Member Rara Avis
Leaving them wondering whether their work is allowed or not for days on end is totally counter productive and will only serve to raise further animosity between them and the mods.
Many of the decisions to pull a thread are made within an hour, and certainly most are made within a day. That yours often take longer to decide, Peter, is a testament to the fine line you try to walk. There were 29 comments and different viewpoints offered on your latest poem, Stalker, before it was pulled. We can be fast or we can be fair, but it's pretty hard to be both.
The problem we face is that violence is sometimes a legitimate literary tool and sometimes it's just sensationalistic titillation. When we find a poem that relies heavily on violence for its effect, we look very hard for the former, a search that necessarily takes time. You wrote back to us and said: "'Stalker' was a poem about someone being stalked but there being a guardian who watched over them and protected them." That may well have been your intent, but that was not what you wrote. You wrote about an attack, a counter-attack, flashing knives, screams, gun shots, and blood that paints the walls. The violence couldn't be used to characterize the stalker, from which you drew the poem's title, because you made no effort at all to show the reader anything at all about him. He's just a cardboard puppet, with no motivation. The violence doesn't reveal the victim's fear to us, because the victim shows only marginally more depth than the stalker. The poem is written from the viewpoint of the protector, but the violence touches him only in the sense of his retaliation, itself a questionably criminal act. Stalking, if that was what this poem was about, isn't a capital punishment. Take out all of the blood and guts from this poem, Peter, and what do you have left? Does the violence support a meaningful theme? Or does the theme exist solely to justify the violence? Those are the questions our Moderator team have been asking themselves.
Would we pull a poem if someone wanted to reflect on a car crash they had experienced? If the entire poem was about shattered glass, twisting metal, broken bones and bloody lacerations, yes, we would pull it. If it was about fear and pain and recriminations, the event would be secondary to the people and the emotions. I'm not going to tell you how to write poetry, Peter, because heaven knows I'm not qualified, but if you continue to focus on violent events without providing deeper insight into people and emotions, you're going to be walking a fine line that will inevitably result in poems being pulled. If you have to explain to a fairly large group of fairly experienced readers that diving into an empty swimming pool headfirst is a metaphor for not giving up, then I'm sorry, but your poem has failed. Poetry must stand on its own merit, without explanations, and especially without explanations that make little more sense than did the poem. Killing yourself is a poor choice of metaphor for any reader facing depression and a slap in the face for the thousands who really do commit suicide every year.
I honestly believe, Peter, that your intent is good and you really are trying to write something with depth. If I didn't believe that, the warnings you've received would have been much harsher, because these forums will never be a place for sensationalistic titillation. Contrary to your inferences, our Guidelines don't exist to protect the kiddies, but rather to shield all of us with reasonable sensibilities and good taste. These forums were formed four years ago largely to escape the sensationalism we kept running across everywhere else. Violence for the sake of violence doesn't sell well here.
Again, I don't think that was your intent. But if you insist on using blood and guts in your work, you're going to have to dig a whole lot deeper as a writer to make it work. I honestly don't know very many writers, including myself, with the experience and skill to write about vivid, graphical violence and not allow that to become the theme of the poem. Certainly not in twenty lines or less. I commend your intent to write something with depth. But I caution you that horrific violence will leave you no room for failure in these forums.
Blood and guts, without evidence of very strong redeeming value, will continue to be pulled.