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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.

Homprang Chaleekanha

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:

Site Admin

Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 3708
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.


  1. Finally the horse
    is dead. Throw away your sticks
    or find another.

  2. Gary,

    Thanks for saying that--because it shows that although you're a much valued member of this community you still feel free to be critical of the way it handles its rare and ephemeral evidence.

    And rare and ephemeral the evidence is indeed, because this time we're not talking about a judge awarding the prize to her husband--that's old hat, now, that's become BINGO and it's won!

    Alan Cordle did that, indeed did it so well he's now become one of the most famous names in American poetry right up there with that of the most famous poet who has given her name to our poetry's most precious new guideline, The Jorie Graham Rule!

    Of course there are lots of people who would like to dismiss us by saying we're a one horse band, and that's it--but we're not, Gary, in a sense we're just beginning. Because HOMPRANG HAMMERED is just a shot over the bow of whatever that monstrous 'Bismarck' thing is that's sitting there just over the horizon!

    Although we will never stop being vigilant about the sort of corruption and abuse you have in mind in your comment, we want to go much deeper. We want to redeem the whole of American Poetry, you see, we want to restart its engine and then keep it running on the much healthier and more creative fuel it used to run on before--real people who are called to be poets, not groomed or certificated! And part of that process has to be to look at how contemporary American poetry is written, on what principals is it based, who edits it and publishes it and to what conceivable end? What's it for in other words? WHAT IS AMERICAN POETRY FOR?

    Dear Gary, I hope you can overcome your sense of impatience and give HOMPRANG HAMMERED a chance to deliver a fresh message. Because dead horses aren't dead until the body's been indentified, you know, or at least until it's been recovered--just as a murder isn't a murder until there's a victim and a weapon.

    Because we're still nowhere near the courthouse in this case, you see. We know the motive, but are still trying to establish not only what really happened but even what to call the event? In other words, what's the crime?

    But what is really different about this case is a.) a prime suspect has gone public to say no crime was committed at all, and b.) the courts of highest appeal have concurred!

    When that happens the only hope is that someone within the system will step forward with a whistle!

    And Poets.net is the place where you come to find out not just information you can't get elsewhere, but mind openings that can help you to think about what you already know in new and startling ways.

    And you're part of that process, Gary--because you're a good friend and keeping us true!

    I didn't write the key documents made available in HOMPRANG HAMMERED, take note, that is why I can raise my hand and state plainly, these documents are important!


  3. This anonymous Comment was originally posted on June 5, 2008 at 12.04pm as a reply to HOMPRANG HAMMERED before it was elevated to a Post.

    Christopher is like a character in a John Grisham thriller. The law firm of American Poetry, Inc. is a great Vanity Publishing Network and the cover-up is more horrible than the crime.

    If not John Grisham, then the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Dracula, or a terrifying scenario more horrific, where poets are zombies who feed off innocent flesh: the minds, hearts, souls and money of ‘paying poetry customers,’ the would-be poet and hasty poetry reader who has scanned a few contemporary poems and said to themselves “I can do that.”

    The living dead of Poetry, Inc. are no longer concerned with Poetry and its readers, Poetry and its history, for all “readers” are now would-be poets willing to pay for the privilege of being ‘poets’ in a shadowy realm of ‘contemporary anthology’ pretense, manufactured by the lawyers of Poetry, Inc. You sign on the dotted line at the nearest MFA recruitment center and agree to participate in the game: you agree to never ask why it is always night, why some things are just ‘not discussed,’ why the poets wear blank looks and carry black appointment books and blithely abet the pyramid scheme of money-laundering for the secret muse.

