Thursday, November 3, 2011

I've been working steadily on my forthcoming anthology for Autumn House Press. Mostly I've been researching and compiling a table of contents, but I've also begun extracting and proofreading the pieces themselves as well as writing brief introductions for each. Although these intros offer a soupcon of biographical information, they also mention the writer's or subject's influence on other writers and offer a quick explanation as to why I think the extracted piece may be valuable to poets. I don't want to tell readers what to think about the piece, but I do want to open a door into it.

Mostly this task has gone swiftly and smoothly. Still, as I've been writing these intros, I've also discovered a disturbing tic. While I easily mention male poets by last name, I constantly make the mistake of calling Anne Bradstreet "Anne" instead of "Bradstreet," Emily Bronte "Emily" instead of "Bronte"--though it would never occur to me to call John Milton "John." This is problematic behavior on a couple of obvious levels: the first involving an embarrassing sexist disparity, the second revealing a copyeditor's blind spot.

In a way, I'm more troubled by the editing inconsistency than by the sexist implications--but that's probably because I'm also ready to make excuses for myself. I might claim, for instance, to feel closer to the women poets, more akin to them as both a writer and a human being. Thus, I might conclude, it's easier for me to use their names more informally.

This explanation is a crock of lies. In truth, I do not feel closer to Anne Bradstreet than to John Milton. I know a whole lot more about Milton than I do about Bradstreet, and I have lived with his poetry as I have not lived with hers. Nonetheless, she is "Anne" to me, and he will never be "John." There's something sad about this, on so many fronts. And possibly the saddest truth is that I would like him to be John to me. But he says no.

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