(Revised)/ Well, here goes. It’s Saturday and I’m going to designate Saturday as a good day to clean house.
I’ve knocked myself out to be a good moderator of a sizable group of poets on a networking site. This past week I wrestled with the issue of posting poems or the titles of poems as links that make direct reference to suicide on the general comment wall. Ultimately I started a thread for such work with a content warning at the top and asked the writers in question to post there.
Four or five days later: two writers have left the group, and I have been accused of censorship.
I have confidence in my own judgment and I stand by my decision. Moderating a group of now over 230 women takes at least an hour and a half every day which I put in as a labor of love.
Next, I knocked myself out reviewing a new collection of poetry on my blog–the work of a woman who has been friend, encourager and now brought out what she refers to as her “debut” collection. I believe that my review is fair and that the responsibility for the inconsistent quality of said book and that the title– Neruda’s Memoirs— is inappropriate for a novice poet, perhaps for any poet but Neruda himself. I stand by this review and alas, our friendship is now, at best, in hibernation.
There are several things emergent for me in all of this. All of the nose-bumping and high-fiving in the internet bunny patch is well and good but maybe we’re all being too bloody nice to each other and we all need to get some backbone. It does get a little sickening– “Oh, I just loved your line about the teapot.” “And I loved yours about the plumber’s helper.”
I wonder how many times a day those of us schmoozing online are merely trying to “build platform” and selling ourselves out. If we put ourselves out there, don’t we want people to be honest? Am I not doing a disservice to another writer if I am mum about what I feel– how do we all improve if not by each other’s feedback? And why do groups have moderators if content issues on a given thread or site don’t arise?
These endeavors are everyone’s platform and I’m not out to get anybody. I’m out to feel safe in expressing how I really feel though, without being dissed, abandoned, or pushed away.
Perhaps that’s too much to ask even from adult women writers.