RALPH Poetry,
Cheese and Rat Turds

Dear Allworthy,

I get it now --- you're people who've been turned down for grants or been rejected by what you perceive to be mainstream magazines (how can there be mainstream poetry in a country where nobody reads poetry I do not know). But what will you do when one of you does get a grant, or has a poem accepted by The New Yorker (the horror!)?

A certain paranoid grouchiness on the part of your editor leads me to suspect that this is a political/financial rather than purely aesthetic matter, and so I'd like to inform you that --- partly as a direct result of my own devotion to poetry --- I have spent my entire adult life in a condition of direst and near-dire poverty, in spite of a few awards and grants and numerous publications, and have never been a part of the academic creative writing establishment.

This is why I was puzzled (if somewhat flattered as well) when I was singled out. I think you ought to pick somebody who deserves it, if you can find such a person among published American poets --- I suppose they exist, though I don't think anyone takes them very seriously.

Anyway, best wishes & good luck. Poetry is written in solitude and discovered in solitude --- what else is there?

--- Franz Wright

Our poetry editor responds:

We are uneasy with the charge that we are singling out Mr. Wright for cruel criticism. He is a well-respected poet, and his writing --- firmly within the tradition of late-twentieth century American poetry --- is nothing to be ashamed of.

However, we have long held that the role of poetry should be more, much more, than just a mood-piece. We look with especial favor on poets who shake readers to their roots --- Lord Byron, Alan Ginsburg, Alexander Pope, Manuel de Cabral, T. S. Eliot, Roy Fuller, and Joseph Brodsky.

Of the less well known, many of whom have appeared on the pages of RALPH, we point to Franz Werfel, Wilfred McCorkle, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Kate Gale, Cheryl Savageau, Lionel Rugama, Len Roberts, Mohammed A. Bamyeh, H. F. Reid, Aquiles Nazoa, Javier Heraud, Witold Gombrowicz, Wislawa Szymborska, Terry Wolverton, Hanan Mikha'il 'Ashrawi, Gary Soto, Carolyn Creedon, Marlene Joyce Pearson, and Angel Pérez.

These poets, it seems to us, want to be damn sure that the reader is jolted --- sometimes jolted to the core --- by their sometimes harsh, sometimes bitter, sometimes loving, often comic words.

For a sampling of what we feel is the best of classical and contemporary poetry, readers are invited to go to our General Index to view the poems we have featured over the last eight years.

In addition, we have previously published extended discussion of a few American establishment poets. We believe our take on contemporary American poetry is reflected in these reviews:

Go to Mr. Wright's original response to our review

Go to the original review that started this discussion


How fitting your email is poo.

Read The Fountainhead some time. You are like that.

I could not believe that review of the Mount Rushmore sculptor.

What's wrong with you?

--- Steven E. Romer

Go to the review in question


I'm sorry to bother you but looking around the site did not see specs for submitting poetry. Do you have requirements on length, quantity, style, topic?

I love the tone of the website, smart but not smart-ass. Or not too. And the mission. Keep up the good work.

Maria D. Laso Elders

Our editor replies:

We can't use anything over fifty lines [and] we are especially interested in good translations. If it's from German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, or French --- we put up the original and the translation.

Unfortunately, all we pay is free books: first off, a collection of poetry from our parent magazine, "The Fessenden Review," called A Cricket in the Telephone (At Sunset). Then for reviewers, other books of poetry that come our way.

Ms. Laso Elders replies:

Thank you. Modestly, I think I can hold my own against moldy cheese and mouse turds.

Go to our cheese-&-turds poetry