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Homprang Chaleekanha, the well-known “Maw Samunphrai” (Doctor of Herbal Medicine) and teacher of Thai Traditional Massage and Herbal Medicine all over the world, was not only banned from The Academy of American Poets Forum at Poets.org on May 22nd, 2008, but on June 4th, 2008, the thread containing all her 20 odd posts was deleted from the Forum altogether.
Along with the unique style and profound content of her posts, which were much admired by everyone who had the good fortune to read them, the whole record of her dispute with Poets.org has now been expunged.
Homprang’s only transgression was to write a series of clear, cogent and unfailingly interesting letters in defense of her husband, the poet Christopher Woodman, on a thread especially set up for her by the Site Administrator called “Complaints on the Forum.” Unfortunately for her and her cause, her letters attracted very considerable support from Poets.org Members, and her efforts highlighted the legitimacy of the struggle to speak openly about abuse not only on the Poets.org Forum but elsewhere on the net, including on the Poets & Writers forum at Pw.org.
On the penultimate day, May 21st, Poets.org’s case against Christopher Woodman collapsed completely when a key Moderator, sbunch (sic.), posted one of Christopher’s earlier PMs to him, thus breaking not only a key Poets.org injunction against posting other people’s PMs but exposing the whole Poets.org argument against Christopher to ridicule. Indeed, in the posts immediately following that faux pas, posts put up, take note, by members of the Forum in very good standing, it was clear that not only was Christopher being framed, he was being harassed—by The Academy of American Poets!
Later on the same day, still May 21st, 2008, Homprang Chaleekanha was issued a warning by the Site Administrator, Christine Klocek-Lim:
Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 1:50 pm
This conversation has become exceedingly tedious. Christopher was banned for violating the Guidelines. Nothing you say here in this thread will change this. It really doesn't matter to me what you or Christopher think happened. It doesn't really matter how unfair you think it all is. Christopher violated the Guidelines, was warned, was let back in, and then violated the Guidelines again. End of story.
You are on the verge of being banned for violating the Guidelines because of your continued agitation regarding your perceived interpretation of other people's behavior, your continued hijacking of threads (not this one, the other one), and your complete inability to understand that Poets.org has the right to delete, move, lock, and otherwise modify any posts made by any members if the Mods and Admins deem it necessary for the protection of our members and this site.
Homprang replied as follows—and her last post is important to read carefully in the context because it not only gives a good feeling for the tone and human quality of her writing, but demonstrates so dramatically how far such discourse is from anything that Christine Klocek-Lim had said about Homprang in her warning:
Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 10:11 pm
I'm not going to say anything I'm not supposed to say, don't worry.
Just two points.
First of all, both Christopher and I didn't like the Monster Moderator Satires on Poets.net, or at least we felt they weren't going to be helpful. We felt they were even a bit unfair in some ways because they hit at some things that were good in the moderators too, like what they said about Kaltica. That wasn't a good thing to say at all.
So let me say this. In this whole discussion about what Christopher has done or not done and, most importantly, what he stands for, some very good voices have been heard. I loved Larina's care for me even when she sometimes said things I didn't agree with, and Catherine too was always thoughtful and loving. Hatrabbit was so funny and quirky too, he made me laugh, and I know Christopher really likes his poetry. And Kaltica is always very fair. In fact Kaltica was the first Moderator to greet Christopher when he first came here, and that was very welcoming and positive and Christopher thanked him for that at the time. Kaltica also recognized the honesty combined with skill and professionalism in TomWest, who was a real tear-away (is that the word?) fire-brand (?) before he came here. As Monday Love he burned everyone to a crisp on Foetry.com, and as Sawmygirl he got ousted from Pw.org after just one month of brilliant but controversial critiques. In a way, Kaltica made TomWest by accepting him, it seems to me, and you are very lucky to have them both. That's my opinion.
So that's a lot of moderators, and they're all very good people I know--even if some of them make me so angry at times, and say different things when they want to.
Christopher often talks about Jonathan Swift. He says Jonathan Swift would have torn any moderator to shreds but that he never confused a moderator with a person. He always loved individual people, Christopher says, but hated people in positions.
The other point which may surprise you is that Christopher freely admits he is very dangerous, and if he had stayed he would certainly have caused you all sorts of problems. Because he's different from all the other poets on this site, you see--he's a poet who has no career as a poet, and never will have. He didn't start writing poetry until he was 50, for a start, and now at almost 70 he knows no one is ever going to read his books, which he loves so much. So he is not afraid to be misunderstood or even humiliated, and he is not afraid to take on anybody. He would have come back over and over again to the same abuses, too, and particularly the ones that involved him personally.
The most dangerous thing of all about Christopher is that he is always considerate and careful, and has no need to insult people. So your rules could never have stopped him, and had he stayed he would certainly have made you think about everything.
He says he's going to write something about all of this for Poets.net, and hopes very much you will all get to read it. He says he hopes he is going to be able to write it in such a way that you will also like reading it. I think he will.
And me? I'm a doctor, a herbalist, a midwife and a therapist. I've done my best to spread a little healing around here too, and I hope you can accept that. Christopher says I have helped him a lot to understand why there is so much pain and confusion here and everywhere else. I hope I have helped you with that too. I'm not involved myself, you see, so that makes it much easier for me. I couldn't do this in my own country, to stay calm and clear like this when everything is turned upside down.
I wai you, and that's the best I can do. If you go to my website you can see a photograph of my most important teacher on the page with my credits. If you look at her and her husband and then think about yourselves, maybe you will understand why we have all come together.
Immediately following this conciliatory and “healing” post, the whole thread was not only locked, but Homprang Chaleekanha was banned from the Forum altogether with these words from the Poets.org Site Administrator, Christine Klocek-Lim:
Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:48 am
Yes, we are done with this thread now. Apparently, rancor has a longer shelf life than a twinkie.
On June 4th, 2008, Homprang Chaleekanha’s thread was erased from the records of The Academy of American Poets altogether—in the Poets.org euphemism it was “pruned,” not “deleted.” This indefensible response to Homprang’s dignity, clarity and patience makes any kind of public assessment of Christopher Woodman’s cause now a great deal more difficult. But history shows that such draconian measures tend to have the opposite effect in the long run--many people made copies of the thread, needless to say, and indeed the discussion of the whole matter is just beginning!
Christopher has fought hard against the business interests that are so distorting the work at both Poets & Writers and The Academy of American Poets, and we feel he is to be congratulated for having behaved so politely and constructively in all his dealings with them. Those of you who have followed this saga over the past six months, both for him and against him, surely have by now formed your opinion of why he and his wife were banned and all their writing deleted. Please do feel free to comment as freely as you feel you can below, and Anonymously too if you wish, of course. Do not spare the rod if you feel this couple have been snide, tricky or abusive, and please do not spare the details if you feel they are in fact martyrs to a worthy cause.
Or anywhere in between.