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SC Poetry Initiative Published My Work Without Permission

So here's a quick synopsis:

I entered a chapbook contest from the SC Poetry Initiative. 10 Chapbooks would be chosen for publication, cash prize, and free author's copies. Others would be published online. (There was no notice on the rules that entering meant giving publication permission, and that is not standard either.) It was the first contest I entered this chapbook to, and none of the poems had even been sent to journals yet.

I got a letter saying I didn't win. Boo! I recieved an email from the Iniative saying that my poems had been chosen for online publication. I said, no thanks, I really want to see them in print and this was the first contest. The intern who sent me the email punted to the Assistant Director. I had an exchange with her where she tried to convince me to let them publish three poems, but I refused. She finally acknowledged that I had withdrawn the poems.

Then I got an email this spring asking for an electronic copy. I replied again saying I had already withdrawn the poems. Charlene said, oh yeah, and acknowledged again that I had withdrawn the poems.

Now I get an email with a link to their new site with my poems published in two places: in the '08 Online Chapbooks, where they published my chapbook, and in the '09 Web Anthology, where they published the three poems.

I'm going to my husband's office to make a pdf out of the email exchanges this afternoon, so people can read them for themselves and make their minds up themselves. Also, check out the website for yourself and see if you think it's publication! It doesn't show up on google yet, they just posted it.

I've gotten mixed responses--some people seem to think no harm no foul, others are pretty darn upset. I'd like to know what anybody else thinks.

And if you think it's wrong, let other people know and let the SC Poetry Iniative Director know. He was never in email contact with me, (although I sent him one on publication!) so I do not assign any blame in his direction.

PDF Coming!


Cassidy Brynn said…
losahs...They might take them down if you complain enough...
Beth Staples said…
Bottom line: if you withdrew the poems, they had no right to publish them. Whether their existence online will affect your ability/opportunity to publish them elsewhere or not is open for discussion perhaps (I don't think it will, incidentally, especially if you get the stuff off of their website ASAP), but the point here is that you were lied to. Have they agreed to take everything down?? Have they apologized??
Transletics said…
Thanks Beth! I think HFR has some best practices in this regard that other journals should follow, and obviously other organizations too! I would like to see some discussion and consensus from the community that submission does not constitute an agreement or permission to publish, and that a contract should be signed to protect both parties. Might be a good AWP panel for you and some other managing editors? From my Wompo discussion, there's some debate about whether or not I implicitly gave permission by submitting.

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