Tuesday, February 22, 2005



In his infinite wisdom (or is it, “wiz-” dom), Michael Neff, founder, chief artist, and executive director of the Web del Sol Association, has seen fit to elaborate upon Tim McGrath’s “review” (which we all agree was worthless, anyway):

“And yet, the publication has its defenders, like the famous cut-and-paste 'poet' out of San Francisco, Jack Foley, who is published in Eratio PP and fancies himself good buddies with the editor, St. Thomasino. Since the first publication of this review, both of them have used email harassment, flaming, and defamatory blog posts with invented language in an attempt to censor PDS and brand the editors. In addition, one of them wrote an editor's faculty advisory in an attempt to get him booted from his college writing program. Be that as it may, PDS will not be censored, no matter how many cretins arise to inflict retaliation.”

But surely, had Michael Neff the evidence to prove these allegations, surely he would have included it. Did someone say “email harassment”? Did someone say “flaming, and defamatory”? Here is a sample of Michael Neff’s language:

“My advice is to put St. Thomasino's dick in your mouth and suck on it till you orgasm. Then fall asleep. Sleeeeeeeeep, Jack, sleeeeeeep ... into that eternal night. No one will miss you, not even the ticks on your shriveled old balls.”

And so we draw the curtain to reveal the true Michael Neff, the miserable non-person (without honor, without self-control) behind the faux “tragically hip” gloss at Web del Sol. Shame on you, Michael Neff. I will never look at Web del Sol the same again.

Where’s the rope? Indeed. Just for the record:

1. “Invented language”? You do better, Michael Neff, to claim that someone has been sending e-mails using your e-mail account. (It’s the same difference -- a lie is a lie, after all.)

2. Michael Neff, you demonstrate your bad judgment, your frustration, and your desperation, when you pollute the Palaver and Natter list with your ill will regarding this unhappy episode. Are you attempting some kind of damage control? Are you attempting to propagandize the people on this list? The Palaver and Natter list is “A Locus for High School Writing Programs.” I declare, when you stoop so low as to pollute this list, you are not only demonstrating bad judgment, frustration, and desperation, you are demonstrating BAD LEADERSHIP.

3. For you, Michael Neff, to be so despicably vile and disrespectful to Jack Foley. . . .


Since this nonsense first broke with Michael Neff and Web del Sol the eratio blog-auxiliary has been contacted by all sorts of people with all sorts of horror stories all having in common the name and MO of Michael Neff. (As for Tim McGrath, I am convinced he’s just a patsy. And although he came off like a punk -- that is until the instant karma got him -- it is quite obviously Neff who pulls the strings, and there will always be another “Tim McGrath” to take his place, the role requires nothing, save a pinch of ambition.) There really is nothing extraordinary about Neff’s campaign against eratio (evidently, this is what he does -- he gets revenge; or rather he wounds himself, then picks at his scab; for, yes, Michael Neff is a pathology), except this time he stepped out of his weight class, and we got the better of him. Neff is at a loss, he is in the dark, he is clueless to try to figure what has happened, and how it happened, and why. He has nothing but his (oh, what is the opposite of “fancy”?) rote imagination to try to piece together the pieces with. The question begs itself: Why? Why the need to belittle? Why this contempt for the poets? It must be torture, the coming to terms with the realization that you’ll never be well thought of as a poet, that although you’ll be well known for a website, or for some folly or burlesque, you’ll never be well thought of as a poet. Can a popular website substitute for a lack of real poetic achievement? Evidently not. It is Neff who is out for revenge, eratio is only documenting it. Neff must learn to accept the truth, that sometimes he is the cause of his misfortunes, and that he alone can set things right again. Why the need for enemies? Why the fortress mentality? Why the emotional rallying points? And why the ridiculous “tragically hip” gloss? What troubles most about Neff’s “tragically hip” is, there is no sympathy, no simpatico, no sympathetic link with others and the world. This is most telling.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Jack Foley responds:

