Nam si vos omnibus imperitare vultis, sequitur ut omnes servitutem accipiant?
(Tacitus, Annales XII, xxxvii)

26 Nov 2009

Fleaing the Trolls

I have been left with no alternative consistent with honour other than to resign from Eratosphere, a forum where many of the poets I publish meet to discuss various topics, after a campaign there and on other boards by a handful of very vocal members who in loose coalition consistently trolled announcements concerning SCR, The Flea and The Chimaera because I had dared to publish four poems (one in SCR, picked by blind panel selection, two in one issue of The Chimaera, and one in one issue of The Flea — four poems out of nearly one thousand other poems published) by a poet of whom they disapprove. The publication was consistent with my editorial policy as stated here and elsewhere of publishing the poem irrespective of any factors outside the text of the poem.

This loose coalition claimed that their harassment was justified because of the poet's alleged expression of extreme politics elsewhere (though not in the poems), but since the Moral Arbiters did not behave in a remotely similar matter concerning poets such as Philip Larkin, who expressed abusive attitudes at least as offensive as those allegedly expressed by their target, or such as the many poets who publish at Quadrant magazine, whose chief editor actively and proudly denies that genocide occurred against Australian indigenous people, I can only surmise that their motives relate to personal animosity towards that poeta non grata rather than any political or humanitarian principle.

My honour is very important to me: for that reason, and because of the unpleasantness caused by the ongoing harassment of my journals, I have been forced to resign from that particular board. Followers of The Chimaera and The Flea can no longer expect to find announcements about themes, publication and other matters on the Eratosphere forum. I will make such announcements on other forums such as Gazebo, on the Chimaera and Flea blogs, on Facebook including the Chimaera and Flea Groups, and on Twitter. I apologise for the inconvenience.

I intend to stick to my editorial principles, for I could not otherwise go on with the job (despite the fabulous salary). One of the self-proclaimed Moral Arbiters opined that there are criteria more important than editorial principles which should be enforced. I suppose he means that there are some people whose characters absolutely disqualify them from having poems published anywhere. Who should be empowered to make that decision? Should editors meekly hand over their judgments to a self-appointed group of witch-finders? Maybe the witch-finders can publish a list of poetae non gratae so editors can simply exclude work based on the ratings therein.

Poets who submit work to The Chimaera or The Flea can be sure of at least this: that their work will be judged solely on its merits as poetry, not on any personal bias or assumptions of the editors concerning that poet's character or opinions outside the work submitted; and that once it has been selected for publication in The Chimaera or The Flea, I will utterly and entirely defend the poem's right to be published, even if the whole world tries to force me to do otherwise on grounds extrinsic to the poem itself.


Post script: I have received two very personal and abusive comments about this post, which I have deleted. I wish to make it quite clear that I will not be allowing comments that include personal insult and defamation. I think these people need to pause and take a long, hard look at themselves.


Angela France said...

I loathe bullying of any sort.

I doubt anyone who knows you would even give a thought to malicious emails of the sort you describe. You are transparently and compassionate man.

I am glad to know you.

Angela xx

JaxMyth said...

You and I Paul may disagree politically (even strongly) in many areas and on many levels but I have no doubt whatsoever about your probity.

The places you leave are the poorer for the loss.

Jan Iwaszkiewicz aka JaxMyth

Pat said...

My loyalty to you is well known and well-deserved...and I don't give loyalty lightly. We've worked together for a few years now and I wasn't born they say, I was born at night, but not last night. : ) I know from working with you, corresponding with you that you are, as Angela noted and knows, one of the most transparently compassionate people I've ever met online. Not to mention, one of the wittiest, easy-going taskmasters I've ever encountered. : )

I know you abhor censorship but also know you abhor discimination in any form and labor to keep it out of all your journals. I also know that when you select a poem for one of your journals, it is because it meets the high standards, all of them, that you have set for it.

I am terribly saddened to see you harrassed by a few after all you have given to so many.

Jan said it best--the places you leave are poorer for the loss.

We all are.


janetkenny said...

Your editorial honesty and inclusiveness have widened the potential for serious online poetry. You are indisputably the most innovative and open-minded poetry editor that I have encountered.

To suggest otherwise is outrageous.

You are able to attract some of the most established poets because they recognise your exceptional ability and humanity.

I am proud to know you.

Janet Kenny

Angela France said...

My post lost a couple of words in transmission - it should say 'transparently an honourable and compassionate man'

Caratacus said...

Thanks for your support. I have been contacted privately by a number of poets expressing support for me and disgust at the behaviour over the last few years of these hardline activists on a few poetry boards. Two poets have said that "Matthew Hopkins" was directly involved in forcing them from boards.

Caratacus said...

And now I learn of yet another forced from poetry boards by a member of this group as far back as 2002.

Many thanks to all for their comments and support.

Michelle said...

I believe without reservation in your honour and fine editorial skills.

“Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; Take honor from me, and my life is done.”

marlyat2 said...

With me, innocence is definitely bliss: I have not even the slightest idea of whom you speak. But you are a very special editor in the world of poetry magazines--and should be allowed to do the work just as you see fit.

HeartSong said...

I adore your refusal to bow to peer pressure to bend to bully cliques.