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Poetry Month is almost over and I have been writing away, trying to catch up on the Poem-A-Day challenge. I wanted to point out the upcoming Poem in Your Pocket Day which is April 30th, but now I am hooked on this story:
Lulu, the print-on-demand self-publishing company that you may be familiar with already, has purchased the domain http://www.poetry.com and created a whole new site built around the old name. It looks to me like a decent resource, complete with free contests that users vote on (and actually award $$), but also a well-played marketing move to encourage amateur poets like myself to invest in a self-published collection. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; poetry has a long tradition of self-published poets. It worked for Walt Whitman, among many others. There is of course, a darker [and slightly juicy] side to this story. You may be familiar with the original Poetry.com site which has been featured on such prestigious lists as Winning Writers’ “Contests to Avoid” and Professor Roy’s Amazingly Bad Poetry Journal. This is the site connected to the infamous National Library of Poetry, and several other aliases, which scammed innocent poets into paying for anthologies and awards that seldom materialized.The site has basically been considered a joke among literary and writing circles, though some others may have harsher words for it. It has even inspired parody contests for Bad Poetry.
Lulu legitimately paid for the domain name and are trying to change the tarnished image into their own shiny one, but now they are warding off dissatisfied customers and p.o.’d poets who
a.) want their money back
b.) want their poems back [yes, they got some of the archived poetry along with the domain, though they swear they did not buy the business itself. That company, Watermark Media, is double-dead].
c.) want revenge
d.) All of the above
The comment board on their blog already has ppl writing in all caps what they think about Lulu and poetry.com … I think they should have thought this one through a bit better, though maybe the controversy will be good PR. Hey, it drew me there, and the prize money sure looks tempting. I would just laugh, but many people really fell for the scam and it somewhat marred the image of poetry publications in America. So, I do question how legitimate this move can make that domain name now. Obviously it is optimal for the search engines, but as any former tween celebrity can tell you, it is hard to shake a bad rep, even if you change your name, Lulu.