Long Read, Media, Recommended

A MeToo Mob Tried to Destroy My Life as a Poet. This Is How I Survived

I’ll begin by confessing: I fucked up. I fucked up as a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, a neighbor, and as a partner. I said cruel things; I said provocative things; I said obscene things; I said manipulative things; I said psychotic things—to men and to women. My language crossed boundaries countless times, usually online. And my behavior, on a few occasions, crossed physical boundaries.

In 2009, I inappropriately touched a woman at a bar after a poetry reading. In 2005, I got into a fist fight with a man—again, after a poetry reading. As someone who attended the reading said, in a comment posted on the website of the press that published the book I read from that night: “I remember the tension, angst, rage, and insecurity—all funneled through the 40oz’er he was drinking while performing—and that my main impression of the work was a deep, devastating suffering…one that aroused concern.” I was 26 years old.

Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I rarely appeared in public unless alcohol was promised. I drank to protect myself from a constant state of anxiety, always verging on full-blown panic.

I’m now 40 years old. For years, I’ve worked to reverse and dismantle my destructive patterns. I was in therapy for six years. At age 35, I joined Alcoholics Anonymous. A year later, I joined a group called Ananda, which taught me how to meditate. I also learned how to breathe and break through symptoms of trauma. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t fear anxiety and panic. I didn’t fear fear. I wasn’t depressed anymore, and the anger that was lodged in my chest—those knots dissolved. (I still meditate every day.) I made many apologies; I mended friendships; and I ended associations with people who preferred the person I was in the past.

Because of those changes, I acquired renewed vitality, which allowed me to write my best work. Illocality, a collection of poems published by Wave Books in the fall of 2015 (reprinted by Hollyridge Press in 2018), was reviewed in The New York Times and other high-profile publications. I was invited to give readings at several universities. The University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House invited me to give a reading, which eventually led to my participation in “ModPo,” the school’s online course in modern and contemporary poetry—a worldwide community serving thousands of students. I also ran my own course on my late mentor Cid Corman’s poetry, which was virtually attended by hundreds of people. Had I still been the perpetually angry, boundary-crossing drunk I was in the past, I would not have experienced so much good fortune. After a decade of suicidal behavior, I realized that I could have a life—a decent, stable life—in poetry.

* * *

I discovered poetry while reading a biography of Jim Morrison. The Doors did nothing for me — I was 12 at the time and my favorite band was Fine Young Cannibals. I’m not sure what drew me to the book, but it was probably the urgency of the title, No One Here Gets Out Alive.  The story of Morrison’s adolescence appealed to me. He was weird; I was weird. We were both borderline delinquents. The book talked about the poets and philosophers he was obsessed with. I sought all of them out.

My discovery of poetry kept me company during a nearly year-long in-school suspension. I only lasted a few weeks in the 6th grade. Harlan Elementary in Wilmington, Delaware, was a rough school. I fought with students who challenged me. After several suspensions, the principal told me to stop going to class and to go directly to the auditorium. I sat there, alone, every day for the rest of the year. I read Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Arthur Rimbaud’s Collected Poems (the Penguin Classics edition, with prose translations by Oliver Bernard), and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I was far from alone. I was in fascinating company.

Those books were pure transgression and rebellion. This was alchemy. This was poetry, a world that I now knew I wanted to inhabit.

* * *

My parents conceived me while they were still in high school. They married shortly after they graduated, and my brother was born two years later. The following year, they split up. My mother and stepfather (she remarried shortly after the divorce) had primary custody. My brother and I spent every other weekend and most summers with my father, who lived with my grandmother and grandfather.

My uncle lived there as well. My dad wasn’t around most of the time—he was busy working and hanging out in bars. So my grandmother was the dominant parental figure when we visited. She was nurturing in ways other adults in my life weren’t: big meals, outings to Philadelphia to see museums and historical sites, activities that helped shape me and spark my interests in books, art and history. My grandmother enhanced my world—a world of abuse and neglect. But she was also abusive herself, in ways I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.

My stepfather was consumed by hair-trigger rage. My earliest memory is of him pinning me against a wall until I pissed and shit myself. I was no older than four. My grandmother’s mode of abuse was stranger. She regaled my brother and I with stories about how she was abducted by aliens. They operated on her. We heard all of the gruesome, vivid details. Those traumatizing conversations, more like monologues, were frequent.

Sometimes the topic wasn’t alien abduction, but Jesus Christ. She had a clear plastic cup that she would hold to her ear to communicate with Jesus. She took questions from me and my brother. “Is there a Showbiz Pizza in heaven?” “Does Jesus need to brush his teeth?” The sessions would last for hours.

I still feel chills when I see the classic image of Caucasian Jesus with his bleeding, beaming heart exposed, and his half-smile of boundless compassion. My grandmother wasn’t Catholic, but her home was decorated with Catholic iconography: crucifixes, framed pictures of Jesus, palm fronds hanging from the frames. On Good Friday my brother and I were forced to kneel on the floor as she wept and convulsed over Christ’s crucifixion.

She insisted on bathing us when we were far too old to be bathed—bathed and then told to lie down on her bed with our legs in the air as she powdered our genitals. I remember her saying to me, “if you touch your dingle, it’ll fall off.” Until the age of 13, or thereabouts, whenever I used the bathroom to move my bowels, she insisted on cleaning me.

The first summer after I discovered poetry, I walked into the backyard and saw my grandmother standing over my notebook—it included the first poems I wrote. The thing was already in flames and dissolving into ash. She said something about “blasphemy” and “filth,” and stomped out the fire. From then on, I had to hide my writing when visiting her home.

My uncle Jack lived in a room on the top floor of the house. He was deeply closeted and seemed miserable when he wasn’t engaged in his hobby. He had one of the largest collections of Gone With the Wind memorabilia in the entire country. (This was confirmed after his death, when my grandmother sold the collection.) His life revolved around all things Gone With the Wind, a film I despised then and refuse to watch now.

He liked to sit with me in his room and drill me on trivia about the film. Sometimes, whether I got one of his questions right or wrong, it didn’t matter, he would pin me down on his bed and stick his tongue in my mouth while groping me. I was 7, 8, 9 years old. One afternoon, he grabbed me and threw me into the trunk of his car and drove away, screaming about how he intended to drive off the Commodore Barry Bridge. As I write this, my entire body feels frozen from the inside out. It only struck me recently that maybe he really planned to do that, to kill us both. Instead, he drove around the block a few times. When the trunk popped open, I crawled out and fell flat on the asphalt, numb with terror.

By the time I was approaching adolescence, large enough to defend myself, he stopped touching me. He became verbally cruel instead. He’d walk by me as I played outside with friends and mumble insults: “fat boy,” “asshole,” “piece of shit.”

After a trip to Rehoboth Beach with my grandmother and grandfather when I was 13, we pulled up to the house and it looked as if the entire block were standing on the front lawn. An ambulance was there. One of the neighbors was drenched. Apparently, my uncle was found floating in the backyard pool, and the neighbor had jumped in to pull him out. He killed himself, but I was told at the time that he’d accidentally drowned. A month or two prior to that, he’d been hospitalized for overdosing on aspirin.

My grandmother always wore floral-patterned mumus with a low neckline. I remember a scar on the center of her chest, thick and pale, the size of a large fist. She mentioned that she had surgery there, but that was all she ever said about it.

She killed herself when I was 23 years old by overdosing on pills. My brother, who lived with her at the time, found her half-dead on her bedroom floor. My father told me that day that she tried to kill herself in 1978, the year I was born. She laid down in the bathtub and shot herself in the chest with a gun. I don’t know how she managed to survive it, nor did I ask.

* * *

When I was 15, I wrote to poets I admired. I found their addresses in the reference section of the public library, in a large book titled Contemporary Poets. Allen Ginsberg was the first poet to respond:

Dear Mr Massey…“Attack” is confusing, sounds like you cut your foot on an icicle? If so describe the situation’s details more clearly. “Crickets familiar chant from/ heavy dark grass beneath / trees silhouetted / where water choking…flows / Crisscross vehicle sounds / dawn hard solid rises / sudden lapse in blue”—all that has elements of good poem! Read W.C.Williams (old poet) & Gregory Corso (New Directions Publishing). Best take care of little details. See my “Mind-Writing Slogans.”
Allen Ginsberg

This confirmed things. I was a poet. The fact that my family had no idea (or just no interest) in what I was up to didn’t bother me. I was content to follow through on my own.

I also heard back from Philip Whalen, Robert Bly, Jack Hirschman and many others. I lived to check the mail every day, to make vital connections with practitioners of the art I loved—an art that still was a blessed mystery to me: a sacred pact with language, with silence, and other minds always alive, even if they were dead, on the page. I’m as committed now as I was then to the daily practice of poetry, despite being a fuck-up.

I dropped out of school in the 9th grade. I was hospitalized so many times for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation that I missed two years of school. By the time I made it to high school, I was as old as most of the juniors. My correspondence with poets, and the long hours I spent at the public library—that was my education.

At the age of 19, I wrote to Cid Corman, a key figure in what came to be known as “New American Poetry,” whose first letter to me announced: “Your life is about to change!” He was right.

Cid Corman was my own private university degree. He saw the strengths and the weaknesses in my poetry, and in one letter after another, mailed from his home in Kyoto, Japan, he helped hone my work. He introduced me to poets in nearby Philadelphia, as well as poets all over the world. Cid Corman gave me a community.

When I was 23, I moved with my girlfriend from Dover, Delaware, where I’d been living alone in a roach-infested studio apartment, to Humboldt County, California. Up to that point, I’d never had much interest in drinking. But once I started, which was shortly after moving west, I found that it removed all my anxiety. I liked that feeling.

When my girlfriend and I broke up, I moved into a slanted shack—a woodshed barely converted into a livable space, which was my home for the next twelve years. The drinking increased.

During that time, this was the early to mid-aughts, I started a blog. I made contact with other poets with blogs. Facebook and Twitter weren’t around then. The blogs were a way for us to communicate and to form community online. I often posted on my blog when I was drunk. I wrote manifestos; I agitated people. I was aggressive; I was an asshole. Not always, but most of the time.

Throughout this period, I was able to write poems that had no connection to my public persona: They were still, focused, image-based, and economical in their language. The online bravado and blathering masked the sensitivities, the need for silence, that was conveyed in the poetry.

I was desperately poor and unable to work due to what was eventually diagnosed as PTSD. I don’t know how I survived those years.

