Open Letter...

...or the text of an angry email I just sent off to The Poetry Foundation [with an update below]:

Dear [Person Listed as Contact on This Year's Submissions Instructions & Last Year's Person],

Below is an exchange between [Last Year's Person] & I regarding last year's submissions manager for the Ruth Lilly Fellowships and the acceptable document formats. I see that, despite the plans you all had for the year, the only acceptable form for submissions is, again, .doc files. 

I'm writing to you all about this again for a few reasons: 1.) Poetry may have been founded in 1912, but your online submission manager wasn't, 2.) the fact that The Poetry Foundation has the money and resources to up the Fellowship amount, but not to figure out how to better manage submissions strikes me as disingenuous and more indicative of the fact that no one has actually been paying attention to this, 3.) I do this sort of thing (i.e. help arts orgs with things like submissions managers and digital systems) on a daily basis, and I know that this is not (from the technical standpoint) a huge deal. This is a basic, basic thing.

And, finally, I'm angry. I'm not angry because I'm someone who thinks that errors in the layout of my margins or line breaks are standing between her brilliance and the cold, hard cash you all are offering. If I thought it would make any sense & make you all actually fix this, I'd agree to not submit for the remaining years I'm eligible if you'd then allow me to help you fix this. But you don't need me--you need to go in an TICK an F-ING BOX IN SUBMITTABLE. That's it, on your end. But on my end--or for others who may identify with what I'm saying--it amounts to a message from the POETRY FOUNDATION that my work may actually be treated as LEGITIMATE AND WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION ON ITS OWN TERMS. Which is a big deal. 

I'm angry because you all should care about this. Really. If the idea of aspiring to an "Open Door" policy was more than lip-service, you'd have put a fraction of the funds and, frankly, what amounts to just-slightly-more-than-basic contemporary computer literacy skills available to you all to work on fixing this. It's about how we're talking to each other, on a basic level, in our community. I happen to think that maybe your organization should care about how it's actually doing that.

But you don't. And you haven't. And someone needs to say something.

I'd love it if someone on your end also cared enough to do something.

Very sincerely,

Update: After an exchange with Lindsay Garbutt (i.e. Last Year's Person), it seems the problems I speak to above stemmed from a discrepancy between the instruction page (carried over from previous years) and the actual formats currently allowed for upload. The submission page & instructions for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships (as they are officially called) have been updated to reflect the fact that eligible submission formats include .pdf, .txt, .rtf as well as .doc/x files. If there's anyone who (like me), turned away at the old front door, go & check it out.