I happened on poetry.com some years ago and quickly realized it was a scam “publishing” site. The idea behind the site is a budding poet submits their poems along with an address or email. Poetry.com later replies telling the budding poet their work is one of the best they’ve ever seen and they’d like to feature this poem in some publication. The budding poet can receive one of these publications for the low price of $XXX. The scam of course is the only people buying these books are the budding poets. I also get the impression the only poems that end up in the book are the people who pay for the book.
So, the question. Does anyone at poetry.com ever read the poems submitted or is it all auto generated replies? Let’s find out.
I headed over to poetry.com and submitted this lovely gem:
Bile eyes of blue
Bile called the turnip sings,
Once gotten with sour lips turn the spring,
I wretch with heartstrings of yellow lines
Only to miss the forgotten calling of true
Feet sounds of lazy summers call
Awash with liver spotted wanting
The rose wilts in frozen parted secretions
My love stained song dust covered wobble
Liquid springs forth in warm squirts of pus
Fleeting thrusts in dishwater smelted dreams
Salted wounds heal over brown puckering holes
The songbird now recovers in mid-flight
Awake with desires and dot com failures
This burger has no bun
In forward moonlight fog stinks nose goose
I smell forgiving yet still brainsalad
My love waits long turned
Like painted spleen candy
Isn’t that fantastical?
About a month later I received this in the mail
Over the past several months, we have been reviewing the thousands of poems submitted to us, as well as examining the poetic accomplishments of people whose poetry has appeared on the Internet and in various editions released by other poetry publishers in America and Europe. After an exhaustive examination of this poetic artistry, The International Library of Poetry is pleased to inform you that you have been nominated for inclusion in The International Who’s Who in Poetry
Congratulations on your accomplishment, Seven. We look forward to publishing your biographical information on a page dedicated entirely to you. Along with your biographical information, we plan to also include in depth information about your poetry, including your motivations, the meaning poetry has in your life, and your personal philosophical point of view. In addition to dedicating a page entirely to you and your personal background, we have also reserved a second complete page that will be used to showcase a new, unpublished poem that you will provide. This means that …
The International Who’s Who in Poetry will feature two full pages dedicated exclusively to Seven Graylands!
Before going any further, Seven, let me make one thing clear … you were selected for inclusion in this project based on your unique talent and previous poetic accomplishments. We believe you to be one of the most interesting poets we have encountered, so we have set aside two entire pages that will be devoted exclusively to you and your poetry in this special edition. In this regard you are under no obligation whatsoever to submit any entry fee, any subsidy payment, or to make any purchase of any kind.
Seven, please send us your biographical information and new poem right away!
…etc, etc, etc.
Of course I take this with great honour and prepare my biographical information on the off chance they publish this nonsense even if I don’t buy the book.
According to poetry.com, this is the history of Seven Graylands in a nutshell:
Seven Graylands was born in the Makapansgat Valley in the Limpopo Providence of South Africa. His parents died of malaria when he was two months old and Seven was raised in the Our Lady of Virginal Birth Orphanage on the shores of the Limpopo River until he was adopted by an American family at the age of five. His new family moved him to Walla Walla Washington where Seven was taught the English language. At the age of 16, his adopted parents were tragically killed in a farming equipment accident. He struggled to work his way through school and collage and holds a degree in Language Arts. He teaches Language at a grade school and in his off time enjoys collecting bugs and fungus.
The above submission resulted in a cascade of junk mail in the post from poetry.com all praising my poems. The more praise I received from them, then more I submitted. Here’s another gem that received some honour of “the best something of poets in the something something”
Rat cheese blue walls of tropics
The ranch of oven cleaning cakes
Strong smelling love residue
Clinging to carpets like boiled goiters
Forever embedded in shag piled filth
Your love and fears embrace worms of
Quilted lung clotted disease
Mouth to mouth to kidney spotted rose
vomiting out my love for you.
Pools of drooled foot shampoo
I crucify crackers
and smoked oysters
in your name
This stain will never come out!
Grandmother smells of death and clam chowder
Puddles of drained fat afterbirth on toast
Side of mucous fried gray matter
Reading Haiku that isn’t
Too many syllables
In the first line
Not enough in the second
And one extra line to boot
That one was titled “Love Sonnet to Jon Bonet Ramsey”
Ok, so the whole thing is silly. What can I say? I’m easily amused.
At the end of the day I think we can safely say no one at poetry.com ever reads the stuff submitted.