I’m sharing my humiliation with you

Maybe in hope of understanding or helping others see, the cutting world of writing. 

On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 15:09, Lenny DellaRocca

<lenny.dellarocca@gmail.com> wrote:


Please understand why I must apologize here. I’m sorry I did not read your reviews carefully enough. This is my fault. I should have read with more care and then tell you from the start that these reviews fall short of the mark in what we want in a review.

There have been remarks made about your Silvia Curbelo review, Falling Water, such as run-ons sentences. Your review of C.S. Fuqua’s White Trash & Southern, and now this review of Molly Peacock’s book is, sorry to say, just not well written.

Like I’ve said, this is my fault. 

I am so sorry to say you are no longer one of our reviewers. 

Best of luck and sincerely,

When I tell them I am a poet

they think it is because I write poems. 

Lenny DellaRocca

Founder, Co-Publisher, South Florida Poetry Journal:  southfloridapoetryjournal.com

and Interview With A Poet: southfloridapoetryjournal.com



Michael Mackin O’Mara

Co-publisher, Managing Editor


Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennydellarocca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lenny.dellarocca

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=SoFloPoJo

On Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 1:35 PM, Candice Louisa <candicelouisa@rocketmail.com> wrote:

Dear Lenny,

As promised here is the next review I owe you, the Molly Peacock review. I hope it works. See attached. 

If you want to let me know the next deadline and the book you would like me to review I’ll put it in my calendar. 

As always, a pleasure.

Candice (see attached and below). 

The Analyst, by Molly Peacock (published by Norton, 2017)

Review by Candice Louisa Daquin

I was once a therapist, maybe that’s why reviewing Molly Peacocks poetry book The Analyst was harder than expected. When observations strike close, they either repel or silence your own reflex because you relate so deeply to an almost uncanny inspection of the self. Peacock being a very famous poet may accomplish this regularly, but that does not diminish her skill, rather, it continually offsets those writers who may happen upon occasional revelation without a true divining rod.

Peacocks work is a divination tool; she uses her keen intelligence and word-conjuring to fill this slim volume of thoughts relating to her relationship with her former therapist who after surviving a stroke began painting. Reminding me of someone writing of say, a death, and the experience of loss but with a brighter quill, and less beleaguered by emotional attachment, you could appreciate the poems within this collection without knowing the history, though this invariably adds to the uncanny rendering.

Reviewing a feeling is strangely unfulfilling. You want to exist in the feeling the words bequeath you, rather than spelling out and losing the wonder. With others poets, the wonder may be fleeting, sporadic, hesitant, absent. Peacock is seasoned in her ballet of words, but not in an old-hat formulaic way. On a superficial level, the design of this little hardback is also of the ilk you’d wish preserved on your shelf.

You find love in the words, but set enough apart to avoid suffocation. Lines like; “I want to die to help you” has the bravery of a lover, seeking any recompense for suffering with an urge to ‘save’ and I found this poignant for a long relationship of sharing, almost the definition of a merciful response we would all wish to evoke should we fall sick. The juxtaposition of vegetables and cooking metaphors marks this the language of a poet, where in ordinary preparation we find a life time of thought revealed in stark and obscure shards. In the line; “undone. But you eat,”(Gusto)  a quiet chisel reveals the irony of health’s failing, and our desire to go beyond, in spite of life’s rules.

I have never read a book paying homage or marking the days of rehabilitation, the slow walk through convalescence and relearning. These are shaped tenderly almost switching roles (carer/patient) lending hope to notions of mercy, observing the observer with lines like; “But to you, abstraction was lying.” (The Analyst Draws). Even the healthiest among us can relate to this reversal, what must be imagined the inner response to sudden frailty, fears keenly lain on operating table.

“It takes such strength to call, I can’t search now / for why – though all our enterprise was for why. / The bottom of the glass is standing by, / the rest.” (George Herbert’s Glasse of Blessings) speaks of how anyone may feel, adapting to new circumstance, the helper becoming helpless, the previous search of why somewhat redundant and yet, never quite. The subtlety of those juxtaposed ironies are the bedrock of a poet who doesn’t just create nice sounding formula but speaks what we do not yet know ahead of us.

