February 11th, 2014 / 2:03 am
Author News

…….Should Publishers Pull Gregory Sherl’s Books ??…….

***

On February 4th Kevin Sampsell made the following announcement on Future Tense’s Facebook page:

In light of recent of recent allegations of abuse, we’ve decided to remove Gregory Sherl’s book, Monogamy Songs, from our catalog. We hope that all people involved can heal and find peace.

Future Tense was not, though, the first press to remove a Gregory Sherl title from its catalog. The day before KMA Sullivan had announced on YesYes Books’ Facebook page:

In light of the allegations of abuse that have unfolded over the last few days and my beliefs surrounding these allegations, I have decided to pull Gregory Sherl’s book Heavy Petting from the YesYes Books catalog. I commend the women who have come forward. My sincerest hope is that everyone involved receive the support they need.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit in the last week (and discussed it with a few people I met with during my recent trip to Oakland and San Francisco) and while I agree with and would like to echo the last part of each of these announcements (“We hope that all people involved can heal and find peace” and “My sincerest hope is that everyone involved receive the support they need”) I’d like to think that If I was in a similar position I would NOT remove the book from my catalog.

This is to say that regardless of the allegations, or my beliefs surrounding them, I think the right thing would be to continue to make the book available to those who might want to purchase it. I feel where Future Tense and YesYes are coming from in this difficult, emotionally-charged situation– but for me the book is the book and If I thought it was good enough to publish then I’d like to think I would stand by it still (even if doing so made me wince).

***

On a related note The Oregon Trail Is The Oregon Trail, by Gregory Sherl, is still available from Write Bloody Publishing.

 

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41 Comments

  1. Garett Strickland

      Anyone convinced that a book has that much to do with the person who wrote it shouldn’t be in the business of publishing books in the first fucking place.

  2. DJ Sweeney

      I can see making money/selling books due to the increased interest in Sherl because of the controversy feeling a little dirty. Maybe it’s not so much about whether or not YesYes and Future Tense endorse him as whether or not they want to have a stake in such an ugly thing.

  3. deadgod

      While hoping that Sherl gets the help he needs, I proudly stand with the victims.

  4. Richard Grayson

      The body of this post refers to charges which are not detailed and left me mystified. Presumably, unless I go elsewhere, which, frankly, I don’t have the time to bother, I will not learn what these charges are (“abuse” is a vague term: financial abuse? sexual abuse? abuse of power?). This is bad journalism, and yes, your first duty as a blog is to inform clearly and not send readers to a second web page to understand what is going on.

  5. viktor askew

      maybe we should storm the libraries, burn everything by Céline and any one else whose personal life we don’t agree with. pieces of shit can still create something beautiful.

  6. Jeremy Hopkins

      Sometimes people pull books because they don’t sell. No big deal, right?
      On the other hand, if the guy actually needs money to get “the help” then how’s he going to get it if he can’t sell books? Ask for it? Did That.

  7. Clay Banes

      Rauan, baby, how could you have visited Oakland without me?

  8. ChrisGaton

      *cough* *cough* job *cough*

  9. Jeremy Hopkins

      RU sayin ‘poet’ iznt a job?
      peeplewerkin

  10. mimi

      Should Netflix Pull Woody Allen’s Films?

  11. FilthyLucre

      Why
      not continue to sell Sherl’s books under a large disclaimer re: these
      allegations but donate the profits (that is, the monies that would
      anyway remain in the publisher’s pockets; Sherl is still going to get
      his, which may be a deal-breaker for some here) to a 501c3 or 3s working
      to prevent violence against women and to treat and / or raise public
      awareness re: mental illness? This seems like a golden opportunity to
      make the otherwise contentious and difficult — but necessary —
      conversation surrounding this specific case (or, these specific cases)
      more productive. If people are buying Sherl’s books purely out of a
      prurient interest, they are going to find ways to procure his books
      regardless of whether they are available in the official marketplace or
      not. Why not use what power you have to educate your customer and to turn “bad intentions” into
      potentially good gains?

  12. deadgod

      Sure, the ones with the parent who did such a number on Moses and, especially, Malone. I stand with the victims.

  13. Usedtocould

      Sherl is putting out a book of fiction with Algonquin coauthored by Julianna Baggott, and his agent is no push over. Nat Sobel represents big time names, like Richard Russo, so I’d say Sherl’s career is still intact.

      Book bans and censorship usually just create the ideal atmosphere to sell more books.

  14. Dena Rash Guzman

      The decision not to publish any more of these titles is not the same as banning the titles. These titles are doubtless still available in bookstores, possibly from the author, and at sources like SPD and possibly Amazon. In fact, I myself still have them on my bookshelves. I loved reading these books. I agree with the idea that art and artist can be separated, but that is a personal decision, even for a publisher or distributor of that art. Perhaps other publishers will pick these titles up. Closer inspection of this issue would show that the publishers mentioned are actually not alone in their decisions. Interviews published have been taken down and other actions have been taken, it appears, without announcement. Investigation might show that fact.

