Deceives, Misleads, Tricks and Lies
Amateur Poets to Get Their Money
Ejinkeonye Interviews Charlie Hughes
Hughes, formerly Editor of Wind
Magazine, and now owner
of Wind Publications, lives in Kentucky, USA. An
accomplished poet, short fiction writer, and publisher
of creative works, he has been closely observing the
activities of the International Library of Poetry (ILP)
and its other arm, the International Society of Poets
(ISP) for many years now.
this interview with Ugochukwu
on July 4, 2003,
Charlie Hughes speaks frankly on the controversial
poetry body and the bitter experiences of some of their
victims who had lodged complaints with him. Excerpts:
Please tell us who
you are... your background, and what you do, and why and when you
began to develop interest in ISP/ILP?
Hughes: I have been
employed at the University of Kentucky for over 30 years as an
analytical chemist. I am also a writer of poetry and short fiction
with nearly 100 publications in literary magazines, and I am the
author of Shifting for Myself, a collection of poems.
From 1993 until 2000 I served as editor of Wind Magazine,
which, though it has a small circulation, is a nationally
recognized and respected literary magazine founded in 1972.
Currently, I am the
owner of Wind Publications .
In 1998, not long after I had established a website for Wind
Magazine, I viewed an ABC TV's 20/20 news program which
reported on the activities of the National Library of Poetry. As a
public service, I put a report of this TV news program on my
website along with a second web page admonishing amateur poets to exercise
caution when dealing with the National Library of Poetry.
Soon thereafter, I
began receiving e-mails of complaint from all across the US, as
well as other countries, from amateur poets who'd had
unsatisfactory experiences with the NLP/ILP. These people felt
deceived and betrayed by this organization (and by similar
organizations using similar poetry contest tactics for financial
As I received these
people's stories I began to do a little research and create other
web pages to pass the information along-- The result is my web
page of links to information regarding unethical poetry contests.
Do you know a bit of the history of ILP/Poetry.com and ISP?
rumor. I have been told that they are an offshoot of a poetry
contest scam organization which operated back in the 80's in
California called the World of Poetry run by the same fellow who
now runs Hollywood's Famous Poets Society contests. HFP is
disreputable enough to even receive a bad report from the Better
Business Bureau. The ILP/ISP has in recent years surpassed HFP in
effectiveness and profit.
Do you think the ISP is genuinely committed to poetry and
not. Anyone committed to poetry and literature is committed to
quality. The ILP is clearly committed to quantity, not quality --
money, not poetry. They will print as a poem anything except
profanity, and negative criticism of themselves. If you send them
a letter using their on-line form for submitting contest poems,
you'll get an automated letter accepting your "poem" for
publication (same letter I sent you in a previous e-mail --
everybody gets it automatically). Some of the negative comment
poems occasionally get accepted since they seldom read the poems
in the books they print. Their computer excludes poems containing
certain words, such as profanity and "scam."
But how is it that they are able to draw notable literary
figures in the US to their programmes?
wish you would contact these literary figures and ask them this
question. As an international journalist you may have access to
them that I don't. I have corresponded with a couple of them. I
received a cordial response from Steven Dunn, and got the
impression that he regretted becoming involved.
are nationally respected literary figures. They are only involved
with the annual conference.
I do not think they are aware of the day-to-day operation of the
organization. Len Roberts is the exception. Because of Roberts'
reputation, he is able to enlist other well-known poets to appear
and maybe speak briefly at the convention. I assume that each is
paid handsomely for their appearance.
you'll notice the ILP runs the convention under a different name
than the one they use for the contests. The contests are under the
auspices of the International Library of Poetry while the
convention is run by the International Society of Poets.
does any reputable organization need more than a half dozen
told me that he is attempting to make the organization more
respectable. I told him that having big-name poets appear at the
convention is not the way to accomplish that.
can be easily achieved by simply telling the truth to contest
entrants. Easy as that. But the ILP wants to purchase
respectability rather than earn it. Respectability cannot be
purchased, though the illusion of such may be.
Now Roberts once told me the ISP letters are ambiguous,
and misleads, and hoped that they shouldn't be. But don't you
think that many would rather see them as fraudulent, clearly
intended to convey a wrong information with the sole aim of
For instance, ISP
in their letter announces that their "POET OF THE YEAR"
gets 20,000 dollars. Now, in the next sentence they inform the
person of his "NOMINATON AS (that) POET OF THE YEAR" not
"AS 'A' POET (or one of the poets) OF THE YEAR," or
"TO PARTICIPATE IN THE POET OF THE YEAR CONTEST" as
Roberts has just explained to me now?
