Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Last week I said this: Judging a person's character is different than judging that person's poetry. One should have no bearing on the other.

Today, after meeting poetic racism up-close and personal, I'm printing a public retraction.

I was wrong. It should have a bearing. We are morally responsible for what we write, for what we print, for what we publish, for where we publish, for who we publish and we are morally responsible for making the reasons for our choices known.

If we print the poetry of a known Nazi-sympathizer, if we print the poetry of a Holocaust denier, of a racist, of a bigot, if we give these people praise or even acknowledgement, if we give them even an inch of publicity - we give them a platform and we give them power. By publishing them, by bestowing awards on them, we give the rest of the world a chance to meet them and to embrace them. By virtue of our open-mindedness and our appreciation of art and by our own "acceptance" we make them acceptable.

By admitting them into our magazines and our publishing houses, we send the message to the rest of the world that we approve, not only of their poetry, but also of their beliefs - because, in the eyes of the world, it is damn near impossible to separate the heart of a poet from the heart of his poem.

If we do not speak up and tell the world what we feel we share responsibility for what happens as a result of our silence.

For anyone who thinks editors are not morally (and sometimes legally) responsible for what happens as a result of what they publish, I'd suggest reading up on Julius Streicher.

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