* * *

In 2014, I became romantically involved with the poet Kate Colby, who is married. The affair lasted for two and a half years. I did not abuse her, as was later claimed, but the situation itself was destructive for both of us, and did not end well. I tried to exit the relationship, but the correspondence always started up again. I was weak, caught up in a toxic cycle of what felt like love, but in reality was a distortion of other emotions: namely lust and self-loathing. To put it plainly, the affair was an epic mind fuck.

Our relationship mostly took place through email. In-person visits were infrequent—once every three to four months. We rarely talked on the phone, and we rarely texted. For the first year of this, I was happy to be used. Rarely a week went by during those two and a half years when I wasn’t sent a small portfolio of her poems to edit and comment on. When I failed to do so, she threatened to end the relationship. I shared my professional contacts with her. She often complained about her lack of fame—and told me that my own success made her jealous—despite the fact that she’s widely published by reputable presses, regularly gives poetry readings, and has won awards.

In February of 2017, when I thought I was having, or close to having, some kind of nervous breakdown over the relationship, I wrote to her husband on Facebook, anonymously, and told him his wife was having an affair. That was a cowardly, pathetic move. Several days later, using my own name, I wrote to him again to apologize for the affair. I said it was over. Kate called me, angry that I’d told her husband the truth, and said she wouldn’t speak to me again. I screamed on the phone. I don’t know what I said, but I know I used vile, hurtful language.

We didn’t speak again until a few months later. On April 15, she wrote to me: “I have been in hell and I don’t know where you’re at, but I think one way forward for me would be to try to clear the air. Let me know if you want that. If you don’t, please just don’t respond.” We spoke on the phone the next day, and I apologized for the language I used when I screamed at her. She accepted my apology. We continued to email each other throughout the day. She said: “You don’t have to keep apologizing. The whole 2.5 years was a shitty situation for you, and I was highly aware of that. I think it’s my fault for letting it get out of hand, but we both knew there was no good way out.”

Eleven days later, my manuscript What Follows was accepted for publication by Wesleyan University Press, a respected poetry publisher that had rejected Kate’s work on two occasions. If you have followed similar personal dust-ups in the publishing world, you can see where this is going.

When I told Kate that Wesleyan wanted my book, she cut off all contact. I was blocked on all social media and she refused to respond to my messages. On July 6, she wrote to me with a list of grievances, ending with: “Then you decided to tell me that my personal dream press, over which I’ve worked so hard and suffered a lot of pain, is publishing your book.”

In an article published in 2018, I was accused of being jealous and controlling—adjectives that, in my opinion, described Kate’s own behavior. She thought I was sleeping with all of my female friends, in particular the ones who are younger than she is. There are thousands of messages of this variety in my Gmail archive.

* * *

On January 10, 2018 I received a call from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a few years. “Someone named Kate Colby posted on Facebook that you’re a ‘serial abuser,’” she told me. “She tagged a bunch of people, and there’s a link to a website.”

That site, The Poet Joseph Massey Is An Abuser, contains an anonymously written letter. Its author (one of Kate’s friends, it turns out) sent the letter to various publishers, including Wesleyan University Press, and my part-time employer, the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House. Kate tagged all of them in her Facebook post. As the anonymous letter put it, “I hope you end relations with him and make a public statement about it, especially in light of cultural shifts around believing victims.” The MeToo movement was in full swing, and social media was a no-holds-barred outlet for accusations. The release of the letter was timed perfectly:

To Whom It May Concern,
This is in regards to Joseph Massey, a poet with whom you collaborate. Over the past several years, far too many people have told me about his verbal and psychological abuse. I no longer feel okay sitting silently with this information. For many people in ‘whisper networks,’ it is now taken for granted that Massey is a predator.

The letter goes on to describe an alleged encounter the writer had with me at a poetry reading: “He was extremely drunk and told me several times, in front of a large crowd of published writers and my partner, that he thought I was hot.”

There’s no mention of a location or a date. I’ve given only a handful of poetry readings; I don’t like reading in public and avoid it as much as possible. I lived in Northern California for 12 years and traveled outside of the area only three times to give poetry readings. To the best of my knowledge, the encounter described in the anonymous letter didn’t happen. But that was beside the point: The letter was an invitation for others to pile on with additional allegations.

The link was shared hundreds of times over the course of the next several days and continued to occasionally reappear, and regain traction, months after Kate posted it on Facebook.

But in fact, I knew all this was coming. The previous October, I’d been contacted by the University of Georgia Press, which had invited me to serve as a preliminary judge for the University of Georgia Press Poetry Book Prize. I was told an employee received a letter from a friend that expressed “concern” over my involvement. This person, who was not named, said that I was verbally abusive. I knew this was connected to Kate Colby and explained the situation in detail, on speaker phone, to a room full of University of Georgia Press employees—strangers to me.

In a panic, I posted about my feelings on Facebook, explaining to my friends that I was being smeared by an unnamed “married woman” with whom I’d had an affair. I also described my plan to drop out of the poetry world, having seen what happened to other poets who were “called out.” Within minutes after that Facebook post went up, Kate emailed me and told me, “I forgive you.” I asked her to stop smearing me and she agreed. That was four months before her Facebook post.

* * *

Kate spent months reaching out to my ex-girlfriends, friends, and anyone she thought I had anything to do with who happened to be female. I heard from several friends she contacted. Some of them sent me screen shots that showed Kate’s overtures—such as “If you need to talk about Joe, I know how it goes and I’m here for you.”

In the wake of her Facebook post, I was mobbed relentlessly on social media. When I attempted to apologize, my post instantly attracted hateful comments from strangers and people I barely knew. I deleted the post. I had to rely on close friends to maintain my stability. I was in shock.

Within 24 hours, Barrelhouse magazine told me they no longer wanted me to host one of their online workshops. Four poets who’d asked me to blurb their books wrote to me, telling me that I shouldn’t bother. The pile-on allegations came thick and fast. “At a poetry reading, he looked at me like I was a meal, and it chilled me to the bone.” “He invited me to his hotel room to have a drink with him.” “He made a homophobic remark about a fellow poet.” “He was rude to me on Facebook six years ago.” “He messaged me once, trying to talk about poetry.” “He was creepy toward me on Instagram.” Some of these were from people I’d never met. Others were from people who’d been friendly toward me until that day. Some close friends cut off all contact. I was ghosted.

A week later, Al Filreis, the director of the Kelly Writers House, wrote to me to sever all ties, and to cancel several projects and events scheduled for later in the year. His letter was laden with legalese and he said he would not even identify the allegations that had motivated his decision, let alone hear my side of things. I had no opportunity to face my accusers.

Only a few months before he sent that email, I gave a poetry reading at a fundraiser for the Kelly Writers House in a New York City art gallery. Al introduced me, calling me “a gift to the Kelly Writers House.” At length, he lauded the work I’d done for them over the years.

He was one of the people Kate tagged on Facebook. Kate knew exactly who he was, and what he meant to my career, because I helped introduce them. I even proposed to Al that we record a podcast about Kate’s work. I was also asked to call in to a ModPo webcast featuring Kate, whereupon Al asked about our relationship as poets. You can view that discussion here. Kate is now a regular fixture in ModPo, and is scheduled to read at the Kelly Writers House in the Fall. She swept in to replace the ghost I’d become.

On May 16, an article about me appeared in The Outline, titled The Poet Joseph Massey’s Disturbing History of Abuse, written by Rebekah Kirkman. When Kirkman contacted me in February to say she was “investigating” the allegations against me, she requested an interview. I was still in shock, and desperately wanted to be transparent. I never should’ve spoken to her. This is someone whose Twitter feed contained entries like “No matter how cool things seem in my life, I am always mad about men,” “perennial hatred [of] men and their abuse of power,” “fuck power fuck abusers [and] fuck men especially.”

Kirkman made it clear during our interview that she was interested in how I used “power” over people. I’m still trying to figure out what that “power” was exactly, and how I would have used it. I’m poor. I don’t leave the house often. I am not a professor, nor have I ever been a professor (unless you count my role as a teaching assistant at U Penn, where there was never a complaint from anyone about my work). I am not an editor. I am not a curator of a reading series or literary salon.

The article tells the story of “Emily,” someone I met 13 years ago. She lived in Seattle. I lived in California. We spoke on the phone often and met in person a handful of times. I know I said all manner of inappropriate things during those conversations. I was a wreck and an asshole. But The Outline article goes way beyond that, claiming I held her ankles during an argument. I don’t remember that—not in the way it’s described. Kirkman’s article is full of these kinds of vague, torqued, unverifiable accounts.

I remember arguments. I remember Emily once punching me hard in the chest. On two occasions, once while walking home from a bar in Arcata, and once while walking home from a bar in Seattle, in front of traffic and pedestrians, she put her hand down my pants and pulled my penis out. She thought it was hilarious. That relationship was mutually damaging, and I’ve had no contact with her since at least 2012. Nevertheless, I apologized to her for my behavior in 2014 when I was enrolled with Alcoholics Anonymous.

* * *

Throughout 2018, there were other disappointments, betrayals, disconnections, more online mobbings, and efforts to erase my work completely. My publishers were hounded to the point where they buckled, or maybe they were happy to give in—I wouldn’t know because Omnidawn Press and Wave Books refused to communicate with me—and they removed all mention of my books from their websites. In the case of Wave Books, my book was taken out of print. I voluntarily withdrew my manuscript from Wesleyan University Press after they decided to “indefinitely delay” publication of What Follows. The relationship was tainted, and, at that point, so was the book.

The Academy of American Poets deleted many years’ worth of my work. I was featured often in their Poem-A-Day series, which transmits poems to subscribers’ inboxes every morning. The poems are then archived on the website, along with a profile of the poet. All of my poems were deleted in June, 2018, along with an essay about my work by Pulitzer Prize winner Rae Armantrout and my entire profile. The director of the Academy, Jennifer Benka, claimed that the Academy was now abiding by “SaferLit” guidelines. I later found out that Benka is friends with a close friend of Kate Colby’s, this friend being the founder of “SaferLit.” What a coincidence.

More than a year has now passed, and I’m still the only poet The Academy has erased from their website. Benka still has not responded to any of my emails, other than to issue a form email to me and everyone who wrote to her on my behalf.

Hi, Joseph. In response to your email regarding Poets.org, content on the website is curated by our staff in accordance with standards designed to meet the purposes and rules of the Academy of American Poets and changes are made to website content whenever deemed necessary or desirable.

I contacted several people who are chancellors of the Academy and they were clear in letting me know that they had no idea my work was going to be deleted. Supporters of the Academy might well ask: Who’s next? Will Anne Sexton be deleted because she allegedly molested her daughter? What about Sherman Alexie, who was recently accused of misconduct? The list could stretch for dozens of pages.

