Accepted, Accepted, Declined

In a bizarre reverse on that classic “Will & Grace” scene, my chapbook Sagittarius A* was recently accepted for publication by a very well-known press. An editor and I spent a week discussing edits, release date, format, the cover, etc. I had withdrawn the manuscript from two other open calls and had told a few friends. The editor communicated their excitement for the book. Of course, I was thrilled that someone finally gave my weird little book of astrophysics-inspired poems a chance!

Then, someone at the press decided to google me and discovered my social media. Less than a day later, someone from the press emailed me in the middle of the night to inform me they were no longer interested in my chapbook or me. The email was a bizarre ramble of reasons why, but the gist of it was gross exaggeration and judgemental homophobic trash. I felt personally attacked for something that had/has nothing to do with my work.

The email:bcpressemail

I have avoided saying too much on social media, as I don’t want to be dragged into conflict. But this is my website – the place to have my say. And I’ll say:

  • I was offended  that a press would ask its female poets if they were ok with me joining the roster  – would anyone ask their male poets that about a female poet?
  • I was offended at how they characterized my social media as some sort of perverted parade of nudity. Did they even look at anything beyond a handful of images that come up in a Google image search of my old Twitter and IG? (I’ve since made my social media private to avoid them attempting to smear me with other presses or publications.)
  • I was offended that this all seem to rise from a kid seeing something their parent didn’t want them to and the situation becoming an HR situation for the press that isn’t my problem, but they made it my problem.
  • Worst of all, I was offended by the tone/language/implications in the email – I felt attacked in a homophobic fashion that surprised me. Because we trumpet how inclusive our poetry realm is. We pride ourselves on the freedom we have to express ourselves. And, there are lots of queer poets who have queer and/or sexualized content on their social media. I mean, my selfies on IG were almost always paired with poems that delved into contemporary matters of queer life. They were not just images posted “with no obvious reward other than personal satisfaction.” (What the fuck is that about anyway? Judgemental jerk.)

Anyway, I will resume submitting Sagittarius A* to presses. I will continue writing. And once I have scrubbed Google of mentions of my old social media…I will return to doing whatever the fuck I please with my life, my social media and my image.

6 thoughts on “Accepted, Accepted, Declined

  1. Am so sorry this happened Ben – I personally think you should name and shame the parent publisher if not the Editorial staff or imprint itself this is out and out heteronormative censorship and it’s bullshit x

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  2. This is absolute trash. I can’t believe they would do something so asinine w/ so many Grand-Canyonesque leaps in logic. Do they honestly think us queer people don’t know a dog whistle when we hear one?

    Then again, I’m also mad I’m no longer able to peruse your scintillating thirst traps paired w/ your intelligent, imaginative prose…but I’m digressing.

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  3. There are plenty of queer presses that would be delighted to publish your work! And unhide your social media! There is nothing wrong with your photos. I’m so tired of prudery being celebrated under the guise of being “family friendly.” Instagram and Twitter are hardly “family friendly” any way! There are some places in the world that should remain for adults. We shouldn’t have to make every space “kid safe.” There is so much wrong with what this publisher did and said that I can’t even begin to understand it.

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  4. If the publisher were one of those “Christian book publishers,” I would say this was downright predictable, but apparently it’s not or else you’d have said so. This is so bizarre! Even for censorship, this is exceptionally stupid censorship! Who judges adult poetry or art by a (rather skittish) 7-year-old’s standards? On top of all that, I find it really hard to believe that this publisher, if it’s a “well-known press,” has never published any other gay-oriented material. And if these “other authors” are so squeamish as to be terrorized by a little male skin then I’m not sure I’d want to read their work.

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