Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poetry.com Returns

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Once upon a time, there was an infamous vanity anthology company called the International Library of Poetry, also known by the name of its website, Poetry.com.

The ILP advertised free poetry contests in newspapers and magazines, with cash prizes for the finalists and publication in a hardbound anthology for finalists and semi-finalists. The contest wasn't a real contest, however. Just about everyone who submitted a poem was declared a semi-finalist, and offered the "opportunity" to buy the anthology in which their work was to appear (with, of course, a discount for multiple purchases). If they stumped up for the anthology, they were bombarded by offers of other ways to spend money: yet more contests, their poems embossed on coffee mugs or enshrined on plaques, memberships in poets’ societies (which demanded $100 or more in annual dues), attendance at poetry conferences (which cost as much as $600, travel and hotel not included).

In 2009, the ILP finally went bust, and the Poetry.com domain was acquired by self-publishing service Lulu.com (I blogged about this when it happened). Lulu kept the functionality of the Poetry.com website--including the thousands of poems published by Poetry.com participants over the years--but discontinued the vanity anthologies and the merchandising aspects of the business.

Good news for poets--though of course there was no shortage of similar schemes to take the ILP's place.

Now it appears that the Poetry.com domain has changed hands again. The new owner is a company called Newton Rhymes, LLC, which filed a trademark application for the Poetry.com name in January of this year. Virtually no information on Newton Rhymes turns up in a web search, other than the fact that it is a brand-new business based in Massachusetts and licensed in New York, which also owns a rather neglected-looking website called TRCornelius.com that advertises writing contests.

Former Poetry.com participants found out about the change via an email solicitation at the end of March, inviting them to "claim" their poems on the re-launched Poetry.com website and "share your message with the world!"

The new Poetry.com--which is already drawing participants--features a points and badges system, allowing poets to earn points for activities such as providing critiques and promoting Poetry.com on social media. Poets who amass 25,000 points earn an ugly pin. The poets who earn the most points for doing various things that boil down to promoting the site are promised an appearance on national TV (no details on when or where).

Though the junk mail-style tone of the solicitation email and the tacky look of the re-vamped website don't bode well, membership in the new Poetry.com is free, and there's no sign of the contests, anthologies, coffee mugs, or other cheesy methods by which the ILP extracted cash from poet-participants.

There also doesn't appear to be any advertising--which raises the question of how the new Poetry.com pays for itself, and what's in it for Newton Rhymes. A hint, possibly, can be found in the Privacy Policy (my bolding): "We will receive and store any information you enter on the Web Site or give us in any other way that personally identifies you...By submitting this personally identifiable information to us you agree to receive email and postal mail communication from us and our marketing partners." In other words, anyone who signs up for the new Poetry.com website should expect to be solicited.

I'll be keeping an eye on the new Poetry.com, and will update this post if anything changes.

29 comments:

Brian Bigelow said...

I was published through them several years ago and I would say that your view of how they used to be is accurate. Spent quite a bit for the edition I still have, mine is the first poem in the book. No, they are not the only one. Most of the poetry publishers are actually worse than ILP was from taking a look more recently. Just look around for getting a poetry book published of your own work, those prices make ILP look like a bargain. That is something you should be writing about.

Matt Borgard said...

The Poetry.com anthology, from what I remember, cost $60 per copy and was marketed solely to the poets included. Having them publish a book of your poetry was something closer to $1500, I believe.

Lulu will print you a small poetry book for under $8 a copy.

Take a look at Victoria's excellent link. There were and are several better options for poets than vanity anthologies.

BuffySquirrel said...

Ah yes. In the heady days of our youth, my husband sent a poem to the UK branch of what I believe was these very same folks, the original poetry.com.

When the suggestion we buy the book, plaques, and other merchandise arrived we realised what was really going on. However, my mother-in-law bought a copy of the book and often said that she derived great pleasure and comfort from reading the poem on the opposite page to my husband's. So it wasn't all bad.

Mozette said...

I remember years ago, I was contacted by them to 'publish in their book of books for poets' where I could find my works amongst other great poets like myself. However, I had to fork out over $60 (postage not included) to buy the damned book and then, when I was offered to attend their 'Poetry Conference', I had to pay for my accommodation and airfare myself... forget that I was getting in for free; where the hell was I going to stay? On the streets? How was going to get there, on a witch's broom all the way from Australia?

Well, one of my friends went through with the whole she-bang and she was royally ripped off. The book was crap, and she couldn't find her work in it (but found mine; and it looked like crap and wasn't set out the way I had sent it). The trophy everyone had received was great, but when she arrived back here in Australia, customs took it off her, opened the box it came in the pulled the whole thing apart and didn't put it back together, just handed it back and said 'Oh... no there's nothing wrong with it.' and left the bum off the bottom of the trophy and kept the box it came in. She couldn't afford to get the trophy fixed up properly as they had been rough on it and the whole base had to be replaced.

When I was asked again to enter, I told them get lost.

Paws with Iona said...

Great post. You asked what was in it for the owners? The clause you pointed out is not just about receiving solicitation and advertisements. The web site owner may well be selling the information about folks who use the site to marketing groups. This is frankly where the big money is in internet web sites. The 'Numerati' collect information, and use it to create profiles about individuals and groups, a lucrative business. Thought I'd pass this thought along, hope it isn't too 'geekalegal'.

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

... you grant Poetry.com a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right (including any moral rights) and license to use, license, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, communicate to the public, perform and display the content (in whole or in part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, for the full term of any Rights that may exist in such content

**Above is from their website, please tell me it doesn't mean what I think it does.**

Sgtlowe said...

I just received a letter 4-27-08. From the new poetry.com website. It has the feeel of the old site letters I used to receive from them back before it changed hands. The letter states that I can buy a book (50 dollars) with my poem in it. Sound falimar?

I will say that I have posted and reviewed a lot of peoms on the site. Really just for other users feedback.I surpased the 25000 point mark and did reveive a free poetry.com pin. It came in the mail quickly and was fairly well made.

We will have to see how this site goes. Any other feed back would be great to hear.

Victoria Strauss said...

Sgtlowe, would you please contact me? beware [at] sfwa.org. I'd love to have a copy of that letter.

Sgtlowe said...

Sorry I trashed the letter after I reveived it. I figured the trash was the best place for it!

mae lavoll said...

hi my name is mae lavoll,and i am looking for my poems from 2007,8&9 i was in the semi contest at the riveara in 2008 i won a medal and a trophy from the international society of poets an i need to find my poems i have over a hundred or more..who do i contact ? if you can help me email me please mae_lavoll@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

The home page for Poetry .com right now has a banner ad to The World Poetry Movement. The banner is labeled an advertisement but if you view the source you can see the banner is hosted on Poetry .com server which is highly unusually for a high traffic website.

Me thinks the new ownership of poetry .com and The World Poetry Movement (WPM) are connected. WPM has been associated with Eric Muech, former part owner of the original Poetry .com.

Here is a quote from Library of Congress website regarding Eber and Wein's connection to WPM
"According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, the president of the company is Rachel Mueck, who may be related to Eric Mueck, a former employee of the International Library of Poetry.
Eber & Wein publications share the same ISBN prefix (978-1-60880) as World Poetry Movement publications. In addition, the subscription database Global Books in Print indicates that World Poetry Movement anthologies are published by Eber & Wein. Consequently, the two companies appear, at the least, to be affiliated."

If you're up for it I think some serious investigation is called for!

Lilyitha said...

Ive done investigation, and he new poetry.com is not only legit, but well-run by a team of people who received it from a bunch of morons who don't know anything but business but how to cheat people out of their money. Since the new takeover, there has NEVER been a single scam put out to get money, but rather rewards for practicing the art.

People need to realize that all organizations have different operating methods. Rather than blasting the past, try poetry.com again to see if history will repeat itself. This time, it won't.

Adam Vanderhoofven said...

I think even the most hard-headed self absorbed writers knew that there was tons of fishy about the original site. I read an account of a man who who tried an experiment with the original poetry.com site. He had his five year old write some chicken scratches that were readable to the word but definately not to the sentence. The poem was accepted joyfully by poetry.com as a semi-finalist and published along with all those folks that pour their heart and soul onto the page. It's neat to look at your work in print, but you have to give it the credit that it is due. No publisher in the world is out advertising like those guys were because not everybody in the world is a writer, but many want to be. The good thing about it, it made people feel good about themselves and probably kept them writing in excitement. Poor writers kept writing and became average. Average writers kept writing and became better, and great writers went and got published by a real publishing company.

Anonymous said...

So this is pretty legit? I write alot. And i wanna get my writting out there and was wondering what would be the best website to go to.

Anonymous said...