Again, you can't
reply to Steve Michaels until you have registered for the
convention. Once you write, your mail WILL bounce back: this way,
your efforts to make enquiries are frustrated.
think you've answered your own question. I believe their letters
are clearly intended to convey wrong information with the sole aim
of obtaining money. In the US, "fraud" is a legally
defined term. I am free to say that the ILP is unethical, that
they operate a scam, but I can't say that they are engaged in
fraud without running the danger of being sued since they have not
been convicted of fraud.
is putting it mildly. Nobody is going to say, "I'm a
crook." Actually, I think Roberts is a charming fellow. He is
the kind of fellow you'd enjoy sitting next to on the bus. He
almost had me agreeing with him at one point. I'd like you to get
him into the public spotlight and see how he justifies what he's
doing. I'd like to see him meet face-to-face with some of those
who have been deceived by the ILP, some of those who've had to
borrow money to attend the convention and receive their
"award," such as Theresa Coleman whose story is on this
webpage or Crystal McGaffick whose story is on this
a while I corresponded often with these ladies, but have not heard
from them in over a year. Due to shame of having been scammed,
many such stories go untold.
Now is there no law in the US that could nail someone for
deliberate misinformation with the sole aim to getting money from
is my opinion that the ILP deceives, entices, misleads,
exaggerates, tricks, and lies to amateur poets to get their money.
It seems to me that at some point, enough of this kind of activity
should justify some sort of legal action. However, the ILP does
not get enough money from any single person, to justify that
person taking action.
Have you heard about Noble House Publishers?
reports on the web indicate that they are an organization
operating under the auspices of the International Library of
Some people have claimed that their addresses in NY, UK and
PARIS cannot you take one to them, have you ever attempted
have no information on this if you mean addresses for Noble House.
My "investigations" consist mostly of what I'm able to
find on the internet. With all my other activities I haven't had
much time lately to devote to this. Read this on-line
discussion on Noble House also
here. You can contact Noble House at the address found
here. From what I'm able to read on the net, Noble House
seems like the standard vanity publisher -- you pay them to print
your book. Also, like most vanity publishers, they'll probably do
is able to obtain people's addresses and other personal
details submitted to ISP/ILP on trust?
if Noble House is an arm of the ILP it's still in the family--
Can ILP/ISP be sued under any US laws for this clear breach.
And can ILP/ISP be held responsible for any offence committed
against any by NOBLE HOUSE since they link people to them?
doubt that the ILP can be successfully sued by any individual. I'm
told that they have a bevy of lawyers working for and with them.
They are masters of doing just enough to satisfy legal
requirements. You send them money and they send you a book of
contest poems, as promised.
what if they said it was going to be a beautiful and artistic book
-- that's in the eye of the beholder.
People don't understand
the difference between a publisher and a printer. Even the
dictionary isn't clear on it.
publisher pays for production of the book, including promotion and
distribution. A printer simply prints the book. Noble House may
call themselves publishers, as do all vanity presses, when, in
effect, they are simply printers-- printing a number of books for
a fee. I think it is possible, with sufficient public
outrage, that local or state governments might take action against
the organization in the public interest, as they did several years
ago against Publishers Clearing House in New York.
poetry is not a high-priority item in this country.
You have seen ILP's books, can you assess the production
have not seen the book. I have seen pictures of them and they have
been described to me, as having 300 or more pages, each page
having 6 to eight poems, and being constructed of inexpensive
materials. Having been the publisher of several books, I'd
estimate that the production cost of such a book would be less
than $10. However, in my opinion, cost is irrelevant.
in question is how the poems in the book are obtained, and the
manner in which they are sold. All that is accomplished using
How come ILP/ISP were able to register as Better Business
outfit in Maryland?
Better Business Bureau is not connected with any city, state, or
national governmental organization. The BBB in each city or locale
is an independent organization which operates under a national
umbrella organization, in the same manner that franchise
each local BBB, is operated in a different manner. Any
organization can become a member of the BBB simply by applying and
paying dues. Dues are accessed based on the size and financial
dealings of the organization.
ILP does enough business that they pay big dues. The Maryland BBB
is therefore not apt to issue a negative report on them. In
addition, my impression, from what I've read on the web, is that
the Maryland BBB is one of the poorer BBBs in protecting the
public from unethical businesses
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update 16 December 2011