No good response to ‘faith’ poetry

Poetry Partners

Writing creatively online is lovely, an entirely different experience than writing privately for one’s self. There is, of course, the encouraging and helpful feedback we receive from fellow writers online, as well as the inspiration and exposure to new concepts we derive from reading their works. These are priceless.

Beyond these benefits, I recall being profoundly impressed when I first came across a poem online that had been written by two poets in collaboration, rather than just one author. The idea was enchanting, and it eventually led me to launch ‘Poetry Partners’ here at The Skeptic’s Kaddish, which is essentially an invitation to all poets to collaborate with me creatively. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to respond to so many beautiful poems written by other poets. It’s been such a privilege.

It’s been taking me some time to respond to all of the submissions that I receive, but I am committed to writing poems for all of my fellow collaborators! Since mid-October of last year, I’ve responded to and published 35 original pieces, written by some very talented poets; and I’m still going strong at the rate of two or three per week.


My personal limits and limitations

“Inappropriate” content

When I embarked upon ‘Poetry Partners’, I considered writing something like the following, which the lovely Gabriela, editor of MasticadoresUSA, recently posted regarding her publication:

MasticadoresUSA does not publish any work that contains racist, homophobic, sexist, and hate talk of any kind.

However, I decided against this for two reasons. First of all, I thought it unlikely that anyone would send me content of such an inappropriate nature (and I was correct in that assumption); and secondly, I reasoned that I could simply ignore and delete any such submissions…

“Faith” content

On the other hand, something I did not expect, which (in retrospect) I probably should have, is receiving submissions of poems professing the authors’ faiths and commitments to their religious identities. I have received very few such pieces, but I find myself unable to respond to them; and this leaves me feeling quite awkward.

Essentially, these poems are faith declarations, which I can respect but not relate to; and this leaves me with a conundrum. If I were to respond to them with verses of my own, I could only produce one of the following:

  1. A poetic expression of my cynicism about faith in the supernatural, which would most likely come across as confrontational, or at least as disrespectful;
  2. A poem amounting to a condescending “pat on the head” for the author who penned the ‘faith’ poem submitted (also inherently disrespectful);
  3. A work entirely untrue to myself. Essentially, a lie.

You can see why none of these alternatives appeal to me. Also, putting aside the fact that it’s never my intention to hurt somebody’s feelings, I have absolutely no desire to enter into disputes about religion and/or politics here at The Skeptic’s Kaddish. Endless, pointless arguments with believers deplete my emotional energy reserves; and this blog not a debate forum.

So…

So, I ask myself, what now?

Do I respond to these poets and explain that their submissions are not appropriate for The Skeptic’s Kaddish? I’m leery of getting into a back-and-forth with a ‘true believer’ over theology, and not at all excited about the prospect of sharing my email address with random people.

Do I simply ignore these submissions? This is obviously easier, but it feels unkind to me (even though I never promised anyone a response); and I do aim to respect the humanity of every person. I’ve been very tempted to delete these works from my inbox, but I’ve yet to do so because I remain profoundly ambivalent about how to react.

What are your thoughts?

125 thoughts on “No good response to ‘faith’ poetry”

  1. I think your approach is a wise one, David! Expressions of faith are one thing but debates or judgmental attacks are ones to block and move on!
    Dwight

    1. โค ๐Ÿ™‚ Marlane โค ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ that's a lovely thought… Unfortunately, I barely have enough time for my own writing, on top of parenting and my jobs… I don't have the capacity to start networking between other poets. Still, I do love the thinking and intention behind this idea – it's beautiful, but it's not for me.

      Sincerely,
      David

  2. Go with your gut feeling. Many who profess faith donโ€™t live like they have it. And many who say they donโ€™t have it live like they do. The world is a strange place and we all know best what works for us. And what content we can work with.

  3. I remember visiting a restoration site of a 19th Century village founded then abandoned under duress by members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The craft and history interpreters were all members of the church and at every exhibit they related the joy and peace they experienced in their faith. We sensed an indirect attempt at conversion, but responded with respect. My sense is that those ‘faith’ submissions have the same motive. You have no obligation to respond with your own work, but one can acknowledge receipt of the submission, then move on.

  4. Me, I just put out volume. Sooner or later something’s got to stick. You know? Out of about 200 poems published on my blog the last three months, I made a solid forty good ones. About to publish another book on Amazon.

    Success is fickle, though. You shouldn’t want to leech off someone else’s. If they invite you, that’s another story. But, ethically, an author’s work should speak for itself. At least, that’s what I hope.

  5. People who would try to publish articles of faith on a website about skepticism are silly. Some people are desperate to get their work published. Or even recognized.

  6. I always refer to Mrs Do As you Would Be Done By, from The Water Babies, when my family have doubts about how to deal with awkward situations. (Hope that doesn’t sound trite – I genuinely believe its sound advice).

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