The Day Pretension Came to Vita Brevis
Only once has someone left a negative comment on Vita Brevis. It was a fairly new reader who, after praising a couple of poems, mocked and belittled one poet’s work, implying at the end that it was pretentious.
The comment was held for moderation since it included a blacklisted word–which put me at a difficult crossroad: it was up to me to decide if I should approve it or not. I didn’t know how to handle the situation, and I’m still not sure if I handled it the right way.
I had two options: I could approve the comment and cement Vita Brevis as a free and uncensored environment that welcomes all critics, or I could delete it, robbing the poet and the community of another form of feedback. Both have their pros and cons, and both have lasting effects.
The way I saw it, this comment was much more than just a WordPress user insulting a poem. It was a warning to all of the emerging poets here at Vita Brevis that this is a toxic environment and that, at any moment, someone could insult you and your work to reduce you, at least in the critic’s mind, to nothing.
I couldn’t allow that. I’ve spent a great deal of time configuring every aspect of this community to invite new poets to give publishing their work a shot. From the about page to the guidelines and (especially) the rejection letter, I’ve tried to remove as many barriers to submission and re-submission as possible. To me, this comment undermined everything that Vita Brevis stands for.
So, I deleted it, nudging our community in a small way toward censorship but constructiveness instead of uncensored criticism and the dissuading power within it. And I don’t regret it.