Various people, including Dana Gioia, have insisted that we need more criticism. No doubt these people are right, but the problem is that most “critics” have no better idea of what constitutes criticism than they have of what constitutes poetry. Tim McGrath’s review of Eratio is a case in point. An enormous amount of the critic’s energy is spent on the name of the magazine’s editor--not on the name of the magazine, which presumably the critic hasn’t a clue about, but on the name of the editor. The critic puts forth many nasty, bullying words, words which constitute his basic way of making his case: “incomprehensible postmodern fodder,” “embarrassing asseverations”--oh, if the critic knows a word like “asseveration,” he must know something. Unfortunately--to continue to quote “Old Man River” or Old Man Discourse--he don’t say nothing. Why should we believe this big mouth? Does he offer any actual quotation to support any of his claims--for instance the designation of editor St. Thomasino as “a pseudonymously guarded narcissist or the tragi-comic hero of a Wes Anderson film.” Oh my, oh my. The strategy here is that if the critic establishes a suitably pompous and/or academic, “authoritative” tone, he doesn’t have to offer any proof: we’ll just believe him. Well, I for one don’t, and I have looked into Eratio. There is no essential difference between what this “critic” offers us and what we are offered by the Bush administration. “Believe me.” “Why?” “Because I’m an authority, that’s why.” If ever we need to “question authority,” it is at such moments. We do indeed need more criticism--words enlightening texts. We don’t need more authoritarian bullshit.

-- Jack Foley


I hear you paint houses.
Yeh, it’s mostly the color red.
You wanna be my pal?
You can paint some houses for me.
Glad to.
You just stick with me.
Glad to.
You don’t paint my house.
Or if you hafta, don’t make me suffer, ok?
You can be my friend.
And I’ll take care of you, you know?
We’ll be pals. I need a friend.
You like girls?
You paint houses for me, you get girls.
And money. You get money. But don’t paint my house.
Not my house. Just those others. Remember that and you’ll be ok.
House paintin’. Jeez.

Poem by Jack Foley

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Edward Gorey’s cover for Poor People & A Little Hero by Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

Edward Gorey’s cover for Redburn by Herman Melville.  

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Letter of 2/11/05:

Dear Editor of Eratio Postmodern Poetry,

Recently, you made an effort to have one of our editors thrown out of his college program at BC for a writing negative critique of your journal on Portal Del Sol. If you had come to us and requested a "taming" of the review so that your name was not compromised, we would have listened and worked with you.

As a rule, we do not censor our editors. They are free to work as they please and are not micromanaged. Be that as it may, we will work with you to remove direct references to your name in the review if you will cease and desist all retaliatory efforts against the editor in question, Tim M, and also remove your blog posting with his name and address in it.

If you must repost a note on your blog knocking WDS for the negative review, that is your right, of course, and we consider that fair play.

Rest assured, we would never attempt to disrupt your career path in NYC by contacting any of your clients. Such behavior is really unconscionable, and as you must know, actionable, i.e., if real harm is done to the plaintiff.

How could you do such a thing, really?

Regardless, I hope you consider our offer.


The Editor [Michael Neff]

St. Thomasino responds:

Just for the record: Tim McGrath and Michael Neff have runaway imaginations. It would appear that Tim McGrath, in his extremities (a case of "instant karma"), told Michael Neff a whopper of a lie (this "asseveration" that I "made an effort to have one of our editors thrown out of his college program at BC for a writing negative critique of your journal on Portal Del Sol"). But a close reading of these letters shows that, well, one lies and the other swears to it. Here is Tim McGrath in his own words in one of his e-mails to me:

"I write these fucking reviews as a favor to Mike Neff, Web del Sol's editor. And I write them in the style he wants."

I believe you, Tim. And so I am not posting your letters on this blog. But still, I guess you have to have compromised ethics to write for Michael Neff. Certainly, you have to have compromised ethics to dehumanize people.

It's interesting to note that Tim McGrath did have his name removed from the Portal Del Sol masthead. And that "Stephanie" had her last name removed. (Don't worry, "Steph," we already took note of your name. And of your brazenness!) And that "Bodega Babe" is hiding behind an alias. (Talk about your "pseudonymously guarded." At Web del Sol, it's "in house.")

It would appear Web del Sol have the luxury of a ridiculous attitude. (And how they scurry to protect themselves! That Neff, what tooth and claw!)