Equally, Peacocks book voices loss, relatable to memory, and other conditions, few have not been touched by. When she laments; “The burnt edge of the memory gorge / you have to make a path around / starts to crumble – don’t fall in! / “The place … / with the things on the walls …” / Blackness.” (Speaking of Painting and Bird Watching) Peacock evokes our world of confusion, occasional nightmare, a probing journey, a relinquishing and restarting. How real these feel to the reader, who can think to their own families and loved ones, find within these lines, their life, and others, stretching out. Culminating in a universal urge; “All I want to do is go away and paint / – just like I did as a girl.” (Speaking of Painting and Bird Watching).

Whom among us has not queried how a life force can be abruptly extinguished, how a box of ashes could truly contain a soul and life time? This is echoed in living-observation as much as death, when we observe in shades of dismay and wonder; “you looked so trim and well / in black and white you could almost convince / us both you were whole.” (Fret Not). This is brilliantly turned, from a fear to almost gallows humor, the exact tightrope of fear and hope those visiting the very sick experience. “So I lifted it up – then laid it in this frame / now on my wall. Hourly I pass your name.” (Fret Not). What a wonderful redemptive faith in the power of existence and relationships is given ultimately!

As with any comedy, humor is an essential device when probing tragedy and fear, it sets off the stark reality with that absurd urge to laugh at horror, and binds our fragile lives together, as we wring ourselves blanched with anxiety. Peacock succeeds so deftly to evoke laughter alongside acknowledged sadness and fear, she weaves the maze of emotions we walk through on our way out of shock, using images like pottery, painting (subject), war and of course, analysis, to counter the rude truth of sickness and ruin; “It’s always backwards in analysis, isn’t it? / Thank you for reading my injured mother / who aided a game her child played.” (The Pottery Jar). Time is cyclical in Peacocks awareness of what we may consider of our pasts, as we war with the emotions such circumstances force.

Peacock juxtaposes mirth and repulsion, she states; “Thank you for not believing me when I said I was suicidal / (my dad had died and evaporated into smoke.” (The Pottery Jar) And in so wielding she turns what had been to what is, the patient explaining to the therapist, her growth, and taking over as seeker, evidencing her struggle to this juncture, her determination to endure, much owed to the guidance of this woman who lies now, helpless and lost within herself. It is both morbidly horrifying and so much a testament to the ties binding us if we invest in a person wholly. How refreshing the gratitude, almost like considering a marriage, or a life time and honoring it through reflection. I appreciated the lines; “Thank you for simply standing / as I learned how to stand on the sand.” (The Pottery Jar) More than anything, a job well done is that which accomplishes a reflecting back in learning and grace.

The poem; In our Unexpected Future, there is a beautiful awareness of how fleeting those things we relish can be; “All their agitated longings and fears / pulse through ruched necklines, palpate / in taffeta waistlines, outliving their societies, / pillars and palaces burnt in a blink.” How well Peacock knows to blend meaning, sound, rhythm and imagery. This was a feast of acute magnification, continued by; “in folds of silk, surviving silk – / for frocks outlast pillars. But feelings / outlive frocks. The immaterial storms through, / a force beyond years (…) It isn’t what happened that lasts. / Not art, either, but the savory core. What’s felt. / We relish your reprieve as if we’d licked all / the way through the paint, leaving wet marks / to vanish from gowns long gone (but not).” Lines like these defy worded reward or interpretation, they exist before the thought, they create the thought, the world, the truth, and remind me why Peacock is a muse among muses.

Sectioning the book into subtitles (The Pottery Jar / The Hours / Ruby Roses, Kiss Goodbye / Whisper of Liberty) compliments this feeling of transition, ebbing and flowing, walking together, backward and forward, an intensely feminine interpretation of friendship and loyalty I found bewitchingly rendered. In Mandala in the Making, the last poem of the collection, Peacock intuits; “Only when / something’s over can its shape materialize.”Surely this is a raw battle  cry for all to consider, our arc from one experience to another, witnessed by those who love us, never in vain, always challenging and hard to penetrate until we consider the return.  I know I would have felt this deep appreciation for Peacock’s collection irrespective of the professional success she deservedly has had and continues to have and that, is the greatest compliment one writer can bestow on another aside requesting you to read more of Molly Peacock.

1420 words.

