Jeffrey Levine wrote in the current issue of Poets & Writers:
"Shame on you (P & W's Editor, Kevin Larimer] for so irresponsibly playing with the [Tupelo] press's reputation and for the collateral harm you are doing to our past, present and future authors. Shame on you for not only joining the feeding frenzy, but for giving it so prominent and well respected a forum in which to survive."
Publisher, Tupelo Press
West Hartford, Connecticut
Monday Love replied just above:
He's [Jeffrey Levine's] taking hostages: you attack me, and you attack others! It's the usual defense: Poetry and the publishing of it vaguely excuses everything.
Just recently a paedophile philanthropist made exactly the same defence here in Thailand--in other words, dedicating yourself to children excuses the occasional romp with them! "Look what I've done for the poor, abandoned kids of Thailand," argued the accused, "--all the money I've spent, all the hours and hours I've given of my time, all the homes I've set up, caregivers I've trained, awareness and goodwill I've inspired. Nobody will be able to work with children anymore if you attack me like this!"
He still went to jail--and I don't think anyone would argue that the poor, abandoned children of Thailand are not better off without him!
Of course the offences are not comparable--when I got abused by Jeffrey Levine my soul was not scarred for life. But what I'm fighting for personally is what Metta Sama of Binghamton, New York emphasizes in her P & W letter immediately following Jeffrey Levine's: "But more important, what does Larimer's [Kevin Larimer, P & W Editor's] article suggest about the state of poetry publishing?" What indeed, I want to ask, and wherefore from here?
And I personally want to ask Jeffrey Levine, was America pulled down when the whistle was blown on Richard Nixon's little indiscretion at Watergate, or would Italy collapse if their great communicator, Sylvio Berlusconi, was finally sent to jail, even if just for some little judicial fiddle? And what about Martha Stewart? Did cooking and house decorating come to an end when the boutique queen of America served time? And what was the name of that organized crime figure that argued what a gentleman he was? Did smart suits and ties stop selling after he went up the river?
But let's be serious, all we're asking from Jeffrey Levine is the following:
1.) A clear, unequivocal acknowledgement of precisely what he did that has no place in the repertoire of a respected editor and publisher of poetry;
2.) An immediate clarification of all the conflicts of interest swirling around the composition of the Dorset Prize panel;
3.) An immediate resignation from the Tupelo First Book Prize panel and an agreement to stay off such panels until such time as he can assure all of us he has reformed--and how, and why, and wherefore from here.
With these three, simple steps Jeffrey Levine could preserve not only the reputation of the Tupelo Press but of all the excellent poets it has already published and the network of readings and exhibitions it sponsors. Jeffrey Levine could also set a precedent for all editors of poetry in America, and truly lead the art out of the corporate quagmire into which it is now descending and on up into the clearer, less self-serving air it deserves.
And if you think about it, all that would be so easy to organize with but one huge, most painful exception--the reorganization of Jeffrey Levine's own personal priorities within. To do that would be truly heroic!