I wrote the following comment originally for a Facebook thread about the thoughtless feedback poets so often get when posting their works on social media. If written by an unknown, a beautifully crafted and nuanced poem that in itself deserves real attention too often will get at best a cursory surface read. When the commenters write “good ink” or “brilliant write” under the poem, they may intend a kind pat on the back; but in reality they are making it all too clear that they put no effort into the poem and, therefore, got nothing substantial back from it.
There is a kind of sick fun in beating a dead horse. I think it has something to do with our all too human proclivity to imagine ourselves gods. Kicking the dead horse is the illusion of absolute mastery over a creature who cannot kick back. It is as foolish as the god complex itself. Regardless, I shall beat the dead horse before me by making one more comment on the topic here.
It seems to me the rub of the matter is that there are talented poets posting on FB who are tired of their work not being read with the attention those works deserve. Just like a pretty girl knows she is pretty, a talented poet knows he or she is talented. They know that they are true wordsmiths – clanking words against a red hot anvil in the back room, and then placing on the shelf a work deserving genuine consideration, maybe even a few “oohs” and “aahs.” The problem is that the people wandering up to the shelf are themselves amateur wordsmiths. They have their own red hot anvils in their own back rooms. Why should yours be any better than theirs? If we are all peddling our wares on the same shelves, then why presume one or two of us here are real masters whose works demand greater attention?
It is all a matter of perception, of course, like when Christ Jesus said that a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. The solution is clear enough: Get published in literary journals. Get a traditional publisher (not a vanity press) to publish your book of poems and to get that book on actual bookstore shelves. Get reviewed by people with a PhD after their already pretentious names.
In regards to Facebook, it may be worthwhile to have a page that posts poems only that have been reviewed by a group of moderators who actually have a clue what constitutes good poetry. This would be a page where poems are not actually posted for a week or two after they are submitted since it takes that long for the moderators to approve them. Post what has literary value, and do not post anguished, melodramatic, overdone shit.
Finally, I would add that no one who posts a poem on FB should ever have to face insulting or cruel comments. There is enough negativity in the real world. At the same time, we should not pretend that all poems are good. I once had an actor tell me that there is no such thing as bad writing. There is only writing. I turned to him and said that he certainly does not ascribe to that idea with respect to his own profession, for he would be the first to acknowledge that some actors are damned good, and most range from forgettable to God awful. Talent is not measured out equally like the soup poured out to the students in a cafeteria line. Thus, while I would never be cruel to someone who has posted a bad poem, I do not think it is kind to give them false hope with “good ink” and “brilliant write” comments. It is probably best to say nothing at all when the poem is glaringly poor, just as I do not subscribe to the silly feel good idea of handing everyone a trophy simply for participating.