(today's anti-pobiz soapbox rant sponsored by weather related crankiness)
I wanted to laugh hysterically when I read this about last fall’s Tupelo debacle. Seems Mr. Levine is very good at twisting the truth of things around to suit himself. What I don’t get is why not just be honest when the press was deluged, just say, “hey, we promised a critique but just can’t do it, here’s some general notes” and explain the seventeen piles. People might be a disappointed but they could accept the general critique accordingly. Instead it seems like Tupelo was trying to pull something.
But the kicker is the whole thing about mss. being passed onto the second round. I believe, looking at the letters on the Foetry site, that the word used was “automatically” which we know, depending on the tastes and whims of first readers is never guaranteed, so if even if Levine says that was his intention (though I seriously doubt a lawyer would be quite so imprecise with his words), he’s making false and impossible promises. And the whole personal critique is just sort of skeezy. Tell me, who among us has ever really read a poem, a book, by Levine? Or even heard of him outside him being the editor of a (formerly) prestigious press? Not me. I think if I were going to pay that much for mss. critique, I’d choose a poet whose actual WORK has made them well-known, not their position of power in po-biz.
Anyway, I probably shouldn’t get so worked up over something that doesn’t have much to do with me—I didn’t enter the open reading simply because I didn’t have a viable mss. at that point, but I might have if it were another year. And I may have later entered the Dorset Prize at some point. (I did enter the Snowbound contests a couple years ago.) All not very not likely now. And I know lots of great poets who were duped in this situation. Poets who deserve better.