* * *

I was hospitalized in June when I came close to making good on suicide. I had a plan and the means to execute it; I then had a panic attack and took a cab to the ER. I spent a week in a psychiatric ward, which was precisely what I needed. The staff were angelic. I was placed on medication and felt remarkably more stable after discharge.

Throughout the second half of 2018, I continued to write poetry. It was my lifeline, and I stayed in touch with close friends who’d stuck by my side. My forthcoming book, A New Silence, was composed during that period of time. I view it as evidence that my spirit was not extinguished. My life was not extinguished. The “cancellation” only went so far. I lost opportunities; I lost several dozen friends. I still feel like a pariah. I live in poverty. But poetry remains. Poetry was, and is, my survival skill. I wrote a poem to address all of this, “Poem Against Cancellation.” I wanted to raise the vibration of the discourse, to transcend bile and sing through the static.

Poetry is made of breath before any sound, any syllable, is uttered . The inhalation is the first word — and reclaiming my craft taught me how to breathe again. I believe it can teach others to breathe and remain open to their perceptions, too. It is a human art.

To those I’ve hurt, know that I’m not who I was, and that not all narratives are linear. I didn’t give up on becoming a better person when it felt like my life was destroyed. I persisted on the path I’ve been on for a long time now. I’m a better, stronger, more compassionate person because of it all.

No human being is immutable. No one is irredeemable. To believe otherwise is to diminish our unlimited capacity for change.


Joseph Massey is the author of A New Silence, Illocality, and a trilogy grounded in the landscape of coastal Humboldt County, California: Areas of Fog, At the Point, and To Keep Time. His poems have been translated into French, Dutch, Bengali, Finnish, Czech, and Portuguese. He lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Follow him on twitter at @jmasseypoet.



  1. You wrote: “My correspondence with poets, and the long hours I spent at the public library—that was my education.” You’re in good company. Are you familiar with Ray Bradbury, and his thoughts on education?

Continue the discussion in Quillette Circle


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    • Redundant – you and your ‘comment’. Trolling is so me me me.

    • xyz and such says

      and why doesn’t he deserve to tell his story? isn’t the social justice Left all about ‘narratives’? that means the story of ‘me’. So which narratives are allowed?

      • mtmnd says

        He can tell his story all he wants. And others can ignore him, delete him, ban him, mock him, and repeat every awful thing he has ever done. See . . . others have stories too. About him. Him, him, him.

        • Angelica Salinas says

          Is for people like you (among others) that sex abused children are afraid to speak out. Is this the “support” they’ll get from people like you? Many ride the Metoo Wave for selfish purpose without empathy for who they hurt in the way.

    • Harland says

      No kidding. Getting really tired of these “I’m a far leftist and the far left attacked me and unpersoned me” stories. They were always cheering on this kind of abuse right up until the moment it happened to them. Then they run crying to Quillette because nobody else will publish them. Bah.

        • Erica from the West Village says


          The irony is rich. The whiners will bitch. The healed with recover. The scorned will duck for cover.

        • Rohit says

          O, he may be reading Quillette for its other articles. To read Quillette does not mean that publishing this article was good judgment.

      • Another Name says

        @Harland. What makes him a far leftist. How do you know he was “cheering on this kind of abuse” before?

      • stripey7 says

        You mean, much the way many LGBs were homophobic until they came out of the closet? Besides, you’ve offered no evidence Massey ever supported mobbing.

      • fiamengo says

        Even if it were true that the author had once been a far leftist, his would still be a salutary story. But where does he say he was, or that he had ever cheered on leftist mobbing of others? Most people are just living their lives until one day they’ve been smeared as sexual deviants or wrong-thinkers and lose their friends, reputations, and livelihoods. I am grateful to the author for putting words to the experience.

      • Gh says

        I’d be less but still sympathetic if he did this to someone else but sounds like you’re smearing him. Hasn’t he been smeared enough? He’s a talented guy and didn’t deserve this AT ALL.

    • Frederick says

      I appreciate Joseph Massey’s honesty and willingness to embrace transformations.
      I celebrate the courage in feeling vulnerability it takes to fall and rise to be the change that is everything and everyone.

      • SD says

        Agreed. I appreciated all the vulnerability and honesty and introspection. Maybe he should do prose. Great read. So well written

    • Sydney says


      Yes, on first reading. But NOT on further thought. These stories (coming from academia, or Big Tech, or publishing houses, or Supreme Court appointments, or…) need to see the light of day.

    • Me me me? That’s an interpretation.

      I thought it was a well written account of how the MeToo movement can destroy a career and impact a personal life. Quillette offering a platform for the other side ot this phenomenon.

  1. Geofiz says

    Oberlin will have 44 million reasons to rethink their libel campaign against Gibson’s. The Covington kids will likely receive a very nice confidential settlement from the networks and newspapers that slandered them.

    But where do people like the author go for justice? I doubt the woman who slandered him has any real money. Relationships do not alway work and vindictive women and men have been around as long as there have been men and women .

    The difference today is that one vindictive woman can totally destroy a man’s career and life without any negative consequences. I have no idea what the solution is for cases like this. Holding Twitter responsible for the lives they have ruined would be nice, but it is legally very difficult, if not impossible

    I only know that the situation today is very sad. It is not only sad for the author, but for the country as a whole. He is not the first whose life was destroyed by a Twitter mob and he won’t be the last.

    • Ginger says

      Kate Colby is wealthy. The fact that Massey didn’t mention that at all in his essay shows restraint on his part.

      • Too much restraint I think. But yes, someone who paid big money to go to art school is likely
        to be especially resentful at the success of a natural talent. It’s the old story of the
        moneyed dilettante driving away the real artist.

    • bumble bee says

      Yes this is sad that people, man or woman, can be destroyed by these mobs. However, imagine how totally out of control life would be if these people had the full blessing of society if HRC was elected.

      I don’t know if people have actually noticed, but the SJW movement which was building up to be a full on civil war has been squelched since 2016. While there has been no active political involvement in this, just the mere fact that the current political landscape no longer actively supports them or gives them a figurehead, it has decreased to managed outbursts. Incidents such as what this author has encountered can be deterred if people remove any and all support for people who engage in this behavior. This not only includes removing oneself from the source, liberals/democrats by not voting for any of them, but not patronizing overtly liberal businesses that espouse those same ideals. Notify businesses via social media that you will no longer buy their products because they cave to these bullies. Challenge the bullying social media trolls that use the platforms to ruin lives by marginalizing them.

      In other words, stop feeding the beast that it has become, by giving it support, affirmation, anything that they can use to continue in their ways unabated. For the love of all that is right and true, don’t give them ANY political power on any level so that they become politically starved and isolated. As we can see by the three witches in congress now, the best offense is not allow them to play their game. So there are things we can do, but like a brick wall it must be dismantled brick by brick, and every brick counts. Right now, anyone not a democrat is the lesser of two evils.

      • stripey7 says

        Wrong. Some Republicans have supported or caved to pile-ons, and some Democrats have refused to — notably, Tulsi Gabbard with respect to Joe Biden.

      • Curle says


        Wise words. The war has been engaged because social proof is all the SJW Bolsheviks possess. Their worldview, taking American support for equality of opportunity and Bolshevizing it into the disordered belief in equality in fact, expressed as the sociologist’s fallacy, has no basis in evidence. It is as pure an fantasy as has ever existed.

        The best tool to use against them is to forthrightly pronounce them fantasists in public if possible. They have no defense except to refer to an ever changing landscape of highly publicized unfounded claims (the IAT is a good example). Stay on top of their pathetic cover stories, learn to explain their errors, and they can easily be shown the fools they are.

        For example, as of this date there exists no coherent theory, much less supporting evidence, for the proposition that one group’s disdain for another causes the latter to achieve less on academic tests, have out of wedlock births, abandon their families, refuse to show up for work or commit crimes. SJW’s should be reminded of this often.

        A recent Brookings survey of perceived causes of racial achievement gaps found that 44% of respondents believe such gaps to have NO cultural or environmental causation. Brookings, predictably, engages in hand wringing about the American public’s lack of ‘equity’ concern, read failure to swallow SJW propaganda, but those in the reality based community should take comfort; fewer people are being fooled. Only a distinct minority responded that culture or environment was an significant cause of racial achievement gaps. This is heartening.

        Call them out, others are paying attention, and your social disproof is bound to spread. The ground is fertile.

        • Ters says

          A pox on all their houses— burn the bedding.

      • Geoff Marcy says

        I agree with you. Brick by brick. Who knows how long it will take to dismantle the pattern of destroying human beings without so much as due process or the judicial system.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Oberlin has almost a billion reasons (their huge endowment) to not give a f**k about the libel lawsuit award against them. In fact from what I’ve read they intend to double down by planning to appeal and re-appeal until the last Gibson shutters their store or dies of old age. The object of the campaign is to win, to force the enemy to surrender. The thought that they might be wrong, the thought that perhaps what they’re doing is wrong, will never enter their heads. For that would be wrongthing. The only way to stop it would be for the head honchos to fire the asses of the persons responsible, something which they lack the guts to do for fear of offending the precious little snowflakes demanding their safe spaces.

    • stripey7 says

      We can all start by patronizing his work, even if we’re not poetry readers. I intend to.

  2. Alan Gore says

    No people who accept online accusations at face value without investigating your side of a story are worth your time. Self-publish your work and own the process of finding a readership for it.

    • Geofiz says

      Easy for you to say.

      Look I am an old guy in the oil biz with little social media presence. Twitter mobs have limited effect on me.But the poetry world is an SJW world and unfounded accusations can destroy careers.

      This guy has suffered real damage to his chosen career. And it ‘s not like he can retire and live on his investments

      • neoteny says

        This guy has suffered real damage to his chosen career.

        First you fuck; then you get fucked.

      • Cora says

        Poets don’t choose their career; they can never deny it. He has not lost the thing that counts.

        Dear Joseph. Write.

  3. Morgan Foster says

    I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here, for a hard-drinking two-fisted rebel poet with an anger-management problem.

    Only the tragedy of not having lived before there was an Internet.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. Fortunately all other poets have been well-adjusted because flawless people write the best poetry.

    • “Only the tragedy of not having lived before there was an Internet” – truth. Not a statement against the internet in general, just the complicated tragedy of this case.
      I found Massey’s piece inspirational.

  4. Cynthia Ford says

    my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell
    I hold my honey and I store my bread
    In little jars and cabinets of my will.
    I label clearly, and each latch and lid
    I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
    I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
    And none can tell when I may dine again.
    No man can give me any word but Wait,
    The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
    Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
    Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
    On such legs as are left me, in such heart
    As I can manage, remember to go home,
    My taste will not have turned insensitive
    To honey and bread old purity could love.