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169 thoughts on “I’m sharing my humiliation with you

  1. The only poorly written part of any of this is his email to you. You should be dancing through the streets now that you are no longer affiliated with this clown. Love, you’re far too fine a writer to allow yourself to feel anything but amusement from this. There are people who play at writing and they like to tout their opinions as critical ones, you do not play at anything, this is in your blood. Let me put this as eloquently as I can, fuck it, this clown just opened up doors you’re meant to walk through, he’s nothing and he definitely can’t take away your worth or your talent. Chin up, you got this.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, to be honest, a review site like this should have editors on hand to double check the text for grammar errors and small issues. I read your piece and I honestly didn’t see anything glaring that was wrong with it. Sure, a few minor things could be fixed, I but you made me want to read it. Isn’t that the point?And someone like that to say they didn’t do their part and simply fire you isn’t right. He should have worked with you if he had issues, not just, “There have been some less than stellar comments and this is rubbish, you’re fired.” Let me say this: you are incredibly talented as a writer and your heart is beautiful. You feel things much the same way as I do, and unfortunately, this makes us easy targets for asshats like this. We do the hard the work, and rather than taking the opportunity to help you find out exactly what they want from you, they cut you off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew you would nail it. I think sometimes when someone knows that’s the kind of person you are, they almost grow fangs don’t they? You are absolutely right about that. Short of faking a coat of armor, not sure what can be done to avoid such outcomes. I can handle being told my work isn’t good, it was the way in which it was done, and also I had been previously told my work was good so it was unexpected. I read the other reviews and they were all good, but I would not say, astoundingly improved upon mine, hence why I was baffled. I think some people get off on really pushing someone into the dirt. That said, I’m angry at myself for being upset, I wish I could have risen above it, had more faith in myself. But that’s a foreign language and I have yet to learn it let alone master it. Thank you for reading this, I know it was lengthy and your opinion matters to me so thank you very much

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I don’t know about that. Your review was well thought out and you cited several portions of the text. I’m not sure I’d have the patience to do that. Especially if someone like your editor (or whatever he was) had an attitude like that. Plus, when I write, sometimes intentionally break rules. Like writing incomplete sentences. To prove a point. If someone was willing to take me on to a project like you were in, they’d know my creative writing side would show itself in some form or another. And if they had the gumption to challenge that after receiving several reviews, it would hurt. But I wouldn’t take the high road and just leave it alone. Sometimes people like that need to be put in their place.


  3. I have no words. The truth of the matter is that I know just how you feel. I’ve been “shot down” in the comment section of various websites before, especially those regarding reviews and feedback. It’s irritating. You offer your true, honest assessment (which, in your case, is detailed, extensive, and eye-opening,) and you just get thrown for a loop. It’s quite frustrating. Don’t take it too personally, though. You’re better off without that kind of negativity. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The comment section of anywhere on social media is HORRIBLE sometimes isn’t it? This was a job and I was fired in quite an ugly and disrespectful way. I feel that when you let someone go you should do it with a bit of class, but I think these days we’re devolving in terms of respect ! Thank you for your kind words. I am grateful!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If this Lenny had any literary sense, he wouldn’t have written such a meaningless email to you! It’s better to work on your own than being attached to such persons who fail to understand what actually a ‘good review’ means.

    Cheers, Candice, you are a gem of a poet and a great reviewer…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah that’s a lovely way of putting it. I feel better just reading your words. I definitely agree about the exorcism of anything negative and hurtful or it will fester. I’m still smarting but more from my upset over it than the actual upset if that makes any sense! Thank you !

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Do not feel humiliated, I cannot understand why the curt and cold rejection. I am always running on sentences (people worry too much about grammar) and it seemed to be an impassioned and well researched and thought out piece. If this is any comfort I read you and would never read the South Florida And Dulwich Poetry Rant and Review or whatever it is called.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh but I did. Maybe being European I’m fond of run-on-sentences in fact I may increase my yield 😉 I don’t see it as a deal-breaker but he/she/it did and moreover, the humiliation was in the sting of his words meant to create such. I shouldn’t fall for it, but every time I do 😉 Such is my weakness. So the humiliation is really in my response not in the provocation you know? I DEFINITELY agree people worry too much about grammar I mean I really believe this because the world is intolerant and ability is not grammar. 🙂 You made me smile my friend a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well Bolano (whom I love) totally rejected all the sterile don’t of creative writing and the critics loved him and his 1000 page opus 2666 was chosen by Oprah and it was sold at airports. In English there is this whole minimal trend which shows a lack of knowledge of the truly cutting writing in European languages. As well as Bolano in Spanish there was Sebald in German (though run on sentences are allowed in German, look at Kafka. So fuck them

