have been any way for him to know about Cider's alleged activities previous to this fiasco. If there was a gag order issued on the previous year's winner, that is. Though I do wonder what went through his mind when Cider called him up to tell him the runner-up had been given the prize.

That said, I do think judges have a responsibility to research the organizations they're putting their names to. I also think that too many judges go into these contests with agendas, people they want to push, aesthetics they wish to champion. Another side to this has nothing to do with the judge: what about the underlings who "vet" the manuscripts for a given judge? Sometimes the judge thinks he's been given the best, but really hasn't...or isn't interested in finding out. So much drama, largely unnecessary. For this, struggling presses should stick to open reading periods, reading fees...or better yet, actually having a ethical business plan that makes money.

Bottom line: contests are fundraisers, by and large. Largely random, mostly vain. They're fun for the people that run them, but torture for everyone else. Frankly, I think the only book awards these days worth any salt are the ones put out to recognize poets who might have historically gotten the shaft from the po-biz. And even those can be problematic: this year, Clarence Major opted NOT to award the 2008 Cave Canem book prize, which to me is mind-boggling.

Bill Knott said...

all these "judges" like Hoagland know it's a scam, a racket,——

but they all want that extra line on their CV,——

not to mention that cash fee for the backbreaking effort of eenymeenymineymowing through 3 or 4 finalist book mss,——

they all want their NAMES on the ads and the bookjacket,

because they know that in PO-BIZ the more your name is featured thus, the more successful you are . . .

there needs to be a code of ethics for these "judges"——

but maybe i'm just sourgrapes because my books were rejected by so many contests and judges (you can see scans of some of these rejection notices on my blog) . . .

Rich said...

I've seen the scans. I actually followed your blog with some aplomb before it disappeared! Any chance those old posts might come back, or have they been assigned to history's dustbin?

I can't disagree: the book prizes definitely add to the judge's CV, not to mention their pocketbooks. I've seen multiple cases where judges are literally making an effort to make ends meet, so I can't completely dismiss them, but I definitely see your point.

It's a struggle to get around the whole "biz" part, and get to the "po" of it all. Stories like this don't make it easier, but I'm sure trying.

Marsupialus said...

Oh, my. We vilify Cider Press as if Ms. Stacey Brown's narrative is the definitive truth of events. Maybe a little less quick to judge. Maybe we should get the publisher's side of this.

And the attacks on Hoagland, if it's from the real Bill Knott, it's beneath you. Professional jealousy? Frustration with the system? C'mon man.

Rich said...


Actually, I did get the publisher's side of events. For reasons that are quite understandable from the press' point of view, there were some questions they chose to leave unanswered. I also talked to Stacey Brown about it. Based on the assessment I had, from both POV's, I believe Stacey is rightfully upset. She's no nut.

In sum, I don't form opinions based on one side of the story. (Maybe you're a little quick to judge? Food for thought.) Either way, I'm not afraid to express a definitive opinion.

As for Hoagland, I can't speak to Bill's jealousies, professional or otherwise. Perhaps you could ask him that yourself over on Bill's blog. I suspect it's the real Knott.

For me, when I say that Hoagland is not one of my favorite poets, it's because his content often offends me, despite his attempts at thought-provoking. That, and craft-wise, I think he gets a little lazy at times. Again, strictly an opinion.