Anger about innaccurate publishing

Yesterday I went into school for my exam and while I was there I picked up my copy of Agora, the Rosny College yearbook.  I was eagerly anticipating seeing my poem Paper Glass published in the book, as well as photos from my drama performances and so on.  I was bitterly disappointed and very irked when I discovered that in publishing my poem, the students in the Agora class had completely changed the formatting, turning one of my best poems into a total mess.  This happened in my highschool yearbook as well, so obviously I was quite angry about this.  I wrote a letter of complaint and explanation to Tim Frost, the teacher/organiser of the Agora class.

Hi Tim,

I have an important complaint to make about the way my poem was published in Agora.

The formatting of my poem was completely ruined.  Whoever you put in charge of putting the poems in needs to be told that the formatting of a poem can make or break it, and the way the poet wrote it is exactly how it should be published, with NO exceptions.  To alter the poem at all is incredibly unprofessional.  They should have at the very least warned me that my poem would be changed, and asked my permission.

My poem originally was aligned along the left side of the page.  In Agora it had been centred.  This was the most infuriating thing.  The shape of a poem is vital to how it is viewed and read.  Centering my poem made it look badly written, generic, and generally awful, and this I found incredibly annoying as I consider it one of my best poems.

Another thing which had happened was that some lines had been moved up and connected to another line, where in my original poem they were two separate lines.  For example:

“Two lines
which I had written with care”


“Two lines which I had written with care.”

This affects the pace of the poem, and in some places there was even, if I remember correctly, incorrect capitalisation due to this edit.  I don’t have my copy of Agora with me currently, so I’m not sure, but there may even have been, in a place where I had used italics, no italics.  This is just abominable.  Whoever edited my poem obviously had no idea what is important about poetry, and no respect for others’ work.  In future, Tim, please educate your students properly on the correct way to go about publishing a poem.

I can see, and understand, that the reason this specific edit happened was because the poem needed to be fitted onto the page.  Surely this could have been remedied by using a smaller font, or not including my ridiculously insignificant little blurb and photo at the top of the page.  In any case, no matter what was done, I as the writer should have been consulted before such edits were made to my work.

The reason that this angered me so much, aside from all the aforementioned, is because this happened to a poem of mine published in my high school yearbook as well.  I was looking forward to having my poem published in my college yearbook as I expected it to be much more professionally done than my highschool one.  I even considered writing to you before Agora was published to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, but I worried this would seem condescending, and I put trust in the professionalism of you and my fellow students.  Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed.

Agora will obviously be read by most of the school’s population, not to mention their parents as well, and even others.  As someone who intends to try to take my writing as far as possible, I find it humiliating to think that my poem, in this warped form, should be read by perhaps a publisher or someone else of merit, who may then, when I send them something, remember my name and think “Oh no, her poem was awful!”  and therefore disregard me.

If I had been given a choice, I would rather my poem not have been published at all than be published as it was.  I can only hope and pray that it will not be read by anyone of literary repute or influence, and that my fellow students will pass it by completely or not notice that it was me who wrote it.

Please make sure that other poets’ work is published correctly in years to come.  The insult done to my writing can’t be remedied, but I hope that this letter will prevent this happening to other aspiring poets.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.



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This blog is the collection of my poetry and prose, in chronological order from most recent to oldest.

Constructive critique is actively encouraged!

I am usually singing words as well as writing them, and make lots of other art. You can find me & my other art at any of the below links. x





All content on this blog © Rebecca Tilley, 2003-present

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