    Gwendolyn Brooks, “my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gwendolyn Brooks.
    Source: Selected Poems (Harper & Row, 1963)

    “O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer”
    Return to Tipasa (1954) Albert Camus


    “…Write as though you had in hand the last pencil on earth…” Charles Wright

  5. I wish the author didn’t feel the need to so abjectly apologize. I find it despicable that even when the premise is rejected – that it is morally, ethically, and artistically wrong to persecute and blacklist an artist because he was mean to his girlfriend, essentially, and only via her own side of the story – even when this is rejected, there is still the idea that one must repeatedly grovel and apologize for actions that every single human being has gone through at some point in their lives. Apologize, that is, not to the person one has sinned against, not to God, but instead to the world in general. That is a ludicrous idea. The author owes me no apology, no explanation. If I want to read his poems, I will read his poems. Or I should be able to. I utterly disagree with the silly idea that artists must be morally superior priests. When I fly a plane or choose a surgeon, I don’t review his personal life to see if I approve. I’m not hiring him or her based on her personal sins.

    The author has been through a great deal of trauma – his childhood was appalling and it’s a miracle of human strength and generosity of spirit that he had the courage to reach out to poets and ask their advice and that they helped him. But as far as his alcoholism, alcoholic rages, and his affair–You name me a person who has nothing to be ashamed of, and I’ll name you a person who is lying. The only people who aren’t incredibly complex – with hypocrisies, grey morals, sins, and so on – are infants.

    It’s called life. Some people do despicable things and are sorry for it. Others do despicable things and are never sorry for it. Regardless, their art is their art. I resent the whole premise. He should not have to write this article at all. He should simply have his poems published.

    And these Maoist Puritans are hugely hypocritical and naive at best if they believe that they’ve scoped out all the morally impure poets and banned them. For every person they blacklist because someone has accused them of wrongthink, I guarantee you they have 5 others who unbeknownst to them, are wife beaters, child rapists, sociopaths, and so on. Many of them are probably famous poets, too (and historically we know of many of them).

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that.

    • neoteny says

      The only people who aren’t incredibly complex – with hypocrisies, grey morals, sins, and so on – are infants.

      Newborn are already incredibly complex. They already have a basic personality — for example some are quite attentive to their environment, some monitor it much more relaxedly — which can be measured & tested in some clever ways. Steven Pinker has something to say about such research in his The Language Instinct.

    • Fran says

      I think you have said it all. Destructive relationships can warp personalities, and the extent of this is only apparent if you are able to get out. If I was still with my ex, I would be an alcoholic now instead of 40 productive years. The numbing and releasing effects of the drug both permit one to tolerate the intolerable and release demons beyond description.

      • raphael says

        “The numbing and releasing effects of the drug both permit one to tolerate the intolerable and release demons beyond description.”
        That’s a brilliant insight Fran and a cool explanation of how the artist in all of us can take the bullshit of life and transform it into art/growth/transcendence… whereas in the usual assholery we tend to make, hold, and keep snap judgements about others/reality based on our own hateful stupidity and self-deluded sense of moral superiority…

    • Kenny says


      I can hardly praise your comment enough. I hope the poet reads it and takes it to heart.

  6. Joanna Buns says

    Whole first part was a one-sided pity party. Being pitiful doesn’t make you an artist. Can that myth go away?

    • Cora says

      You’re right being pitiful ( is that what he is, after what he’s survived?) does not make one an artist. No argument.

      Is he an artist? Can you read?

    • I know 2 people who’s own moms pimped them out for drug money before they hit 10. One was black, the other was white. One of them gets sympathy for the devastating anguish it has wreaked on their psyche, anger at a system that let this happen to a child, and rage at the abusers.

      The other gets lumped in as “privileged” by self appointed intellectual and moral superiors and college kids who’ve never known a day of hunger or an ounce of the torment that life can hold for the unfortunate.

      Both of these men were broken, I met them in prison and they were decent enough people as far as prison allows, but they we’re lost. You could visibly see that hope had died in them at one point.

      Take it from a fellow traveler down the road of hard knocks and unfortunate circumstances, it’s not pain that defines you, so don’t nurture it because that game is miserable and there’s no end to it.

      If you want to be free, own your own actions, culture your resilient nature, and realize that to rise from the ashes means you’ve been in a fire… do some work to mend yourself. Chances are your mind, your instincts, your skills for living are mostly wrong and need to be corrected.

      • Sydney says


        No truer words said. And nicely said, too.

      • raphael says

        Brilliant. What great insights Joseph has evoked from fellow deep human beings who have truly learned of life’s depth in the “school of hard knocks”… I find this whole thread very inspiring and reflective of a much larger cultural divide between what I would call the Idealist Elitists (far Left) and the Self-Righteous Realists (far Right). The “solution” to both extremes is beautifully described in the post above

  7. Joyce says

    Sorry you’ve had such a rough go. Hope life is more joyful and peaceful from this day forward.

  8. After reading this pathos-laden, passive-aggressive attempt at standing up for himself, I have to say I’m not surprised so many women in his life have treated him with contempt.

    • Cora says

      Would you reply that way if it was a woman enumerating the sickening depravity of her sexually abusive family?

      • Not quite.

        Anyway, that’s kind of the point of our criticism, or at least mine. As far as I can tell, Joseph Massey is the victim of unjust character assassination.

        Bringing up his traumatizing childhood, then, actually weakens his case, because it makes it look like he’s trying to excuse his behavior on the grounds that he’s the biggest victim of them all. If you want to beat this crowd, you can’t play their game.

        Unless there’s something truly criminal that he has done in the past that hasn’t come out yet –
        he has nothing to apologize publicly for, and his accusers have no business making this a public issue, or using it to try to sabotage his career.

        It’s actually hilarious reading that website put up by his accuser, “The Poet Joseph Massey Is an Abuser”. What does her accusation amount to? Basically that Joseph Massey is mean and he says bad, awkward things when he’s drunk, and sometimes he yells, and makes unwanted advances, and some other stuff that you’ll have take the my word for, and he’s just a really bad person ok and somebody should punish him!

        There’s an infantile mentality lurking behind the words of that “anonymous” accusation. Unfortunately, Massey’s self-defense, replete with childish self-abasement, doesn’t rise very far above it.

        • Cora says

          At least he’s not a Stephen Galloway, or Jian Ghomeshi, both abusers who will not confront that in themselves.

          Childish self-abasement? I imagine there’s some work to be done for him, but what’s your excuse for your lack of compassion?

          Please, never have children.

          • Rev. Wazoo! says

            Um, what makes you think Galloway and Ghomeshi are abusers? They seem simply to have been smeared by women motivated malice.

          • Sydney says


            The God-like arrogance of your comment indicates that you’re ‘part of the problem and not the solution.’

            Must be a dream to be as perfect, all-seeing, and all-knowing as you are. I hope you’re running for High Diety, or President, or Grand Poobah, or Supreme Ruler. I bow to you already.

          • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

            Cora, Ghomeshi was charged in a court of law and found not guilty of all charges. Stephen Galloway was awarded a hundred thousand dollars for damage to his reputation and given an apology by UBC. He was never criminally charged with anything. Where is your evidence?

        • Photondancer says

          I read it as him trying to explain why being nasty came easily to him in those days. Don’t see why you want to trash that as ‘claiming victimhood’.

        • Farris says

          “As far as I can tell, Joseph Massey is the victim of unjust character assassination.”

          “Bringing up his traumatizing childhood, then, actually weakens his case, because it makes it look like he’s trying to excuse his behavior on the grounds that he’s the biggest victim of them all. If you want to beat this crowd, you can’t play their game.”

          Likewise agree but I wonder, if this is a back handed way of saying, “I have suffered so I don’t deserve this. It’s not like I’m one of those privileged white males who we are entitled to hate.” Reminded me of the lines from the movie “Unforgiven”, “I don’t deserve this, I was building a house.” “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

          • Stephanie says

            It seems appropriate to me for him to have brought up his horrible childhood, because pieces like this are predominantly an opportunity for the author to reflect on what brought them to where they are. If he’s feeling guilty about his history of alcoholism and belligerence, it makes sense that he’d discuss how he got to that low point. When you’ve experienced so much pain, it’s hard not to talk about it in a confessional piece like this one.

          • rnt says

            As someone who also experienced a traumatizing childhood, his history was an integral and very relevant part of his story. Those lucky to have avoided such a fate may not understand.

        • Anthony says


          It most certainly does rise above.

          Massey rips the roots of evil in him right out of the ground and maps them for us before he attempts to chronicle his public debasement. In doing so, he tells us “I have experienced evil, I am descended from practitioners of evil. I am not evil, I did not do this, and I will continue to nourish the good in me while being force-fed this evil.” Massey writes, in this essay, an honesty that is the antithesis of the sociopathic falsities fabricated to transmogrify professional jealousy into a plague of destruction. Massey addresses the presence of evil in his narrative, and surveys the line which it did not cross.

          There is nothing infantile about this essay. An infantile mentality could not have composed this essay.

          • One of things I was trying to get at here was well expressed in the Slate article criticizing Quillette linked below. “This genre’s bugbear is the politics of outrage and the spread of victim culture, and yet its authors freely wallow in the same.” I agree. We get too many pieces here that essentially say, over and over, “I am a victim of victimhood culture,” and which pull at all the same emotional levers that a typical victimhood piece – of the kind that is decried here – would. It’s this obsession with painting oneself first and foremost as a victim – of life, of politics, of everything – that I find abhorrent.

    • Dhf says

      You don’t know him or them. You already had your mind made up. Do you know how dumb you sound?

  9. Saw file says

    Don’t reply/comment, and never publicly apologize.
    Man-up and move-on.

  10. Thomas Talbot says

    To all those who fled Christianity, I refer to you the concept of repentance and forgiveness as well as amazing journeys by folks such as St. Augustine. Here is a man who has changed his ways and seeks a more righteous path, apparently and who asked for forgiveness. The SJWs are a vicious bunch.

    • bumble bee says

      Exactly, and this is exactly why these movements will just spiral down (if they have not already gotten there) to the hate filled angry mob they really are. There is no redemption, there is no mercy, there is only hate and vengeance. We all know where that comes from too.

  11. Sharp Elbows says

    The significant detail is how this vendetta directly enhanced the prospects of the person prosecuting it — she was published by the places that rejected her, welcomed at venues that previously wouldn’t give her the time of day, lauded for her bravery. The incentives are clear.

