Poetry.com / International Library of Poetry / Watermark Press
This was just posted on our old "bewares" board (I haven't switched it over to here yet), and I thought it was important to share it here:
Name: Robert J. Funches
Subject: Attention to all poetry.com/ILP entrants
I am Robert J. Funches, one of many poets who has entered poetry at poetry.com/International Library of Poetry. In light of recent legal investigations, I have set up a website for people who have complaints or concerns about poetry.com/ILP to submit those complaints and/or concerns. This site, StopILP.com, is independently run by me, but I have talked with a legal firm and the Maryland State Attorney's Office, and the information will be collected in case of possible legal action and to help fellow writers and poets. If you have submitted poetry to poetry.com/ILP or any of its imprints, please visit www.StopILP.com.
As much as I detest what Poetry.com is doing, I am not sure the courts will agree to shut them down.
They are not blackmailing anyone or holding a gun to anyone's head to submit their poetry or even buy the material. I am well aware of the emotional impact their practices have on everyone - I too was taken in by them a couple of years ago - but can what they are doing be consituted as "illegal" ?
Dear Robert: 10 minutes til closing time here at the local library but I am very glad to have found your comments about poss. legal action against Intern. Poetry Society also known as Poetry.com, etc. You are more than familiar (as I wish I had been for the last 2 years, 2 pathetic years since I wrote staying home and getting the familiar "encouragement" form letters that anyone, even a trained rat would get if one would be naiive enough to write and submit to them, that is!) Anywhoo! I am totally furious with them for offering "false hope" to millions and making multimillions from the sale of say my 30 poems and over 15 of my poems recorded on Sound of Poetry. I am furious that I was month after month a recipient of the form letters and other garbage, encouraged by the prizes offered and NOTHING! I have to go. Definitely count me in email@example.com Power to the Poet!
Re: poetry.com scam
I feel naive, although I have only submitted 3 poems. I don't know exactly what they are doing, but I think it is stupid that they make money off of us by publishing OUR poetry in THEIR books then try to make us buy the books. We should at least get one free then have the option of buying more. And I don't know if anyone actually gets anything from them.
I am not going to submit anything else to them and start sending my poetry to a place that actually appreciates it. As long as I have the rights to my poetry (poetry.com says I do), then I'm okay with it. I won't go back, but I'm okay.
Thanks for the warning---I filled out the form.
I entered the phone number of poetry.com at the Better Business Bureau to check its history and found this information:
"The Better Business Bureau has received complaints against the company that allege non-delivery of publications. The company has responded to complaints by fulfilling the order or issuing refunds. The company explains that there is sometimes a delay in releasing a book because the book is a compilation of poetry and they sometimes have to delay publication pending their receipt of the authors' approval of their work."
If that link doesn't work, just go to search.bbb.org/search.html and enter in the phone number for poetry.com ((410) 356-2000) and you can read on some more.
I was very interested to read some of the horrible poems people sent in to test this site and their experiences. I just wish we could do more about it.
Never sending any more poetry there,
ILP are great heartless-pitiful con-artist. I am 14 young naive and dead broke from buying plaques and book with my poem on them. I almost went to the conference where i was nominated as "poet of the year". It turns out that was a scam. so don't waste your talent on that frivolous stuff
Poetry.CON as it should be re-named - sent a letter to an 11 year old telling her she too had received the Poet of the Year Award!
Shame on them!
I figured this was not all it was cracked up to be when, on a complete whim, I took five minutes to come up with a poem and discovered that it was a semi-finalist. I laughed and thought it was a fluke (since I'm not a really a poet but a reporter and screenwriter). Then next year came around and they solicited me again. So again, I took five minutes to write. And yet again I was a semi-finalist. By then I got the hint.
Their scam is simple: inform people they've made it to the semis or finals and then get them to buy their mucho expensive collections. That's how they make money. I doubt anyone ever wins any prize money.
I did a similar thing when I got the 1st "acceptance". I just sent in an awful poem, and even bought the book it is published in. It seems like every poem in that book was written with the same idea. I thought MINE was bad! Yikes! I'm sorry for those who've spent $ and got let-down. But now it just makes us more careful!
Unfortunately, folks, I don't believe what they're doing is illegal. As long a people are willing to pay to see their words in print, there's going to be a business for this sort of thing. Given Poetry.com's success, I'm just thankful to see that they haven't spawned a lot more imitators.
I would like to make a suggestion to folks who are paying to obtain printed copies of their work. If you're willing to lay out that money, you could be using the same money to put out a zine or an e-zine featuring your work and other's work that you deem worthy of publication. YOU COULD BE DOING SOMETHING POSITIVE WITH THE SAME MONEY THAT WOULD HAVE A HECK OF A LOT MORE INTEGRITY.
