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Jeff Mason

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  Den Politics – Redux a.k.a., Den, and the Art of Politics
by Jeff Mason
Tuesday, January 06, 2004


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Recent poems by Jeff Mason
•  Catatonia
•  Beringia
•  Reparations
•  Purgatory
•  Catharsis
           >> View all 212

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Author's Den nor of anyone else. NOTE: My opinions will almost certainly differ from yours.




Dear Den Masters and Authors:

I have seen a number of instances of people on the Den being slammed for their political views; for freely expressing political and personal opinions. Just as someone can be slammed for a viewpoint; that person being slammed should still have the right to hold a viewpoint that is controversial and contentious. One of the base principles for the founding of a number of societies and countries is that of dissension. I do, indeed, have every right to disagree with you. You do, indeed, have every right to slam me for my disagreement. I respect that.

At the same time, we should not let prejudices and politics affect our feelings toward others, and I think that, in the past, and even currently, some people have allowed prejudices and politics to enter into their feelings toward fellow Den members. I think we should all consider ourselves beyond that point and we should realize what an incredible pool of talent we have on this Den.

Contests are just that: Contests; i.e., not necessarily judgments regarding level of talent; merely a judge's opinion of what he or she believes exhibits quality characteristics of authorship and creativity. Even in the best of worlds, objectivity often yields to some inherent form of subjectivity. Show me a single person who is completely objective, and I will show you a liar who is simply failing to admit that he or she holds some form of internal bias or prejudice; ever mild though it may be. We are all prejudiced, toward certain things: biased toward those we care about. That's called admiration, adulation, adoration, respect and, in its purest form, love.

I do understand that one of the issues at hand is the fact that there has been the appearance that Author's Den judges may not be judging in a fair and unbiased manner. I can simply state that Author's Den is no better or worse than any other place on the 'Net or in the poetic and journalistic worlds. Each place has its ups and downs; it's pluses and minuses; it's champions and detractors.

A quote from Walt Kelley, (copyright O.G.P.I and Marilyn White):

‘There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.’

As years passed, the final paragraph was reduced to “We have met the enemy and he is us,” ...believing as I do that we are all of us responsible for our myriad pollutions, public, private and political.”

End quote.

May we ALWAYS strive to learn from our mistakes, and to learn from one another.
May we ALWAYS be biased toward those we care about.
May we ALWAYS continue to freely express our opinions and viewpoints, and
May we ALWAYS have the right and the opportunity to disagree with one another.

What are you waiting for? Get back to WRITING!!

Respectfully,

Jeff Mason - opinionated, as always

Copyright . 2004 Jeff Mason


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Reviewed by C. McGovern-Bowen 7/1/2004
A point as relevant as ever. Thanks for this write.
Reviewed by Susan Sparks (Reader) 2/6/2004
I don't really care anything about the contests, but I agree wholeheartedly with the right to dissension. It's always a good thing to be able to speak your mind.
Reviewed by OnepoetGem *the Poetic Rapper 1/10/2004
the hell with politics and the horse it rode in on Jeff. When i say "THIS IS A ONE WAY CONVERSATION!" I don't want to hear a freaking thing from nobody. hahaha, but speak your mind anyway, I love being able to exert power this way. I'm practicing for a part in life where I have total control. What a freaking fantasy. Smack me back to reality man. haha. G
Reviewed by Jimmy Holder 1/9/2004
A good article Jeff Mason.
I like your winning poem and I share your viewpoint.
Truthfully, I suspect we live in vastly different Americas.
I have NOT read the replies below because I didn't want to bias my response.

But, we do agree we should all get back to the business of writing.

