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You may or may not have heard about a current imbroglio at Poetry Magazine.  It’s the leading magazine in the area, been publishing for more than 100 years, and is supported by the Poetry Foundation.  It recently published an issue in which the poems were all written by individuals currently or (in a few cases) previously incarcerated. Someone figured out that one of the published poets had been convicted of a child pornography offense and began an effort to pressure the magazine to somehow withdraw or disavow its publication of his poem. They even started up a petition on Change.org calling upon the magazine to do that.

The folks at the Poetry Foundation have so far held firm to their principles. But I think they need to know that there are many of us who support their principled stand.  And I think there are wider implications to this dispute.  If we are going to bar registrants from writing poems, then I suppose there’s no limit on the restrictions we can impose on them.  On the other hand, if we can show that an organization that takes a principled stand like this will find support, that could help more widely.

So, I have started my own petition on Change.org in support of the Poetry Foundation’s decision to stick to their principles and not “depublish” this poet.  I am hoping you might be able to add your name to it and, more importantly, to help bring it to the attention of others who might also support it.  The petition pressuring the board to reverse course started up a week or so ago and now has 1500 signers.  I’m somewhat amazed to report that my petition, which only went up late yesterday, already has nearly 400 when I last checked.

You can sign on to my petition at http://chng.it/qPKGgVP7.  And of course, please do circulate this to anyone else you believe might be interested.

If you want to learn more about this, here’s an article from The Guardian, and another from Slate:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/feb/03/us-magazine-poetry-faces-outcry-for-publishing-work-by-sex-offender

https://slate.com/culture/2021/02/poetry-magazine-prison-incarcerated-writers-kirk-nesset-child-pornography.html

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