Friday, June 12, 2015


(As explained in the headnote to the blog posted earlier today, I shared Benjamin Hollander's response to CA Conrad's essay because it appeared the HARRIET blog was not going to provide him space and because it invoked some of my own work. I heard from Conrad immediately, and the following exchange ensued.)


To Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Benjamin Hollander, and Joseph Thomas, this is in the end a conversation about preference. And preference evolves out of experiences, often, whether those experiences were learned as a younger person, etc. To not like genocide, nor those who espouse it as Whitman so openly did is something I PREFER to not have in my life. Yes, when reading Whitman’s poems ever after reading his psychopathic racist prose I was YES filtering the poems through the prose. Why? Because the prose was straightforward accounts of the man’s thinking out loud. And Whitman DID WRITE POEMS THAT WANTED TO APPEAR ENLIGHTENED! So to accuse me of being Victorian is rather laughable since it was not ME who wanted Whitman to write enlightened poems, it was WHITMAN who wanted to write them. But they were lies. I am NOT Art Macho. I am NOT someone who says, “I don’t care if there is racism in my art!” “I don’t care if there is homophobia in my art!” I care. We are different, obviously.


Yes, we are different, though probably not in the way your final sentences suggest. Nobody here has said anything remotely like "I don't care if there is racism in my art." You may prefer to pretend that is the issue. I prefer not to.


You telling me that I PRETEND is stupid. Plain stupid. There is a show of masculinity to this whole bullshit of you publishing this. You and Hollander are the kinds of men who act like poetry is too feminine, too WEAK, and that we need to be rigorous and separate men from their poems. It's tedious. It's centuries of tedium, that kind of behavior. Aldon Lynn Nielsen


By the way I LIKE that we differ. I prefer it if you are the kinds of men you are showing yourselves to be.


Wow -- so now I am stupid, engaging in masculine display, a bullshitter who acts like poetry is too weak, that men are to be separated from their poems, AND I'm tedious. I'll leave it to people who read my work to decide if your description of me matches their own estimation. I guess I do prefer to be the kind of person I show myself to be. Even when answering you.



I'm not taking shit from asshole men!

(It appears that Conrad has been invited to the reconstituted Berkeley conference on poetry to share his wisdom on matters of race and poetry. Wish I could be there. For the interesting grammar if nothing else ["To not like genocide, nor those who espouse it as Whitman so openly did is something I PREFER to not have in my life." Somebody please explain to him.])

1 comment:

Kim Dorman said...

Unfortunately, Conrad doesn't really respond to Hollander's
critique, but instead resorts to ad hominem attacks on Nielsen.