Sitting in Michael's Lap
It's been a long time since I've felt the need to show my face in this forum (with the exception of an occasional reply to one of Christopher's tantrums LOL). For this, I have been exceedingly grateful; contrary to popular belief, I have no love of perpetuating controversy for its own sake.
As you might imagine, this respite has unfortunately come to an end.
Recently, Ron Carnell, the owner of this site and host to the thousands of daily visitors thereof, introduced a "novel" idea (no pun intended): why not pool the considerable talents of the many poets who visit this website to create a book of poetry? Better yet, why not allow the members of the site to choose the content of the book by voting for their favorite poems? Enter: the Voices on the Web project. Great idea, right...?
You will note that the above indicated voting for favorite "poems," not favorite "poets" -- were Ron interested in publishing an anthology of selected works of particular poets, I have no doubt that he would have indicated this in his description of the project. Unfortunately, it seems that the outcome of this project will be decided not so much by a show of talent as by a show of popularity.
If you have visited the forum dedicated to this project at all, you might have noticed that a few poets and/or poems have been garnering a great majority of the votes. You may also have noticed that in some cases (NOT all cases, flag-wavers take note), the number of replies (and one must assume votes) is, in all fairness, all out of proportion to the quality and poetic value of the poem in question. I believe it is no coincidence that in every case the author of the poem is one of our more "popular" poets -- that is, a poet who has many friends on the forums.
How does this happen? Well, admittedly, it can't ALL be popularity -- I have seen many excellent works by many of our "popular" poets fade into obscurity (read: off page one) within the first day -- so what's the difference? The answer, I think, can be summed up in three letters: "ICQ"
When I first got my ICQ set up, my list had about 20 people on it; while I thought this was too many (and have subsequently edited it accordingly), I have come to find out that 20 is a laughable minimum compared to the mammoth lists that many of our members boast. Is this, in itself, a bad thing? Not at all -- it's great if you can have that many friends and keep up with them all -- and in some cases, such as moderators, I can see the necessity of maintaining open lines of communication thusly. However, I think that ICQ is partly responsible for the sabotage of the Voices project, or at least the medium by which that sabotage is being carried out.
Let me give you an example: you sign on to your 100-member-list ICQ, and have about 20 URLs waiting for you from friends and fellow members of Passions (don't laugh -- this HAS happened). Suppose you read each and every one of these posts; some you like, some you -- well -- don't like. The "likes" are easy -- you reply, you vote -- case closed. But the "don't likes..?" Well, as I see it, you have three choices:
1) Grit your teeth, type a polite message to your friend explaining that this isn't the type of poetry YOU would expect to read in a reputable publication, and hope they don't know where you live to wreak their revenge.
2) Don't reply at all, in which case your friend will either a) keep sending you the URL until you DO reply, or b) become offended, in which case you may refer back to the outcome of choice 1)
3) Reply with pleasantly noncommital praise, vote for the poem, and burn in Poetry Hell with an eternal crisis of conscience.
But seriously, folks ... and I DO mean seriously, because I assure you that Ron DOES take this project seriously... voters: I would advise -- no, I would BEG -- you to exercise a little more discretion in voting .. you may have noticed that Ron has made it impossible for the author to check who voted for the poem and who didn't ... USE this to your advantage! You need not vote simply because you replied. Poets: I urge you to use a little discretion in both posting and URLing your poetry -- if it is truly a masterpiece (as it should be, if you are submitting it for publication), it will speak for itself -- you need not "market" it. Not to mention, a real "friend" would not put a "friend" on the spot like that.
Just my take. BTW, if anyone is even considering taking this as a protest on my part because of some lack of replies to MY work, rest assured that I would be more than happy to withdraw ALL of my submitted works from consideration if it will convince just one person to take this a bit more seriously. Nuff said.
YOUR LIFE IS A TEST
It is only a test ...
If this were your Actual Life, you would have been given better instructions!