Yes, true, I have, my own agendas, and for good reasons.
True, I may use AD as an avenue to expose great riffs in my world Back America. I readily admit it. I shall continue this path, for it is not one I chose for myself, but must travel for the good of my "Black" peoples. I shall continue to use AD as "a" forum and expand out. I SUPPORT YOUR VIEW, FOR IT IS MINE. I have the right to speak my mind too, both in my poems, and in my articles. My view should be heard by white people WORLDWIDE, not just because white people started it, but because from great tragedy, mine, great lessons can be learned about who we really are, and who we pretend to be. I've heard from a well-respected author on AD that that's the way things are. No, that's the way we allow things to be. Sometimes, a shame really. Sometimes, an AVOIDABLE shame. I say to you, your article has already changed AD for the better.

Where you have many people you will have problems and prejudices along with cliques. Yes, its human nature. But, we should all be tolerant to the opinions of others. I am! With all that other stuff going on, I am here for one reason - good poetry and articles. No one has attacked me here on AD, even with my aggressive poems. They can read if they want to read. Fair? What's that? Haven't seen it in many years. Poetry is my relaxation and hobby. I hope AD continues to be a good place to exercise it! Peace!
Reviewed by Erin Kelly-Moen 1/9/2004
Honorably spoken, Jeff. :)
Reviewed by Sandra Corona 1/8/2004
Applause :)!
I write about 'things' absurd, unreal, funny, sad, heartbreaking, etc. merely to share these things with you all, to open myself to friends.
That phrase: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." is a lie!
Lies, words ... can be as deadly as the axe that murdered my son ... My daughter suggested Doug's fiancee' claim to be 'pregnant with Doug's child' to get Jeanine's 'other beau' to 'teach Doug a 'lesson'; perhaps the 'girls' didn't mean to get Doug killed ... but it happened anyway.
WHAT we say and HOW we say it can be as important as WHO we say it to.
Love you all!
:)Sandy
Reviewed by Brittany Renée 1/8/2004
A good commentary no doubt about it, but unfortunately, those who need to read this probably might not or they will and will not comment. Which is fine, but as some of us have been here for a while, we've come to see that AD has grown into a political bank. Reviews are no longer reviews. They are merely a status. Who has the most reviews? And whoever reviews the most (even just a, 'Good job!') gets reviews. Unfortunately this Den is not seeing what it should be. Our reviews should not be the quantity but the quality. It is ever so rare that I have a respectable person stop, read my poe, think about it and then review it kindly or harshly (with taste, that is). You, Jeff, have done this for me as well as a slight few others here and now, but I thank you for that. You set a good example here.

I have a big opinion about the other controversial matters, but I dare not speak it, lol. I didn't join AD to fight or to prepare for law school. I joined AD to, 'I am here for only one reason: to practice and expand my knowledge of the craft I love. I am driven, to excell. Anything else, doesn't matter.' As Carmen said it.

But I saw some peopel who needed to see it did review it.. I only hope it sticks to their minds.

