The Battle Royale of the Poetry World, Round III

[Posted 11:41 AM by James Panero]

Remember the Battle Royale of the Poetry World we reported on several months ago? Well, ding ding, round three has begun.

Franz Wright is poetry’s prodigal son and author of "How to Eat Friends and Marinate People." Going after William Logan is one thing. But the editors of Poetry? Yes, Poetry. Franz Wright doesn’t know when to quit, and now even Poetry magazine has felt the fury of Wright’s ’email flame.’

It started when Mr. Wright received a form rejection letter from the august journal. It ended with some ugly messages in the Poetry inbox. But Franz may have gotten more than he bargained for in his missives. The May issue of Poetry has published his entire ’send and run’ barrage unedited in its letters page, with a coup de grace from The Editors that just can’t be missed.

Conclusion: Poetry one, Franz . . . still a big zero:

Dear Editor,
The blank form rejection was a nice but predictable touch coming from vengeful, petty, reactionary & aesthetically moridbund [sic] freaks like yourselves. Enjoy your money!

FRANZ WRIGHT
WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

Dear Editor,
You must realize, of course, that no genuinely literate person--no person who actually knows anything about contemporary poetry and the clarity that is coming back into it now after a couple decades of Neo-Formalist gibberish and doggerel--would ever have picked Poetry to shower all that dough on. Your receiving it is more or less proof of the irrelevance you have been enjoying since the seventies.

FRANZ WRIGHT
WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

Dear Editor,
And don’t imagine I am unaware of what you intend to do--you’ll publish my first email, but not the second one. I consider them one and the same note, but you will "edit" to make me look bad, and that will just hurt me so much, I can’t tell you. I am sure I will cry for a week.

FRANZ WRIGHT
WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

Dear Editor,
I had a brief interest in Poetry but won’t be dumb enough to make that mistake again. I think you’re fools.

FRANZ WRIGHT
WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

The Editors respond:

This string of letters might seem to prove Belle Randall’s point. We include them here for three reasons. First, we thought it might be interesting and worthwhile for our readers to get a behind-the-scenes look at the editorial process and the occasional fallout from that. Second, the letters underscore the point that, just as in Harriet Monroe’s day, Poetry treats all manuscripts equally, including those from Pulitzer Prize winners. And finally, well, we just couldn’t resist.

And a hat tip to editor Christian Wiman for not resisting.

A Message from the Editors

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