OK you made some good points there about cliques and all, but I think
it's worth being a tad more careful about the male/female thing here.
The actual limited involvement of female poets on this list is actually
mirrored by a relatively limited involvement by women in the
"avant-garde" end of the spectrum in British poetry. This I think was
recognised in the *Out of Everywhere* anthology which included far more
North American than British women. The fact is that a mainstream
anthology (of the kind that, say, Poetry Review would sponsor) would
likely consist 50% of women writers, at least. A very a-g book (such as
OoE or rather a mixed-gender version thereof, would be less than 50% -
probably more like 30% - and a book which occupies the middle ground
between the two poles would have a tough job finding very many women to
include at all. Hence - partly - the poor representation of women in my
recent State of Independence anthology - I'm a representative (in my own
biased opinion) of exactly that middle ground, and I'm not partiularly
fond of the British stuff in OoE or the things that I would find in PR.
Which leads me to a related point. I've done a rough check of
unsolicited submissions to Shearsman, to find that over 90% are from
men. (I know there might be a chicken and egg situation, but it's a
valid statistic nonetheless.) I actually accept a greater percentage of
women's submissions than men's for Shearsman, but that statistic is
based on such a limited number of samples that it's probably not valid.
To add to this, I have a higher failure rate for solicitations from
women writers than I do for men. If I wasn't level-headed about it, I'd
think there was a conspiracy or something.
So is there a gender emphasis problem here, a mutual male backslapping
camaraderie creating an exclusion zone? In my case I think not, but I'm
conscious that I may look like one, if the reader is counting gender
representation rather than just reading the poems (and I choose poems
rather than poets, mostly).
There are probably better networks out there than mine, with greater
access to a pool of women writers, but I'd be interested to know if
anyone else thinks they have a similar problem, or if they regard it as
a problem at all.
Oh and by the way, I think avant-garde is a nightmarish description. It
reminds me of the definition of an extremist - it's anyone who's further
off to the left (or right) than oneself. There is (in my admittedly
jaundiced view) far too much work masquerading as the latest innovation
and basking in the apparent glory thereof and really too little
appreciation for work that might constitute a more solid achievement but
occupies less fashionable ground. That goes for whichever direction
you're looking in.
It's late on Friday, and I note that tiredness is tangling my fingers as
much as my mental thread, so I'll leave it there. The last Gare du Nord
was great stuff by the way.