The Poetry Scam

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I'm sure it's not news to anyone that - which I won't actually link - is a scam. The idea is a simple appeal to the vanity of the average person. Tons of people have written at least one poem on a whim or for a school assignment. Poetry is also extremely subjective; because it's highly symbolic, in most cases it will have more meaning to the person who wrote it. Even the form of poetry is defined more by what it isn't than by what it is. Some poems rhyme, some have a particular meter or rhythm, some have specific combinations of these things. And then, some don't have any of these features. For the longest time, I thought that poetry was a written work without a factual basis or narrative - but then, I've seen poems with both.

The point of this game of pin-the-definition-on-the-amorphous-blob is that poetry does not really have objective standards to which any particular work can be held. What I think is great poetry might read like third-grade drivel to someone else. I know people who don't like at all any poem that doesn't rhyme.But when a person writes a poem, unless they do so under great duress (i.e., begrudgingly for a school assignment) they're likely to do so in a way that approximates their ideal of what poetry should be. When I though "poem" meant "twenty lines or fewer with a rhyme scheme", that's what I wrote. And in the end, because I wrote to my own definition, I thought I was hot shit.

That's what preys on. Just about everyone has a poem, and who doesn't want to see their poem in print? You submit your poem - under 20 lines, of course - and it goes in for a "review" that never happens. After it's determined that the poem is good enough (read: was submitted), they congratulate you, and tell you it's to be printed in their next anthology. You haven't won any money, but you are getting published, assuming you release them to use the poem. If you'd like to see the poem in print, remit $60 for your leather-bound copy of the book and a certificate. Additional copies can be had for $60 is simply extraordinarily expensive vanity publishing. To call it anything else is completely disingenuous.

I follow the writing jobs on Omaha Craigslist in my news reader, and tonight, the following job popped up:

Craigslist scam

Since I do write both prose and poetry, I followed up on the ad. A few moments later, I received an email, explaining that my name, email, and a brief poetry sample would be required to determine whether or not I was a fit for the site. Fishy - but they weren't asking for the poetry sample yet, so I entered my name and my semi-junky email address. And then there it was: a redirect to

Why on earth is scamming on Craigslist, I wondered, as I closed the site. Then, up popped a javascript window-in-the-window. The following conversation followed:

  • Ashley says: Wait don't go! I'm sure others would like to see what you've written. Please type "Hi" if you see me.
  • You: Hi
  • Ashley says: Thanks for taking a minute. You really should enter our poetry contest, it's free. Just CLICK HERE to get started.
  • You: No thank you
  • Ashley says: You're welcome
  • You: ...sorry
  • Ashley says: It's Ok. CLICK HERE to enter the contest.
  • You: You're a robot.
  • Ashley says: My name is Ashley and of course I'm not real but wish I were :)
  • Ashley says: I can answer most of your questions though.
  • You: Why is scamming on Craigslist pretending to be a job?
  • Ashley says: I'm sorry, I did not get that.
  • You: I bet you didn't.
  • Ashley says: Sorry, still didn't get it.
  • You: Smile! You're on candid blog-cam. Goodbye!
  • Ashley says: I don't think I can help you, you can contact customer service at 410-356-2000 ext 2
  • Ashley says: will award over 1,200 awards and prizes totaling over $200,000┬áto amateur poets in the coming months.
  • Ashley says: We have become the definitive source for personal creative expression in the world. CLICK HERE to join us.
  • Ashley says: Over 7 million poets worldwide are profiled on our site.
  • You: No. Goodbye.
  • Ashley says: Sorry I couldn't help. If you change your mind you can CLICK HERE to return to our site.

Emphasis mine. Audacious claim, eh? I thought Livejournal had that one in the bag. Be careful where you invest your time, people.

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Good on ya, Erica...thank goodness there are people who are smarter than a freakin' bot. It amazes me that there are some folks who can't tell the difference!

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This page contains a single entry by Erica published on January 10, 2008 10:05 PM.

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