UPDATE (12/3/2019): Though his astrology-themed chapbook of poetry Sagittarius A* was initially cancelled by an unnamed publisher, Ben Kline has announced that the project has been picked up by Sibling Rivalry Press.
"It's official: [Sibling Rivalry Press] is publishing my chapbook Sagittarius A*, bring poems about spacetime and singularities to you in summer 2020," he wrote to Twitter. "Thank you to [Bryan Borland] and the SRP team for giving this weird collection a home."
ORIGINAL (11/15/2019): In a blog post yesterday, poet Ben Kline said he was excited that his astrology-themed chapbook Sagittarius A* was going to be published by a “very well-known press.” But then he received an email saying his book was canceled because of pictures he posted on Instagram.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native was shocked to see the details of why his book was canceled. Kline posted a screenshot of an email, where the press told the poet that they found his personal social media accounts, and after looking through them in the office, one woman became “very, very upset and confused about all the nudity.”
They also said that one person’s seven-year-old daughter found her mom’s phone and was looking at the pictures and crying. The email claims that the press asked several other of their authors if they felt comfortable being on the same publisher as Kline, and that some, “especially the women, feel a bit creeped out.” They continued to say that Kline posting nudes and semi-nude photos “with no obvious reward other than personal satisfaction is something that makes us all feel uncomfortable.”
Ok, where to even begin?
Kline posted his own list of grievances on his own website, beginning with asking why female poets were specifically asked if they were annoyed. “Would anyone ask their male poets that about a female poet?” he asked. Furthermore, Kline wrote that he is offended that the situation stemmed from a child seeing something their mom didn’t want them to.
To be clear, Kline’s photos did not pose “no obvious reward other than personal satisfaction” — although, if they did, that shouldn’t be a problem. Many of the photos came in concert with the writer’s earlier work which included writing about his queerness, relationships, and hookups among other things. This can be seen most clearly in his first book Going Fast in Loose Directions. His revealing of himself through his writing is also represented visually. As such, each thirst trap was generally posted alongside poetry. He also did this in a now-defunct Tumblr blog called Original Content Required. Anyone who did a casual Google search of Kline would see this.
Kline is currently resubmitting his chapbook to other presses and trying to move on with his life. He’s locked and disabled his social media accounts to prevent further smears from the unnamed press.
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