Monday, June 2, 2008

Post Removed

The text of this post has been removed as requested by Bill Knott.

I hope that this situation works out for Mr. Knott.


  1. Jonathan Galassi,

    Why is your publishing company doing this to Bill Knott?

    Why hold the rights to his work hostage?

    What possible good can it do for Farrar Straus & Giroux?

    I don't know Bill Knott personally (only through his blog), but it seems to me that he just wants to republish his work on his own terms.

    Please return his rights.

  2. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    Contrarier and contraier.

    I was just getting ready to reply to Gary Fitzgerald who was running in first place on, and now I'm confronted with exactly the same question posed by Bill Knott!

    I think I understand very well why Farrar Strauss & Giroux can't hand over those rights to you. Publishing involves a whole lot of commitment, and particularly if you are Farrar Strauss & Giroux. You have to commit yourself to your own taste, you have to establish your credentials by who and what you chose--and then those choices define who you are. Like James Laughlin choosing all those losers and then finding out that by choosing them they became winners, and of course so did he--not financially, perish the thought for someone like that, but as a definer of taste and the living proof that if you believe in yourself as a writer, and stay true to that belief even when ignored by everyone else, you will eventually be found by someone who deserves you.

    And Farrar Strauss & Giroux has done that too, lots of times--and presumably they did it with you.

    So what you're asking them to give up is not money, or even rights, but simply who they are. You're asking them to give up what makes them so special, and that is to have believed in a poet like you!

    Finally, when you signed on with them you must have believed in them too. So now you have to accept the fact that you are tied up with your publisher until death do us part. There's no divorce in such a marriage, anymore than you can ever not be bound up entirely with a lover you made love to even if only just once. Such knowledge can never be lost, even if you want to forget it to make love to somebody else. The very thought is unethical!

    Finally, there is only freedom in service, and service means voluntarily surrendering yourself. You can ask somebody to give you back a poem that you have rewritten, of course you can. You can also ask them to pretend they never saw the original, but they'd be lying if they said that they could--and when your biography is written that earlier draft may surface and explain everything one needed to know about you!

    So on to Gary Fitzgerald.

    That's why I'm glad it's been so hard to get myself published, Gary, and why I'm still not able to go your route. It's all very well if I think my work is good, which I do, I think its wonderful, but I still can't find anyone who wants to read it. What good then does it do to make copies of it for myself? From experience, long and bitter, I know that everything I do is getting better and better in my long, silent struggle, so thank God I never short-circuited that process myself!

    On the other hand, I know that if Farrar Strauss & Giroux were ready to take it on it would be a.) ready and b.) read. I'm willing to wait for that day, even if it never comes. That's much better for my poetry!

    Speaking in riddles is best in such a matter, otherwise the lawyers get in on the act!

    Finally, Bill--did we go to school together?

    Christopher Woodman

  3. Bill,

    I suggest you go higher.

    Write to John Turner Sargent Jr. of Macmillan.

    John is the CEO of Macmillan, U.S. operations of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.

    John Sargent Jr's maternal grandfather was Doubleday publisher and New York Mets owner Nelson Doubleday. Rudyard Kipling dedicated his poem "If" to Nelson Doubleday's father. (Kipling was a Doubleday author.)

    The 'Straus' of Farrar, Robert W. Straus Jr., was the son of the Guggenheim fortune. "Look Younger, Live Longer" was Farrar, Straus' first bestseller in 1950, selling 600,000 copies. Bob Giroux (b. 1914) brought TS Eliot, among others, over to Farrar, Straus in 1955 from Harcourt. (Giroux tried to 'edit' Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" and was told to go to hell.)

    TS Eliot's pubishing house, Faber & Faber, bought by Farrar recently, was founded by Sir Maurice Linford Gwyer, who was the Highest Judge of the Supreme Court of India.

    Most have this idea that 'modern poetry publishing' was this series of noble, ragged, shoe-string, underground, operations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Bill, you might as well be taking your case to the Queen of England.

    I would write a heart-felt letter to John.

    Good luck.


  4. ... please remove this "open letter" if you will ...

    i'm hoping things will work out on a private communication;;;;

    thanks for your support...

    i've closed down my blog because of frazzle and confusion

  5. .... jennifer,

    could you please delete this "public plea" .... i shouldn't have posted
    it in my panic...

    maybe i can work this out in private...

    i'd appreciate it if you'd delete it——

    i deleted my blog because i'm having a nervous breakdown of paranoia and despair . . .

    i appreciate your kind words, i wish i were in my right mind about anything ...

    bill knott

  6. Dear Bill,
    I know there have been two or three Comments I have posted on this site that on reflection I realized could have been better, or perhaps shouldn't have been posted at all. Each time I approached Jennifer, and each time she patiently explained to me that she has no editorial powers over the Comments. And I respect that very much.

    I have just passed through a very painful process at where ALL my posts were deleted, and that makes me all the more sensitive to our commitment here to SAVE THE RECORD. Because we know the process is just as important as the final result, and we are dedicated to preserving the whole process so the rest of the world can benefit from our own struggle to say what we mean.

    We have benefitted much from your kind offer to make your poetry available to us, and the discussion of it has reverberated throughout the site. We are also all in e-mail contact with each other, and a huge amount gets said that we are not quite ready to put up in full view. Needless to say, you're coming to us has also enriched those more private exchanges.

    Even your request for us to remove your public plea has been helpful to us, and I can assure you that it has moved us very deeply. You are someone we greatly respect, a "front-line saint" like Samson between the pillars, "racked on his wife" as I describe it in one of my poems --and I quote it like that because I love the image as well as the concept, and am still very much engaged with the idea in one of my books--as with you! So your dilemma has penetrated my writing too, you see, dear Bill--for which I am also very grateful to you.

    Nobody I know who is worth anything is in their right mind about anything either!

    Do keep coming back to us whenever you feel we may be able to help. And needless to say, the help may be curious as none of us have the same point of view about anything either!

    With very best wishes, Christopher


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