As a community, I believe writers are doing the right thing by informing others of the con-artist nature of Poetry.com. It's just sad that so little is known about the nature of poetry publishing by the general public that such a business can thrive. They key to overcoming an obstacle like this is through education. To that end, this discussion board and others like it make significant contributions.
Truth Hurts, but learn from it
it is true. they have done nothing illegal. it hurts to be scammed by them, but the way to fight back is to no longer submit and get the word out at places like this. the more who know, the less submittals. hit 'em where it hurts--the pocketbook.
Re: I've checked the Better Business Bureau System
I've checked the website Better business Bureau System for online companys. They actually say their complaints are average for the type of company they are. They state what they do, and never offer you a free book, and give you the opportunity to turn down adding your poem into the compilation Anthology. Whether or not they actually give a cash prize, I don't know? That would truly be the only thing that I think you could get them for. I also entered a poem, and was told it made the finalist for prize...gave permission to have placed in the Anthology, but I knew that I didn't have to give them permission. So, what can you do. I thought the least they could do was to give me a book? I've sense turned down all other wants by them, the last being having my poem placed on a plaque, (for them to sell and make the profit on)...Let me know what you think?
Re: I've checked the Better Business Bureau System
Oh and by the way, my poem was everything to me that i submitted. I know I read a comment from one about putting in a terrible poem and yikes of all the other bad poems. Well, I don't know how you can justify bad poetry? I suppose if it didn't come from your heart then it might be considered bad. For me, it would be hard to actually come up with a bad poem. Like trying not to brush your teeth right?? LOL
<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> Unfortunately, folks, I don't believe what they're doing is illegal. <!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->
I think a parallel example would be the suit brought against Publisher's Clearing House. They never made anyone order magazines or told any one that his chances were better for having done so, but the court still found that they "made willful misrepresentations to consumers in order to convince them to participate." Here's the link to the complaint filed by the Oregon Dept. of Justice:
Clearly, Poetry.com is making similar willful misrepresentations and should be subject to the same ruling.
I think the two cases are different, but correct me if I'm wrong...
The article that you reference us to states, "The lawsuit alleges that in conducting promotional sweepstakes, Publishers Clearing House makes wilful misrepresentations to Oregon consumers in order to convince them to participate in sweepstakes, purchase products, or order subscriptions."
Poetry.com does not make any wilful misrepresentations. They offer services for a fee and it is up to you whether or not you want to participate. They do hold the conference and they do deliver the products that they offer (and as stated before in the BBB report, if there is a problem they refund money or make good on their deliveries shortly after).
All that aside...I am not so sure that I agree with the outcome of the case against Clearinghouse. Everyone is capable of making choices and should be forced to take some responsibilty for making a wrong choice.
The only message being sent here is that if you aren't careful and make a wrong choice then you can put all the blame on someone else and not take any responsibility for your own actions. I don't like that message at all.
I think it is time for people to grow up, face the consequences of their wrong choices, learn from their mistakes, and move on.
The claim against PCH said that they made willful misrepresentations by means of their printed materials, even though they never explicitly stated that buying anything increases your chances of winning.
I agree with you that the PCH decision is debatable. There is a degree of "caveat emptor" with all these examples. Not to put too fine a point on it, but since when is taking advantage of human nature illegal? It's what advertising is all about.
However, I think the substance of the two cases is the same: each professes a value that doesn't exist. And, since the courts have rules in the PCH case, the same legal reasoning should be applied to Poetry.com.
And while we're at it, they should take care of the International Star Registry, too.
If all cases were treated with equality legal journals wouldn't have the capacity to fill a large 20 storey building!
Judges have guidelines to follow, of course, but when all is said and done, their rulings are made based on their own prejudices about a situation. They are human after all, so no matter how hard they try to leave their biases out of the court room, they see things and rule on things based on their own life experiences and knowledge.
Cases like these make me wonder if the people who want to sue these companies aren't more angry with themselves for being taken than they are angry with the actual company for what they are doing. It is so much easier to place the blame on someone else than it is to point the finger at your image in the mirror.
<!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> It is so much easier to place the blame on someone else than it is to point the finger at your image in the mirror.<!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->
Of course, you're right, on all counts. I wouldn't mind seeing everyone take a step away from the lawyers and just chalk it up to "life's lesson learned." I mean, do we really need to contribute any more lawsuits to the already overly-litigious society we live in?
