As a poet, I've endured many a cringe-inducing conversation wherein someone identifies themselves to me as a fellow published poet, and then reveals that they were published by the National Library of Poetry, one of the most infamous scams in recent publishing history. It appears a company is using the old NLoP website, Poetry.com, to attempt to stage a comeback. Writer Beware has more details.
I feel the need to once again exhibit one of my prize possessions. I once sent in an obvious joke poem to this company just to prove that everyone became a "semi-finalist," regardless of what they submitted, and were then asked to pay a steep price for the privilege of seeing their work in print in a heft volume alongside thousands of other "semi-finalists." Here, once again, is the scan of the envelope I received after I submitted, with the poem all prettily typeset in the display window:
At one time, this poem was actually available on Poetry.com (even though I never responded to their offer) before someone apparently noticed my postings about it and removed it.
Heh. Well, the degree to which one individual may or may not be a sucker wasn't the point of the poem ... the point was, would they dare offer to publish it? Since they did, I considered it proof positive that they didn't read what was being sent in. And I did what I could to spread the word.
The books were, what, $50 bucks or so? Which to me seemed pretty pricey. Though, again, their affordability wasn't really the issue, it was that they made that same offer to thousands of people per volume, many of whom presumably did purchase it.
Yeah, well, sorry you got bit, but thank goodness you didn't get bitten too badly. I remember when it wasn't that uncommon to see people listing those anthologies in their cover letters when they submitted to Mythic Delirium. Always made me both sad and very angry.
And now I feel obligated to share one of the great shames of my life... I worked for those people once. I was 20 years old when I started working for them, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I was one of thier customer service reps, answering phones and taking orders for those anothologies. Just thinking about it still makes my soul feel filthy and I feel like I should do some self-flaggelation or something.
You are entirely correct that no one saw the poems before they were "accepted." The submissions would be sent in bulk shipments, unopened, to some place in Mexico where they were typeset by men and women who didn't read or even speak English. The first time an English speaking employee of NLP would see them was after the delighted poet sent back thier corrected proof.
After I wised up to what was really going on, I tried to do what I could to stick it to them while I looked for a new job. I convinced them it would be good PR if they had a library donation program and thereafter whenever anyone asked I would set it up in the system to donate a copy to any library they wanted, gratis. School libraries, public libraries, prison libraries, whatever, as long as it was a legit library a copy would go to them. And anytime I had a poor poet bemoan that they wanted the book but couldn't afford it ($69.95 per copy at the time I was there), I would cheerfully inform them of the program and invite them to give me the address of thier favorite library so that they could visit it whenever they wanted.
Now keep in mind, that all of this was over 15 years ago. I can only hope that they have changed some of thier smarmier practices.
Guh... I feel disgusted with myself now... It truly is one of the great shames of my life.
Awesome, A-plus job trolling them. And I don't mean that in the frivolous sense, but in the "getting them to show their asses completely and totally" sense.
Thankfully the only place that has ever accepted my awful attempt at poetry was my school's lit mag.
I fell for this scam when I was ... 22ish? I was pretty horrified when I got the doorstop of an anthology. There were easily over a thousand poems, printed in a small font on tissue-thin paper.
My mother said the nicest thing, though. When I ranted about how horrible most of the poems were*, she said, "Honey, not everyone is really a poet. But these people all had something happen that was meaningful to them, and now they can see it memorialized in a book, and that's probably really important to them."
Then I felt like a horrible snob. A horrible snob who would never fall for that scam again.
And that's my mama - all spiritually enlightened-n-shit. Except when it comes to holding grudges. Holding grudges is the hereditary superpower of my family.
*Lord, sometimes I wish I still owned that book just to prove that the sonnet about dead baby rabbits being called to Heaven actually existed.
I sent them (or someone exactly like them) a poem when I was...fourteen? It was "to be read to the tune of Greensleeves" and it was EXCRUCIATING. My parents had the sense not to let me buy the anthology, thank goodness, but I got mail notifying me I was a semi-finalist every year for the next five years. I hope I saved all those certificates; in aggregate, they were hilarious.