Friday, May 21, 2010

Submissions and the online workshops: In preparation of flying on my own.

Submissions and the online workshops: In preparation of flying on my own.

I can’t remember the exact date I joined my first online workshop.  I was on very strong medication.  That year cursed me with four or five serious bipolar episodes.  A hurricane settled right over my hometown, Jayuya, and it felt like a physical expression of the metaphorical world I was living in.  By the way, I took a picture of the hurricane when its eye was over my apartment building.  I had to step out into the open space.  The sky had suddenly turned yellow.  
        An American friend from the States living in Arecibo brought me a Toshiba laptop.  He gave it to me and begged me to stop taking all the medication I was taking.   But I was convinced that if I stopped I would commit suicide, or do something worse.  I began to write about my pain, the pain provoked by the loss of my grandmother, my uncle, my lover, and finally my mother within weeks of each other.  Pain originally caused by a virulent homophobic attack on my person by both strangers and people who claimed to be my friends, co-workers, and co-worshipers.  I entered the World Wide Web, like a hungry one-eyed spider with a big eye-patch and Sylvia Plath’s boots only to discover I had not yet lost my innocence.  There was still a lot more suffering I had to experience before I could come out from under the floor of my father’s house only this time it would be provoked by virtual people in online workshops.  
          Perhaps, some of those people were the shadows of the same people who caused me suffering in the homophobic attack.  Perhaps, they were dogs purposely sent to hound me in those places.  I would not put it beneath them.  Some those people from Mexico knew and know all my friends in Puerto Rico and some of these people in Puerto Rico are not only homophobic, they are also lairs, and thieves.  They are so homophobic they are capable of this and a lot more.  "The barking of dogs is heard..."  I can't imagining what "He" went through, it still brings tears to my face.  We will never be worthy of "His" appearance, never.  We always get it wrong, we exclude, judge, and set the criminal fires of hate because all we want is for the Nightingale to acknowledge US and nobody else. 
          The first online workshop I remember joining was a gay Muslim men's workshop in a private Yahoo group.  I was invited to participate and after a while, I became the poetry and art moderator.  It included a few lesbian women, one of which if was battling cancer, very near death but she still found the time to write her poetry.  There was a young Puerto Rican photographer that I often think about, an excellent photographer from NYC.  The group was made up of gay men and women from all over the world.  Some painted, others wrote, poetry, fiction, essays, memoirs, news articles, music.  There was a lot talent from all over the planet and it was truly diverse.  The owner was a Turkish theater and television actor, and yes, everything was done in secret.  
          Then I joined and a completely new experience began to unfold.  At this point I need to ask a couple of questions and make a few distinctions.  I will start by expressing my gratitude to most of the moderators at specially the ones that never hid their real names.  
          I have always wondered why moderators and administrators at other online workshops hide their names, use Pen names.  Is it because they have made so many enemies that they need to hide their real names with a pen name?  Is it that they have been published so little that they are ashamed to use their real names? Or perhaps, is it just the opposite?  I was curious about this on one occasion and so I decided to focus at the profile of one of these moderators, and voila, the information this lady had provided on her profile made it easy for me to look up her work on the internet and other information.  It was January of 2009 when I found some information on her publishing credits.  The last thing that showed up on the WEB was a winning entry in one of those "publish yourself" sites that occasionally have competitions.  Some of them are actually associated with online workshops in one way or another.  She had won a poetry contest in 1997-- I think it was.  I guess that if I wanted to spend some extra money for a small sum I could find out about other people, things like their true names, where they live and ultimately how much and where they've been published.  That couldn't possibly be difficult to do.  But I don't have that much of an interest in that kind of information.  It is useless, all I need to do is read their poetry to find out this kind of information.  I am looking for real newspaper investigative stuff like: who is it that keeps these workshops around.  Is it a large company?  Do they have tax exemptions and why?  
           I am looking for information like that.  Some of these places are, for all intensive purposes, empty.  Hardly anyone is posting in them, yet they are still around, still participating in IBPC competitions.  It is difficult for me to believe they can do that without some really powerful muscles backing them up.  Remnants from the Bush Era?  This would certainly explain some of that insistence on mainstreaming poetry in these workshops.  It would also explain why moderators tend to favor a handful of poets rather consistently.  I recall a political poem, one of many I have written, about "fanmail and escort services."  I think it was published in Children, Churches and Daddies, part of it was published in Poui as well.

to be continued .........


  1. Sergio,

    Without recreating my history of major depressive and bipolar disorders, all the horror, I simply write to wish you well. I have known your dark times, you have known mine. With respect for the courage it takes.....pajamas

  2. Thank you PJ, thank you!


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