As it is, though, I'm more in favor of consistency in the law than anything, so unless the courts were going to admit they blew it on the PCH decision, they should be prepared to follow their own lead. But that's just me and I'm neither a lawyer nor an injured party here, so it's just one person's opinion.
okay i thought i was smart enough to avoid scams. Obviously i wasn't because i've seen crap printed in poetry.com anthologies.i'm not saying that its all bad but some people like me would submit bad poems to test out the company. And their ploy worked because everytime they would be told that they made it into the finals of the contest. In fact i've submitted a poem dissing the site and they still told me it was going to be considered for the contest. how dense are the people running the company? i bet they don't even have judges, instead there are just computers processing everything making sure that the "poems" at least meet the bare minimums such as the 20 line limit. the very 1st poem i sent in was something that i worked on really hard and i really did think i could win a poetry contest with it. but then i found out poetry.com was a complete scam and there is almost nothing i can do to stop them. They already have my poem and they are going to publish it. They get the money and the glory while i'm left here with nothing...
THEY SAID THAT I WAS A SEMI FINALIST ON 9/15/02
IN WWW.POETRY.COM FOR THE PRIZE OF 10,000,00
BUT I'VE RECEIVED NO TIPE OF ROYALTY FOR SUCH A
I'M SHOCKED BEHIND THE FACTS
THAT THEY COULD USE SOMEONES POEM OR POEMS
AND NOT LOOK AT WHAT THE PERSON HAVE PUT IN TO IT
THEIR HEART AND SOUL HAVE PULL THE SPIRIT
OF LIFE GAVING INSPIRTION TO TOUCH WITH THEIR HANDS IN WORDS WITH A PEN.
TO GAVE A HOPE TO THOSE PEOPLE THAT FEEL THEY WILL NEVER GAVE THEIR HOPES TO HELP A SOUL TO FEEL THE LOVE OF SOMEONE SOMEWHERE OUTTHERE
TRY TO GAVE THE SAME INSPIRITION.
I STILL HAVE THE HOPE THAT THEY WILL COME TO A UNDERSTANDING THIS GAVING IS A SHARING HOPE WITH THE HOPE TO SHARE ALL I OR SOMEONE THAT FEELS THE SAME.
DAVID C DOWNS
i too entered a poem that i worked hard on and meant a lot to me. today i got the semi-finalist letter and like anyone i was extrememly happy. happy until something told me this is BS. so after searching for info i came to this board. all i have to say is im ripping up the return authorization letter thing and throwing it out. i will never go to that site again.
ps-does anyone know any respectable poetry sites where i can send stuff and actually get it reviewed??? thank you.
Heck, I sent them the worst poem imaginable and they thought it was great (go to the page and search for the author "Helen Bach").
These people are scum.
boldcow -- Try getting a copy of "The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses" (should be available at your library) for markets.
"Cases like these make me wonder if the people who want to sue these companies aren't more angry with themselves for being taken than they are angry with the actual company for what they are doing. It is so much easier to place the blame on someone else than it is to point the finger at your image in the mirror."
I'm all for someone taking responsibility for his or her actions, but the fact of the matter is, Poetry.com takes advantage of gullible people. Sure, one would think he or she is smart enough to avoid a scam, but since poetry has had a resurrgence of popularity over the past couple of years, everyone and their mom seems to be a poet. What angers me about this organization is that it gives a false sense of hope to people who probably aren't good poets, while those who bust their butts at polishing their craft get little or no recognition. I've known a few people who were excited to have their work "published" or "win" from Int. Society of Poetry. I've spent a while convincing a former friend of mind that it's a scam, including giving her websites that have warning messages about the company.
Writers, regardless of genre, are a small minority. Wanna-be's are in abundance, anyone who wants to take advantage of a wanna-be, should be stopped.
"Writers, regardless of genre, are a small minority. Wanna-be's are in abundance, anyone who wants to take advantage of a wanna-be, should be stopped."
All writers have started out as wanna-be's. I was one of them. It was my dream to be a writer..didn't matter what kind of writing, I just loved it and wanted to do it. I never had the opportunity to go to a fancy college or university - I was working full-time at the age of 15. I was sucked in by Poety.com and was ticked. Experience has taught me that there are all sorts of people out there who want to take advantage of those who are not as smart or not as versed in certain areas. I could go after those people who took advantage of my ignorance for the past 13 years, or I can choose to live my life by what I have learned. I have chosen to live my life and learn from my mistakes...today I am a writer.
There are always going to be the shady characters out there that border on being illegal and take advantage of those with a dream, but it is up to those with the dream to be careful and work hard to achieve their dreams. Just like our children, they can't be protected forever, and must make mistakes to learn.
Poetry.com and those out there like them get what they deserve eventually. What goes around comes around.
I was sent a letter back in March of 2002 that one of my poems had been picked as a semi-finalist at poetry.com that month. I sent back all of the proofs for the anthology and the recording, but I didn't send any money. I wanted to buy it from a book notable book store, kind of an ego trip thing but the months kept rolling by and the release dates kept getting pushed back. I became very suspicious and started checking around. I have found put a lot about NLP and I have deleted all of my poems from their site, and sent them a nasty little letter too. I was one of the lucky ones and I thank God he gave the will power not to jump heart first into this.