    Woodman met a ‘respected’ official of the poetry world, a gentleman calling himself ‘editor’ and ‘poet,’ warm his voice, with unctuous flattery, but once, when Woodman looked away, this smiling editor, with teeth shining like ice, suddenly lurched towards Mr. Woodman’s neck. Woodman looked up in horror. Was it a dream? The ‘editor’ drifted back into the night, complaining he was busy, and had so many clients who needed his expertise. Woodman followed, and met up with a woman who hissed at him like a snake, warning him to leave the gentleman ‘poet’ alone. Woodman went to Policemen and Writers, to the Academy of Poets, Toads, and Spiders, seeking help. Every policeman and toad he encountered had the same blank look and—could it be?—he heard the hissing sound of that woman in a nearby room…

    Madness, I tell you! Madness! The record of Woodman’s complaint! Gone! It was all a dream! Come away, Christopher, come away! In the shadows, here, down by the earthen lake, your fate awaits you, the raven flies and beneath the hidden moon, she is waiting, the proper one, with the ghost-white guidelines in her slender hands…the icy caress of the secretary muse…of Police & Writers...Poets.Ogre...

    Poetry, Inc.!

  4. Dear Christopher:

    I have read and re-read your observations above. I did indeed insinuate that you are beating a dead horse. It’s just that I think that rather than being distracted by how you and your wife were treated by the perpetrators you should address instead why they are angry in the first place. As any Psychologist or detective could tell you, indignation, denial and anger are the first signs of guilt.
    You should focus on the wrongdoing you originally addressed, not the reaction to it (which speaks for itself).


  5. P.S.
    Christopher, you never replied to my suggestion about POD publishing. Why do you hide your work from the world? Is it that rare of a treasure or do you seek the elusive posthumous Pulitzer?

    You should share your poetry! After all, who did you write it for…your great-great-grandmother or the sorry rest of us?

    Time is short, my friend. Go for the gold! Brighten our pitiful lives.

  6. You're good, Gary--I'm glad we're in this together.

    The time will come soon when we can start reading each other!

    What an odd thing, to talk and talk and talk about poetry, yet never share a single morsel of it together!

    But how could we--we're all anorexic!


  7. Gary,

    Christopher does not hide his work from the world.

    He often quotes his poems in conversation to support his argument.

    Gary, just because you "POD" your poems doesn't mean you are 'brightening our pitiful lives' and Christopher is not.

    The way to 'get your poems out there' is not a simple one. The way to build a reputation, to get your poems read, is a complex enterprise, a long journey, and that's why those of us who question po-biz get so much grief--the po-biz people have worked for years and years to get their poems out there; they're working within a rather complex system of rewards and favors, and they don't like the system they are working within questioned.

    Edgar Poe used to ruin poets with a single review. It's not just about getting a nice little 'POD' book out there.

    At poets.net, we are interested in how reputations are made, the complex manner in which this happens.

    You, however, look at all this and chuckle, because you've got it all figured out, and you can't understand what all the fuss is about.

    You look at it this way: There are good poets and bad poets, and Gary Fitzgerald is a good poet, and he has self-published--simple!--so why don't the rest of you all shut up?

    I would humbly suggest you are missing part of the puzzle.

  8. "You look at it this way: There are good poets and bad poets, and Gary Fitzgerald is a good poet, and he has self-published--simple!--so why don't the rest of you all shut up?"

    Who ever said I was a good poet?

    I believe reading poetry should be fun. Not funny, like Collins or Hoagland, but fun. That's all. It can be of any style on any subject, but it must be a pleasurable thing. It can teach or warn or entertain or even frighten, but it must be something you want to do again. And again.

    Maybe all this self-righteous pompous seriousness is what got us into the mess we have today.

  9. Gary,

    Thou doth protest too much.

    "I'm fun, but you're pompous."

    "I"m for pleasure, but you're serious...etc"

    You're a sap.

    You need a good beating around the head and shoulders with your 'pleasurable thing...'

  10. I am cruel to be kind...

    I love you to death, Gary.

  11. Okay, not a 'pleasurable thing...'.

    What, then?

    (and don't go 'Franz Wright' on me.)


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