    Of course, for all I know she’s also a great poet and this was her long-deserved break. I mean I guess if people can behave horribly and still make good art, it’s possible she fits that description too.

  12. ianrw005 says

    I am the publisher at Hollyridge Press who brought out Joe Massey’s chapbook Present Conditions and the revised edition of Illocality in 2018 and was delighted to do so. Joe told me some of what’s contained in this essay, described his past and what he was doing to make amends. None of that deterred me. I understand why some of his publishers dropped him, but I didn’t have the same fears of what might happen if I published him. And in fact Present Conditions got some good attention in the UK Chapbook Review site. People also seem to be enjoying the new poems in Illocality.

    So onward, Joe, with your new collection.

    And the rest of you, buy his book from my press:


    • Geofiz says

      Thank you for your courage in standing up to the mob

    • Jingle Bells says

      I don’t see any reason — insofar as Joe’s confessional here is concerned — for any publisher to have dropped him.

      No excuse, period.

    • Recovery Works says

      Mr. Massey, you have been through a great deal earlier in your life. For that, I am sorry. I would suggest that many elements of this piece are not worthy of one pursuing a higher path through spirituality or who is working through the twelve steps of AA. You list the many places that have published you and the influential authors you have known, yet you wonder how people could suggest that you wield any sort of power. Mr. Massey, power comes in many forms. You would do well to reflect on this as you forsake your former life and cultivate a new community of admirers on this site. The blatant sexism of many of the comments here should signal to you that your new chosen path could be a darker one indeed if you are not careful.

  13. Cynical Old Biologist says

    Imagine the joy of receiving a “SaferLit” Poem-A-Day in your Inbox every morning!

    Congratulations Mr Massey on just surviving this far. Best wishes for many interesting (and, possibly, some happier) days ahead!

  14. callmejane says

    one of the most vicious stories on this site

  15. I don’t give a damn about your apology. I’m a conservative. I’ll let all the SJWs who read the whole piece not forgive you….

  16. Geary Johansen says

    ‘Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance,’- Alfred Maysles.

    We were all so optimistic once. First the Berlin Wall fell, then so did communism. Freddie Mercury had stood up on stage at Live Aid, and it really looked as though we were going to make the world a better place. Lady Dianna epitomised a new era of modernity, replacing the sad and stagnant one of the past. Bill Clinton took over the White House, and for a while there it really looked as though we could have our cake and eat it too, be wealthy, but also be kind.

    And then it all went horribly wrong. Freddie died of Aids. Di died. Russia started to look a little less friendly to us than we’d one thought. And to cap it all, the crime bills that Bill had signed, principally at the behest of Community Leaders (but also to reverse his probable destiny as a lame duck President), started to look worrisome, in application. Then came Kosovo and 9/11, the shades of the past rising up like ugly monsters, and joining forces with new threats, to make us feel like the world was a dark and scary place again.

    But throughout all this technology was the bright and shining beacon on the coastal hill before us, beckoning us forward to a bright and shiny future and offering respite from a tempestuous sea. It even managed to free a country in the Middle East and make it democratic, ushering a wave of new revolutions, filled with the promise of the Arab Spring. But we should have known that the light from that beacon was false, placed to wreck us on the jagged shores of our own complacency.

    Because if the television media had always encouraged us to only gather a shallow surface of knowledge about the world, the internet invited us to stretch the time we use to acquire knowledge to a wafer thin veneer. There just isn’t time in peoples lives to learn anything in depth, nor is there the appetite. People are just to busy curating their own lives online, or posting to friends, or doing any of the other mindlessly banal things young people do with their phones (a vice I still refuse to carry), including but not limited to taking pictures of their food, and playing with their phone when they should be paying attention to the people they love or care about, over a meal. I could understand taking a picture of your food in The Fat Duck or The Hand and Flowers, I really could, because then you would be taking a memento of visiting the abode of one of pioneers of molecular gastronomy or the first Michelin starred pub in the world- but some anonymous 4.3 on tripadvisor- really?

    But in no area is this veneer of knowledge so dangerous, as when it is applied to people. It used to be sage advice to ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’- but obviously not in this day and age. You know I never really believed all that horseshit about the amoral actor possessing an uneven advantage in business- because people just don’t like bad actors, even on the personal level- and I’ve seen lower-level directors wiped out by both their peers and superiors, because they couldn’t be trusted, because they lied. But in this Brave New World, the superficial, the veneer, works on both levels. People are free to attack others, promoting their own interest in the process, and the outrage mob are free to follow, because nobody bothers to check about the person they are attacking- it’s as though they are superimposing a villainous, caricatured cardboard cutout, over a living, breathing human being and then proceeding to punch the living hell out of it. And the reason why it works is because the incentives are all wrong, people get socially and financially rewarded for being bullies, getting to enjoy the self-righteous adrenal rush of tearing at the reputation and livelihoods of others, like moral harpies.

    This has got to stop. Perhaps a small group of 50 to 100 tech savvy citizens could trawl through the lives of the worst offenders, baring their hidden histories to the world. I don’t know. Even suggesting it makes me feel queasy, uneasy- like creating the stasi to stop the stasi. Maybe it could be done on a less personal level- tracking those who instigate outrage mobs- and creating a register of those who have benefited most financially, by destroying the lives of others. Yet another horrible idea, perhaps. But in the absence of some deep, cultural wake-up call, some media image that shows just how harmful all this really is the Moral Harpies and the circus masters that instigate the attacks are going to win every time.

    P.S. Breaking News- Andrew Yang’s mike was switched off in the 2nd round of the democratic debates, shades of Bernie 2016.

    • derek says

      It isn’t the rumor mongers and retweets, it is those in positions to make a decision paying attention to this stuff.

      Given the means almost everyone will make a blithering idiot of themselves by saying silly or harmful things, and now you can broadcast to the world your idiocy. It is like we have a conduit into the minds of people we don’t know, and many times wish we didn’t. It is like overhearing conversations of our children; a mixture of horror and amusement.

      But it takes a special type of stupidity to consider this garbage as anything but that. To break off a business arrangement due to some twitter noise? Are you serious?

      I’ve posited that 2020 will be characterized by lawsuits for libel and defamation, these are already happening. I also believe we will see damages awarded where someone is fired or a business arrangement is altered because of these accusation campaigns. Someone will have the unpleasant task of explaining to a jury why they fired someone based on a flurry of twitter comments from someone called coldporridge43.

      People will be silly, but if you are in a position where your decisions affect people lives you can’t be.

    • Geofiz says


      In the 1930’s and 1940’s, good righteous people in Germany and Russia, got up in the morning, kissed their children goodbye and went off to murder their fellow men, women and children. More recent examples include Cambodia and Rwanda. History is full of moral paroxysms of murder and wanton destruction. This is different only in degree. After each one of these atrocities, scholars spilled hundreds of pages of ink asking why.

      Solzhenitsyn said: “in order to do evil, one must first believe that what they are doing is good”. The Nazis who murdered Jewish children did not consider themselves evil and neither did the Soviet apparatchiks who condemned millions to death by starvation. The felt their cause was just and holy. They believed that they were doing good. They WANTED to do good.

      The demonization of the Covington kids, of Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, and of Joe Massey are all the same story. The story is actually not about them. It is about the desire of their oppressors to feel holy, pure, and virtuous. The mob makes you feel that way. We are genetically programmed to be tribal. We like being part of something greater than ourselves. The survival of the human species has depended upon it. A country is a “tribe”. That great feeling you describe in the 1980’s and 1990’s was a tribal feeling. But it can work both ways. Look at old films of Hitler’s rallies and look at the absolute adoration in the eyes of the spectators. A friend of mine once said that if Hitler died in 1939, he would be hailed today as Germany’s greatest leader. My friend is correct.

      A mob is also a tribe. And the internet makes it easy to join. We did not evolve with social media in mind. The mob becomes a religious experience. Those in the mob feel holy. Auto de fe’s are required. The mob does not really care about the Covington kids or Gibson’s or Joe Massey, any more that those adoring Germans cared about Jews. They are merely a means to an end. They are necessary roadkill on the path towards goodness and holiness.

      Geary, there is really only one way to stop the mob. As much as business over-regulation is repulsive to me, I think we need to regulate social media. The idea that Twitter and Facebook bear no responsibility for the destruction of lives is something we have decide if we are comfortable with. I am not! But given the present political climate and the move of the media and the Democratic party to the far left, I do not see that happening anytime soon. I see things getting worse.

      BTW, I greatly enjoy your posts

      • Geary Johansen says

        My brother is heading off to Cromer tomorrow, so I’m fucked tonight!

        But doesn’t it all seem so seem so little, by comparison to when we were young

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Geotiz

        Your’re a great writer. Start describing things, rather than ideas.

        For example

        That nervous mention, the familiar feeling in his gut that was not welcome, was as unwelcome as his mother had been.

        Go past the ideas, practice you art… and I’am fucking pissed!!

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Geofiz

        What do you do?

        Because I am almost an old man, chasing an old dog. You are close in your writing, so close.

        sos my girl want me

        • Geofiz says

          Thank you for the compliment. The short story of my life is that I wanted to be a professor nearly all my young life…right up until the time I was one. I got a Ph.D. in geology and taught for a short time at a state university. I soon realized that I was not cut out for academic life and joined a big oil company as a research scientist. That led to going out on my own and building a successful energy consulting business. I have been gainfully unemployed since 1992. I am very fortunate in that I really enjoy what I do for a living.

          I am one of those old-school Republicans who was totally surprised by Trump. I never thought he would win the nomination and then I never thought he would win the presidency. When he did, I realized that there was a whole part of American culture that I did not understand. So, I did what any good scientist would do. I went on a reading binge. C.K. Murray’s; Coming Apart and Jonathan Haidt’s; “The Righteous Mind” were two books that I found extremely helpful in my education. I realized that I live in a bubble. A more conservative bubble than academia but a bubble nonetheless.

          Fortunately, I had already done some of the necessary field work. Part of my job has been going out in the field and meeting the pumpers, roughnecks, and roustabouts that making pumping oil possible. Over the years a few of them have worked for me. Most are either white or Hispanic and are very religious. They live in small towns and they are all Trump supporters (Yes, the Hispanics too). None are racists. I have a lot of respect for these hard-working people so it was easy for me to understand the frustration they feel from being portrayed as stupid deplorable racist rubes, who “cling to their guns and God”. I saw the hate directed against them by the condescending society elites and I didn’t like it much.

