Harwood to Abramson: WTF?

David Lehman P&WReady To Serve
Stacey & SethP&W Rankings

Poets and Writers magazine published Seth Abramson’s (middle left) MFA program rankings in the last issue of 2009 [click here].  Stacey Harwood (bottom left), wife of Best American Poetry series editor, David Lehman (top left), wrote on the BAP blog that Abramson’s ratings are “based on bogus research methods. The author of the rankings has no credentials as a pollster.”

In the comments field she says, “we have received several comments from Mr. Abramson, which we cannot post not only because they are far too long but because they are inappropriate and defamatory.”

One wonders if the “inappropriate” comments mentioned that Lehman published Harwood as one of the best American poets without acknowledging their relationship.

AWP sided with Lehman and Harwood.

Now Seth Abramson’s blog is missing.

Luckily, I saved his response to Lehman, which reads in part,

Three years ago I objected (as an artist) to the editorial work of David Lehman on the Best American Poetry series on the grounds that habitually and indisputably publishing your friends, co-workers, students, assistants, and family members in a nationally-publicized, highly-selective annual anthology is not a creditable editorial policy per se–and is therefore an affront to art . . . more than two years ago–I became embroiled in a Wikipedia-editing debate with Mr. Lehman’s wife (Stacey Harwood) about whether the Wikipedia entry for Best American Poetry should acknowledge that, historically, the series has been criticized in the poetry community for cronyism.

Alan Cordle

1 Comment

  1. thomasbrady said,

    November 16, 2009 at 1:48 am

    The letter to Poets & Writers by the AWP’s Matt Burriesci–complaining of Seth Abramson’s MFA Program Rankings article–reads like one big hissy fit.

    Every single point raised by Matt is already answered by Seth in his article.

    Seth explains his method in-depth.

    The AWP is all bent out of shape because Seth didn’t ask for their input.

    As Seth explained to his readers, he was going for an independent, current-snapshot, ground-floor, applicant-view survey that avoided hoary-establishment, ‘insider,’ status quo-ism ranking its own.

    As Abramson fully admits, any ranking is dubious; the only thing those interested in the subject should ask for is a fully transparent scope and method–which is exactly what Seth gives us.

    The AWP’s gripe is without basis.

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