      Should Woody Allen’s films be removed from distribution? I think that is a move too progressive for the Hollywood greed factory to even consider. I am not even sure that question fits. In large part, the films of men like Allen because they are driven by huge amounts of profit and money. While Sherl’s books have been successful, greed is not a motivator for publishers of poetry. I believe that wealth and things like private jets are keeping Woody Allen in business far more than is his art.

      As far as Strickland’s comment that “Anyone convinced that a book has that much to do with the person who wrote it shouldn’t be in the business…” There are countless books in the world that have that much to do with the person who wrote it. Memoir, autobiography and confessional poetry are among those kinds of books. While I do not want to see Sherl’s work disappear from the world, because I am a believer in art not ever being destroyed, I support the decisions of these publishers and any other business or private citizen who changes track because of his alleged harm to these women. I don’t know that I have seen this happen in my lifetime. It’s scary to think that we as authors might lose our distribution as a result of our behavior as human beings, but no one is setting fire to Sherl’s books. No one, particularly to my knowledge a government agency, is banning them outright.

      Should publishers pull these books? Publishers should do what they think is right, so long as those decisions are of their own volition and not at the behest of an agency with the power to legally ban a book. At that point, we would have a serious problem. At this point, we are seeing a community respond in various ways to a difficult situation. We are seeing people doing the best thing they can think of to do, whether the choice is such as that of Write Bloody’s, or these other publishers.

  15. shaun gannon

      Poet isn’t a job it’s a self-appointed title

  16. Sandy Olson-Hill

      No like? no want? no buy… it is after all still the option.

  17. Jeremy Hopkins

      I thought I was a poet
      But I am merely a ‘poet’
      Nevertheless, I remain a “poet”
      Far better than a lowly ‘”poet”‘
      Or—god help us—a “”poet””

  18. Shannon

      I don’t believe there is a should. To me it is entirely up to the publisher/owner. If someone doesn’t want to financially or otherwise support someone they believe to be whatever flavor of douchebag they are free to do so.

      I don’t think should or shouldn’t needs to come into it until there is legislation or actual censorship happening.

  19. Amy Silbergeld

      Burning or banning books is not the same as deciding not to publish them in the first place. My opinion here is that it is at the the discretion of the editors. If I had published a book by Sherl, I would pull it from my catalog because I do not care to support abusers in any way. Publishers should make their own decisions, as should readers. We can decide whether or not to purchase Sherl’s books. I think that he is a skilled poet, but am now unable to read his work without feeling deeply upset and repulsed by his behavior. Similarly, I think that Woody Allen is a skilled filmmaker, but am no longer able to look at so much as a picture of him without feeling disgusted. This is my own personal reaction. I have no interest in making decisions for others, but of course reserve the right to decide whether or not to associate with any individual based on their decisions–or for no reason at all. I’m autonomous; we all are.

  20. Amy Silbergeld

      Well articulated. The most important points made here, in my opinion, are that: 1) Deciding to pull a book from your catalog is not the same as banning or burning a book and 2) It is the decision of the publisher and the publisher alone.

  21. Amy Silbergeld

      A publisher can and should pull a book whenever they want to, for whatever reason they want to, if they are not contractually obliged to continue to carry the book.

  22. Dena Rash Guzman

      I think people in the West need to realize that actual censorship leads, quite often, to life in prison. Banned books include the works of Liu Xiaobo.

  23. Grant Maierhofer
  24. deadgod

      Just linked Dazed and Oyler to the ‘controversial fundraiser’ blogicle via twitter; “deeply physical” seems… unhappily ambiguous? like a side was chosen unwittingly?

  25. viktor askew

      they did publish them in the first place.

      if you don’t want to read/watch something don’t. god bless ya.

      i just think it’s a shitty move to take them off the market. let the books rot on the internet. a constant reminder to sherl that his behaviour goes checked.

      and for those people unlike yourself. the ones that can look passed the horrors of someones undesirable actions and still see the beauty that had he not turned out to be shit stain, we’d all be laying down upon him.

  26. Amy Silbergeld

      To clarify, it was my understanding that Sherl’s would-be forthcoming book is no longer being released, which is what I meant by not publishing in the first place.

      Deciding to pull a book from your catalog isn’t the same as banning or burning either.

      When you publish someone’s work, you associate yourself with them. I respect the decisions of these publishers to not be associated with Sherl.

  27. viktor askew

      whoops. i was commenting in the comments section of the piece written by rauan.
      which, if you read it, talks about his books being pulled.
      i understand the association thing. but it’s also kind of going back on your word. a tight rope to walk no?
      and if it ends up in a landfill or a pyre is not the end result the same?