          This has never been about racism, or sexism or any other ism. Does anyone really think a poor single black mother cares about how many female engineers there are at Goggle? The isms are simply a way for the cultural elite to pretend that they are not elite – to virtue signal. It has always been about class. Today we are divided into two classes; the cognitive elite and the cognitively disadvantaged. The cognitive elite includes those far-left professors, but it also includes you and I. As technology advances, the gulf between the cognitive elite and the cognitively disadvantaged continues to grow. What happens to truck drivers when we have self-driving trucks? Does anyone in either party really care? Not everyone can be a quantum physicist and the guys in the field get that. They don’t want to learn how to code even if they could. They like what they do and are proud of it. They don’t want to live in Santa Barbara and drink overpriced lattes. What they want is to be treated with respect and dignity. And they want a fair chance at the American dream. They do not want handouts from condescending elites.

          The Democrats treat them with absolute contempt. The traditional Republicans (like me) played them. “Vote for me and I promise to do all of these great things, but really I’ll give more money to my wealthy buddies. Trump speaks to the deplorables. He was the first president since FDR to do so and mean it. Once I understood that, everything fell into place. And love Trump or hate him, he has done what no politician has ever done. He has done his best to keep his promises to his base.

          I have been a science fiction fan every since I learned to read. I look forward to your first novel. I could not find your name on Amazon. If you are already published and Geary Johansen is a pseudonym, like Geofiz, go to my photography website,www.flickr.com/photos/geofiz and private message me. As for my writing – scientists dispassionately describe things. We not that good at the emotion thing (Grin).

          • Geary Johansen says

            It’s one of the reasons why I left PCV windows and doors- get this- a company that can be bought be it’s dividend, within two years. What a joke. In my job I met fifty year old men, who were not ignorant, they were not stupid- they were simply afraid to hit the return key.

            I love Jordan Peterson, Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker, but’s let not kid ourselves- it’s a knowledge economy with a bloody steep slope.

            P.S. thank you for the accolade 🙂

          • ms100 says


            Thank you for your missive and your efforts to get out of your bubble. May many more follow your footsteps in understanding.

          • raphael says

            Very interesting story and analysis Geofiz. I hope there are a lot more smart and honest “traditional Republicans” out there like you, who understand and recognize the illz of Trumpitis (it’s more of an -itis than an -ism I think)… I’m partial to science too but more of a traditional Left leaning type, who loves to hunt and fish, but who is losing the urge to kill and am mostly a catch-and-release kinda fisherman these days. I appreciate your many insights and especially enjoyed your final analysis:

            “Trump speaks to the deplorables. He was the first president since FDR to do so and mean it. Once I understood that, everything fell into place. And love Trump or hate him, he has done what no politician has ever done. He has done his best to keep his promises to his base.”…

            Nail on the head! But how are we to better educate, inform and enlighten those “ deplorables “ who really do sympathize with Trumps rather deplorable, superficial, and hateful beliefs and actions…? Peace, Love and Understanding!! Dark and difficult times ahead and storm clouds are gathering… hold your torch high Geofiz

    • ms100 says


      The devil is in the details. That people have superficial knowledge or resort to sound bites is tragic. For myself, the internet has allowed easy deep diving for knowledge, for those devilish details that really tell the tale about the subject at hand. I’ve often wondered whether a pamphlet should be mailed or emailed to every household every election season giving both the Republican and Democratic side to issues. At least to the affluent bubble population, as they ironically seem the least educated.

    • raphael says

      “Because if the television media had always encouraged us to only gather a shallow surface of knowledge about the world, the internet invited us to stretch the time we use to acquire knowledge to a wafer thin veneer”… well said Mr. Johansen!!
      Brave New World indeed. Very Hunger Games-ish days of the ever clever wolves who manipulate and corral the fearful sheep and galvanize the angry mob with shiny consumer-objects and blame-objects: food for the unillumined mind of mankind.. a cultural awakening is indeed what is urgently needed now

  17. James Woods says

    I am sorry but I left the article midway, it was a rambling, uninteresting and uncalled for biography of a person. To the Quillete editors, sometimes less is better.

    • Cynical Old Biologist says

      Have you considered trying Modafinil?

    • Another Name says

      There are plenty of good articles on this site. If this isn’t to your taste go read another one. One of the best things about Quillette is the variety of subjects and diversity of opinion. The last thing we need is over zealous editors.

    • Debbie says

      @James Woods: I had the exact opposite reaction. It was a good, well-written piece.

    • Geary Johansen says

      Just an aspiring writer practising my craft, in preparation for another run at a sci fi novel.

    • Geary Johansen says

      I’ve actually been thinking about technology as an issue for a while now- ever since Eric Weinstein made that comment about Technology being Capitalism’s son, and starting to eat it’s father. Saturn in reverse, I suppose. My idea is that technology is more like Pandora’s box, in reverse. So, it gives us all the good stuff: raises 85% of the world’s population out of absolute poverty; longer lives & better medicines; cheap & abundant food; electricity & hot running water; heated (or cooled) safe homes; TV, cinema and whatever music we want, whenever we want it and all the rest.

      But it leaves all the really shitty stuff for last: super-bugs; social media; political polarisation, with politicians incentivised to veer further away from the centre; data collection; automation and mass surveillance (although I do think this last one has the potential to end the War on Drugs, humanely and as painlessly as possible). I suppose there is nothing new with it- words like saboteur didn’t spring into the English language without good reason. But what is new, is the scale of it, and that so many flaws seem to be creeping into this engine of progress all at the same time. Like a car really, with everything breaking down at the same time. Only, there is no readily available replacement.

      • Geofiz says

        So when are you going to write an article for Quillette about this (Grin)

      • raphael says

        Pattern patterning.
        The bigger the game, the bigger the wolves and the larger the flocks of sheep. Until humanity awakens from the unconsciousness of our self-clenching it is inevitable that with every gain in the positive direction the negative potential will be exploited for the gain of the few at the expense of the weak (minded)… no praise, no blame, we rise above the superficial stupidity and shine, or sink back into the primordial slime from which unconsciousness derives… my hypothesis anywho..

  18. Kenny says

    I will now find some Massey poems and give them a try. Networks need to be built (this magazine is one example) whereby the machinations of the SJW mob can be thwarted.

    Secondly, let me add that poets are not to be confused with saints. Some great poets were horrid people. No one seemed to like Wallace Stevens much. Ezra Pound broadcasted propaganda for Mussolini as well as anti-Semitic rants. Yet his influence on poetry was massive.

  19. When did someone’s personal life become the world’s business to judge? I honestly don’t care if this poet was a mean boyfriend or drank too much. His girlfriend was apparently an adulterer and screwed over her then husband. Where is the judgement on her? But again, I just want to read poems and have no interest in following the often loopy and dysfunctional lives of all the poets I read. I appreciate the poems that any one of them have managed to create out of the chaos, texture, intensity,clarity, and ennui of their inner life. That’s what I read poetry for. They’ll be no one left to read if we judge poets based on their life decisions and not their work. Lots of people have messy lives and do shitty things, I don’t need to always know and I don’t always have to judge. Poets should be judged on their work. Period, end of sentence. If they do something criminal, they should be judged in a court of law. If they do something shitty to their spouse or romantic interests, those people should do the judging and mete out the punishment. I have my own problems. People need to get a life.

    • TarsTarkas says

      It became the worlds business to judge people’s characters without pity or forgiveness when it was learned that bearing false witness and destroying people with it earned you brownie points. It will not end until shaming liars and delators becomes popular again. Stocks and ducking stools, anybody?

    • Captain Obvious says

      When did the disgusting details of personal lives become something necessary to share with the world? It’s lowered the bar on voyeurism to where it’s lying on the ground.

      What I couldn’t stop thinking as I read the article is what the hell this dude did for MONEY while performing his angst, drinking himself sick (booze ain’t cheap!) and Writing Poetry.

      Might have straightened himself out if he’d gone and gotten a real job down on the docks. Just sayin’. “Artist” seems to be these days a synonym for “mentally ill.”

      • Joanna Buns says

        People like this thrive in the arts because they (art and literature) are the lowest stakes game anywhere. Thrive is the wrong word; are included and enabled. People like this go to college and are too unstable for tracks that lead to careers with high stakes.

        • Jonas says

          I’m in film. We spend 25O k a day when we shoot. There are plenty of stakes in the arts.

  20. Grant says

    Very often, someone drinks too much, then says too much. Especially people who have suffered abuse because their pain is ongoing and unresolved, simmering just below the surface, with no real skills to live with it. There’s also the involuntary symptoms of abuse like anxiety, physical pain and illness and psychosis. These people are hard to live with but now we get to hear from them everyday via the internet whether we like it or not.
    Think of all that crap gets pounded out on keyboards every night after a few, or a bunch, of drinks all over this country.
    As for our poet, when you have an affair with a married woman and then tell her husband about it, bad shit often happens.
    When you drink a say abusive horrible things, people don’t want to be around you and they won’t trust you. Not judging him, it’s just a highly probable outcome.
    He certainly should fight back against unfair and poor treatment. Making mistakes shouldn’t make you a permanent target for abuse, especially by the horrible humans who savor handing it out.
    I am very happy that the author is on the road to being a happier, sober person!

  21. For the #MeToo mob there are never enough apologies nor is there ever “the other side of the story”. Unfortunately, Mr. Massey is in a field where it is far too easy to be a victim of the mob. Horrific as his early life was and no matter what he did or does to come to terms with the damage it did, until the #MeToo SJW fire has burned itself out, poetry, like many of the other arts will be in the hands of the politically correct second rate and the cowards who are afraid of them. Which will mean Mr. Massey, regardless of how good his poetry may be, will be marginalized, de-platformed and shunned.

    The only good news is that, slowly, #MeToo and the SJW fanatics are running out of energy and, delightfully, turning their guns on one another.

  22. Sam says

    Newsflash: Poet had Immoderate Feelings, and Struggled to Express Them Clearly During his 20s!
    Someone alert the media!

  23. John Barr says

    Hell hath no fury like a woman published.

    • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

      In this case, apparently a woman not published.

  24. Outta Here says

    Why the slogan “the future is female” strikes terror in my (female) heart (not that I should have to announce my “identity”:

    “At a poetry reading, he looked at me like I was a meal, and it chilled me to the bone.” SO????

    “He invited me to his hotel room to have a drink with him.” SO WHAT????

    “He made a homophobic remark about a fellow poet.” AND YOU’RE A TATTLETALE!

    “He was rude to me on Facebook six years ago.” POOR BABY! AND YOU’VE NEVER BEEN “RUDE” I TAKE IT….

    “He messaged me once, trying to talk about poetry.” OH MY GOD — NO!!!!!

    “He was creepy toward me on Instagram.” EEK!!! A MOUSE!!!!!!!