Brittany
Reviewed by Kay P Devenish 1/8/2004
I just found this,I am still on holidays so not submitting till later in January but I had to leave my five cents worth on this one
mainly because I have entered the comps here a few times.I did it for the fun of it and didn't expect to win so I was not disappointed and in fact I was VERY happy to see some of my favorite poets win.
I guess I can honestly admit that my opinions at times (political and spiritual)have indeed been slammed hard at times but I couldn't care less really about that as I feel that if I have stirred anyone to fire up in thought due to my ideas then I have done well and my writing has not been for nothing...my ego gets over being slammed pretty quick and I learn from stuff like that.I have in fact learnt from many here who have clashed with me,they made me stop and think and re evaluate my ideas,some ideas I changed...others I kept.I need honest feedback even if it's SLAMMING.I like growing,I don't grow much if everyone agrees with me,that's too easy,we are all here to fire each others thoughts,(like this piece of yours is doing right now,it's good).
I am not one of the gold members and have never been a featured author here but I feel the judges on A.D. are fair and I am not bothered by not being a winner here. I love what I write and still think it's good even if no one else feels the same,I think it's worthwhile and that's number one priority of my writing to me(being true to self)even if my stuff comes in last I rightly consider it's in 'bloody great company!' and I am as pleased as punch just to be able to express my feelings and have my work side by side with the poets here (you included)and to be read by anyone but especially by my peers here,in the end we are our OWN judge and THE BEST ONE AT DOING THAT.The comps are just for fun as far as I'm concerned and if I EVER fluke it and win the dough would be nice,also....I don't think you are opinionated Jeff I think you are just being an honest openhearted writer and I appreciate your thoughts,thanks,a very good article Jeff!
Reviewed by Leland Waldrip 1/7/2004
Good write/rant, Jeff. You got a good cross-section of opinion here and I think most of it is positive. Certainly we want fairness in any competition, and I think each poem that has won has been within the upper echelon of works with regard to the stated qualifications, certainly eligible to be considered winners. I wonder if we should view the AD poetry contest as a competition, but rather as a rare bonus for a level of excellence most of us are not likely to achieve. I wonder also if it wouldn't be a good idea to broaden the winner pool to include in each contest period perhaps two or three honorable mentions with no cash prize. This would give us a better idea of the range of poems that were under consideration and would make recognition a bit more attainable. Just a thought.
Best regards,
Leland
Reviewed by Vesna Vanessa 1/7/2004
ahhh..indeed a master pen at work...what can I say?..hmm..I'll refrain from commenting lest I get shot!!..just joking..full marks my friend..this is a superb bit o'writin'...ty!

into my library it goes!

vesna :)
Reviewed by Ted Sheridan (Reader) 1/7/2004
Jeff, what we have experienced with this contest is unfortunate. The people who won are perceived as having been elevated to a status that is superior to the other fine entrants in the contest. It is not possible, in a short period of only three months to make everybody a winner, nor is it possible to consider anyone who didn't win a loser. I know that some people think that they should have won, just as some people still think Al Gore should be president. You can never please all the people.

However, you did please me with your commentary.

Ted Sheridan
Reviewed by - - - - - TRASK 1/6/2004
Now That You Got That Off Your Chest,i.e. Roll With Punches __TALK BACK_ Tell Them All Go To Hell!

TRASK
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 1/6/2004
Thank you, Jeff. My but you surely did elicit response. Dialogue and discussion are very good. I should also clarify that, as one of the fortunate and respectful winners, I was not a Gold Member either. I am just grateful for being able to interact with other writers and AuthorsDen has been a place to do this and I am thankful for that, for you and for all the others out there. Respectfully with love and peace, Regis.
Reviewed by Carmen Ruggero 1/6/2004
Good thing, Jeff. Glad you did this. Not just because you've expressed your point of view, but because it gives people an opportunity to respond, and express themselves openly. It doesn't bother me that you posted it here; this is our forum -- you chose to use it this way and that's fine as far as I am concerned.

Now, I must be a sleepwalker, because even though I hear things here and there, they seem to go in one ear and out the other. I somehow end up missing the juicy stuff.

I stay focused on one thing: I AM A WRITER -- I AM HERE TO WRITE, AND TO LEARN, AND TO EXPAND. I am very single minded in that respect. Anything else goes over my head.

I've never been personally slammed, or, in as much as I read in this site, I've never seen others being slammed. But then again, I do sleepwalk a lot. If I was ever so injured, I must have had my nose in a book at the time, because I sure missed it. All this to say, and not to doubt your words: I've never experienced it. We're always going to find disagreements and discontent in groups like this. But as Joseph just pointed out, we're adults. I'd say let's act like it.

As far as the contest goes, I'd like to know that it is being judged fairly. If they claim that no one in the pannel of judges is an AD author, I'd like to know that that's true. But, as I said in the above paragraph. I AM A WRITER. I WANT TO WRITE AND I AM VERY SINGLE MINDED: I WANT TO BE THE BEST DAMN AUTHOR I CAN BE. That takes time, concentration, and hard work. I don't have the time, or the inclination to worry about a poetry contest. I agree with what's been said: I wish they also had a contest for short fiction. But again, I tend to focus on my aim and the rest of it is someone else's problem if they care to make it one.

