Anonymous #1 said… [May 26, 2008 8:29 PM]


Anyone writing any poetry here?

I thought not.

Anonymous #2 said... [May 26, 2008 8:52 PM]

If you were a poet looking for life insurance and you decided to go for a policy that had been written by a poet, do you think you could have spotted Wallace Stevens at Hartford?

Anonymous #3 said... [May 27, 2008 12:58 PM]

"Anyone writing any poetry here?

I thought not."

This sums up the stupidity of a certain kind of 'poet' offended by any machinations in the poetry world which don't boil down to 'writing poetry,' as if everything is OK as long there are great assembly lines 'writing poetry.'

According to this silliness, 'writing poetry,' is the only criterion necessary.
Thinking what it means to 'write poetry' in a wider context is a waste of time. We should just be 'writing poetry.'

There is indeed truth to the remark: "I thought not."

This opinion contains no thought.

Christopher Woodman said... [May 27, 2008 11:59 PM--This is an edited version]

It's like all attacks on orthodoxy. If a criticism contradicts a tenet of faith it's an invalid criticism.

If the tenet of faith is that guns make you free, then guns are a non-negotiable matter. If it's a tenet of faith that sex is bad then sex-education is a non-negotiable matter. If it's a tenet of faith that men have a much higher sex drive than women, as it is in a great many cultures in the world today, including where I live, and that true men are truly driven by sex, then you get boys taken by their fathers to brothels at 14 while the mothers wait at home with the daughters until they can be married off as pure virgins--and the crowning irony of that absurd tenet of faith is that in addition to brothels on every street corner you get men who are butterflies and women who run the whole show!

The tenet of faith in American poetry is that the true poet is the product of not just higher but higher and higher and even higher "assembly lines," and that the more a poet pays for it the more right he or she has to be truly successful in it.

Anyone who suggests that the poets, critics, editors or publishers who are running this extravagant industry are self-interested, or even, God-forbid, in it for profit or life insurance, is considered not a real poet. Indeed, I myself am mocked as a jealous loser and amateur all the time, and every word I speak is dismissed as “the product of a willful misunderstanding of the process of editing and publishing poetry!”

And you know who said that? A famous contemporary poetry “critic.”

And you know where? In Poets & Writers Magazine, the bastion of our contemporary faith in exactly what sort of training you need to become a poet in America today, plus the retreats, conferences, camps, travel groups, summers abroad in castles and wine tastings and weekends you have to attend, and what they cost.

But you say you think the son should at least wash the dishes before he goes out to the brothel at 14 with his father?

Just ask the mother for an answer to even that question. "You must be joking," she’ll reply. "Any true mother would keep her daughter carefully cleaning as well as clean at home so she can attract a true man for a husband!"

So that's a monstrous problem, both for their sex and our poetry.

Yes indeed, tenets of faith always polarize, always lead to intolerance, always lead to abuse.

There's nothing wrong with virginity per se, of course there isn't, any more than there's anything wrong with sex--but oh the heart-ache when too much stock is placed in either!

There's nothing wrong with training poets either, even in castles, it's just when you make a religion out of it, install priests at all the altars, and charge an entrance fee not only to get into church but heaven!

And, of course, excommunicate those who say it ain't necessarily so!


  1. Well, I have no reason to go by Anonymous. I go by Jepson on poets.org. I am new to the site. Sadly, I joined poets.org shortly after your departure. I have enjoyed my time so far there. The moderators have been very helpful and friendly with me so far.

    I respond to you as a gentleman representing nobody but himself. I have no sides in this argument. I’m here out of my own personal interest.

    Would it be fair to say that the discussion you bring to the table involves the ethical and business reputations of some well known individuals? If I owned a forum I would be wary to allow personal attacks to continue. A site is not obligated to give any individual a platform for public defamation, especially at the expense of the organization’s own reputation, whether it is credible or not. You’ve listed names and have drawn some very convincing dots, but do you believe it is a ‘me vs them’ fight going on? Maybe the site wishes to remain neutral for now. It would be impossible to remain neutral when a member is ‘naming names’ while calling the reputation of American poetry into question. The situation might’ve been that you flew a little too close to the sun. The actions of the AAP might not have been to cover up and protect a couple of individuals, but an attempt to keep their own integrity intact.

    Of course, all of that is speculative. I don’t know the specifics surrounding your banning. The best I could gather from the threads is that it dealt with a PM behind the scenes. However, all of this becomes a distraction from this message that you have been campaigning.

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that you are accurate in your discussion. There is corruption in poetry from the very top. A massive cover up operation has been taking place, because they don’t want the truth out. The question now is this: What do we do about it? Should we aspiring writers grab our pitchforks and torches and riot outside the gates, demanding the heads of those leaders responsible? Should the ‘who’s who’ in today’s poetry create a committee to investigate the matter internally? Should we do away with poetry contests? What direction should we move in? What is your solution to the problem?