    Some of these were from people I’d never met. Others were from people who’d been friendly toward me until that day. Some close friends cut off all contact. I was ghosted.

    WHO ON EARTH WOULD TAKE ANY OF THESE “ACCUSATIONS” SERIOUSLY? They don’t even qualify as allegations — of ANYTHING!

    Seriously, if THIS what it takes to destroy someone’s reputation, then we NEED NEW LEADERSHIP!

    If THIS is what “the future is female” means, GET ME OUTTA HERE.

    On another note, I cannot believe the damage that has been done to the literary world. What a bunch of humorless, witless morons. I saw it coming the last time I was at a tony artist’s colony…here I was, having read numerous biographies of wild and crazy artists and writers, who exhibited all manner of lusciously “bad” behavior, because, you know, artists were generally considered to have…difficult…temperaments… and there was this awful, judgmental, mean, uncomfortable feeling in the dining hall, generated mostly by WOMEN.

    However one did come to me in near tears, over having been vilified for being tolerant.

    Anyway, I hope all this Sturm und Drang soon ends. The male-led literary world was so much more fun….

  25. Mark Evans says

    As is often the case in situations like this, considerations of power seem to play a significant role….but two questions keep bothering me:

    Who actually successfully exercised power to damage the career of the other? Was it Massey or was it Colby?

    How is power of this sort bestowed in our society? His accusers claim that Massey’s (apparently impotent) power in the poetry community is based on his achievements as a poet. Colby is a poet too, but was her (apparently effective) power based on her poetic achievements, or on her sex?

    • Mark Evans says

      Regarding the last paragraph in my comment: There have been junior men who have raised successful claims against more senior/famous/accomplished people (the Kevin Spacey case, for example)…perhaps even in the category of “our relationship was toxic”. So I think I want to answer my own question with a no…not based on her sex. However, we have clearly bestowed substantial power on people willing to make accusations of the type that Colby and others made.

    • Candy says

      Sounds like jealousy. The charges were phrased in a way to exert power. This is ancient history and seemed mutual.

  26. Anj says

    Over reach/abuse is not just a feature of metoo. All human interaction features abuse.
    Welcome to our world where your career, finances & good standing is at the mercy of the corrupt.
    No, it’s not very nice is it?
    Of course ignoring abuses only encourages them. We reap what we sow…

  27. Pingback: A Poet Says He Was Dubiously Accused Of Sexual Abuse During The Height Of MeToo. His Writing Is Helping Him Survive. – DailyTruthReport

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  31. Sydney says

    So Kate Colby is burning mad and posted this piece (that I’d never seen since I don’t read ‘Slate’) on her Twitter feed a few hours ago:


    I guess that’s Colby’s latest tit-for-tat. The anonymous WordPress site that was built to destroy Massey is horrible.

    Shouldn’t she write a poem instead for revenge? I’ve never heard of her before (or of Massey, either), but it’s safe to assume that she’s a recipient of public grants, and that American taxpayers are paying her for poems. Oppression-fixated ‘New York Times’ would fall all over itself to review a book of #metoo poetry.

    Current culture is really in the throes of hysteria. Yuk.

    • ga gamba says

      Thanks for that link, Sydney.

      I always make sure to read the readership’s comments – sorted by top comments. It appears much of Slate’s community objected to the writer’s characterisation and mentioned Quillette is a site worth reading.

      Here’s one I found delightful – there are many other similar ones.

      Mushy articles like this are the reason Slate has become so boring and predictable. They should feel threatened by Quillete. It is exciting and contrarian. You can give me any current topic and I can tell you exactly what Slate will have to say say about it without fail. And what were the chances they would give a site contrasting their daily dose of dogma and tepid mainstream liberal orthodoxy? Surprise! They think it’s bad.

      This writer’s tortured logic and mental acrobatics is embarrassing. The characterization presented here is unrecognizable to readers of Quillette. Alas, the cynicism and jealousy of a publication in decline at the success of a young upstart. I think they’ve now convinced me not to review my Slate Plus and hand it over to Quillette.

      (The commentator’s Slate Plus status is for those who give money to the site.)

    • Stacy says

      Clearly she’s a psycho. I mean it. Manipulative conniving. But wait women can’t be that. Her poetry is high school. I see nothing in it. I feel nauseous when she discusses how she does this ordinary dull work.

  32. Pingback: A Poet Says He Was Dubiously Accused Of Sexual Abuse During The Height Of MeToo. His Writing Is Helping Him Survive. – The Conservative Insider

  33. Ted says

    Writers write, Mr. Massey, and singers sing.

    Compose your poems, write them and publish as you can, but never forget that the backbiting and slander, libel and invective you are experiencing has always been the lot of poets.

    I saw it in the 70’s and 80’s, and yes, it was more localized, but the effects were as profound then as now. The price you pay for your transgressions is grist for your mill. You know this, and also that there is no escaping that fact by any means.

    Regardless of your talent, the slings and arrows of your particularly outrageous fortune hold you in thrall, and it was ever thus with your kind.

    You are in good company with many others denied a livelihood by their own agency or that of others, and what matters is what you utter and what you write.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you well, but even more; I pray that you find solace in your art, however devoid of remuneration it may become.

  34. Joseph Massey is far from alone in having done things and said things he bitterly regrets, is ashamed of, and has tried to atone for. He’s not alone in suffering mental illness. As best I can tell from what I’ve read, he has committed no crimes and poses no danger to society or any individual.

    Live well, Joe. They can take your reputation and your livelihood, but the person you need to live with is you. Thrive.

  35. Stephanie says

    What I don’t understand is how a cheating spouse can complain about their side piece without the ire turning on them. Yes, it is a shitty thing to date a married woman, but the more shitty thing is to cheat on your spouse. Whatever mean thing the author said to her over the phone number was better than she deserved, the author should not feel badly about it no matter how vicious he was.

    The absurd mobbing aside, this story speaks to me of the loose morals and low expectations SJWs set for themselves for personal moral conduct.

  36. Stan Ulam says

    American women are the Devil incarnate.

  37. Defenstrator says

    Thoughts on reading.

    Holy shit. What the fuck is wrong with these people. I honestly get confused by stories like this as it is so alien to my own experience and that of anyone that ai have known. I know people who were brought up poor, and they had pretty normal childhoods, if light on creature comforts.

    Self destructive behaviour is just that. If anyone wonders why Jordon Peterson became so popular, look no further. There are a lot of suffering people out there who need to know that suffering is not abnormal, and that there is a way out of it.

    You apologized. Never apologize just because they feel you are wrong. That is just buying into their world view. Apologize because you think you have done wrong. And even then be wary. Do not be so naive to think that malevolent people will appreciate your apology as anything other than a tool to be used against you.

    Oh look, a person you know for a fact is a scumbag because she cheated on her husband for years is now acting like a scumbag, except you are the target of her ire. What an unshocking and completely foreseeable event.

    A society that does not require evidence to support accusations is unjust. Who knew? Yes they hypocrites. This is not news. Too bad you had to find out the hard way.

    Well at least you’re speaking out. Calling out these people as liars is about all you can do. That said please understand I don’t know you from a hole in the ground, so I read your own story with a certain level of detachment and skepticism.

    Hope things get better.

  38. Willard Helmann says

    Ouch dude. Its amazing how screwed up things can get; and walking out of that takes a lot of effort and humility. Good for you for having the courage to change. Keep at it.

    Seems to me that Mob behavior is one of the ugliest forms of abuse that can be heaped on someone. Unforgiveness consumes the person holding it and makes them act like ugly little demons.

    There is a cosmic grand irony that the people pushing anti-bullying and ‘justice’ are the same who will eviscerate people for sins as simple as a different viewpoint, or are the blatant victims of the attacks like the kid with the maga hat in DC.

    They could have cared less that this boy was 16. And all because some guy want to create a false event to leverage his victim-score by pretending to be the victim while he was the aggressor. And the pile-on of the media? The media perps should have been sent to time-out and lost their afternoon treats.

    I think we are all responsible for setting the standard in this space. While we can’t control what people do to us, but we can control how we react to it.

  39. Saintlerat says

    Mind you, publicly naming & shaming his own fam is perfectly fine. At least he’s still alive to defend himself.
    Takes a snitch to know one….

  40. I guess you reap what you sow but it’s a terrible thing to see a person’s need to exact such an unremitting revenge on another. The post seemed honest and it’s hard not to feel sorry for someone who has made a mess of things but is able to own up to the fact. I wish the poet well. I found the comments of Geary and Geofiz more interesting and worthwhile than the main post though.

  41. Abu Nudnik says

    You’re far too apologetic. None of what you did was criminal. Even if you did everything you’ve listed that you’ve been accused of, it “sounds like life to me,” as Daryl Worley put it. “He looked at me like I was a meal.” Oh yeah? A lot of women really like that. You’ve got this all backwards. You will never get absolution from these people because destruction is all they live for. They protest power while simultaneously trying to arrange absolute power for themselves without the possibility of opposition.

    You, on the other hand, have hard evidence of criminal acts committed against you. Get a lawyer before reaching for pills again, get a lawyer for God’s sake. Man up and sue these people for criminal harassment. If you can get a conviction first, that will help in civil court. Only when these people have to pay, are be made to bleed from greenback to white will this mob begin to think of consequences.

  42. cadgbd says

    You ratting-out your lover to their spouse, and in turn, she did unto you the same as you did unto her. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It’s karma. You ratted her out and in retaliation she ratted you out, with prejudice.
    You may have Defamation case if anything she printed about you is untrue.

    In passing, I do not like poetry readings or comedy open mics because it is just an avenue for an angry person to vent their discontent upon you, the audience. Sometimes there are even “plants” sitting in the audience observing your reaction and chastising you for not laughing, or appreciating the show.

    Verdict: by ratting-out your lover to her spouse you lost all moral ground and cannot complain when she turned around and did the same to you, however, you may have a defamation case, in which case, the tit-for-tat retaliation will go on forever.

    Moral: Do unto others as you would have them do you.

    • Sydney says


      Your comment belongs in 1919.

      In 2019, if you’re a woman and become embittered by an adult, consensual, messy affair you can cry #metoo and entire institutions will stop in their tracks to help you completely undo and ruin the man’s life.

      That’s not ‘goose and gander’ or Ten Commandments. That’s the power of the totalitarian, intersectional, SJW left.

      • cadgbd says

        The Ten Commandments are timeless and apply to 2019 as much to 1919 as to the year 1.

        You are confusing the issue. I do not support #metoo. What I am pointing out is that the poet betrayed his lover which is a really rotten thing to do.

        Actions have consequences. If you pull a dirty trick on someone and hurt them really badly, it is only natural to expect retaliation, dirty for dirty, is the way people operate.

