The Paris Review starts again fresh (again!) and dumps the files (again!).
George Plimpton climbing that ladder: Keep climbing, George, you don't want to be back down here. Things are not well.
So what is the proper reaction to the news last week that The Paris Review has returned the contracts for the poetry that had been accepted for publication over the past year or so?
Here’s Daniel Nester, to bring you up to speed:
And here’s part two:
I don’t’ really have anything to add to Nester’s bit, but I’ll go ahead anyway:
On the one hand, you have the management perspective. There’s a new editor and new poetry editor and they want to start fresh from day one. “Under New Management” and all that. Out with the old news, in with the new news. Fresh start.
On the other hand, you have the fact that some of these contracts are over a year old (I know at least three poets who have had their work now returned, and one of them tells me that his contract is nearly two years old). Is there an obligation that The Paris Review has to these writers?
On the third hand, you have the back story. We are well to remember the brouhaha when Richard Howard left The Paris Review some years ago with a couple years of poetry accepted and The Paris Review returned all those contracts. It was debated then if it was an ethical decision or not for them to return the work, but the feeling was against Richard Howard mostly, and there was talk that he’d accepted tons of work in some sort of frenzy or something . . . but now? No one seems to be saying that the exiting editors were part of a frenzy. They seem to have done what one is supposed to do.
On the fourth hand, I’ve always thought that a contract to publish was, well, a contract. Shouldn’t a contract mean something? If not, why do we bother with them?
Or, on the fifth hand, or possibly by now, the foot, why do poets continue to bother with The Paris Review? Might this be time for a shunning? Or are we all going to jump back on the go round?
Here’s a different sort of response, from Michael Schiavo: