Carlo Parcelli

The Schneidercentric Poetry World of
Dan Schneider:
Cosmoetica vs. Planet Earth

There’s cranky. And then there’s Dan Schneider. Dan is a guy who just can’t let it go. It sticks in his craw. It pisses him off like kids leaving garbage on the front lawn or telemarketers calling during dinner.

And what is Dan pissed off about. Taxes? Nuclear war? White slavery? No. Its poetry, no less. Poetry? Yeah, fuckin’ poetry. Can you believe it?

And why is Dan pissed. Well, because no one will recognize that he is the “great poet” he has proclaimed himself to be. And as proof he has made it his mission to attack the current crème de la crème of the poetry world.

The sad fact is personal and ad hominem or not his attacks are generally thoroughly justified. What’s astonishing is that the mainstream poetry world has given him so much grist for his mill.

To merit a ‘This Old Poem’ mugging by ex-gang member Schneider there are four sins the poet getting thumped must commit. These are Schneiders’ cardinal sins and he repeats then ad nauseam for virtually every contemporary poet he attacks.

His four cardinal sins are sloppy enjambment, use of clichés, lack of concision and the stated or implied fact that they are not as ‘great’ a poet as Schneider is.

The astonishing thing is that Schneider’s poetry and the poetry of people he claims to admire are virtually indistinguishable from the poetry he criticizes.

It turns out that Schneider’s imaginative range is as narrow as his critical one, a truly provocative position for someone making the claims Schneider makes.

Now, at this point one could say “Okay buddy. Back this shit up with some concrete comparisons between Schneider’s work and those he criticizes.”

Schneider can take a hopelessly discursive and sentimental poem like Amy Clampitt’s Hermit’s Thrush and turn it into a hopelessly impressionistic and sentimental shorter poem, but is this an improvement and frankly why bother? Besides, Clampitt does create little impressionistic bon bons like her poem “Fog” and with far more élan than Schnieder’s crampy squats.

But that’s just one example. Where else does Schneider belie his kinship with those he criticizes? Most of his claims of poor enjambment, concision etc. are by fiat or are hopelessly subjective, based on interpretation as presented as fact. I would say that ‘claims of greatness’ are also, at such close quarters, open to interpretation and best left to others like the unborn.

I buy and sell this shit for a living and I can see the fade.

Besides, let’s leave it to our readers to decide the relative merits of the poetry that Schneider addresses on , including his own.

With some poets like Pound and Zukofsky, he’s just out of his depth. Its obvious he’s never read The Cantos or ‘A’. He picks easier targets.

Even his criticism of Noam Chomsky exposes Schneider’s soft underbelly. He claims as a linguist Chomsky has no place in presenting his insights into U.S. foreign and domestic policy. But I thought that was what democracy was at least in part about, citizen participation.

Further, the notion that Schneider could overwhelm Chomsky’s vast, decades long knowledge of U.S. foreign policy in a debate is delusional at best. And Dan, Chomsky did debate old lizard jowels, William F. Buckley, and so flustered Buckley by refusing to cop to his fictional conditionals, e.g. if this then that, that Buckley threatened to punch him.

Then there’s that matter of paranoia. Schneider claims that he and his wife have received “personal and legal threats”, even death threats, presumably from people in the poetry world or that most dangerous of constituencies, poetry lovers.

Ironically, for equally inflammatory pieces in FlashPoint, I have received no threats legal or otherwise. What am I doing wrong? I’ve been accused of everything Schneider’s detractors accuse him of and more. A few folks have threatened me with bodily harm but nothing very serious. Poets by and large tend toward gentleness which is why we get the kind of poetry Schneider in most cases legitimately attacks.

Further, I’m associated with the Assassinated Press, a rather vulgar and vitriolic ‘parody’ of American foreign policy and, aside from a couple of phone threats and a constant litany of adolescent pranks and attempts to disrupt the site, there has been nothing to genuinely fear even from the extreme right or the kleptocracy.

Dan’s claims, which I can only assume are true, have made me completely reassess FPs & APs roles as provocateurs.

Dan wants recognition. The claims on his site cry out for it. His claims of greatness come so often they take on the tone of special pleading, even whining.

And then there’s the energy he puts into his site. But this will only take you so far. Witness the years Kent Johnson has wasted on his Yasusada fraud. Years better spent doing whatever it is Johnson does.

Or take the Language poets who exerted so much political energy in asserting an idea of poetry that none of them actually believed in and few adhered to. What more pathetic scene than to see those three old lovable frauds Ron Silliman, Charles Bernstein and Bob Perelman at Silliman’s recent publication reading for his opus, The Alphabet, before an audience of perhaps 35? I’m certain Dan wouldn’t be happy with that.

Then there’s Flarf or whatever it is Mark Wallace is doing, putting politics before the product.

Or Dana Gioia hawking reactionary poetics with Laura Bush like he’s still hustling the shit manufactured by General Foods when he was an avaricious young VP there.

In essence, that’s what Dan Schneider is doing. He’s blasting out a place for his work to gain some eminence. This explains why his targets are generally people writing in the same vein he does. Just by fiat, Dan says he’s better. And in many cases, it would be disingenuous to say he’s not, so ‘hide bound to shit town’ is the art form today. was right. The poetry world runs on fellatio like so much else in this culture. But, Dan, if you want recognition, you’re going about it the wrong way unless you think you can overturn the whole order.

But did you know that mainstream publishers publish poetry because those volumes inevitably lose money and provide the company with tax write-offs?

Does that make you feel any better?

Postscript: Dan Schneider's website Cosmoetica appears to be having technical problems. The email contact link is not operable. Therefore, I'd like to address two errors in Mr. Schneider's rebuttal of my critique above. 1) I have never submitted work to Mr. Schneider's online journal Cosmoetica. Mr. Schneider's assertion therefore is at best a lie, and, at worst, a delusion. 2) I did not mispeak when I asserted that William F. Buckley threatened to punch Noam Chomsky in an interview on Mr. Buckley's show Firing Line back in 1969. Here's the url for that particular event: Though this proof was just a couple of clicks away, Mr. Schneider chose to erroneously attribute this event to a Mailer/Buckley confrontation. Otherwise, Mr. Schneider, by the nature and substance of his rebuttal, eloquently substantiates any and all of my original claims concerning himself and Cosmoetica.

Other installments of "Deconstructing the Demiurge"

"Crimes of Passion"
"Work in Regress"
"Onionrings: Adding machines_Crisco"
"Collateral Damage, or The Death of Classics in America"
"How Dead Industrialists Dance, or Swing Time"
"Tale of the Tribe"
"Millennium Mathematics: The Centos"
Eschatology of Reason: The South Tower
Eschatology of Reason: The North Tower
Eschatology of Reason: De Rerum Natura
Eschatology of Reason: The South Tower (revised
De Rerum Natura: Hearing Voices
Eschatology of Reason: Shaping the Noise


Without Usura
a selection from:
Eschatology of Reason: ‘The Gilded Index of Far-Reaching Ruin.’

The poet's comments on his growing poem:
"Is Everyday Language Sufficient to Embody Everyday Experience?"