I received a very interesting e-mail from someone today taking me to task for "sitting in judgment" on other poets and "saying such negative things about them."
She also said, quite memorably, that "The thing I find most disturbing is that you were paid for your performance and you still think it's ok to put down your hostess and those who gave you their time and attention."
You can read the original, unedited post this person is referring to here. I won't publish the person's name or quote more of her e-mail, because I'm not in the business of embarrassing people. In any case, we've written back and forth to each other and I feel we've reached a position of mutual understanding -- meaning I have no hard feelings and she doesn't seem to think I'm a dick anymore.
Still I wanted to post a few excerpts from my e-mail to her, just in case anyone else has similarly misread or misunderstood what I've written.
The excerpts from my e-mail follow:
"...I'm sorry if you felt slighted by my comments about the reading. A couple of points about what I said -- first off, I was very careful not to criticize any specific person. If someone asks for feedback, I'll give it -- but I make it a policy not to give unsolicited criticism, only unsolicited praise. I feel I was well within the bounds of politeness to characterize the night in general (not any specific person) as 'rather weak.' I went to the previous week's 'Mia,' and feel it was a much stronger night with better poetry. I also said very plainly that my judgment may have been off from the adrenalin of performing. Another factor (that I didn't mention but probably should have) was that the sound system was so poor, it was very difficult for those of us in the back of the room to understand poets who used the mic.
"...I certainly did not 'put down' my hostesses -- in fact, in an earlier piece from the previous Saturday, I said that they did a fine job (or words to that effect), and I stand by that -- Charlotte and Michelle do a damn fine job of hosting, in a difficult venue. They've only been doing it there for a few months, and I'm eager to see what the reading will grow into as it matures. I've hosted several poetry readings myself, and it's a damnably difficult thing to do..."