Behind the scenes at The Great Paris Review Poetry Purge of 2010, part 8: poets paid, 2005 post-mortem.
Call it a happy end to a sad story. Or a respectful correction to a neophyte’s false step.
Paris Review editor Lorin Stein has begun to write Purgerati to offer the same $150 payment that would have been given to them if their work had appeared an issue, along with an offer for their work to be printed on Paris Review’s blog. We’ve also gotten some background the 2005 Purge.
Whether Stein will offer payment–75 dollars a poem–or web publication or both to all 2010 Purgerati remains to be seen.
“I received a new email and it feels utterly respectful,” Anna George Meek, one of the Purgerati, writes in our comment boxes. “I was offered compensation, a chance to appear on Paris Review Daily, an acknowledgement that this was an odd and not-to-be-repeated event, and best of all, warm greetings. This is the poetry community I love! Well done, Mr. Stein, and thanks.”
What follows is a copy of one email from Stein, not Meek’s; the email was sent along with the form rejection sent out 10 days before. The person addressed declined to be named or quoted; it does bear mentioning, however, that the addressee holds the title of editor at one of the top 10 literary journals in the United States.
Over the last week I’ve been persuaded–by very good arguments from friends and poets I admire–that we ought to offer compensation for all poems accepted by our previous editors.
I hope you’ll accept the fee of [XXX] that we would have paid had your [poem/poems] run in the magazine. (To receive this, please send me your mailing address and Social Security number.)
If you’re interested, we would also like to publish [X] in The Paris Review Daily, our electronic magazine, with a brief introduction by Meghan or Dan. (Since we launched the Daily, two months ago, we have had more than 80,000 readers.)
I hope this goes some way toward expressing my regret, and our admiration for your work.
Although accepting poems to cover a poetry section years into the future is not as rare for a literary journal, wholesale un-accepting years’ worth of accepted work is a sui generis and specific to Paris Review.
With the 2010 Purge finally winding down into a resolution, it’s , the differences between the 2010 and 2005 Purges have bubbled up. Before Richard Howard left The Paris Review in 2005, and before the he was replaced by Charles Simic and, later, Meghan O’Rourke, now-former Paris Review editor Philip Gourevich disposed of years’ worth of accepted poems–sources set that number anywhere from five to eight years. Why Howard would accept so many poems so many years in advance of publication remains unexplained, as well as why former poetry editors turned advisory editors Dan Chiasson and Meghan O’Rourke would in turn accept what has been estimated to be one year’s worth of poems.
Six days ago, poet Joel Brouwer, writing on the Facebook page of Don Share, a poetry editor at Poetry who has followed the story closely online, shared a first-hand account from the Gourevich-led Purge of 2005.
After Howard had taken “several” of his poems 2003, Brouwer was told in a 2004 letter that his work was scheduled for Fall 2005 publication. “[B]ut then in spring 05 I was told they’d been un-accepted,” he writes.
“I sent Philip Gourevitch a very windy letter, full of high-minded outrage, and he patiently wrote back to say grow up a little, this happens all the time in the magazine business, it’s called “killing.” I went to a freelancer friend and said, Really? Does this happen all the time in the magazine business? And she said, Yep. So I learned something there, and grew up a little.
“Clearly PR should get a grip and not let its poetry eds accept more poems than they can print in a timely fashion,” Brouwer writes, suggesting the current editors send kill fees to the poets, which they have since begin to do.”Given PR’s track record, I don’t know why anyone would send to them any more anyway. There are so many other great places to send.”
[more stuff here TK]