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 [Christopher Woodman] 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?
This comment has been elevated to a post because Jepson has raised some good questions and is deserving of his own thread.
Posted with author's permission.
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