  28. Amy Silbergeld

      No. No publisher has the duty to publish anyone or to continue to carry their book, unless they are contractually obliged to do so.

      We cannot be too aware that our actions have consequences.

  29. viktor askew

      cool, peace out.

  30. deadgod

      I think Silbergelb’s point on this thread is accurate: publishers–who often choose authors for obscure personal reasons, as well as for careerist and monetary ones–are (or should be) absolutely entitled to publish anything they like, within legality, and absolutely entitled to refuse or withdraw anything they like, again, within legality. That is not ‘censorship’.

      And disliking a piece of art because one knows (or supposes one knows, or is uncomfortably suspicious) that the artist is despicable: well, there’s no pure or innocent or non-subjective or personally unfiltered reception of ANYthing potentially of value or power.

      Everybody’s struggling in marketplaces of reputation and image – struggling to curate their brands, and struggling to see through, for example, others’ career shepherding and commitments to belonging, in order to understand who those others might ‘really’ be.

      But herding together, or being mechanically contrary, in opposition to someone’s performance isn’t, without force across a whole society (as the law has), censorship.

      It’s still pretty close in time to the publication of allegations of abuse against Sherl; see if, as with Heidegger, Pound, and Céline, he isn’t publishing what he wants months and decades from now–or, indeed, if, like many do Allen, some people don’t come to think he’s innocent of the ‘charges’.

  31. M. Kitchell

      i’d support this even without the new revelations that have come to light, his movies fucking blow

  32. jereme_dean

      It really is.

  33. jereme_dean

      Have you always given him a 0-star recommendation on Netflix or did you just recently go back and do that?

  34. M. Kitchell

      i haven’t had my own netflix account for probably 5 years, is there someone with my name doing that? it wouldn’t have surprised me if i did do it when i had one, but like i said, don’t have an account under my own name now

  35. jereme_dean

      I got rid of mine too. Seemed crucial.

  36. Jason Jordan

      In light of

  37. mimi

      all of them? kitchell? really?

      i dunno

      i mean, annie hall, it has black soap, a guy that says “touch my heart… with your foot”, and christopher-fucking-walken as psycho li’l bro duane

  38. Jessica Fallible

      This is something that people say as if it’s self-evident, yet never give any reason why. Why?

      It seems to me that art has far more to do with the person who created it than most productions. I mean, an accountant’s accounting has little to do with the accountant themselves. Wouldn’t you think poetry has far more to do with the author than numbers to do with the number-cruncher?

      I think there is a complicated relationship between author and book. Not none, but also not one of total control/authority.

      Even if the accountant is really pretty irrelevant to his completed tax audit, I would still choose not to use an accountant who is credibly accused of abuse. And I would choose not to hire an accountant who was accused of said abuse.

  39. julwa

      This is not censorship or book banning; it is not even remotely unreasonable to “unpublish” Sherl! Do you folks who are implying this, not understand the meaning of those ideas? Nobody was obliged to have published him or to continue publishing him, or anybody else! Small press publishing is a labor of love and often publishers straight up lose money on their projects. Furthermore, what a joke to assume that publishers always and only publish people because they simply like the work–the publishing world is, and always has been, full of favoritism, publishing one’s friends, publishing folks because of name recognition, rejecting otherwise great books on the basis they won’t sell, and on and on.

      Nobody is obliged to publish somebody who they think is a total asshole, even if their work is good. Maybe some publishers roll that way, but nobody is OBLIGED to roll that way! I hate to break it to all the young writers who’ve had more than their fair share of luck and publicity (yes, there’s a lot of you, and you probably don’t know who you are) handed to them on a golden platter, but nobody just DESERVES or is entitled to be published. Why should any publisher on a small press, who has to work closely with their writer, work with somebody who they find offensive and abhorrent? What a silly notion, that anybody should owe publicity and arts-support to such a person, or that such support should come with no implied or explicit stipulations.

      To have been published at all was a privilege, to say the least. Anyways, like most little white boy poets who make any kind of name and identity for themselves as he has, we can rest assured his career will be perfectly fine, no matter what anybody says about him. Let’s not pretend otherwise and get all whiny in the name of some ridiculously skewed and convenient idea of censorship. Fuck Gregory Sherl and all abusers, and kudos to all those who stand up for survivors. If you can sit behind your computer screen with the luxury to misunderstand what any of this is about at its core– abuse, domination, privilege, injustice, entitlement– then you are one of the lucky ones.

  40. NZ

      Wow, the dudes at HTML Giant would support and publish an abusive, violent, misogynistic man. I’m stunned. Not.

  41. Inside the campaign against Gregory Sherl, poet and alleged abuser - Buzz Ryan

      […] scrounged together 136 signatures—64 short of his goal. At least two small presses made public statements about dropping Sherl’s books. Then: nothing. Gene Morgan became managing editor of HTMLGIANT in late February and labeled Kat […]