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.