Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One Last Joaquin Aftershock

This, by email, today:

Mr. Selinger, I debated responding to your email, but since I'm in a more
relaxed environment, vacationing for the first time in five years, with
friends and family in Seattle, I thought I would at least acknowledge your
say, but please let's make it clear that this is not an invitation to a
conversation or a debate and that any and all emails or comments from you
will be left unread and duly deleted. I never wish to hear from or about
you after this. And boy, do I have a long memory, so please, never come up
to me and introduce yourself.


You do not need to apologize to me or anyone else because apologies do not
suffice. The damage has been done, the anger has been generated, the
memory of one ignorant critic enabled by one inept editor has been set in
stone. However, you will recover, you will survive and thrive in whatever
field you pursue, I trust. You seem young enough. The rest of us old
horses, and I do mean Aragon and myself, will probably never change our
errant ways.

If anything, be careful who you associate yourself with in the future.
What might look like the shining glimmer of a connection might result the
fool's gold of a dead lead.

[I've added the link, in case you want to get to know his thoughts on Chicano poetry and related topics. I suspect I won't be writing much about him now myself!]

So what do you think of this email, folks? This part, especially: "I never wish to hear from or about you after this. And boy, do I have a long memory, so please, never come up to me and introduce yourself."

Do I feel this way about anyone? Maybe one--but there are years behind that, and I'm not proud of the feeling. Am I proud of not feeling this way about anyone? No--more reminded of my good luck.

So, how not to brood over this for the next few days? Let's think the best of it, in manner of my grandmother, perhaps. Maybe the "never introduce yourself" is meant to keep me from trying to suck up to him or curry favor, as a rising poet or grad student might, rather than simply as a slap in the face. And at my age, it's nice to be thought of as young.

Hmmm... That's all the spin I can think of so far. Let me know if you come up with more.

In the mean time, Lord, please continue to spare me insults too deep for apologies and memories set in stone.


Laura Vivanco said...

There are lots of politicians whom I would never wish to hear from and whom I'd very much rather didn't come up to me to introduce themselves. I've never met them in person, but I know their opinions from what they've written/said and so I know that any personal interaction with them would be unpleasant for both of us.

I wonder if that's similar to how Rigoberto feels? It doesn't seem like a totally unlikely possibility, because from what I read of your essay, it did seem as though there's a political element to the poems, so your opinions on them could have been taken as political, in a way.

Mark Scroggins said...

Well, at the moment I can think of *one* poet-critic whom I view with pretty unmitigated savage indignation, but that's already beginning to fade into a kind of wistful but disgusted pity. I find this whole e-mail, frankly, kind of bizarre and aggressive on a Franz Wright level. You've already, it's true, confessed your own "ignorance" -- indeed, that was one of the enabling givens of the original essay -- but to call Herb Leibowitz "inept" strikes me as just plain Martian.

And what do you, sir, make of the fairy-tale proposed in the last paragraph? What is the god-blessed world is he talking about??

E. M. Selinger said...

Thanks for the comments, Laura & Mark. I'm feeling better already.

I think the editor he means isn't Leibowitz so much as Francisco Aragon, the editor of the Latino Poetry Review who reprinted the piece. Maybe he means both--but that seems to be the person he's warning me against associating myself with in the future. (Which I plan to do, natch, fool's gold or no!)

Danielle Mari said...

Oh MY oh my. How did I miss this post!?!? Wow. You know, as a director, I have received some pretty horrible criticisms from local press. My favorite bad comment equated my production to being "like picking a hangnail." Ouch! But I decided to subscribe to my Grandpa's notion that "it doesn't matter what they say about you, so long as they spell your name right." This poor man could do well to take this advise and not take anything so personally ever again.

Bitter? Party of one? Your table is ready!

Keep on keeping on, Eric. At least you inspired passion... not matter which brand.