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Quite right about the English language (in recent decades) preferring the more sterile approach. I put this at the hands of the MFA programs that literally take the joy of writing out and put the formula in. I’m sure they can cook some wonderful buns and cakes but as for true expression? That bird was gutted and buried years past. The writers of old would be loathed today were it not for their history, just as the writers of new would be great bedtime sleep medication for anyone seeking something novel or unique. I loathe most modern authors work as stuffy as I may sound for saying so, it’s because of its overworked formula and underworked soul. The minimal trend is so accurate, in furniture, thought, literature, the list goes on. Glad for the S. American authors, they’re still permitted free expression – hence my appreciation for Marquez et al. I must read Bolano. I love your last line, you really are the most eloquent creature 😉 (actually, you really are).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you, Bolano reaffirmed my faith in literature. As you can probably tell I haven’t really read much of works after 1970 apart from Ballard but Bolano blew me away. Heavy surrealist influence and break all those stupid creative writing rules. Since when did creativity ever subscribe to rules and become so professional?


  6. Oh gosh. I get that the feedback was truly hurtful to hear and felt unexpected given their previous acceptance. I know the type of comment thought to be kind is “They don’t know what they’re talking about; you’re a fantastic writer, f— them!” Once you get past the emotional reaction of this, however, I might encourage you to try and hear the truth of what they’re saying to help you improve. I have to say as someone who’s done editing professionally for over 20 years, although not full time, that I’m in agreement with their assessment. If I was to look at your review, every sentence would need to be rewritten, which is just to Maureen chance gap between what’s expected as a draft of the final product for a ternal is able to support. If I was to look at your review, every sentence would need to be rewritten, which is just a greater gap between what’s expected as a draft and the published version that they may be willing or able to support. Is there a writing class you can take near you, or some way for you to get more specific feedback?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t need kindness I appreciate truth. I was an editor also and have written for years, I respectfully do not think everything needs a rewriting or edit I think it’s a different style, and I was okay with it in other settings but not this one. As a kid I took writing classes. I hear what you are saying. My issue was how it was said and how I felt, I recognized that they genuinely felt my writing wasn’t good. I believe my writing is very good but nobody likes everything and that’s okay. I appreciate your opinion and honesty.


      1. I’m upset with myself now, because I thought it was going to be a waste of time to encourage you to accept feedback but wrote anyway. If you don’t see the paradox in saying you appreciate truth but refuse to be open to anything other than your personal truth (that your writing is “very good”) and not taking any opportunity to take a class, seek out other feedback, or research the difference between stylistic differences and correct punctuation, then that is up to you.


  7. Of course, as per Murphy’s law, the error-filled dictated version of my comment posted as my corrections didn’t take! Let’s try that again:

    Oh gosh. I get that the feedback was truly hurtful to hear and felt unexpected given their previous acceptance. I know the type of comment thought to be kind is “They don’t know what they’re talking about; you’re a fantastic writer, f— them!” Once you get past the emotional reaction of this, however, I might encourage you to try and hear the truth of what they’re saying to help you improve.

    I have to say as someone who’s done editing professionally for over 20 years, although not full time, that I’m in agreement with their assessment. If I was to look at your review, every sentence would need to be rewritten, which is just a greater gap between what’s expected as a draft and the published version that they may be willing or able to support. Is there a writing class you can take near you, or some way for you to get more specific feedback?


    1. I got the first version thank you. As an addition I re-read what you wrote and definitely don’t need a plethora of “you are fantastic” comments about my writing that was clearly not my intention as stated in prior comments. Equally however I disagree with you that every sentence here would need re writing. It’s a stylistic issue, you do not like my style clearly, but others really do, this is true of every author and that’s okay. Believe me i hear truth and appreciate truth. I just find cruelty off putting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wasn’t implying that was your intention… style is one thing but improper punctuation, poor word choice, etc., is another. I’d suggest if you are going to take the position that your writing isn’t bad but is just “your style” then you likely won’t be able to improve. Have teachers or editors said your writing is fine as-is, or just fans/readers?


      2. (i.e. it doesn’t seem like you can hear truth if the only truth you can hear is “my writing is just fine.” There’s no point in my arguing with you, however.


      3. Candice, do not listen to this: it’s patronising at best. Whoever this is is clearly intent on misunderstanding what you are saying – no point debating with people like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. delaneykay,

    Thank you for proofreading Candice’s reply and pointing out the errors- I’m sure it’s appreciated. I personally would have pointed out these mistakes in the original review, rather than in a disparaging comment of a comment to prove a point and possibly in a private message; maybe without suggesting she needs to go back to school. But that’s me.