Hey guys, remember your initial e-mails? You know, the ones you sent prior to the ones I've decided not to exhibit on this blog? You know, the really ballsy, nasty ones? I do. And I still got 'em! Well, you should have figured it out for yourselves: I do not reply to e-mails sent by cranks or by punks. (Ask that other crank -- you know him, Neff, he's an ally of yours -- he'll tell you.) It's just not my MO.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


This "review" just up at Web del Sol, by Tim McGrath:

"Eratio Postmodern Poetry :// View | Rating:
Eratio offers up incomprehensible postmodern fodder for critics of postmodern incomprehensibility. Good luck finding anything intentionally; look for links and find a blog, look for poetry and find quotations. And when you realize that Eratio's editor, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino (whose name suggests either a pseudonymously guarded narcissist or the tragi-comic hero of a Wes Anderson film) has included his own embarrassing asseverations ("Discourse is like a river" is his unqualified and deplorably facile, but apparently quotable, simile) along with the words of Nietszche, Plato, and Jung, you'll start wondering whether this postmodern experiment is, in fact, a postmodern parody. On the same page, alongside the luminous Lord Duke G.V. St. Thomasino, Diane Wakoski is quoted as saying, "I feel that poetry is the completely personal expression of someone about his feelings and reactions to the world. I think it is only interesting in proportion to how interesting the person who writes it is." By Wakoski's logic, the people who bring you Eratio are not very interesting at all."

St. Thomasino responds:

Friends, as contributors to eratio postmodern poetry, you should proudly count yourselves among some of the most talented and influential writers and artists on the scene today. As editor of the site, I can honestly say that many of the works submitted for eratio simply do not make the cut (and I'm sorry if I've rejected your work, Mr. McGrath, but there's always the welcome to send again). I try to be fair when making these judgments, because I know what it means to put your heart into something (especially something like poetry), and how it feels to be rejected.

Eratio is a labor of love, since it generates no revenue for me (but rather costs me time and energy and money). Each issue requires months of work, involving coding, design, correspondence, planning, and an immeasurable amount of frustration. Ultimately, it's very gratifying -- but I cannot say it's fun.

Still, I am proud to publish your work and hope that its presence at eratio gives you some exposure and some degree of satisfaction that you otherwise would not have had, and gives you some encouragement to continue being a poet in an economy that doesn't much care about you.

I do not know Tim McGrath. But if you read him closely you'll see that this is nothing more than a personal attack on me (based on his dislike of my name!). I am distressed because none of the poetry or artworks are mentioned, and in fact I do not believe Mr. McGrath even bothered to read or look at any of it. (But can he, indeed, talk about the poetry, or the content of the page, or the logic of the concept, I wonder? Why the subterfuge of fixating on my name? No one of any real insight or wit would do that -- unless he were inclined to burlesque.)

As a poet and a critic, I take great care to explicate my reasons for "liking" or "disliking" something. More importantly, I consider it my responsibility to try to place a work into context, to appreciate what it is the poet is trying to achieve, and to assess whether this has been accomplished (and sometimes I offer alternatives, but I never ridicule and I am never disrespectful, and I always manage to point out a poet's successes). There are several reviews in the current issue that I took great care in writing, I hope you'll see them for yourself now that the issue is up.

Reading Tim McGrath's personal attack (on my name, for Pete's sake!) is an example of something a poet or a critic should never do. Mr. McGrath has latched on to my name as something that irritates him a great deal, and in the process has ignored your work and mine. Why does Mr. McGrath dislike me personally? Could it be that this is payback? (Or else: What's "pseudonymously guarded" about it? What's "narcissist" about it? I will, however, accept that being a Roman Catholic name it is somewhat "tragi-comic.")

Mr. McGrath's tone -- glib, cynical, condescending, and uninformed and lacking of the requisite vocabulary to comprehend let alone explicate or set a value upon "the postmodern" -- is indicative not only of Web Del Sol but of the "unlettered lad" generally. I do not know why Web del Sol has adopted this attack mentality toward anything to do with "the postmodern," but for sure it is the creativity of resentment.

And here, in situ, is the offending "asseveration":