Who Decides?: An Addendum

*You ought to read “Who Decides?” first.

Relating that post to several other of my posts about rejection letters that I get, I want to add that this notion of power of problematic in the area of individual literary magazines and other publications. Shouldn’t an editor have the right to say what is “good” or “bad” for his or her magazine? Yes. What I am discussing about power in poetry (and in society) is a much larger cultural issue, the matter of where that editor gets his or her notion of what is good or bad? From what social structure did the editor get his ideas? From the Harold Bloom school of literature, from an MFA in Creative Writing, or from something more informal? Did that editor question what he or she was being taught in that institution, or just accept it?

Further, my post “Who Decides?” might come off like an anti-establishment rant by someone who is being rejected by the establishment. Bitterness. Maybe a little, but not entirely. (Would I question the powers-that-be if they liked my work? I don’t know, can’t answer that.) My questions come more from multicultural issues that arise in my teaching of high school students. I was never exposed to the kinds of modern poetry that I expose my students to — yes, I do teach the works of canonical modern poets — so I don’t know what my reaction might have been at their age.

No, I’m not for tearing down the gates for the sole purpose of getting myself in; I’m for asking the folks inside the gates to allow genuine questions about why the gates are closed.

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