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  #1  
Unread 02-03-2021, 10:13 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Default a new kerfuffle surrounds Poetry Mag

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...y-sex-offender
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  #2  
Unread 02-03-2021, 11:55 AM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Letís consider Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza.

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As a composer he is known for writing intensely expressive madrigals and pieces of sacred music that use a chromatic language not heard again until the late 19th century. The best known fact of his life is his gruesome killing of his first wife and her aristocratic lover upon finding them in flagrante delicto. The fascination for his extraordinary music and for his shocking acts have gone hand in hand.
Should we all stop listening to his music because he was a murderer?
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  #3  
Unread 02-03-2021, 01:21 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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(Carlo Gesualdo is no longer able to benefit from any popularity of his music, which IMO makes his music a different sort of issue.)

Nesset's crimes were "possessing, receiving and distributing child sexual abuse images." Those are serious offenses, making the abuse of children profitable. They're not, though, the same as directly abusing children.

Most of us live lifestyles that make profitable abuses we try hard not to know about.

The harm caused by a person convicted of those crimes could fall anywhere on a broad spectrum, depending--among other things--on the number of victims (we know he possessed a lot of these images), the type of abuse, and the amount of influence (if any) on that abuse that was exercised by the distributor of the images. (Regarding influence: hiring someone to create images is different than, say, finding them on the internet and passing them on to friends with similar interests.)

Without knowing anything more than we know, I don't see harm in publishing or reading Nessett's poetry.

Last edited by Max Goodman; 02-03-2021 at 01:24 PM.
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  #4  
Unread 02-03-2021, 01:23 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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So it's okay to have an issue devoted to poetry by people in prison, but only if the thing they did to land in prison wasn't really all that bad?
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Unread 02-03-2021, 02:09 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is online now
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Martin, the question is not whether we should stop enjoying certain artists because of their crimes and scandals, but whether we should start enjoying them due to the extra publicity their crimes and scandals bring to their work.

I had never heard of the musician you mentioned, and would almost certainly never have heard of him if not for the murder. I think the situation of drawing attention to a formerly incarcerated poet's work because of his troubling past, not in spite of it, is similar.

Another question: is the art in question of high enough quality to merit the special attention brought to it by the sensational backstory of the artist? In this case, I didn't think so when I read the published poem. (Then again, so rarely does any of the poetry in Poetry appeal to me that I'm an admittedly poor judge of what work is worthy of that venue's spotlight.)

Other concepts colliding in this particular can of worms:

* Whether all people who commit certain crimes should be deemed incorrigible and/or undeserving of mercy, due to the high rate of recidivism among other people who have committed those same crimes. Is it fair to assume that all pedophiles are incorrigible, because large numbers of pedophiles have demonstrated themselves to be incorrigible? When does prudence cross over into prejudice?

* The ideal degree of rehabilitation vs. retribution in with regard to the justice system in general, and also with regard to particular crimes. Is a crime of passion against one's wife and her lover--a class limited to two--substantially different than a series of crimes of opportunity against a potentially limitless class of potential victims who fit certain age and gender categories? Is owning child porn, and thus having contributed to the demand for a product that victimizes children, substantially different from victimizing children oneself?

* Systemic racial disparities in the application of justice and mercy. (If the formerly-incarcerated poet in this situation were not a white male, I suspect the outcry would be far less.)

* The degree to which the feelings of victims and their families should be considered when those who harmed them receive publicity, for any reason.

* Whether a poetry magazine can use deliberate, willful ignorance of the details of the participating poets' crimes as justification for spotlighting the work of poets who were specifically invited to participate only because they had been convicted of some sort of crime. I think it's one thing to publish a great poet who happens to be incarcerated, and another to make the primary criterion for publication in a particular issue the fact that the poet has served time.

I don't have pat answers for how things should be.

In general, I'm in the "prison should be an instrument of rehabilitation" camp. But I also know that in reality, prison is often nothing even close to an instrument of rehabilitation. Often by design: many decision-makers in the prison industry and in the government bodies that empower it are determined to make prison as horrible as possible, including by turning a blind eye to prison rape. The many traumas of incarceration are far more likely to exacerbate than to cure mental and emotional problems. Is that the prisoners' fault? No. But it's a reality that should be recognized, even while moving towards more rehabilitative and restorative ideas. Such as attempts to decrease the stigma of formerly incarcerated poets.

I do think that a lot of people are naÔve about the existence of very charming criminals who seem like really nice people who deserve a second chance, but who are actually very skilled manipulators without functional consciences. Not all convicted criminals fit that description, but some do. Again, it's important to remain prudent, without crossing the line into prejudice.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 02-03-2021 at 02:14 PM.
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  #6  
Unread 02-03-2021, 03:17 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Oh, this is a test. Well, yes, the work always comes first. Though given the keen competition for Poetry's attention, it better be pretty fucking good poetry. For a possible theme issue, as Roger suggested, maybe How Sensationalizing Can Save A Magazine. Or maybe, instead, an edgy middle of the road thing, like Gardeners In Prison: The Unspoken Truth of Love and Loss and Growing Things.
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  #7  
Unread 02-03-2021, 03:23 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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I'm refusing to participate because everyone ignored my Scottish Poetry kerfuffle.
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  #8  
Unread 02-03-2021, 03:29 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I wouldn't trust my kids with anyone who used the word kerfuffle. Irrational, and I'm not being judgmental, but that's where I stand.
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  #9  
Unread 02-03-2021, 03:33 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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All good points, Julie! I sometimes think of Oscar Wild. We all know why he ended up in prison. (He should not have.) And then, by contrast, there are really messed-up people who should be locked up to protect the public.

There are experts who feel that after a certain age, most (if not all) felons should be released (after rehabilitation) from prison, because they are no longer young and wild, but slothful middle-aged people who just want to sit on the couch and watch TV and are no longer at all interested in committing the kind of crime they committed as a young person.

In most other countries (mostly in Europe I think), prisoners are released much earlier than they are in the US. And most of those former criminals no longer have the inclination to commit a crime.

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I think it's one thing to publish a great poet who happens to be incarcerated, and another to make the primary criterion for publication in a particular issue the fact that the poet has served time.
That’s an excellent point. There are, of course, journals (or their issues) that are specifically devoted to writing by various groups of people — like women poets, gay poets, black poets, disabled poets, or poets who are doctors, farmers, laborers, cattle herders, and whatnot. So maybe having an issue for current or former convicts falls into the same sort of thing? I’m not going to attempt to answer that question.

I like what Roger said: “So it's okay to have an issue devoted to poetry by people in prison, but only if the thing they did to land in prison wasn't really all that bad?”

But speaking of Poetry, I don’t subscribe and rarely read it, especially lately, as I don’t visit the library (due to the pandemic).

(Cross-posted with James and Mark.)

Last edited by Martin Elster; 02-03-2021 at 05:06 PM.
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  #10  
Unread 02-03-2021, 03:34 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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What about hoo-ha?
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