    I’m no writer (clearly), I write code by trade, so I can certainly appreciate the need for peer review, proofing and the importance of a well-placed semicolon; but I also know that tearing down someone who respectfully disagrees with my assessment of their coding style won’t necessarily make them a better programmer. People tend to double-down (ugh) when criticised in such a manner, respectful debate is far healthier and more welcome.

    Nonetheless, if your intention was truly to help, I thank you and I will say that fellow professionals don’t always make the best teachers, I’ve certainly been guilty of condescension in the past, as much as I hate when it happens to me. I take your point that the best writers are constantly learning – that is 100% true in my field; it’s one of the reasons I encourage Candice to persevere when she doubts herself and to push forward and to try new things- not that she’s new to writing, reviewing editing or teaching.

    I should practice what I preach, but I haven’t taken the time to properly proofread this, because it’s just a comment on a Website, and I’m busy drinking. So there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. For example:
    I got the first version, thank you. As an addition, I re-read what you wrote and definitely don’t need a plethora of “you are fantastic” comments about my writing; that was clearly not my intention as stated in prior comments. Equally, however, I disagree with you that every sentence here would need rewriting. It’s a stylistic issue; you do not like my style, clearly, but others really do. This is true of every author and that’s okay. Believe me, I hear truth and appreciate truth. I just find cruelty off-putting.

    That’s 11 edits.


    1. Well aren’t you the most arrogant prick that ever walked the planet? Do you really think this is helpful at all? Does acting superior to her really benefit you in the least bit. Are you going to correct my post now? You’ve been in this business 20 years and you don’t think that what you are doing now is pretty much parallel to the poor and unprofessional way she was handled?

      Most of us who are commenting on this post love this lady a whole hell of a lot. I don’t recall Candice asking for another critique of her work. I really don’t recall her asking for your personal opinion on it at all. So what’s the harm in simply walking by a tragic scene that you disagree with? Perhaps simply not commenting at all. Let me guess, you were just trying to help right?

      How much help do you think your comments have provided?

      Did you actually think that you approached this from a standpoint of someone who is trying to help?

      No, I’ll go ahead and answer for you. No, you didn’t. The final post you made here was you clear intention. I’m right you are wrong and here let me rub your nose in it for good measure.

      So I hope you are proud of yourself for using my friend’s unfortunate circumstance to gain a little bit of much needed “self love”. Your attitude and dedication to being “right” can now be an inspiration to us all. Well done.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I’m not the “most arrogant prick on the planet” and yes, I think trying to point out an opportunity to someone who seems to be missing is a helpful standpoint. You are right, I switched to an “I actually do know what I’m talking about” attitude in the final post and that was not a kind thing to do; it was frustration-driven and I shouldn’t have bothered, as you accurately pointed out.

        That being said, I’m not sure how you who “love this lady a hell of a lot” are helping her by reassuring her that her writing is great and editors are all wrong. That attitude is just going to stop her from having her writing be seen by a larger audience, which I think is a shame – if I thought her writing was totally worthless, I wouldn’t have bothered to comment at all.

        It’s a lot easier to respect a response like “Hm! Maybe there are things I can work on to be a better writer!” (the best professionals are always lifelong learners in my experience) than an insistence that no improvement is needed. You can say that being on the nose is “poor and unprofessional” but if gentle hints don’t result in any awareness the only other choice is leaving her in her “tragic scene.”

        I don’t know what else to say. I do apologize for being hurtful as that wasn’t my initial intention.


      2. Your approach was brutal after her initial post of “thank you for your opinion and your suggestions” and Even when she said she “wasn’t going to have this conversation” that wasn’t enough for you. You intentionally went after her yet again. My outrage and frustration was with your “if your not going to listen to me, then there is no since in arguing with you.” And when I read that I literally said out loud, “She’s not asking for an argument…she is politely trying to tell you “thank you for your opinion…please leave me alone now.”

        If you care to scroll back up and look at my comment, I did not tell her that her review was fine. She was handled in a rough manner and she felt like she should be ashamed. If she felt like she did her best, there was no cause for shame. Her self confidence was damaged so I told her I recognize her as the strong person she is…and that she can recover.” That is what someone who loves you does for you when they see you are down. They pick you up, dust you off, hug you and tell you that you are worth something. I love Candice very deeply. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her to help her through a difficult time. She deserves to be handled with more class…the same applies to the way you have approached her. My post her was a step up in defense. To say, “hold on a minute….Im not going to let you talk to her like that.”

        She deserves her dignity and I stepped in to defend it.

        Liked by 1 person

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