• aoifelyall

A Cowardly Act

When I announced that I was going to use this blog to review 12 female poets this year I was given plenty of support and encouragement from writers, publishers, journals, and various groups on Facebook and Twitter.

Last night Clochoderick Press tweeted (Read clockwise from bottom left):

This is the DM (Direct Message) they sent to me on Twitter, after I requested data from them. They blocked me before I could reply. I have underlined and annotated in brackets the parts I take particular issue with.

Sorry to private message you, (Then why do it?)

I come in peace by the way. (That immediately dictates how I am expected to react to what you are going to say, and gives you a platform to retreat to should I ‘misinterpret’ what you say next. It is the equivalent of ‘With all due respect…’ or ‘No offence but…’

I can’t write enough on twitter. (So be more succinct)

You want data in regards to defining an under-represented writer (Yes, DATA- the ‘conclusive’ facts, figures and statistics you asked me for)?

It is those who have been shunned by mainstream industries. It is those who have to depend on small presses to get their work out there and read. Those who have the same literary talent as those in the mainstream industry but because they have not slept with the directors of such industries or shook someone’s hand in secret, will never have their work see the light of day from these arenas. You want data for a definition, that definition, I am afraid, which I can admit, can be argued until the end of days (Still waiting on that data…).

You were talking about statistics (A word I did not use) with your argument, about how women are under-represented regarding reviews. I wanted to know in which sector (which I should have explained). In the mainstream sector, with bigger publishing houses, this is the case. (Okay, now we are getting to a place where I could have engaged, clarified, perhaps opened up an interesting dialogue…just wait)

I do not see it though in the smaller presses, which run the majority of literature magazines (A statement devoid of any…you guessed it…statistics).

And in the UK the smaller presses, especially within poetry, are growing quite fast (Yes, I agree with this wholeheartedly).

Most of them all for equality, (as though it is some cute new fad) a good number of them run by women (What number? What % in 2017? What % 2000-2017? What % 1900-2017? And what is a good number?).

There are two females on my board, me being the only guy. (So not ‘males and females’ or ‘men and women’- ‘females’ and ‘guys’. Not two women on our board. I cannot find any information about this board online, and do not know if these two ‘females’ have seen this message, sent from the official Clochoderik Press Twitter account, by a ‘Robert’ who didn’t feel it important to include his last name.)

And, just take a look at who were publishing. (My focus is on the reviews, not the initial publishing.)

Women outnumber men. (And?)

So, If you are talking about the mainstream, well, why bother with them? (I never said that my focus was on the mainstream publishing- it is on reviews- yet the rest of his reply turns on this.)

It has been clear for decades they talk non sense, put authors on platforms they do not deserve (not all of them, but a damn good number of them) and most of them being male. Yes, I agree, the mainstream is male driven, but why bother with them? (REALLY?! So he both agrees with, and completely dismisses, the premise of my reviews while simultaneously mistaking the focus of my efforts.)

They are narcissistic anyway, as are most of the mainstream artistic industries, they are full of junk, for the most part. (How do such sentiments support or promote the arts at any level?)

What you are saying though undermines the efforts of small presses who are trying to balance everything out, who lookout for the best poetry and not the best gender (Because ‘best’ is an objective term, that is in no way influenced by time, place, circumstance, or gender politics?)

I am sorry, (No you are not; worse, you are trying to break it me gently) but by excluding men from reviews, do you not think you are just playing the same game as those who you condemn? (No. My goal is to help balance the ratios of reviews, the way small presses are, according to yourself, balancing the ratios of their publications. How can one support one thing without being seen to ‘exclude’ another? If my focus was BAME writers, would I be accused of ‘excluding’ white writers?)

Is Mslexia, a magazine for women only, one of the biggest circulating in the UK, not enough? (I do not feel that the discerning reader needs my commentary here…)

What if there was a male magazine, only for male poetry – there would be an outcry! (I feel it incumbent upon me to point out the historical accuracy of this statement most magazines published work by men for men until relatively recently. Also- I’m not talking about magazines or publishers. I’m STILL just talking about reviews.)

They would be sued into the middle of next century. (I am very much beginning to feel that this is no longer about my 12 reviews, and has not been for some time.)

I am on your side in regards to equality (It’s not a side because it is not an option), and it does you zero good to become pedantic with me, as in where does it get us? (So now this essay has descended into full rebuke mode with ‘zero good’… bearing in mind that this ‘pedantic’ comment derives from my request to see the Press’ data while I COMPILED my own, which was requested from me as above. Data which they clearly have no actual interest in seeing as I was blocked from contacting them via Twitter before I could reply- so clearly this conversation has gotten ‘us’ nowhere as I was given no right to redress.)

I was civil enough, (so not polite) in that you made a bold claim (What was bold about it?) which was statistically driven (I never mentioned statistics), and I wanted to see that data (but provide none of your own), that’s all! (The accusations and insults in this essay clearly state otherwise- particularly in this next section…)

I just disagree with a lot of how females go about trying to sort out this whole equality thing out, which, to be fair, really only rears its ugly head at the top of society where EVERYONE at that level is psychotic anywaytherefore why should we even care about them, any of them, men and women alike

(This just baffles me- the opposition and collusion, the us v. them, the ultimate why bother of it all- baffling)

Please don’t get mad at me, (see opening comment about coming in peace)

I am not the one who disagrees with equality – your choice though, (What is my choice? I actually have no idea what is meant by this. Equality? Asking for the same type of information that was asked of me?) but getting into silly tic tac argument should not be the way here. (Bearing in mind I asked for clarification re: the data being asked for, and asked for data that supported their MO as a press)

If you are serious about equality between all people (as opposed to equality between some people?), then understand when you exclude men (not support women), especially within the arts (why especially?), you are becoming the monster you are trying to fight, (At no point did I say anything about monsters, fighting etc.) that is all I am saying (No it is not…clearly). Happy new year, and for the love of all that is good, peace! (Which I could maybe understand if we had had an actual dialogue about any of this…)


As I have said, I do not know if this essay was sent with the consensus of all the editors but, as it was written to me in a private message by someone untraceable who then blocked me so I could not reply, it is a cowardly act the Press need to distance themselves from. A small independent press that claims to promote the under-represented writer, I simply can not see where this vitriol has come from and how it can possibly have a place in Scotland’s contemporary literary scene.

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