Saturday, August 30, 2008

Are You a Dom or Sub or Both?

I recently read Nick Courtright's blog Tier 3 and his thoughts on submissions sent my own mind wandering. I think it's a good post- gets one to think about ego, the role of poems kept or shared, and the intrinsic vs extrinsic nature of writing/creating. The comments are definitely worth checking out as well.

One of the things Courtright touched on was the "act of submission or submitting" and the fact that he feels dread-- you know that feeling like he's doing something wrong. I think this is because of the nature of the word itself. Submission is to put yourself or poems to the will of another in hopes of approval/reward. This is why Subs and Doms consist of a subsection of sexual deviance (deviance here conveys a good thing as the act of deviance is compared to the moralistic right). There are those that have a burning need to be dominated and this domination, in turn, results in pleasure, and there are those who get off on the dominating i.e. control every emotion/physical action/reaction. My assumption is that Courtright prolly doesn't visit or desire to spend much time with Doms and to take it out of the sexual realm-- he prolly doesn't even surround himself with a bunch of bossy, demanding friends which is why he feels such dread when it comes time to submit. He toys with the thought of hoarding all of his poems so that they are discovered and published only after his death ala Dickinson. This, appears to me my friends, as the ultimate form of control- the easiest way to keep him-- which the creative process is a manifestation of. Once he's dead then something greater than life has taken over and his hands are clean.

Yet, like a lot of us, Courtright does submit. He gives in to the unpleasantness of it all and fills out those SASE, folds those poems, writes those cover letters, attaches his document and hits send. Why? Simple because he reads and respects the journals and wants to be included (no matter how painful the process) in the ongoing conversation that each journal puts forth. Most of us not only find an ego-pleasing thrill to see our names in print or on screen, but an even greater thrill when we recognize and respect the company we are included in. Certainly when Sink Review published my poems I was even more excited when I realized that I was included with J. Mae Barizo, CA Conrad, Julia Cohen/ Mathias Svalinas, and Nicole Steinberg (who edits LIT, which is a journal I once read for).

So this leaves me with a few questions:

What if journals came up with another name? Something other than submission? A name not so easily rooted in binaries of Master/Slave context? Would those that dread submitting feel better? (& you have to dread submitting- not getting rejected- there is a huge distinction between the two)

For the poets that also edit journals does this give you a chance of ultimately evening out your Dom/Sub tendencies, therefore keeping a harmonious ying/yang effect?

Should I be doing something better with my Saturday morning like drinking coffee and eating breakfast and having real-life interactions?


Glenn Ingersoll said...

I tried out the word "contribution" for awhile. It's kinda thwarted when I have to put "submission" in the subject line of an email (following those guidelines!) ... So I shrug and write "submission" like I'm spoze to.

steven karl said...

Yeah I know what you mean Glenn, in fact, most online submissions require to you put submission as part of your subject line so there is no escaping it. So we shall shrug and comply-ha!

But it's something to think about in those small hours of our lives.

brooklyn said...

The only time I truly dread that word is when I have to decline to use someone's poetry. "We'll have to pass on your submission." You submitted, but it wasn't good enough. Heh.