War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

artistic freedom and other stuff

99.999% of emails and phone calls and letters and comments that I receive (over 15,000) are positive. I’ve only received one really stinging comment from someone, “how dare you speak for soldiers. you have no idea” signed, Anonymous

and when I wrote Anonymous back and challenged him to come out from behind the screen, then added, “I’d never in a million years assume to speak for them… blah blah blah” then Anonymous, someone with some serious TI and war-related issues, wrote back with his gmail name and we began a discussion that continues to this day. only now he uses his real name. and we’ve met in person and are friends. and he’s doing well and that’s really good too.

recently another Anonymous wrote to jack me up, “how dare you write blah blah blah in a public space?”

it caused me to pause. and then I started thinking about publishing electronically and often in near-real time. and here’s what I think.

#1. this website belongs to me. I pay for it. you choose to read it or not. this is no more public space than a book in Chapters. or a magazine at the corner store. welcome to the age of modern publishing.

#2. my words are my words. I write my truth and only my truth. I can’t assume to know anyone else’s. interestingly, the CF has NEVER once told me what I can write, where I can publish… but a few readers have. hmmmm.

#3. unless someone asks to be identified, e.g. “will you write something for me?”, I write in ways that they cannot be identified and most often, use an amalgam of characteristics from several people I know. a huge amount of my background info comes from D and S. they are my “go to” men for mil. details. I can phone either of them up anytime and ask, “what weapon did you carry and what happened that day?” or “is the TAK vest mesh or ?” and one or the other will fill me in.

#4. I allow people to see my work in progress. the process. by opening this private sketchbook to whomever happens upon it, bookmarks it, or subscribes to it (FOR FREE) I might add because I sure the hell don’t make money from this work. and unlike many sites, you won’t find adverts here or PayPal boxes for “donations”. I pay for this myself. TOTALLY. and if you don’t like what you see then why are you reading it? I can’t imagine someone going into Chapters and picking up a book that says things they don’t like then tracking down the author, jacking them up ANONYMOUSLY but apparently, to use FB lingo, I’m being “lurked”. and some people think it’s okay to yell at the artist. it’s not.

this site was begun as a calling card. it allowed me to arrive in camp, be introduced by the officers and handed off to the boys with the message, “she’s here as poet. treat her as part of the furniture” and the boys’ thought bubble would say, WTF?” and then the boys would run to the blue rocket with their iPhones or Blackberries and google me and they’d see this site and how I wasn’t writing weasel words about them or spilling the beans about them. (and I heard lots, saw lots but never wrote about it nor should I. not here).

as for artistic freedom? a long time ago I wrote, “writers are liars and thieves and poets worst of all!” and what I meant is that we see, feel, smell, taste, touch the world, take it in, filter it, jumble it, and out comes our work. if you recognize yourself in any of it, then I guess we’ve done our job well.

my thoughts I have after being jacked up by ANONYMOUS.

1 Comment (Closed)

Alex VanderWoude

A comment I read years ago on some other blog: “When the ice cream is free, you should not complain about the flavor”. The biggest problem with civility online is that anonymity is so easy. Face-to-face you risk getting a punch on the nose, but online you can do your drive-by with impunity. Moderation of comments seems like the only way to deal with this, short of forcing people to set up an account in order to post comment. But even with that annoyance you cannot guarantee that someone is using their righteous name, and it also doesn’t stop anonymous emails. I guess it’s just a down-side of having an online presence — maybe it’s like snooty poetry critics in literary magazines…

Aug 14 2011 · 16:55

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled artistic freedom and other stuff. It was posted here on August 09, 2011.


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