Overview: Eyewear Publishing Controversy

Eyewear Publishing caused an uproar in the poetry community after tweeting that they were suspending poetry projects due to their poets announcing books with "rival presses".  When Kaveh Akbar (a poet and judge for one of their contests) called them out and asked them to apologize, they fired back and even insinuated he sides with sexual abusers.  It was nasty.

People are left in limbo because their collections are being dropped.  Due to the publisher's behavior, few people will want to purchase books from the poets whose books are being sold by them.

Eyewear Publishing is a successful poetry press.  It makes money.  In a genre where presses are lucky to break even, they're an anomaly.  Of course, it helps that they charge a reading fee for literally every contest, anthology, and normal submission they consider.  I heard they have shareholders, something that's beyond comprehension as a poetry-focused press.

Rumors of a short-tempered, verbally abusive editor/publisher have surrounded the press for years.  The "whisper network" told tales of the abuse and intimidation, but most people never heard a thing.  For those who did hear something, a successful track record is easier to believe than a quick warning from two years ago at a reading.

Through all the ugliness, the beauty of the poetry community has shone bright.  Poetry publishers are opening to free submissions of manuscripts abandoned by Eyewear.  Poets and editors are offering to refund people who sent in manuscripts that have now vanished out of their own pockets.  The contest Kaveh Akbar was the judge of is being offered several new homes.  People are posting their favorite poems of Eyewear poets all over Twitter.  It's beautiful to see.  There are no "rivals" here, just a small ecosystem intent on surviving... in unity.

More information:  

A Twitter thread about the abrasive director of the press.
A blog post that's getting some traction after the blowup.


  1. This post has shone quite a light on the controversy surrounding Eyewear Publishing, and I thank you for that. It's such a shame that this has happened, and my heart goes out to all of the poets who have been affected by this.
    Unfortunately, I don't find this as a surprise - the owner of Eyewear Publishing - and the person who wrote those obscene tweets - used to lecture at my previous University and left after a year. The person in question verbally abused another lecturer, causing her to temporarily leave for a considerable amount of months due to stress-related issues, and also degraded and humiliated another student in front of the class, saying that if we didn't side with him "he would leave", causing a rift between the students. This argument stemmed from the student having to leave class early and the lecturer ripping up his poetry in front of everyone.

    Regardless of this, I hope that everything is sorted out slowly but surely, and that something can be done to help prevent things like this happening in the future.

    1. I hope the press can continue forward... perhaps with someone else at the helm. One thing I didn't mention: The director (the abusive guy) claims he has a mental illness. Since that little tidbit is being circulated, some people are defending his actions. Mental illness doesn't absolve someone. It doesn't excuse anything. There is a long history of bad behavior with no sign of remorse or amends anywhere. That's not mental illness. That's being a jerk.