My poem was "selected" to be in a book as well. They sent a letter that said they would be selling the book at Borders book store and Barnes and Noble and I could buy it from them cheaper. I didn't bite the hook though. I think $45 instead of $60. I shouldn't have to pay money so they can make even more money.
The letter said something like; Your poem "_____" was selected to appear in the book "_____" for the world to see! Our panel of judges selected yours from the googolplexian poems that have been submitted and felt it was worthy of publishing. Buuuuuuutt....... You have to pay like 40 or 50 bucks to get a copy (it was 2003).
When I didn't pay for it I received another one that said something like; Your poem "_____" was SO FREAKING AMAZING that it will now be added to the audio book"_____"!!! Poets everywhere are jumping off skyscrapers because they don't have this opportunity, BUUUUUUUT you have to buy it. People will worship you! Your a god...
Ok, I guess I over elaborated but you get the point. I was happy with the copy they sent to me. It was pretty. But I wasn't going to accept a reward on the other side of the country if I had to pay to go there. Pay to stay there. Then pay to get into the "Poetry Conference", just to read the damn thing to strangers. I sent them a letter (in the envelope they sent for payment) and asked them to just send my trophy. And guess what? I never got it. Lol What a bunch of crap! I just joined the NEW Poetry.com. I am waiting for another letter! :o

Anonymous said...

I was supposed to have been published by them too, but I didn't buy any copies of the book, so I doubt that they bothered to include my "Winning Poetry". It would be interesting to find out if they ever did. Some pals of mine and I, as a joke, spent part of the day in the library once all writing and sending them intentionally hideously BAD poetry. They emailed all of us that they loved the poems and they supposedly published all of them too. I liked that they even asked you to pay for the trophy they were going to send you as a prize for being such a good poet.

Anonymous said...

So once we submit our poems to poetry.com your telling me we give up all rights to our work. That they become the intellecual property of poetry.com?

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous 8:55: no, Poetry.com never took copyright. Copyright always remained with the authors. By submitting a poem, you granted publishing rights--but your intellectual property did not transfer to Poetry.com.

Temporary said...

Basically, just about anyone can claim poems, but then they will not let me retrieve my own profile with poetry.com despite giving them all sorts of national photo ID proof that I am the original poet. Now, I deleted my former e-mail ID and they are giving me so much trouble and not helping me retrieve even my password using my new e-mail ID.

Anonymous said...

Also, they had sent my award to one of my addresses. I have changed 3 addresses, but many times - went to live with my aged mother for 4 years from 2004 and then, returned to my permanent address indicated on the passport to stay from 2005 to 2007, then 2007 to 2008, stayed in another address and then, went to my own house in 2011 due to personal problems at home. Poetry.com had sent me my award to my mother's address that has already been sold to someone else. Now, I don't want them asking me for one ID after another under the pretext of copyright. I have done this last year too and nothing worked out. They did not even bother to help me retrieve my password even after this had happened.

Anonymous said...

Kindly remove the comments not relevant to this blog. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The following comment contains some wrong information:

Anonymous said...

Also, they had sent my award to one of my addresses. I have changed 3 addresses, but many times - went to live with my aged mother for 4 years from 2004 and then, returned to my permanent address indicated on the passport to stay from 2005 to 2007, then 2007 to 2008, stayed in another address and then, went to my own house in 2011 due to personal problems at home. Poetry.com had sent me my award to my mother's address that has already been sold to someone else. Now, I don't want them asking me for one ID after another under the pretext of copyright. I have done this last year too and nothing worked out. They did not even bother to help me retrieve my password even after this had happened.

Kindly delete it.

Anonymous said...

This is the fifth time I am requesting you to kindly delete my comments. I wonder why it has not been done yet.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous,

You are anonymous. So are the comments you're asking me to remove. Since I have no way of verifying that you are actually the person who made the comments you're asking to be removed, I am leaving the comments in place.

Anonymous said...

I have specifically told you which comment to remove and that is my own comment and the comment requesting you to remove the comment. Both have to be removed.

Anonymous said...

Besides, why would I ask you to remove anyone else's comments? Thanks.

William Townsend Palmer said...

I was surprised to find a poem I wrote in high school on their website, since I didn't upload it or give anyone permission to do so.

Can anyone offer any advice on the best way to get a poem removed from their site? I have sent them multiple take-down requests (with all necessary information) without any response.

Anonymous said...

Can someone Who already has a login for poetry.com check if there is a poem in the archives written by Jolihan mills called the shrinking shadow? Wrote it years ago and to be honest can't remember it very well. Just wanted to see if it's still on there. Cheers

Anonymous said...

This is for Jolihan Mills...
Shrinking Shadow

By Jolihan Jonathan Mills...

Here is your poem, from Poetry.com.

"Living in a shadow of those who look up
destruction of your prominence or chance to shape up
should life have you in the place of role model
or will you fade away passing on knowledge
a soul forgotten under the light of a shining star
or a soul appreciated for the tinder supplied"