It is with regret that I announce that this morning, a friend of mine received a spam email from Poetry.com. We'd thought the scam was finally dead. Apparently it isn't.
The letter is a nasty thing. They're pretending to be dazzled by some piece of the recipient's poetry, which they say they've rediscovered while getting their site back up and running.
Here it is, more or less as received:
from Poetry.com firstname.lastname@example.org via bluehornet.com
sender-time Sent at 12:34 PM (GMT-07:00). Current time there: 4:39 AM. ✆
to [my friend's address]
date Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM
subject Congratulations [name]! Your poetry has been found!
Someone wants to read your poems!
You wrote some amazing poems that have just been re-discovered!
Can you please confirm that you're the author of the following spectacular poem:
[title of poem]
Congratulations! We would like to feature you and your poems on the NEW poetry.com! This BRAND NEW SITE was just re-launched under new management. To share your poems, click here.
7,000,000 poets from around the world will read and rate your poems. You'll get reviews and feedback in 60 minutes or less, GUARANTEED! It's FAST, it's FREE and it's FUN!!
To share your poems, click here now! It's just that easy! You'll get a whole section of the website dedicated just to you and your poetry. All your poems, old and new, will be beautifully displayed in one place.
Here's your chance to share your message with the world! Click here to claim the poems you wrote.
It's time for you and your poetic accomplishments to be formally recognized. The NEW poetry.com is all about featuring talented poets like yourself. Won't you join us? It's totally FREE!
P.S. [Name], you wrote some amazing poems that have just been re-discovered. We would like to feature you and your poetry on the BRAND NEW poetry.com. 7,000,000 poets will read and rate your poems. You'll get feedback and reviews in 60 minutes or less, GUARANTEED. It's FAST, it's FREE and it's FUN! Click here to share your poems now!
I can forward the full headers if anyone needs them.
For those who've just come in:
Poetry.com is and always has been a scam. They pretend to take submissions, which nobody actually looks at. Then they pretend to be wildly enthusiastic about your poetry. Then they start trying to sell you stuff. When you receive your very expensive copy of the anthology that has your poem in it, you find it's printed in small blurry badly-formatted type, and that it's lost in an ocean of bad poems by other victims of the scam.
Here's a story:
Real poets used to have a competition to try to come up with a poem so bad that Poetry.com wouldn't declare it to be a semifinalist in its latest poetry contest. They came up with some remarkable stinkers, but to no avail -- Poetry.com always gushed about the poems, declared them to be semifinalists, and tried to sell stuff to the authors.
The person who finally succeeded at this game went and poked around on the Poetry.com submission page, and realized that it was a completely automated process -- no human eyes ever saw the submissions. No wonder it treated all poems the same.
The challenge, then, was to come up with a poem that a computerized system would reject. The person reformatted a Nigerian scam letter from "Miriam Abacha" as a poem and submitted it. Sure enough, Poetry.com's automated system identified it as spam and rejected it: the poem was not
declared a semifinalist. End of story.
If you're a poet, any time you see a Poetry.com come-on, just remind yourself that it takes real ingenuity to not
be declared one of their semifinalists.