As far as critiques go, you've often seen a footnote to my work: "Harsh criques are invited" I mean it. Some of you, yourself included, Jeff, have posted additional comments to my message board offering suggestion to improve the work. I value that very highly. No one goes out of his/her way like that if they didn't like you, or your work. That some people would be offended by it, well, it happens, but that's their loss. I've grown a lot in the last few months because some of you were caring enough to stick your necks out. I've never noticed people removing review -- I don't look for it. I have personally removed one. And the reason I did, was because that person posted a personal rant on my reviews section. Had that person posted it to my board, or otherwise sent it to me, it would have been different. But I didn't feel that someone's personal rant belonged there. It had nothing to do with my work. Honest reviews, whether favorable, or unfavorable, stay there. I am open minded about that, and respect other writer's opinions, as I want mine to be respected.

I am here for only one reason: to practice and expand my knowledge of the craft I love. I am driven, to excell. Anything else, doesn't matter.

Something else I'd like to ad: I've made a few good friends here. People I honor, people of incredible talent, and I am proud to be even a small cyber part of their life. Now, let's go write something.

Carmen
Reviewed by Sandy Knauer 1/6/2004
Thank you, Jeff! Very well said, and extremely appreciated. We must protect the right to dissent and disagree (what's left of it anyway) or we become stale and eventually lose everything.
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 1/6/2004
Thank you For sharing this Jeff!!

I will just write right on and let well alone...my fingers far too short to put into this pie right?

Warm Love Tinka
Reviewed by Jeff Mason 1/6/2004
Thanks Timothy Gager, Debash, and all others! You all have expressed wonderful opinions. Debash, I simply used USA as an 'example;' which is why I said "...the country known as..." so as not to be exclusive of other countries. Additionally, Timothy, can you truly say this is NOT poetry? Is prose not a form of poetry? If so, let us wipe away all prose pieces that have been posted since AD began! I have seen other political and religious statements posted as prose within the Poetry section, without any complaints; how is mine any different? BUT, I *value* your opinion! I am GLAD I have some dissension! - Jeff
Reviewed by Debashish Haar (Reader) 1/6/2004
Dear Jeff,

I am fully with you..But I want to add..that it is not merely a brainchild of USA or any single nation..It is evolution of man..that endows man to think independently as compared to lesser creatures..
Since we are many so chances of a unique choice(Solution) is impossible..no three body problem in this universe is exactly solvable..so why try for one and waste time..It is the outcome of physical laws that we have learned to respect others, that made us to accept differences..as you have said..as Floria has said..

Now your discussion brings to mind the question--what makes a poet..
Some assume that writing heartwrenching verses..beautiful lines..beautiful words(I am the biggest defaulter) makes a poet..
These are all necessary ingredients..but not sufficient to make a POET a true poet..A POET HAS TO BE AN EXAMPLE..his/her actions should reflect the thinking machinery behind his/her poetry...A poet should have vision..and not necessarily knowledge..IT IS A BIG RESPONSIBILITY TO BE CALLED A POET!

Regarding contest! I won't comment...I left a statement on roundtable longtime back..it was in the form of a small numerical problem..

Let us face it Jeff with a brave face..I respect your stand..and would be sad if you endure same treatment I endured at the same venue..

It is not a government or an organization that can curb natural instincts..adaptations needed to maintain economy of a system in order requires acceptance of differences..

I beg your pardon if I spoke way too much..

