Each day I wake up, get ready for the morning, and write my wife notes to let her know that our daughter is going to be at school, that I’ll be at work, to take her medication, to eat breakfast and lunch, and that I love her unconditionally. I haven’t slept since August 10th – the day our world changed forever; the day of the accident that left my wife with a severe traumatic brain injury.
After a day teaching my middle school students about life via English and Social Studies, I’m planning rides for my wife to get to her therapy sessions – 8 each week. I’m picking my daughter from after school care. I’m trying to keep the house in shape, and make sure that everyone feels loved. At least a night or two a week I then head to a bar – typically an hour or two away from home – to play music for people until 10 or 11 at night.
Somewhere in all my spare time, I find at least 2-3 hours a day to work on The Poetry Question. I have run TPQ for the better part of 9 years. Over the last handful I have transitioned what used to be an educational site to the only website in the world that focuses solely on Small Press Poetry. Between our mailing lists, website visits, and social media, I’ve somehow amassed a following of over 7,000 readers.
And I’ve done it all for free.
With very few exceptions, I read and review a chapbook or collection five nights a week, set up the #TPQ5, Power of Poetry Essays, and schedule the reviews that my small and wonderful team sends my direction. I do this for free because I don’t think it’s fair to charge people to review their work. I don’t think it’s fair to take money out of the pockets of writers and presses that do not have it in the first place. We are a community that thrives because once in a while people find a poem or poet or press they like, and purchase a book. I do this because I love the art of putting words together and making people think about life and all it entails.
Over this last weekend I put together a campaign to allow small presses to take over TPQ for a week. This would allow a week’s worth of content, twitter activity, and more to help them gain exposure and hopefully sell books. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to make money from this site, because, well, my wife is not allowed to work for a year, and we need to pay the bills. It’s not a money grab. It’s an opportunity to help others.
Yesterday morning I received an email from a press inquiring about the TPQ Takeover. They are brand new and seeking exposure to kick things off. I sent them the pricing list, and in return got this email:
While I do not feel it is appropriate to out the press for their disgusting email, I do feel threatened by them. My wife feels threatened by them – and she is in a constant state of fight or flight from her injury. This is a press from outside the United States, and yet they mention Laurel Canyon – the site of the infamous Charles Manson Family murders. This is not okay. This is scary and cruel and triggering.
Our community of small press poetry is meant to be freeing and all inclusive and always willing to help our peers. It’s the reason TPQ exists. I want to yawp your work from the rooftops of every building everywhere. We are support. We are love.
We are a community and a family that watches out for one another. There is no room for hatred and threats. We are a community, so act accordingly, and always remember that we are supposed to look out for each other and support each other and most importantly, be kind to one another.
The Poetry Question aims to be the voice of small press poetry, and I hope that in some way I continue to accomplish that goal.
Your talent is needed elsewhere rather than with them. How ridiculous! I wish you best of luck and more kindness than you’ve received. Tell your family good job for stepping up to the new beat. Gentle hugs and love to you and your family and TPQ.