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US magazine Poetry faces backlash for publishing work by sex offender

The person in question is a former professor of English literature

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
February 4, 2021 12:25:51 pm
Celeste, who served as ambassador from 1997 to 2001 when Bill Clinton was president, first came to India in the 1960s as an assistant to the then envoy here Chester Bowles. (File)

US’ celebrated magazine Poetry has come under fire for publishing a poem by a convicted sex offender in their special February edition, which was designed to be dedicated to incarcerated poets. However, despite criticism, the magazine stood its grounds saying, “People in prison have been sentenced & are serving/have served those sentences; it is not our role to further judge or punish them as a result of their criminal convictions. As editors, our role is to read poems & facilitate conversations around contemporary poetry.”

The person in question is a former professor of English literature. Released presently, the person was imprisoned for “possessing, receiving and distributing child sexual abuse images in 2014” as per a report in The Guardian. The report also states that Nesset possessed “more than half a million images and films of child sexual abuse.”

When a reader expressed their disappointment for including a known predator when so many others could have been given the space, the magazine responded on Twitter saying the guest editors “didn’t have knowledge of contributors’ backgrounds”, as “the editorial principle for this issue was to widen access to publication for writers inside prison and to expand access to poetry, bearing in mind biases against and barriers for incarcerated people”.

“We maintain that these poems are an expression of a human experience & that poetry is a force to advance human engagement & critical self-reflection. We hope the poetry in this issue facilitates deep & empathic reading & extends our discourse,” the statement issued by the magazine concluded.

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