    Eliminating poetry contests won’t solve the issue that dominates in almost every field of entertainment and politics: It’s not what you do, but who you know. People are people both good and bad. There will always be an ‘in’ circle. Will taking down the reputation of a few individuals save poetry?

    Will it hurt it?

    If I submitted a manuscript to a contest for publication and was rejected then began hearing about ‘corruption’ that would make me wonder. Did my manuscript get turned down because I wasn’t sleeping with the judge, or was it really crap anyways? It would be easier to accept the first scenario. I’m not implying you in this situation, but a hypothetical “me” instead. Regardless, the fact is that hardly anybody in America is reading poetry today. They aren’t turning it down because of conspiracy theories either. There aren’t many outlets of poetry publication anymore. What will fill that void if we tear down what’s left? Will it get people reading again?

  2. Jepson,

    Thank you for your thought-provoking comments.

    May I elevate your comment to a post?

    If not, it's okay.



  3. Dear Jepson,
    Yes, a very fair and probing response to what has been a long, confusing and certainly exhausting confrontation, both with Pw.org and Poets.org--with precisely the same results at both.

    I never libeled anyone on either, you see. I merely posted a letter by the well-known critic, Joan Houlihan, that had been published by her in P&W Magazine last November in which she asserted that the two, meticulously documented scams I had recently been caught up in weren't really scams at all. That was quite a statement for me to stomach, particularly as I had submitted 12 full length book manuscripts to Bin Ramke over the years and 8 to Jeffrey Levine, yet they still tricked me!

    On Poets.org I merely posted, and just once, the reply to Joan Houlihan I had submitted to the editors of P&W Magazine myself. That's all, yet I was banned 8 minutes later.

    The second time I merely observed that Joan Houlihan and Jeffrey Levine might like to join the discussion. I know for a fact that Joan Houlihan does follow these discussions very closely, and indeed has entered them before, and specifically on Jeffrey Levine's behalf, so what I suggested was not at all out of the realm of possibility, or even provocative.

    I was banned the second time for suggesting that participation, that's all.

    As to the famous PM, that accusation has been thoroughly examined and dismissed on the "Complaints on the Forum" thread itself.

    Another, much earlier PM of mine, was also posted by the poets.org Moderator 'sbunch.' The thread is locked now but you can go and check out that second PM for yourself, and make up your own mind about it. You will find it on p. 6, posted by sbunch, Wed May 21, 2008 10:32 am.

    I'm repeating myself by saying all this yet again, I know, but I will keep on saying it until it's finally acknowledged that I am being banned because I will not let Joan Houlihan get away with white-washing Bin Ramke or Jeffrey Levine just to protect her own business interests. It's a tiny case in itself, but it's got well-defined handles, you see, and most shadowy tendencies like that don't have handles, and are therefore very easy to dismiss. But you simply can't dismiss what I'm saying because it's true, and so well-documented--all you can do is ban me so I won't say it, and that is precisely what has been happening at the very heart of the poetry establishment in the last two months. Baseless banning of lowly individuals to protect well-placed and well-connected cronies. In poetry!!!!!!!!!!!

    All the best to you, Christopher Woodman

  4. Well...I'm not sure what use my comments would serve as a post, but you have my permission.

  5. I have read that pm in the past. (The one about your wife?) I just went there and noticed it was deleted.

    Ok, I understand the personal grievance, but your articles go on to name others like Jorie Graham. So it sounds like you are playing ball somewhere bigger than your own backyard. Is this about a few indivuals or about the poetry business in general?I'm not trying to dismiss what you are saying either. I have no side in this issue. But if I didn't care I wouldn't be writing.

    You are more connected to this than I. I haven't entered any contests and I apologize if I'm coming off a bit cold.

    My question is how does this conflict become resolved? If there are bad guys manipulating the system do we remove the bad guys or change the system?

  6. Dear Anonymous,
    I'm not quite with you on this one. What PM about my wife are you talking about, as there are several? Believe it or not there are also several that have gone through deletions, and one has even been posted, then deleted, then reposted, then yet again deleted--by the Moderators at Poets.org ("On Complaints on the Forum" Wed May 21, 2008 10:32 am)!

    Is that the one you're referring too?

    Also on Jorie Graham, it just happened that she was quite a hot topic at the time I was active on Poets.org, just having published a new book called Sea Change and at the same time just having been featured on The Academy of American Poets homepage including an interview with her that was written by her own blessed self.

    All the ambiguities involved in all those current stories brought her into the discussion, not some special interest of my own.



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