        This is not defense of #metoo, rather it is simply pointing out that the poet lost my sympathy after he said that he snitched on his lover to her husband.

    • Vivian Darkbloom says

      This (cadgbd’s) is an under-appreciated comment. It’s sort of “stop-the-presses” when he says he told the husband. You just DON’T do that. And if you do … maybe immediately … maybe next week … next year … maybe one day when you’re pushing a walker down the sidewalk of the nursing home … you WILL get payback.

      • JA M says

        Yeah, screw her husband. Or, more precisely I suppose, screw everyone else other than the spouse.

        Because morals and whatnot.

  43. Nick says

    I have never been overly fond of poetry, but I was under the impression that the first duty of a poet is to practise brevity.

  44. Fit To Print says

    I’ve been involved with small press culture, mostly poetry and comix, for nearly 30 years and am familiar with a lot of its odd dynamics. One friend complains a lot about how he will never get published again, but that is because he has antagonized and insulted so so many people There’s a fw other acquaintances who have been efectively been banished, but that is because they acted like pigs, not just when they were most abusive, but when you’d run into them on the stree or had lunch with them or whate

    Please excuse me but some of the essay gives me the vibe of somebody doing crystal. I have a few friends who do that a lot but I do not allow them in my house.

    • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

      Fit To Print, That is interesting that you say some friends of yours have been banished from being published because they acted like pigs. Sounds like its not their work that’s up for evaluation, but their characters. By this measure, Bukowski and Hemingway would never have been published. They didn’t do crystal, but they both drank excessively and were very obnoxious, like the poet in the article.

  45. Klaus C. says

    Seems reasonable to expect that the poetry publishing world presents a tiny incestuous scene packed with prima donne, conspiracies, back stabbings and all kinds of dreary drama.

    In the internet age, it should be feasible to write poetry and find an audience while ignoring all that nonsense. I’ve never really understood why some creative people feel the need to endear themselves to the “official” cultural gatekeepers. Very few people buy books of poetry anyway, especially new poetry.

    I haven’t put any of my poetry on the internet yet but when I do, it will be accompanied by my paintings and eventually, music, to provide a rich sample of what I’ve been getting up to. Some of it will be copyright protected but other examples will be in the public domain. It’s always fun to see where public domain work can end up.

  46. Anne Lee says

    In the case of my DH, it was true evil personal greed. Women wanted to steal his ideas, his words, and his hours for their own personal gain. However,the people i have the greatest contempt for are those white men who join in the attack, or stand quietly by trembling in personal fear. The most recent example that I am aware of is Dr. Keith Russell from the University of Newcastle Australia. He mentioned on the DRS list that “since the feminization of universities” the conversation was about the decline of academic standards. Some gal jumped on screaming sexism and he was removed from the list, shamed, and his career destroyed. The university followed suit. Of course, it is ok because he is an older white male. He also happened to be one of the original people to join the list and a very thoughtful contributor from the beginning which was about 20 years ago.

  47. Quillette Sucks Ass says

    “Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I rarely appeared in public unless alcohol was promised. I drank to protect myself from a constant state of anxiety, always verging on full-blown panic.”

    This is the only part I read and fucking lmfao Quillette contributors are fucking loser rapists.

    • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

      Sucks Ass: Truly an enlightening comment, using logic and humour to make a well reasoned point.

  48. your only reality is as a poet. write so honestly that you die in the poem and you won’t have to kill yourself in life. don’t let anything write the poem for you: no drug or alcohol or sitting with your thumb up your behind passively waiting for enlightenment will write the poem. Each letter of the word is the poem. write the poem.

  49. Robert Hadley says

    Just what the hell was he so anxious and angry about?

  50. ossicle88 says

    Unfortunately, hugely messed up women get into relationships with hugely messed up men. Me too has given a lot of them the mis-impression that they were victims and now deserve valorization, rather than the fact that they were equally responsible co-dependents.

  51. V 2.0 says

    Someone needs to bring Charles Bukowski back to life and get him a Twitter account.

    • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

      V 2.0 No one would publish Bukowski today. He’d just be another drunk writing poetry to himself. Same with Hemingway (prose).

  52. David of Sydney says

    Kate Colby list Guest Lecturer at Brown University on her Facebook page. The SJW doctrine is strong in this one.

  53. Fred Fong says

    Mr. Massey, I read your story and my heart aches for all the sufferings you’ve gone through. I hope you stay strong and stay true to your calling. You have incredible positive karmic energy behind you, and you will do well to harness it and come out whole at the end. May the Buddha’s boundless compassion be always with you, and may you realize soon this same compassion is always inside you. Consider, deeply, the alternative to hurting yourself and others. You have done it, and you can do it from here on, consistently. Keep up the Ananda meditation!

  54. rmjv says

    I will never be sure what actually happened but the fact that Mr. Massey does not only look at others but first and foremost at himself, makes him much more believable than all the ‘fingerpointers’. It has become increasingly too easy to kill someone’s career and life by just posting something on social media which is rather scary.
    I appreciate this kind of honesty and openness.

  55. Rohit says

    Frankly, Massey is hardly a good argument against #MeToo. OK, he “fucked up”. So why does he get all this space?

    • El Cid says

      “Treat every man according to his desserts and who will escape whipping” as Hamlet says to Polonius. Or, who’s work will be deemed worthy of publishing? Eh?

  56. Cary says

    In my former tribe, there is no forgiveness. No crime is too large or too small. Its all unforgivable IF you are a white male. The left will eat its own until there is no one left. Trump is the output of this behavior and it will continue until the far left awakes from its lunacy. Don’t hold your breath hoping that will happen any time soon. Mr Massey, you should write a self published biography. Lay it all on the table. Emails, texts, the works. Go out screaming.

  57. Dariann says

    This was chilling to read.
    There was no substantiated criminal charge.
    So all your dirty laundry Aired some true some baloney gets your career ruined
    ANd women can act as they please.
    I read her poems. His are better. So in absence of corroborated information I believe him.
    The past is the past. In my 20s I had sick relationships with heated abusive arguments going both ways. Now it’s just men being made to pay.
    The Soviet Union erased such talent.
    Hopefully he’ll persist and persevere because he has talent.

  58. This narrative is chaos and emblematic of a wider chaos in a society that has so committed itself to indulgence as a social and economic principle, and so deregulated and privatized its instrumentalities, that there is virtually no social infrastructure left worth having, its governance worthless and its capacity to deliver existential security, non existent.

    It isn’t just the natural world that is near the end of its tether; so is our world order and all the things we have taken for granted over the last 60-70 years. We are going to have leave and go on a very difficult journey into something else; a pilgrimage if you like and as hazardous as may be…..

    Great journeys must be imagined first
    and so trenchant in their intent
    to slake the deepest kind of thirst,
    they grasp imaginers by the throat
    and tell them bluntly
    only through travail and trial,
    by purging fire
    and hammer blows be smote
    can their spirit be reforged
    and history’s child
    be sired.

    This ordeal can either temper
    or destroy
    according to its whim,
    or perhaps the pilgrims’ strength within.
    Courage can surmount faint hearts,
    but how can faith presume
    that having gambled all,
    there is a way to save us in the end?
    There are no roads upon the other side,
    except the ones we make,
    every step perhaps at stake
    our lives,
    every view through soldiers’ eyes.

    And so we wile away our days
    beside brooding familiarities
    that will not speak to us for fear
    that it is not the sun that brightens
    all that we hold dear,
    but the bonfire of our vanities;
    that the deepening darkening shade it castes
    is not shadow,
    but decaying sanity.

    We look for hopeful signs,
    but at midnight,
    the clock rings its hands and says
    in anguished tones,
    “Ladies and Gentlemen,
    it’s time.”

  59. Pingback: Contra los linchamientos – The Neanderthals' Grandson

  60. I don’t understand all the negative comments here. Massey reportedly had a terrible childhood, but overcame that to become a gifted poet. That alone is a great accomplishment.

    OK, he was mean to some people, usually when he was drunk, but he seems genuinely sorry for that. On the other hand, the woman who’s working to destroy him isn’t drunk or acting out of a momentary lapse of judgment. Envious of his success, she is working soberly and coldly to destroy him. This is evil. Not stupidity, not being a jerk…but evil.

    Massey doesn’t deserve this. And what was really painful to read was how poetry publications and organizations didn’t stand by him. How is it that none of them had any backbone.

    I am very glad that Quillette gave Massey this space to give his side of the story. I onkt wish he could get a lawyer and sue Colby and her supporters for libel.

    • Ginger says

      Massey’s alleged crimes are mostly verbal. I’ve done research on my own and find that he has not been accused of rape or assaulting women, although he did “inappropriately touch” a poet ten years ago. From what I can gather, Massey made amends and the woman he touched forgave him. Unlike other MeToo cases, where men who are called out are still, in present time, behaving badly, Massey has been on a path of self-betterment for years. Kate Colby knew that. She also knew about his past, and that past was used to ruin him.

  61. Lawrence says

    An allegation made so casually. The writer was trolled, shunned, hated, work relationships ruined. He has had to explain his life and debase himself publicly to seek understanding of his side of an issue.
    What of the accuser? Her work is done. Her brief work is equivalent to a decision of a judge on a court bench giving a life sentence. She need not explain herself. She has automatic supporters. Wagons will circle around her when needed. They are not needed now. He has been crippled. She has moved on. He cannot.
    That is #metoo.

  62. mm says

    You gotta figure someone who’s mom wipes their butt on the toilet until they are 13 would have issues, even beyond all the sexual and relational and egoic issues everyone else has in the first place, because we weren’t raised by enlightened parents or in anywhere near an enlightened society.

    Pain is simply part of experience. So is joy. It’s difficult to resolve how each of our “me’s” should or should not behave, especially since each me changes, evolves, forgets, creates, and lapses moment by-moment, and especially since most “shoulds” have more to do with extending blame than growing deeply within.

    Yes, the author made and makes mistakes. He also writes fairly well and seems to want to understand and perhaps to grow in a positive manner. Perhaps he should be keel-hauled upon his own petard. Perhaps we all should.

    The way I look at such things is: what’s the best way for all involved to find peace? Of course, since this is now out in public in writing, all readers and commenters are also involved. How do we use this to refind peace?

    • raphael says

      “Pain is simply part of experience. So is joy. It’s difficult to resolve how each of our “me’s” should or should not behave, especially since each me changes, evolves, forgets, creates, and lapses moment by-moment, and especially since most “shoulds” have more to do with extending blame than growing deeply within.”
      Very well said, mm. Amen!!

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