Best Wishes,
Debashish
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/6/2004
thanks for your write, jeff; we all have a right to express ourselves; and nobody should be slamming NOBODY here! we may not agree with a particular issue, belief, or concern, but we are people, and we have the right to believe in the way we see fit! but we don't need to be tearing each other up; we need to be SUPPORTING one another here at the den, NOT destroying one another! such acts are cruel and unnecessary!

a well stated article; this needed to be said, and you said it very well!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in tx., karen lynn. :D
Reviewed by ***** ********* (Reader) 1/6/2004
Very well said, Jeff and very, very true! Everyone has the right to their opinion and to express it -- and, No, we all do NOT need to agree on any one particular viewpoint or another (besides, that would be intolerably boring...) -- but we DO need to RESPECT one another's rights to having those views!

And if you're terribly thin-skinned and sensitive and just cannot deal with "negativity" (translation for "negativity": anything that takes me outside my comfort zone or demands I think outside the box or smacks of criticism...), then you need to SERIOUSLY re-think becoming a professional writer!

Writing, like Life, is a contact sport -- wear a cup.

And for Heaven's Sakes, if you're going to bore us all with your views, please PLEASE have the decency to express them with intelligence and style! That means grammar, that means spellcheck, that means thought and composition, that means logic, that means WRITING!

People need to grow up and leave High School behind... you are ADULTS, more is expected of you! Time to evolve.

Enough jabber -- now WRITE something, people!

Reviewed by *********** ********** (Reader) 1/6/2004
The only times I have deleted reviews is when they are a personal attack (and I'm talking vile, filthy stuff)....or someone asks me if I'll delete.

I came here to write....and I do. As far as the contests...I think people enjoy them..And I agree it's not so much on talent as what stirs someones soul....But isn't that what poetry is all about?

So let us write, I agree.....simple as that.

Good write Jeff..Ty, Dani
Reviewed by Floria Kelderhouse (Reader) 1/6/2004
Hi Jeff....this is awesome....Let me say this....I dont think we should slam each other at all.....All one needs to do is comment on the writing ability of the poet...the poetry...or click off and go to another poem...I for one do not especially love dark poetry or erotica...and yet...as I took the time to read some...I have come to admire greatly one erotica poet on here as I think her to be a fabulous writer...and the dark stuff....some of it is written so well...I look at word usage etc....why slam someone....so then I may go and wright one on God and I dont think anyone should slam me for that either...I will borrow Rodneys phrase...." cant we all just get along"...I think some poets are taking this contest way too serious...I love the Den...I have been here through several really bad instances with everyone arguing...I dont think I will stay if there is more of that....this is like home to me...I want peace...If I wanted war I would have joined the army...thanks for this wise write...floria
Reviewed by No Longer Member (Reader) 1/6/2004
In the last two day I've seen a book being promoted in poetry and now this. There is a place for this opinion (which is a strong valid statement..), but to post it with poetry so that it may be seen is manipulative.
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 1/6/2004
Kudos, Kudos, Kudos! I happen to agree with you 100 percent, Jeff.

I joined AD because it's supposedly a "Creative Writing Site," with free thinking, tolerant, open-minded, creative authors. I, too, have found some really irritating things going on.

One of the things that irritate me, besides the personal attacks you mention, are when authors delete reviews they are not totally happy with. On a creative writing website, I would hope every author and reader would be allowed to write and think and say whatever they desire, as long as it does not personally belittle or attack or libel a particular individual by name.

If someone doesn't like what one writes on AD - just don't read it! But don't attack them. And if someone takes the time to read what you write, and leaves a comment that does not belittle anyone, don't erase it either.

Some folks on AD crave harsher critiques, and others panic when the reviewer doesn't slobber all over themselves with praise.

As far as the contests go, I'm just glad to see we have them. Would like short story and article contests, too.

Kudos again, Jeff. Let's all grow up - please!
Reviewed by Taylor Trenton (Reader) 1/6/2004
EXCELLENT though I have never been slammed as in any society I feel when a group of people gather in one place for long and voice their persoanl opinions you will always have a differing of those beliefs...
I choose not to voice them and then to allow others their views I find peace in that. Good write Jeff.

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