Against Poets & Writers

Received in the post this week from one Paula Collins, whose return address is a PO Box in Mount Morris, Illinois (a town west of Chicago on Highway 64 - see map), the following form letter:

Poets and Writers Subscription Letter
Poets and Writers Subscription Letter

Now, there is much that might be said about this letter, starting with its promising salutation (”Dear Writer” - quite heartening to be accepted into the guild upfront), then moving on to its opening gambit, which makes you suspect Ms. Collins spent long years as a guidance counsellor at Mount Morris High before embarking on her current career. She writes:

It’s simple: If you don’t renew your POETS & WRITERS MAGAZINE subscription promptly, you’ll have to forge ahead with your writing career without it.

Can’t you hear the voice of your own High School counsellor in Morris’s self-evident prophesy, warning you about black marks on your “permanent record” - ? And her stern note to us delinquents, for all its brevity, manages to descend further into the absurd from there.

The best reply that you could perhaps furnish to a letter like this, if you were so inclined, might start as follows:

Dear Circulation Director (& cc: Editor, POETS & WRITERS MAGAZINE),

It’s simple: If you don’t begin to publish a magazine that is more galvanizing than Golf Illustrated, and that takes itself even slightly less seriously than The Sharper Image catalogue, then you’ll have to forge ahead with your destruction of the forests in the name of colorless, humorless bumf without the support of first-and-last-time subscribers, who’d hoped for something better, like the undersigned.

And proceed from there.

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3 Responses to “Against Poets & Writers”

  1. Norma Says:

    Actually, Mt. Morris, IL is home to the subscription agency that handles this journal. Thousands of library clerks across the nation know its name! If you look inside any magazine, you’ll see that the editorial address and the subscription address are different. I don’t know Paula Collins, but I’m guessing she didn’t compose the letter–an ad agency probably did that.

    retired librarian
    former resident of Mt. Morris
    writer of 9 blogs

  2. Ben Says:

    Norma, your facts are all doubtless quite correct, and I don’t dispute them. In fact, I might have even known them from the start, and implicitly acknowledged them through false naïveté and humor so dry that it evidently evaporated by the time you got to the post.


  3. Katrina Stonoff Says:

    It gets even worse, Ben. About a year ago, I started getting P&W at my P.O. Box even though I never ordered it. A couple of months ago, I got an invoice like yours. I sent it back with a note “Please cancel” or something like that.

    Two weeks ago, I got a letter that was threatening to report me to a credit agency. I sent it back with a note that I never ordered the magazine and was never going to renew it.

    Yesterday, I got the “fifth attempt” to contact me about my “over payment for the subscription I ordered” (note: I did NOT order it). But if I’ll just send my payment now, I can be back in “good standing.”


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