Thursday, December 09, 2004


I Lurrve Poetry

...for some who might access this blog, it is hardly necessary for me to introduce the poetic entity represented by the initials of the title of today's entry...that's right, the universally beloved International Library of Poetry, arguably the biggest scam, in terms of poetry, being run on the internet. I have posted many stories about this operation on many poetry forums, have chased down links debunking this operation and alerted many new poets to their existence, and I'm not in possession of enough time to post the comprehensive list here...nor do I really feel I need to, because poets of any savvy whatsoever know to avoid any operation containing the dreaded initials ILP or connected in any way to I assume any poet that has actually stuck with me this far is in possession of at least some savvy. And yet...poets who access the net often make the initial mistake of trusting these people, and getting very excited when they are informed that their poem has not only been accepted for publication, but is a FINALIST in this year's competition, top prize often along the order of $10,000.

Now, there are a number of directions I could take this line of thought, and my real temptation is to start work, in earnest, regarding my own theories about the poetic economy, which I think works a bit differently than the quid-pro-quo arrangement of liberal economic theory. That work, however, was meant to be one central pillar of PhD work, so it'll take time to really get stuck into all that. Instead, I'll offer any of you less poetically gob-smacked readers this brief overview: ILP, based in Maryland, advertises profusely, offers pie-in-the-sky awards, accepts all submissions for publication and then hits the submitter with a ton of merchandise, time released to extract the maximum possible cash from said submitter by preying on their vanity and their desire to be a published poet. You can track down the details, but suffice it to say, it is all legit, though perhaps not particularly ethical, and certainly nothing anyone wanting to establish themselves as poets should bite at.

However, let's give the devils their due, and thank them for providing the impetus for the creation of the Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest.

All of this, basically, to work my way around to a link I find of more than usual interest when it comes to, one that includes a few words from the minds behind ILP, and is housed in Poets & Writers, a publication that serves basically as a trade journal for the literary arts. In any case, and without further ado (as I must tend to other things...), here is said link.

Faith next, kiddies. I been doing a lot of thinkin'.


P.S. --Just stumbled upon an article entitled Death to the Death of Poetry over at, which, unlike, is a legitimate resource...and in fact, one of the best resources you can hope for if you're researching contemporary (read: since Dickinson and Whitman) American poetry. Go check it out...and search your fave poet while you're at it.

Goddamn ILP! I got boned by them about ten years ago, when a submission to what was represented as a small local contest turned out to be a front for the National Library of Poetry. I was so pissed when I got my semi-finalist notice that I haven't been able to bring myself to find out if I still own the rights to the poem I submitted, which, frankly, was a pretty good one. But it's been tarnished, now.


I never did that gig, though there was probably a time I was susceptible to it...however, my younger sister did, and by then I was well informed of their tactics, which put me in an odd position--she was very excited, and I didn't have the heart to tell her she'd been had. I do try to keep it honest whenever I can, though.

What's interesting to me is that P&W would see it in even as positive a light as that article suggests. What's more surprising to me is some of the poets who have spoken at their conferences for honorariums. I've been battling a bad taste in my mouth re: Lucille Clifton ever since reading that article.

In any case, you could always pull a Wergle Flomp on them, for fun and potential profit.
I don't know that I was particularly susceptible, they just plain misrepresented the contest as being sponsored by our local paper (and certainly never used their name). That's why I was so pissed when I got the letter from NLP - it was an obvious vanity scam, and nothing I would ever have deliberately submitted to. Nevertheless, since they supposedly "published" the poem in one of those foul books of theirs (no, I was never tempted to buy one), I'm unsure of my publishing rights regarding the poem. I'm sure I could find out, but that would require contacting the bastards, which would make me feel too dirty.
If they misrepresented their identity and costs assocated with the contest, then recovering your rights should be cake. Probably less than $100 of lawyering will get you a nasty letter sent to them, and they'll likely find it easier to surrender any rights they grabbed to your work than engage in court. If you wanted to get really nasty, you could push the matter further and get a C&D on future sales of the edition containing your poem. That'd be fun.
Ja, I'd say re-securing copyright shouldn't be too tough. To judge by past performance by this bunch, they usually leave those who do not buy the anthologies out (and for that matter, a single title usually works as a title for multiple anthologies--the paying "winner's" poem is generally prominantly displayed in their own copies...but not in others), so there's a good chance they didn't even print the sucker. Furthermore, it is my understanding that the very most they could demand from you is that you acknowledge previous pub in any later pubs you might secure. Granted, this is enough to discourage submitting it anywhere else...but my guess is you'd be safe simply submitting the poem elsewhere. If they pressed the issue at all, I would definitely suggest taking Paul's advice on the matter.

And, if you feel like hitting them where it hurts, in your particular case, it does seem very much like you might have a case as a result of their misrepresenting themselves.

I can't vouch for this site, and the dates are more than a little old (January 2002), but you might give it a look, and if you feel like it, investigate the matter further: --Any information you do get as a result, I'd highly appreciate it if you sent it along my way as well.

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