Paris Review repudiates zoo of a poetry contest

The Paris Review has followed The Kenyon Review’s lead and posted an open letter terminating its relationship with Zoo Press.

Six years ago, The Paris Review and the Zoo Press agreed to award a poetry prize in The Paris Review‘s name. The Paris Review has been deeply dismayed to learn, over the past year, that the Zoo Press has failed to pay prize money, or to publish prize-winning manuscripts, as it promised to do. For this reason, The Paris Review advised the Zoo Press last October to terminate “The Paris Review Prize in Poetry.” The Zoo Press failed to comply or to acknowledge subsequent efforts to communicate. Thus, the Board of the Paris Review Foundation formally and legally terminated relations with the Zoo Press on March 2, 2006. The Paris Review Prize in Poetry, which the Zoo Press has listed as one of its programs, is also terminated, and has no connection with The Paris Review.

The Paris Review deplores that its name was used in a publishing scheme that resulted in the disappointment of honest writers, whose hopes and expectations upon entering — and in some cases winning — the Zoo Press’s prize competitions have been dashed.

Frankly, I’m astounded that Zoo Press founder Neil Azevedo was able to keep his corrupt enterprise, and particularly these poetry contests, running for so long. Concerns about the press’ ethics first arose nearly two years ago, in the context of its fiction contest. And according to The Kenyon Review‘s open letter, poets haven’t exactly been treated fairly, either.

Both The Paris Review Prize in Poetry Guidelines and The Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry for a First Book Guidelines are still listed on the Zoo Press website. Azevedo continued to solicit — and, presumably, to collect — entry fees for both contests until October 31, 2005, and March 14, 2005, respectively. (Thanks to Tom Hopkins for The Paris Review news.)


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