Monday, May 18, 2009

Open Letter to J.M. Spalding

Dear Mr. Spalding,

Thank you for the invitation to appear as one of Inertia Magazine's featured poets. Having enjoyed some of the excellent poetry featured in Inertia--and The Cortland Review--it was, indeed, an honor to be solicited.

I will, however, have to withdraw the poems that I gave you. In light of hearing that you ceremoniously fired much of your staff and "notified" them by changing their passwords for all office computers rather than speaking directly to them, I cannot in good conscience appear in your journal. Not that you would necessarily consider my work any great loss. But I would encourage future invitees to think twice about appearing in Inertia, unless and until you show some level of respect to your editors, who, leaving aside the unfair labor practices for a second, produced almost in entirety the latest issue (or so it seems from perusing the website editorial credits), which happens to be my favorite issue.

I should note, lastly, that this is information that I've gleaned from those with whom you collaborate, not via some shit talking on the part of your former editors. Only upon asking Mr. McClellan what happened did he admit that he was let go. He did, in fact, try to temper my indignation by telling me that you are a fine person, a good friend of his still, and that these "editorial differences" occur.

To Mr. McClellan, yes these differences occur. But I assure you that we at Wheelhouse do not let them unravel our journal in ways that are hurtful professionally and emotionally to those who give a flying fuck enough about contemporary poetry (i.e.: WORK) to deal with that kind of shotgun micromanaging for little to no pay.

So, do please withdraw all poems from consideration. I'll send them to someone who does not suffer from, even temporary, bouts of assholeness.

Thank you.

David Wolach
Editor, Wheelhouse Magazine & Press

1 comment:

  1. Dear David Wolach,

    In response to your open letter, I’d like to take the opportunity to 1) answer your question and 2) clear up some misinformation from your letter, which I read for the first time a few days ago.

    First, Inertia is not an employer, no one here is paid, we do not have “offices,” and we do not inform anyone of their dismissal by changing their email passwords (such measure is taken only *after* that person has been dismissed). I’ve been in editing since I was twenty years old in 1997 and my mission has been to promote the work of emerging poets and writers, as well as to help in establishing credibility for online journals. That said, I have come to meet wonderful people like Kevin McLellan and others. I even formed a collaboration with Kevin, and asked him to be an editor with Inertia. I also put him in charge of bringing additional editors on board. That process did not work out at all, and the editorial differences Kevin and I had were not workable either. We parted ways, and in doing so, I let four of the nine editors Kevin brought on board go. My reasoning was pretty clear to me, though I did not make it clear to anyone else (a mistake, I admit): I simply cannot manage a staff of over one dozen people effectively without more funding (and more time), when Kev left, I had little choice but to trim the staff, starting with the most recent additions. The other editors Kevin brought on board resigned, with one exception. The pre-Kevin staff remained (save for one departure and two additions).

    Losing a wonderful friendship with Kevin McLellan is something that brings me no small amount of grief. I regret ever allowing us to be in such a bad situation.

    Second, I did not solicit materials from you, nor was I familiar with you until Kevin asked me if he could ask you for work. I agreed, obviously, because of the fine job Kevin had done on Issue 6. Once Kevin was gone, I reevaluated the material and deemed it unwise to publish material that I did not personally endorse to begin with. I’m not suggesting you’re not a fine poet, but in this particular instance, I had to make a decision. Since your submission was not properly logged by anyone, a letter never went out to you, and for this, I sincerely apologize.

    J.M. Spalding